Brendon Hartley: “I had a really enjoyable first day in Suzuka. I spent the first couple of runs in FP1 getting up to speed with the track and I really like it around here. We made a few changes during the session that was clearly in the right direction, and we made a good step to get the car more in line with how I like it for FP2. The pace looks quite competitive as I finished the session in P10, so it’s a positive feeling heading into tomorrow.”
Pierre Gasly: “It was a good morning as I was able to do a few laps and get a good feeling with the car, which was positive. We had some really good data, but unfortunately we ran into some trouble this afternoon so we didn’t complete many laps in FP2. I was only able to do one push lap for performance and then a couple of laps for the long run, which means I didn’t learn too much. It’s good that Brendon had a clean session so we can use his data to improve the performance and get a good result for Qualifying tomorrow.”
Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer): “We had a very productive FP1, carrying out aero and mechanical setup tests. Brendon completed some rake work for us during his installation lap, gathering data to further improve our correlation from track to wind tunnel and CFD. Japan is a very high speed circuit and can benefit from giving the car a very stable aero platform, so we brought new parts here to work on this. They worked well so they have stayed on both cars. The other major focus was on the re-introduction of the latest PU spec from Honda. They worked very hard on the dyno by improving the mapping and calibrations since Russia and these changes have all worked as expected. The drivability and performance of the latest PU have improved and we want to thank Honda for this. FP2 was a smooth and productive session for Brendon, the balance was better and he extracted a good lap from the car.
“Unfortunately, this afternoon’s session was not so fruitful for Pierre, as an issue within the fuel system developed on the last fire up before hitting the track, which required us to change parts within the cell. Normally, this would have taken at least two hours, but the mechanics did a fantastic job to get the parts changed in record time and allow Pierre to get out for a run at the end of the session. Obviously, this compromised it a lot as he was trying to set a fast lap with DRS while all other cars were on their race simulations. Even so, we found a small window in the traffic so Pierre could get a feel of the balance. The car is looking relatively competitive, so we will work hard tonight to ensure we have smooth running from FP3 onwards.”
Toyoharu Tanabe (Honda F1 Technical Director): “After taking our drivers to visit several Honda facilities over the past three days, where they received a warm welcome, it’s good to be on track for our home race. The latest version of our PU, which we first used on Friday in Sochi, has produced encouraging data today. It’s a big improvement and validates the tuning work we carried out on this new PU since Russia. Unfortunately, Pierre lost some track time in FP2 with a fuel system issue, but at this point in the weekend, it’s not too critical.”