The 2008 season got underway in Melbourne today with the first two practice sessions for this weekend's curtain-raiser, the Australian Grand Prix. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were upbeat after concluding a solid day of set-up work to ...
The 2008 season got underway in Melbourne today with the first two practice sessions for this weekend's curtain-raiser, the Australian Grand Prix. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were upbeat after concluding a solid day of set-up work to fine-tune the RA108 to the demands of the Albert Park circuit conditions. The ambient temperature soared to 37C with the track peaking at 48C, the high temperatures giving the RA108 its first hot weather test of the year which it passed with flying colours. Jenson and Rubens ended the day in 11th and 14th positions.
Q. How is the RA108 performing so far?
A. "Today has been a good day for us. We focused mainly on tyre work and getting the best out of the car in the very hot conditions. Everything went smoothly and the car feels much as it did at the Jerez test, which is pleasing. We won't know our true relative position compared to the competition until later tomorrow, but at the moment the priority for us is focusing on our own test items and adapting the set-up to the requirements and conditions here."
Q. How does Albert Park compare to the circuits you've been testing at during the winter?
A. "It's very different to the Spanish circuits we have been using during the pre-season testing so we are starting from scratch in terms of setting the car up to suit these track conditions, particularly as Albert Park is much bumpier than the test circuits."
Q. How did the track conditions improve during the course of the two sessions?
A. "It's very hot and dry today, with the temperatures increasing this afternoon, so the track has lost some grip over the course of the day. The track was better in the morning session and I was much happier with the car then."
Q. Looking ahead to tomorrow, how do you think the car will perform over a single qualifying lap?
A. "It is still too early to tell how we will perform in qualifying tomorrow. We ran a fairly conservative programme today and we are looking better than in testing, but Friday is not a real indicator of performance as everyone is running their own programme with regard to fuel levels. We aim to be in the middle of the pack tomorrow and I believe we are on course for this."
STEVE CLARK Head of Race & Test Engineering
Q. Did the opening practice sessions of the new season run smoothly?
A. "Yes. The sessions ran pretty much according to plan for us despite the difficult track and climatic conditions. As is usual, the first day at a race event unearthed some issues that we have not experienced during the winter testing, but nothing we cannot address over the next couple of days."
Q. What are the early indications for the rest of the weekend?
A. "Our absolute performance relative to our competitors remains to be confirmed, however the aero upgrade for this race seems to be performing well and it has put us on the pace of all but the top two teams. Tomorrow will be the true test, and a real challenge for the majority of the grid. We are quietly confident that if we make no mistakes we could put the car in the top half of the grid. The very hot weather this weekend is unexpected, but again we can deal with it and should be able to compete reliably with only a small compromise to overall performance."