With just two weeks of testing in Barcelona under the team’s belt, Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell looks to the first race of the season IN Australia this coming weekend….
How well are we placed for the first race of the season?
Even though we didn’t accumulate as many miles as we would have liked in pre-season testing we were able to make good progress over the two weeks in Barcelona and we are reasonably confident heading to Australia. The R.S.17 performed well on track, it is receptive to set-up changes and Nico and Jolyon found it enjoyable to drive. Even though we did experience some issues we don’t have any overriding concerns over reliability as we accumulated sufficient data and have taken remedial and precautionary measures to address the particular ERS issue we saw. The R.S.17 worked well on both high and low fuels with no surprises. We have a good idea on how to get the best out of the tyres and the drivers have a good feeling from the car in both qualifying and race trim. We’re looking forward to our first race with this car with good expectations.
What’s the general feedback on this new generation of Formula 1 car?
Both Nico and Jolyon certainly enjoyed their driving of the car. The cars are a lot faster and they are more visually appealing. They have lived up to expectations in many regards. Allied to the new cars we have new tyres from Pirelli for this season and we experienced no shocks in terms of performance or durability. The big question is, of course, what will the racing be like and there are many different predictions. Let’s see what happens at Albert Park, a race which can always give you something of the unexpected as the first race of the season, and one that takes place on a challenging street course.
Are you confident that the ERS issue seen in Barcelona has been addressed?
Testing, especially with an all-new package, is all about learning. We experienced an issue with the ERS which had previously been seen on the dyno, but packaged in the car and out on track it was amplified. Since Barcelona we’ve adopted a belt and braces approach to avoid a similar issue in Melbourne.
What will be the challenges of Albert Park?
The biggest challenge with Albert Park is that the first race of the season always produces unusual results. This will be the first time we set-up these cars to go racing and this is the first time we go through a race weekend schedule and it occurs the other side of the world from where our car was conceived and produced. Albert Park itself is – as the name suggests – in a park and it’s a non-permanent race facility. The track surface will be green at the beginning of running, just as you’re trying to learn as much as possible with these new cars. The weather – as any Melburnian will tell you – can be variable to say the least, so there are many factors to consider. What we do know is that we have two very good drivers and a great team behind them. Whatever the challenges for this first race, we’ll be pushing for the best result possible.