Caterham team comment about Friday Spa practice

Heikki Kovalainen, car 20, chassis CT01-#3: "It's obviously good to be back to racing but a shame it had to start with weather like this. Spa's notorious for its weather but I can't remember seeing it rain this hard for a long time so after today there's really not a lot to say after most of Friday was washed out. It looks like tomorrow should be dry so I think we'll be able to get more laps done in FP3 but with the weather in Spa you can never tell."

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham

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Vitaly Petrov, car 21, chassis CT01-#2: "First it's really good to get the season started again and it was great to come to Spa, catch up with the team and get back into the car. Even though the weather was clearly very bad in FP1 we managed to complete a good percentage of the runplan and the car felt pretty well balanced from the first few laps.

In FP2 we were monitoring the weather throughout the session and as it progressed the rain fell harder than ever so we decided not to risk running. I made the strategy call to stay as warm as possible in the motorhome, wearing two jumpers and a couple of jackets and keeping as far away from the rain as possible!"

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "Despite the weather today Spa-Francorchamps is my favourite circuit of the year and it's a track that's particularly tough on engines.

It is the longest lap of any track we race on and when it's dry almost 70% of the lap is spent at full throttle with the engines working predominantly in the upper ends of the rev limit, around 16,000rpm on average around the entire lap. As power sensitivity is very important in Spa, as much as it is in Monza, we have put new engines in both cars for this weekend.

"In addition to Spa being a circuit that rewards outright power, we also have a few other challenges to deal with. The hairpins at La Source and Stavelot are heavy braking zones so we are looking closely at perfecting the driveability of the engines on the entry and exit to these two corners.

This is particularly important as the slower corners actually dictate the upper speeds reached and this leads us neatly on to one of the other main areas we've been looking at today - how to make sure we can maximise outright pace.

"Top speed is partly determined by the ratios we use in seventh gear and with Spa's two long straights in mind selecting the right ratios for seventh gear is crucial. It looks like it will be dry tomorrow so the engines will be at full throttle for around 25secs on the first of the two straights, from the exit of La Source to Les Combes, and we need to make sure they are not on the limit too early or too late so the drivers can attack where possible, or defend.

"The same is true for the second main straight from Blanchimont through to the Bus Stop chicane, where the engine will hit maximum speed, over 330kph with DRS open.

This is an interesting challenge as we also have to take into account the effect wind can have on top speed, but with today's weather we have obviously been held back so if it's dry tomorrow we will have a lot of work to do in FP3. That's the same for everyone as the weather affects us all and it should mean we have not lost any time compared to the cars around us."

Mark Smith, Technical Director: "While we have had quite a few wet session this season we have not had a Friday this bad for quite some time. When the conditions are as wet as they were for both FP1 and FP2 it is not worth sending the drivers out as we do not generate enough data to make it worth it, and the obvious risk is that they have an accident.

"While it is disappointing for us and the fans that we have had such limited running today we were still able to complete part of the programme this morning and all the teams are in the same situation, so we have not lost ground. Despite that we will need to have a busy FP3 to prepare the cars for qualify and Sunday's race so I hope we can make up some time tomorrow."

Source: Caterham F1 Team

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Heikki Kovalainen , Vitaly Petrov
Teams Caterham F1
Article type Practice report
Tags belgian gp, caterham, kovalainen, petrov, spa