The TS040 Hybrid performed without issue throughout, giving the team maximum opportunity to prepare for the race weekend.
Toyota Racing got its 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season underway with the opening practice sessions for the Six Hours of Silverstone today.
The TS040 Hybrid, which delivers 1000PS whilst using 25% less fuel than its predecessor, performed without issue throughout, giving the team maximum opportunity to prepare for the race weekend.
The #7 car of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima was fifth and third respectively in the two 90-minute sessions whilst the #8 of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi was third and fifth.
The first official session of the season began just before midday on a sunny but windy Northamptonshire afternoon, with Alex and Sébastien at the wheel for the TS040 Hybrid’s first laps at Silverstone.
Both drivers were kept busy in the first half of the session as the team evaluated set-ups on both cars. Around half distance, Alex handed the #7 to Stéphane and soon after Anthony, on his 35th birthday, took over the #8.
The TS040 Hybrids ran without problems and completed a productive session, covering around 200km each.
That pattern was repeated in second practice, as Kazuki focused on tyre evaluations while Sébastien completed further set-up work. First Stéphane then Alex took turns in the #7 while Nicolas closed out the day in the #8 as both cars took their daily running total to well over 400km each.
Saturday sees final practice (9.00-10.00) before qualifying (12.35-13.00) while the six-hour race starts at 12.00 on Sunday.
TS040 Hybrid #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 1: 5th (1min 45.066secs), 33 laps
Free practice 2: 3rd (1min 44.097secs), 46 laps
Alex Wurz: “Finally we are here racing which is good because the winter is too long. Silverstone on a sunny day is a cool track. Obviously you have to change your mindset coming here with the new fuel rules but we have to get used to it. It is interesting how close the performance seemed to be. I still don’t know which of the manufacturers is in the best position and this is cool for the fans. For us it means we have to work harder to get an edge on the others as that is the target.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “It is good to be back at Silverstone. In the first session we worked on different set-ups, then in the afternoon Kazuki did a long run which brought back some interesting information. I only did one run in second practice just to check; the wind had changed a bit but the track conditions improved from the first session. It is all going well so far. As always on a race weekend, we have to use the data to improve the car and be ready for qualifying.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “Today everything went quite well. I did a long run in the afternoon which was pretty good and I was reasonably happy with the car balance. It was helpful to look at the tyre degradation over a long run; this will be useful information as we plan for the race. I don’t know what to read into the lap times; it all depends on the programme of each car. Overall it was a good first day and we are getting ready for tomorrow’s qualifying when the picture should be clearer.”
TS040 Hybrid #8 (Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre, Sébastien Buemi)
Free practice 1: 3rd (1min 44.661secs), 37 laps
Free practice 2: 5th (1min 45.329secs), 36 laps
Anthony Davidson: “It is nice to be back at Silverstone again in front of my home crowd. The feeling in the car is good, we worked on the balance and generally everything is working well. We seem to be in the fight amongst Audi and Porsche so it’s looking like an interesting race. The weather could become a factor so we need to think about high-downforce settings just in case of rain. Generally it was a good day and the car ran reliably which bodes well for the race.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “I did not drive in first practice but it was good to see Anthony and Sébastien put in a lot of laps. This afternoon’s testing was very interesting in terms of using the new car on this track. We worked on various different settings to try to get the best balance and did plenty of work looking forward to the race, to optimise our strategy. We look to be in a good position so now we will do our best to get strong results in qualifying.”
Sébastien Buemi: “We did a positive day of testing and we managed to complete quite a full programme, looking at things like the different tyre specs and various set-up options. We will use the results to help us improve our performance for qualifying and, more importantly, the race. It is a little bit early to judge where we are but I think after qualifying we will have a good idea of our position. I think it will be quite close so we just need to work hard until Sunday.”