After a long summer break the FIA Formula One World Championship resumed with the opening day of practice for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix
The high speed corners, long periods of throttle and gradient changes of the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit present the hardest test of the season for the new generation Power Units
Scuderia Toro Rosso was quickest of the Renault-powered cars, with Daniil Kvyat seventh in FP2
Infiniti Red Bull Racing finishes eighth with Daniel Ricciardo, while Sebastian Vettel sits out FP2 after a Power Unit change between sessions
Three-times Le Mans winner, Andre Lotterer, gets his first taste of Renault power as he makes F1 debut for Caterham F1 Team
Rémi Taffin, head of track operations:
‘The long run pace across Red Bull and Toro Rosso is positive but we have some work to improve performance over one lap.’
Spa definitely lived up to its reputation today as the hardest circuit of the year for the Power Units. Every part of the PU is given a workout thanks to the flowing, high speed corners, gradient changes and aggressive stops. It certainly gives a long job list after practice!
That said, we’ve learned a lot over the two sessions. The long run pace across Red Bull and Toro Rosso is positive but we have some work to improve performance over one lap. We have some margin to optimize the energy management and torque delivery but getting to grips with this is part of a usual Friday practice. Since we covered 250km with Daniel we got the bulk of the information we require to maximize performance, but clearly tomorrow will be a very busy day as we lost the second session for Sebastian after an ignition problem at the end of FP1. On inspection we needed to change the PU for a new unit so we do not expect a repeat of the problem.
It’s also been very interesting to work with a new driver in Andre Lotterer at Caterham. He brought a fresh and unique perspective to the team thanks to his extensive experience at Spa and delivered some excellent feedback. He was straight on the pace as well so we could run through our programme as expected. Lotus had a harder day with Pastor missing FP2, but Romain’s performance and reliability is optimistic and the rain coming tomorrow could shake the order up a bit.
Overall, although we’ve had some setbacks there is a lot of potential for improvement and we’ll be ready to take advantage of any chances that come our way.