Russian GP: Practice team notes – Toro Rosso

Pierre Gasly: “It was a positive day overall, especially after the tough weekend in Singapore it was important to find some answers and try to get our pace back. That’s what we did today, plus we tested an upgraded engine which seems to work well, so I think it’s really encouraging for the few races left before the end of the season. Thank you to Honda for bringing this. We’ll take a penalty on Sunday and we will start from the back of the grid, so we will try to focus on the race more than Qualifying.”

Brendon Hartley: “We knew we will start the race on Sunday at the back of the grid, so today’s main priority was on race pace and getting the car as quick as possible. It’s my first time discovering Sochi, it’s probably not my favourite track in the world but there was a lot to learn in the first few laps. We had a small issue on my car in FP1 which led to a floor change for FP2, the high-fuel long run looked very competitive. Even if in FP2 we didn’t get the most out of the Hypersoft, looking at the high-fuel and race pace it was a positive day.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer): “We knew coming to Sochi we would be taking PU penalties on both cars so we adapted our plans accordingly. We shifted the focus of the weekend more onto the long runs and race performance and less on Qualifying as we would be starting from the back of the grid. Since it was the first time the new PUs had run on track, they required some fine tuning and calibration work to extract the performance, but we completed that work and are looking in good shape at the end of FP2. So from the PU side everything is looking positive – thank you to Honda for this! In FP1 we carried out several aerodynamic and tyre tests at the rear of the car to gather data to correlate the on track performance with our dyno results. We could complete these as very clean tests and obtained good answers so that was positive. The track started quite dusty and generally had low grip, so the balance in FP1 was quite nervous and we didn’t manage to get the perfect balance by the end of the session.

“The engineers trackside and in the operations room worked hard between FP1 and FP2, to look at setup changes to address the balance and grip issues – one of which was to switch to a spare floor for Brendon after observing issues with his prime floor from FP1 – these changes worked well in FP2. Because of the penalties and our tyre choice for this event, we were able to use two Hypersofts for the short runs in FP2. Even though we hadn’t set the car up for Qualifying the performance was still there. We split the cars in terms of tyres for the long run; Brendon was looking very competitive on the Soft as the tyre looks quite robust. The Ultrasoft on the other hand is more fragile so that took some managing. Overall, we are in a good position with the package we have today and we will see what the rest of the weekend brings.”

Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director): “We ran updated PUs on both cars today, and this involves the drivers taking grid penalties. Today, our work was focused on optimising settings and calibration on the updated PU, running on an actual track, fitted to the STR13. Overall, it was a positive day.”