Swiss racing driver Harold Primat this week completed a two-day run in the R30-03 Lotus F1 car - as previously raced by F1 drivers Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov in the 2010 F1 season - at the world famous Paul Ricard racetrack in France.
Although Primat had briefly driven the 2003 Ferrari F1 car earlier last year, these two days marked the first time he had driven an F1 car for an extended period of time.
Following a briefing from the Lotus F1 team’s engineers, Primat climbed into the F1 car on Thursday afternoon for an installation run. Over the course of the afternoon Primat provided the team with detailed feedback about the car, which allowed the Swiss driver to steadily improve his lap times as the day progressed.
During day one Primat focused on getting to grips with this technically-challenging car, before working through a series of set up changes to the configuration of the car. By the end of the session a solid baseline setup for the second day of running had been achieved and Primat had steadily improved his lap times.
Day one came to a close with Primat having completed 35 laps and 130km with a personal best of 1.13.720.
Day two began at 2pm local time and, following a debrief with the team’s engineers the night before, Primat headed out on track again. The main focus for day two was to experience the car under ‘qualifying’ and ‘race’ conditions.
Starting with his preferred car setup from day one, Primat immediately got to grips with the lower fuel load, and tested a change to the car’s aerodynamic platform on used tires. Primat then headed back out on new tyres for a ‘qualifying’ run on a low fuel load where Primat’s focus was to post a series of quick lap times. On the qualifying run, Primat continued to improve on his lap times before he switched to running a change to the car’s mechanical balance and roll stiffness on the next new set of tires. Primat then headed out for a high fuel run, designed to replicate the car under race conditions, and successfully adapted his driving style to manage the tyre degradation on the higher fuel load.
By the end of day two Primat had completed a further 174km with a personal best of 1.12.800; an improvement of a second a lap from day one.
“We’ve had a productive and useful two days with Harold in Paul Ricard. Over the course of the two days Harold worked through a series of mechanical and aerodynamic configurations of the car and as the sessions progressed he consistently reduced his lap times;” commented Jonathan Marshall, Lotus F1 Team Simulator Test Engineer.
“On day two Harold successfully managed the tire degradation on the higher fuel load and also coped well with the changing balance of the car as the fuel load reduced; achieving a very consistent run. It has been a pleasure working with Harold this week and we wish him all the best for the rest of his season in the World Endurance Championship.” commented Jonathan Marshall, Lotus F1 Team Simulator Test Engineer.
“The last two days have been an unforgettable experience. The Lotus F1 car is such a special car to drive and although it is very different to anything I have driven before I was able to quickly get to grips with the car and steadily improve my lap times lap by lap. It was great to work with the Lotus F1 team who took on board my suggestions for how the set up of the car could be improved which then allowed me to go out on track and shave time off my lap time on each run;” commented Harold Primat.
“I felt really comfortable with the car from the start and it was a case of making some small changes here and there so that I could get the most out of the car. Each time we made some changes we moved forwards so we had a really productive two days. I want to say a big thank you to the Lotus F1 team for all their hard work over the past week, it has been a fantastic opportunity to work with one of the top F1 teams in the world;” continued Harold Primat.