He will work together with his engineers to optimize the set-up, although track characteristics go against him
Francorchamps, August 26th 2016.- It wasn't an easy opening day for Carlos Sainz at the Belgian Grand Prix. The driver from Scuderia Toro Rosso explored the bounderies of his car, but the STR11 didn't show a brilliant pace along the majestic straights of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, and even struggled in the twisty sector. Now the goal is to polish the set-up in order to recover tomorrow, the day on which Sunday's starting order will be decided.
Temperatures were much hotter than in the morning session, with the track peaking at 40 degrees and the air at 31. Carlos begun the session on a set of soft tyres, on which he did five laps. He later went for a set of supersofts, on which he set a 1'50"194 that gave him the 18th spot on the standings. He completed nine laps across three stints before going for a set of options and clocking eleven laps on them. 25 laps in total on which he didn't manage to feel comfortable on his car as STR11's old-spec engine suffers in the straights of the first and the third sectors.
These were Carlos' first thoughts after stepping out of his car, a car that today was even more special as he was one of the chosen drivers to test the halo protection system in Free Practice 1. He also gave his first views about it.
"It was a weird feeling in the first few turns, but it's normal. It doesn't affect your views while climbing Eau Rouge and by the time you finish the lap you've already forgotten that you're running an halo. Maybe what shoumd now be imprlved is the access and leaving to the cockpit, as it is more difficult than without it, but here is where the FIA comes into play with its research and development. The ideal thing would be to have a way to assemble it and dissamble it, amd if that's not possible then go for another system that makes it easier, such as the aeroscreen".
Carlos puts especial emphasys on the visibility. "The only thing I was curios about, the visibility, wasn't an issue in any part of the track. If you don't have any problems through Eau Rouge, then the system won't affect you anywhere. So in terms of visibility, it's almost the same than without the halo.
Regarding the performance of his Toro Rosso, Carlos is not very optimistic. "We may be a little worse than expected, because not only we lose time in the first and the third sectors, we also lose time in the second one. It looks like it's going to be very tough here, but the good thing is it's still Friday and we can still turn it around. I don't know if we can progress like in Hungary, where we made it to Q3, or in Silverstone, but enough to prevent the Saubers and the Manors from being in front, as it seems right now. Haas is a step ahead. We are not bringing anything unusual, but this track doesm't suit us".
The way to improve is to work tigether with the engineers. "There's still margin to improve the set-up in order to move forward, especially in the second sector. We've got nothing left for the first and the third ones. We can't take out any more aero because if we already lose time we can't afford to lose more. It's all going to be about the set-up, about trying to get more comfortable, so I hope this little change gives us confidence and our focus will be mainly in the second sector".
The enjoyment as a driver is still there, as one always pushes the limits. "When I'm on my flying lap with supersofts, I enjoy it just the same. What I don't enjoy that much is when I get to see my laptime and my place in the standings. That's tougher, but by pushing in your lap you get to feel a Formula One car around here and you still enjoy it. It's a little bit harder with the high pressures we've been given here, because that's a problem for all of us, but it's still fun".
Tomorrow action will resume at Spa-Francorchamps with the third and final Free Practice session for the Belgium GP. It will be at 11:00 Spanish time, and three hours later it will be Qualifying time. We will follow it live via www.carlosainz.es and our Twitter account @carlosainzinfo.