Mixed Malaysia running for Romain and Pastor
A bright start in sunny Sepang dulled as Romain Grosjean’s practice was cut short in the afternoon while team-mate Pastor Maldonado clocked up the laps.
Straight out onto the track in the morning session, Romain flew up the timesheets to take fourth in the first free practice session with a lap of 1min 41.543secs and Pastor took twelfth with a 1min 42.567secs.
It was a swap in the afternoon as Pastor was able to make the most of his track time, adding another 15 laps to his 19 in the morning on his way to eleventh while Romain remained in eighteenth.
The Venezuelan’s best time was a 1min41.877secs, ending up several seconds and places ahead of his team-mate.
Romain’s E23 Hybrid developed an issue that saw his running ended after just seven laps and a best time of 1min 42.948secs.
“It was quite a limited day for me in terms of running,” said the Frenchman. “We looked quick out of the box in the morning but the afternoon session was way too short because of an issue we’re investigating.”
“It’s quite a different circuit here compared to Australia and the tyres and weather conditions are not the same either so we have quite a bit of work to do in FP3 before we head into qualifying. It’s been a frustrating day for me today, but I’m sure we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
While pace wasn’t immediately apparent, the team were able to run an extensive programme throughout the day.
In the morning Romain ran with an aero rake and his team-mate helped evaluate different front wings and a new floor before attention switched to tyres in the afternoon.
The tyre selection for the Malaysian Grand Prix proved a challenge, none more apparent than in the second session where tyre degradation became clear across the grid.
Pastor felt the effects of the tyres and saw a further impact from a minor bodywork issue, but feels the potential is there.
“The car feels quite a bit different with the tyre allocation here and the different parts we’ve been trying and evaluating,” he said. “Certainly, I felt happier in the afternoon and on the long run.”
“We saw good pace from Romain in the morning and I was happy with the long run performance so we have some work ahead of us to piece the elements together to get the car where we want it for tomorrow.”
Technical Director Nick Chester felt the good outweighed the bad ahead of tomorrow’s third free practice and qualifying session.
“There are some strong positives from today despite a few glitches along the way,” he said. “Romain was quick in the morning whilst Pastor had very consistent race pace in the afternoon.”
“We’re investigating the issue with Romain’s car which looks to be a different issue from that experienced in Australia albeit with similar symptoms. Pastor’s bodywork issue was quite a simple thing, even if it looked a little dramatic. We’ve plenty to do for tomorrow and good potential ahead.”