The eight-race season begins in Great Britain this weekend with a race which delivered a one-two victory for TOYOTA 12 months ago, paving the way for a drivers’ and manufacturers’ World Championship double.
On a sunny and dry day, both TS040 HYBRIDs completed an extensive programme of set-up optimisation and tyre evaluation, achieving the team’s targets on a day when ultimate lap time was not a priority.
The #1 crew of World Champions Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, alongside Kazuki Nakajima finished the two sessions in sixth. In the #2 car, Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway were fifth in both.
An updated TS040 HYBRID for the new season meant a busy programme for drivers and engineers as they worked hard to gain data on the high-downforce aerodynamic package in use this weekend and the 2015 Michelin tyres.
With new regulations for this season limiting each car to six sets of dry-weather tyres for qualifying and the race at Silverstone, even more emphasis is placed on understanding tyre behaviour and degradation at each circuit.
As well as evaluating tyres, various mechanical and aerodynamic set-up options were tested with the sunny weather, which saw only a few drops of rain falling later in first practice, allowing a full programme of testing.
Over the two sessions, the TS040 HYBRIDs recorded a combined total of 151 laps, covering 891km. The team has a final chance to fine-tune the car in third practice on Saturday morning (9.00) prior to qualifying at 12.30. The race starts at midday on Sunday.
TS040 HYBRID #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 1: 6th (1min 43.565secs), 35 laps
Free practice 2: 6th (1min 43.569secs), 46 laps
Anthony Davidson: “It’s nice to be back at Silverstone; I really like driving an LMP1 car around this track. In first practice we focused on checking all the systems and finding a general balance, and then in the afternoon I had limited time behind the wheel so Kazuki could do a long run. The car feels very good but we have some work to do to find more pace and a few more steps to make. We’ll be working hard in final practice to get ready for the race.”
Sébastien Buemi: “It has been a good day of testing for us. Obviously we are not where we want to be in terms of position but ultimate pace was not the target today. We were looking at all the different areas of the car and finding ways to improve. I think we’re going in a positive direction. It’s a bit too early to say right now where everyone stands because the competition is very tight. We will see tomorrow and on Sunday.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “It was great to be back in the car on a race weekend and Silverstone is always a great track. I enjoyed it today. We did everything we needed to and we are happy with our car balance. I completed a long run in second practice which will be important for us to prepare for the race, particularly to see how the tyres degrade. We have a good feeling with the car and I think we have a reasonable base for the weekend.”
TS040 HYBRID #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Free practice 1: 5th (1min 42.749secs), 27 laps
Free practice 2: 5th (1min 42.833secs), 43 laps
Alex Wurz: “It was nice to be back on track, especially here at Silverstone which is always cool; I love the circuit. Some parts were dirty today because there has been some work done recently. There was quite a bit of mud being dragged on to the track so I hope they can do something overnight to improve it. We ran through the programme without any problems. We have some homework to do, we know this track is challenging for our car configuration but it looks very close.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “Today was okay for us. We did a lot of changes on set-up to improve the car and we made progress. We have a reasonable balance so we will see tomorrow in qualifying. Our target is to be very strong in the race. We need good general grip and that’s what we are working for. It will be a tight battle. The opposition is very strong this season but we will see; it will be interesting and exciting for the fans I think.”
Mike Conway: “Overall we got through the test plan and got plenty of data which we will use to improve the set-up. The car feels okay but I think we’ve got some things to do in terms of the overall balance. I am sure tomorrow we will come back stronger and with good race pace. It helps to know where everyone else is already and we’ll find out more tomorrow. I am feeling good but we’ll know a bit more after final practice.”