He might have ended Free Practice fastest of all, but Ayumu Iwasa believes he left plenty of time on the table during the opening session of the Yas Marina weekend.
The DAMS driver finished ahead of Théo Pourchaire by just 0.055s, having set his best time earlier than his rivals in the morning session. After having the chance to step out of the car and assess his work, Iwasa says he’s feeling very confident that the pace will come to him even more in Qualifying.
“Practice was good but actually, I felt I could improve even more because the car was quick, and I think my driving was not too far from the best but still room to improve. I felt that car was perfect so I think we will be able to improve for Qualifying. So it’ll be quite interesting to see the improvement in Qualifying because already I’m in P1 so it’s a positive start for us.”
By being quickest out of the gate, Iwasa says that the team won’t have much to work on between Practice and Qualifying this afternoon.
With the balance already in a good place according to the Japanese driver, his prospects for the all-important session are positive, but he acknowledges that other drivers will be in the same position too.
With Qualifying taking place in the sunshine rather than under floodlights, keeping the soft Pirelli compound as intact as possible across the course of the lap will be critical. It’s something Iwasa says he will be working on with his team ahead of the session.
“Swapping to the soft compound tyre, I’ll need to work on keeping them in the temperature window, so that is my first target. I need to adjust everything like warm up and to also be conservative over the lap as well. But I think the car is already quick so maybe we should not change too much.
“We’ll have to do a bit of work on the car and make changes to get to a better potential and then in my driving as well. So, we will see details more on the data with engineers and then I will try to do my best.”
Iwasa says that he was working hard on the sim during the break to keep himself sharp for the season finale. It appears to have been an approach worth taking, as the DAMS man set his fastest effort well ahead of the others in the early phase of Practice.
Refocusing his attentions to Qualifying, Iwasa says he isn’t taking pole position for granted as he expects plenty of other teams and drivers to find the missing time between the sessions.
“It was quite a strange feeling because it’s been a long time since I drove an F2 car but actually, I was driving on the sim quite a lot during this break. So, I think it was not too bad. I was quite quick straightaway near the beginning of the session. I think it was working well.”
“Adjusting the warm-up and my driving for the soft tyres, that is important, and other teams will be improving too before Qualifying. It will not be easy for anyone, and the gap isn’t big between me and the others. I will do my best and we will see the potential.”