Virgin Racing enjoyed two very productive free practice sessions in Sepang today as running commenced in preparation for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. Conditions were hot and humid, punctuated by a brief shower during the break between sessions with ominous storm clouds gathering
from midway through the second session, although they didn't actually deliver any rain.
The day panned out exactly as per the run plan and, without wishing to tempt fate, there were no major issues to contend with. The team were able to establish a good baseline for the car and work on various strategic options in preparation for both qualifying and the race.
This morning, Timo and Lucas ended the day 20th and 21st after 17 and 25 laps respectively. This afternoon, they were 21st and 22nd on the timesheets having notched up a further 23 laps and 29 laps respectively.
The track temperature peaked at 52o.C and the ambient high was 33o.C, with humidity running at 58%.
"We had a good Free Practice day today without any major problems, which is good for us and it's encouraging to have such a good start to the weekend. We had a little trouble at the end with a minor power steering issue, which meant we couldn't get a good run in to finish the day, but generally the team did an excellent job so I'm pleased and optimistic that this is a good sign for the rest of the weekend."
Lucas di Grassi:
"A really good day for us with no issues. The car is running smoothly and there is a lot more performance to come, but we are very happy with our best Friday so far. It means we are evolving both as a team and in terms of developing the car."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director:
"In the context of our winter testing and the first two races, today was a clear step forward for the Virgin Racing team. Both Timo and Lucas managed to work through good programmes and we seem to have a clear direction to follow tomorrow on set-up. The high-speed corners of Sepang highlighted a small set-up issue on the power steering on Timo's car, which we'll correct tonight. Overall a solid start to the weekend."