Simona de Silvestro detected a mentality change during a recent Winton test as Nissan Motorsport aims to capitalise on its strong start to the Supercars season.
The Swiss driver was joined by team-mates Rick Kelly, Michael Caruso and Andre Heimgartner at the Victorian circuit with the quartet completing 1000km of running as it looked to unearth more potential from its Altimas.
Nissan’s first in-season test of the year came almost three weeks after a breakthrough victory for the team at the Winton SuperSprint, which was the operation’s second podium of the season.
However, such was the importance of the test de Silvestro travelled from Switzerland for the outing.
The 29-year-old lives on the Gold Coast but makes regular trips to Europe for sponsor and media commitments and returned to Switzerland yesterday for this weekend’s groundbreaking FIA Formula E race in Zurich.
While de Silvestro is still searching for a maiden top 10, she admitted the feeling at the test day was different with the team now fully focussed on developing the car instead of ironing out issues.
“It felt different because we are close now (pace wise), we are trying things like testing pieces that have never been on the car before,” de Silvestro told Speedcafe.com.
“There is a big push from the team.
“It has been good in the sense that we have done big different changes that we never really do on race weekends and assessed them.
“It was really positive. We were able to go through a few things that we have had a question mark on through the whole year.
“It was pretty full on. I was still eating my sandwich when my engineer Chris (Stuckey) told me we were ready to go again.
“It was good. In Supercars the testing rules are so tight that you really have got to maximise it and the day was perfect.”
Nissan Motorsport team manager Scott Sinclair agreed the squad is in a strong position currently but believes they have plenty of work ahead to maintain itself as a force at the front.
“It is a good situation to be in and we are under no illusions,” Sinclair told Speedcafe.com.
“We have had a couple of good results in the last events.
“We are looking forward to Darwin and beyond but we know the competition is tough and we are going to have bring our ‘A’ game and perhaps even more to remain competitive.
“There were a lot of things that we wanted to try that we haven’t tried before and we got through all that.
“I’d say it was 50-50 in regards to whether we focussed the day around set-ups and new components.
“It’s hard to draw any conclusions on the new parts but the real guts of it comes from looking through the data.
“We have probably done a thousand kilometres of running across the four cars, so there is a heap of data to assess.”
The team will head to Darwin for the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown from June 15-17.