The inaugural United States Grand Prix kicked off today at the brand new Circuit of Americas with the first free practice sessions. In the morning, Ma Qing Hua stepped into the F112 once again and accompanied Pedro de la Rosa for the fourth time this season in FP1. Caution was advised, as conditions were quite tricky on the early stages due to a dusty and cold track, and both drivers conducted an impeccable session improving considerably throughout the session. Narain Karthikeyan returned for the afternoon session and had a hard task ahead to both learn the track and evaluate both tyres’ options over the 20 laps he did around the 5.516 km circuit.
Narain Karthikeyan: "The circuit is quite nice. It has a lot of fast corners, like the first S’s, and it is very technical and demanding. It is not easy to learn but I did my best with the limited number of laps we had. Grip level was quite low over the first laps and I couldn’t manage to keep the tyres’ temperature high enough, which made driving quite challenging. But, as laps went by, it got better and going out with options also helped. We still have a lot to improve but I’m confident for tomorrow”.
Ma Qing Hua: "Driving a Formula 1 is always special but doing it at a brand new track like this one is thrilling but also a great responsibility. The fact of it being a new track means that there is quite a lot of work to do as we have no previous data or experience apart from what we got from the engineers' simulations. Therefore, the program was to go out and run from the beginning in order to work on the car's basic set up as well as learn the track. Conditions were quite tricky this morning as the track was very dusty, slippery and cold which made it hard to drive. But it improved lap by lap and so did our lap times and feeling. It was important to gather as much data as possible but also not to take any unnecessary risks. Although there is still room for improvement, I am quite happy with the job we have done”.
Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: "All teams and drivers had their first taste of the new track this morning and caution was advised especially because of the track’s cold and slippery conditions. Both Ma and Pedro did a good job in the morning and so did Narain in the afternoon, completing their programs without any issues. We worked on short programs for each driver and session but we managed to run all necessary checks and also tried both tyres options. We can still improve but we are already heading in the right direction”.
HRT - Formula 1 Team