Racing Engineering press release
The final GP2 pre-season testing has just finished after three days at the Circuit de Catalunya circuit, north of Barcelona.
The Tuesday morning session began under sunny skies but cool temperatures meant that many drivers opted to wait until the track became warmer before beginning their testing. As usual for an opening session both Fabio Leimer and Nathanaël Berthon concentrated on working with the Racing Engineering team to optimise their chassis set-ups for the 4.655Km circuit.
At the end of the session Leimer had set a fastest lap of 1:30.356 after 22 laps whilst his team-mate Berthon was only a little slower with a time of 1:30.861 after 17 laps.
The afternoon session was interrupted by two red flags but, despite this, the Racing Engineering team continued to work on developing their cars for this circuit with its variety of corners and long straights. Berthon finished the session as the faster of the two men with the young Frenchman taking the 11th fastest time with a 1:30.014. Right behind Berthon was Leimer with the 12th fastest time, a 1:30.053.
Temperatures were very low as the Wednesday morning session began and laps were slower than the day before to begin with but times soon began to drop and the drivers were soon able to lap faster than on Tuesday. Once again the Racing Engineering team concentrated on setting up their two cars and working through their schedule for the day. At the end of the three hours Leimer was 12th fastest with a time of 1:29.339, over seven tenths faster than Tuesday whilst Berthon was just one place lower with a lap of 1:29.397, an improvement of just over six tenths of a second.
The afternoon session saw most teams work on race simulations and pit-stop practice, Leimer took the 11th quickest time with a 1:32.751 whilst Berthon was a second slower at 1:33.751.
Thursday morning’s session was held in sunny conditions but no less than three red flags, including one in the final minutes of the session, meant that lap times were generally a few tenths slower than had been seen on the previous day. Once again both of the Racing Engineering cars were very evenly matched with Leimer setting a best time of 1:30.047 and Berthon just eight thousandths of a second slower with a 1:30.055.
As on the day before the afternoon session was used by the teams for more race simulations and pit stop practice although, once again, two red flags interrupted the track time. With no effort made to set fast times this time it was Berthon who was marginally the quicker with a time of 1:34.495, Leimer was just .026 seconds slower at 1:34.521.
With the intensive testing carried out over the last two weeks at Jerez and Barcelona, Racing Engineering have carried out a great deal work to ensure their two drivers will be competitive in the 2012 GP2 Series. The team will now return to their Sanlúcar de Barrameda base to prepare their cars for the opening round of the Series at Sepang in two weeks’ time.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"This week's test days in Barcelona were the second part of the on track preparation work for the season. We have gathered a lot of information that will be analysed in depth now. The low air and track temperature are conditions quite far from what we have during normal race weekends, which is taken into consideration when preparing for Sepang. It will be an interesting season and we will work hard to fight for the top spots this year."
"I am satisfied with these three days of testing, as I also was with the work done in Jerez. We were able to try many different things and could go through our program. Everything we wanted to look at, we were able to do. As in Jerez, we gathered a lot of information that will prove helpful in the future. Now we have to proceed with the analysis of the information obtained, but I have a positive feeling for the start of the season in Sepang."
"We worked very hard during the last three days as we had a really big test program. We didn't show a quick pace, but this was not our aim for these three days. We didn't simulate qualifying when the track here was at its quickest, as the others did. We waited for the track to be as hot as possible. For sure we still need a bit more performance, but I think it will be OK in Malaysia. We also did several race sims and so did Fabio and things went really well. We have to continue working and there is still more to understand about the new tyre compounds. But the engineers know what to do after these three days and I was also more confident here than I was during last week's test in Jerez. I feel more and more familiar with the car."