Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello got their first taste of the new Fuji Speedway circuit today, where the Honda Racing F1 Team's home grand prix got underway with the first free practice sessions for Sunday's race. Both drivers walked the...
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello got their first taste of the new Fuji Speedway circuit today, where the Honda Racing F1 Team's home grand prix got underway with the first free practice sessions for Sunday's race.
Both drivers walked the track yesterday and used the first few laps of running to familiarise themselves with the 4.563km layout before commencing work on tailoring the set-up of the RA107 to the characteristics of this medium downforce circuit.
Rubens set the 11th fastest time of the morning session with a lap time of 1:20.686. Jenson was confined to the garage in the closing stages whilst the team made some changes to the car to improve the rear-end stability. He was unable to return to the track in sufficient time to improve on his lap therefore he ended the morning in 19th with a time of 1:21.541.
This afternoon Jenson ended the session in 14th with a time of 1:20.336. The balance issues experienced by Rubens this morning continued into the afternoon and the team spent the session trying to get to the bottom of the problem. Some progress was made towards the end which moved Rubens back to within 0.5sec of his team-mate and into 17th position.
"Everything ran pretty smoothly today as we experienced the new Fuji circuit for the first time. After trying some different set-ups on the car this morning, I felt more comfortable with the balance in the afternoon session and we understand where we are going with the set-up for the rest of the weekend."
"As for the circuit, I was really pleased with the flow and there are some tight challenging corners towards the end of the lap and a couple of potential overtaking places, so generally I was impressed."
"I have the same problem here as I had in Spa and the car is running short on aero balance. I just don't have the grip level and the balance that I would like, so we changed some parts on the car this afternoon to see if this helps with the issue. We have a lot of data to look at overnight to try to make some improvements for the morning."
"I like the circuit here, the only issue is that there are some blind corners so the marshals will need to react quickly with the yellow flags as you are not able to see when coming round some corners, which is what happened when I hit Yamamoto."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director:
"This morning, as is usual with a new track, we checked the required downforce level for the Fuji layout and it matches the prediction of our simulation programme. Both drivers worked to find a good balance on the car before we completed our race preparation in the second session with both prime and option tyres."
"Jenson is reasonably happy with the long run pace but we lack some performance on the first lap with new tyres. Rubens had some problems in the afternoon with braking stability. We are still investigating the issue and will make the necessary changes to find a solution for tomorrow."
Practice session 1: 19th, 22 laps, 1:21.541
Practice session 2: 14th, 44 laps, 1:20.336
Practice session 1: 11th, 24 laps, 1:20.686
Practice session 2: 17th, 33 laps, 1:20.889