Michael Bailey , Formula One correspondent
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Vitaly Petrov admits he will have to alter his driving style to get the best out of his new Caterham car.
Having spent the first two years of his Formula One career behind the wheel of a Lotus-backed Renault, Petrov made the move to Hingham last week – only a matter of days before getting his first taste of Caterham’s CT01 at the second pre-season test of the winter in Barcelona.
Petrov’s Wednesday and Thursday running has been limited as the Hingham constructor rush to catch-up on getting his car primed for the new season – a car that until recently had been destined for Jarno Trulli.
“Physically I feel really good – it’s obviously been a while since I’ve been in a car, but I’ve kept up my fitness levels and I enjoyed myself on track, so it’s good to be back,” said Petrov, who hands the wheel back to team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for the test’s final day on Friday.
“One thing I have noticed is that this car behaves a little differently from my previous experience and I think I may have to adjust my driving style to get the best out of it – I’ve been quite aggressive before, but I think this car responds better to smoother inputs, so that’s something I can work on, and work with the engineers on.”
Petrov’s second day in the CT01 brought fewest laps and the slowest best time out of the 10 runners – including Timo Glock in Marussia’s 2011 Virgin chassis – with running hampered by a morning suspension problem.
“That was a bit of a difficult day where we struggled to give Vitaly the sort of setup he wants,” admitted sporting director Steve Nielsen.
“He did a good job today to drive around a couple of basic issues we knew we would encounter, but those will be solved with new parts that are coming for the next test and they should not affect Heikki (on Friday).
“We have saved a number of tyres up for then and that means we can run through the whole tyre program we had set for the last day of this test, which means we should leave here with a better understanding of how the 2012 compounds behave and decent amount of data we can use to prepare for next week’s test.”
The final test of the winter, also in Barcelona, runs from March 1-4 before the season kicks off in Australia two weeks later.