Lotus Renault Grand Prix driver Vitaly Petrov had the huge honour of giving the R31 its first run on track today as winter testing got underway in Valencia. The Russian was only able to finish 28 laps around the Spanish track due to some mechanical niggles to the new car.
What we learned today:
- Initial system checks were completed successfully
- The adjustable rear wing was monitored with a camera and pressure logging sensors, and it worked as expected.
- Temperatures across the car ran comfortably within limits.
Vitaly Petrov: “It’s great to come back for the new season and try the R31 for the first time. It was not the perfect day because we had some mechanical problems and we lost a little bit of time, so we did not do many laps. But we did manage to check a lot of systems on the car, which was important for us and it looks like everything is working well. I tried KERS for the first time and it will take me a while to get used to it because it’s clear the driver will be quite busy in the cockpit this year. I also tried out the Pirellis, but it was difficult for me to learn too much because we were not pushing too hard and we mostly did in and out laps.”
Eric Boullier: “It’s obviously exciting to be back at the track after a long winter and to see the R31 complete its first few laps. It’s still very early days and the car did not run a lot today, so there was a little bit of frustration for Vitaly because he would have liked to get more miles under his belt. But this is to be expected at the first test, which is basically more of a shakedown for the car and the time to check reliability to make sure everything is working as we expected. For the remaining two days our focus will be on validating the systems and collecting data so that we can get down to performance work at the remaining tests.”
James Allison: “Some mechanical niggles with the car meant that we spent more time in the garage today that we would have liked. As a consequence our day became more of a shakedown of all the new systems than an opportunity to explore performance. We learned that the car runs comfortably within our design temperature limits and we gained some useful running on both the new DCS rear wing and the KERS. The next days of testing should bring us a better idea of the performance of the car.”
Alan Permane’s technical programme notes:
- We had KERS fitted today and, although we did not run it a great deal, the energy recovery and releasing was working fine.
- Another new aspect you have to assess with a new car is the cooling around the engine and gearbox, which is very tightly packaged on the R31.The checks we did today suggest everything is okay with this.
- Our running was limited today as we were held up with a brake line leak. Although it’s a simple problem, it meant we had to remove the gearbox to solve the issue, costing us track time.
Did You Know?
The R31 features a significant revision to the rear suspension, switching from a push rod system to pull rod operated torsion springs. This has allowed the team to make better use of the new diffuser rules.