Testing – Pirelli carried out their own specific tyre tests at the Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday, running a McLaren and a Force India in agreement with them and the other teams.
Pirelli, as part of their 2018 test programme, carry out specific tyre tests with various teams over the course of the season, such as Ferrari performing a wet weather tyre test at Fiorano last month. It is an arragement reached with the agreement of all the teams and the FIA, and is viewed as separate to team testing as the teams can have no influence on areas such as setup or fuel loads.
McLaren and Force India both supplied a second car for use by Pirelli on Tuesday, alongside their own test programmes. Lando Norris & Oliver Turvey were in action for McLaren, and they explained afterwards how their days went: “Today was half a day in the car, and my first actual test in the McLaren MCL33 after only one lap at the car launch.” said Norris.
“Also, it was my first test with the Renault power unit and on a pretty cool track to test a Formula 1 car – very high downforce, very fast. It was a Pirelli test and it all went smoothly.
“We can’t touch the car in any way, we have to leave it exactly how we start the test. So, there’s a lot of time for me to try different things for myself, but at the same time try to feel the differences in the tyres Pirelli gives us. There’s a lot of stuff to test, so it’s quite full-on, and I only got out the car once this morning. It’s good to try and do quite a lot of laps in one go and get used to the car again.
“Tomorrow I’ll be able to push the pace a bit more in the McLaren car. This track is quite tough physically, so to get 76 laps in was good. To have a clean morning and get that many laps in was good for my confidence. I feel pretty confident in the car already.”
Oliver Turvey, who took over from Norris for the afternoon session, also said he enjoyed his time in the car:
“I’m happy with how my afternoon in the car went today. It’s good to get time in the car – I do a lot of work in the factory simulator with the team, so you always want to try and correlate that to the track. It’s a great opportunity to drive here in Barcelona as well. It’s one of the best test tracks, and with the new tarmac it’s good to get a feeling for the new surface.
“Today I was working on the tyre programme with Pirelli, and even though it’s a closed programme and I was doing short runs on high fuel, I could still get a feeling for the car and the tyre changes. I felt pretty good – some areas felt very similar and some a little bit different to the sim. That’s why these days are so useful, because I can then get back in the simulator and correlate the differences. I was impressed with just how similar some things feel.
“It was my first day driving with the Renault engine and you can definitely feel the difference with that compared to last year. It was also beneficial to get some laps in. Since my last outing in Abu Dhabi, the cars have changed a lot – it’s hard to compare track-to-track, but I feel a step forward in the car from last year. The level of downforce and grip is higher, and it’s a nicer car to drive.”