A typically un-British summer's day meant that Virgin Racing's first ever session on home soil would be on a dry track, although the expectation was that most of the action would take place during the second half of first practice. And so it proved, with Lucas venturing on to the
circuit only for a few single laps to gather aero data while a small leak was rectified on Timo's car. The session was the first opportunity to evaluate the aero upgrades on the cars for this weekend, and Timo quickly showed that they were definitely a good step in the right direction. Some dramatic television shots showed that the car was bottoming on the new section of the track, information which the engineers would take into account while deciding on an initial set-up for second free practice. Timo and Lucas finished the session in 20th and 21st positions.
In the second session both cars ran well on the Prime tyre, heading the timesheet for the new teams for most of the session. A switch to Options didn't produce the expected improvement for Lucas though, and Timo had to revert to the older specification front wing after a minor 'off' in the high-speed Becketts complex, which meant he was unable to extract the best from the softer compound. At the end of the session, Lucas and Timo were again 20th and 21st.
"A difficult day for me. We had a few problems in the first session with a fuel leak, which cost us pretty much the whole session - I only got two runs at the end. In the second session we had to change the set-up quite a lot, which took up nearly half of the practice. I completed two productive tests but unfortunately the front wing broke over the kerb, so I had to go back to the old one and run the soft tyre towards the end of the session which cost us a lot of performance compared to our new spec. It hasn't been the smooth day we hoped for but I'm confident that tomorrow will bring better things."
Lucas di Grassi:
"We've had a very productive day today. We've done a lot of work with the new upgrades and the car was behaving as expected throughout the sessions. I'm very happy that we are getting closer to Lotus and we are ready to go for tomorrow. I am confident we can make another step forward for qualifying."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director:
"A fascinating and encouraging day. We did a series of aero tests today that have proved conclusively that we've made the expected step forwards in downforce which is consistent with our digital aero process. In fact the step is so significant that it caused a number of set-up issues that we're trying to address. Lucas had a steady and productive day, with the set-up direction evolving as he'd found on the simulators this week, which is great news. Timo had a tricky Friday, starting with a fuel leak caused by a pinched O-ring delaying his start, and a lengthy set-up change taking up some valuable track time later on. Unfortunately he had an off prior to trying the option tyres which broke his new front wing and our spare wing hadn't quite made it to the track in time for him to use. Nevertheless we have the spare now and we'll look to improve the set-up again overnight."