Nick and Vitaly kicked off their 2011 campaigns today as free practice got underway at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Alan Permane, Chief Engineer – Technical programme notes
– The track was very green to begin with and we didn’t do a great amount of running in the first session. We used one set of hard tyres per driver and it all went as planned.

– We used flow viz paint on both cars to assess the performance of the DRS (drag reduction system). We also practiced using KERS in both sessions.

– We ran both the hard and soft tyres in the second session and did some high fuel work on the soft tyre.

– We have evaluated some new aerodynamic parts and they are performing well.

What we learned today:
– Tyres are performing better than expected.

– High fuel running in the afternoon confirmed that there are no concerns over braking and cooling.

Nick Heidfeld, R31-01
Free practice 1: P12, 1:28.928, 14 laps
Free practice 2: P13, 1:27.536, 29 laps

Nick: “I think today was OK. We spent more time than we expected working on the set-up and so we didn’t do as many laps as we wanted. The car felt alright, but I think we can still improve. With the hard tyres it was quite difficult to get enough grip, and the small problems that we had meant I couldn’t really do a long run in the end. Also, the wet weather conditions meant it was not ideal to learn about the car, but I think we’re lucky that it stayed pretty dry. It’s still very difficult to know exactly where we stand, but we do have a better picture than we had yesterday.”

Vitaly Petrov, R31-03
Free practice 1: P10, 1:28.765, 15 laps
Free practice 2: P12, 1:27.528, 22 laps

Vitaly: “It’s always fun to get the season underway. The weather was quite cold, but I didn’t have any issues with the car during the sessions. We did the baseline set-up work and found some good improvements during the day and I already feel quite comfortable with the balance of the car here. The other good news is that the tyres were performing well today and lasting quite a bit longer than expected.”

Did you know?
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