Monthly Archives: February 2010

Hydraulics problems for Virgin team

Timo Glock in the Virgin VR-01 today in Jerez

Timo Glock in the Virgin VR-01 today in Jerez

Today the Virgin team managed only 10 laps in Jerez, which is no improvement over last week’s disaster, also at Jerez. Today, it was revealed that the team were absent for most of the afternoon because they were attempting to fix a hydraulic problem.

The team believed that they had finally evaded the wet weather that had dogged them last week, before they spent the afternoon today in diagnostic mode. This is where the car undergoes a series of out-laps, then returns to the pits. Each time, a different hydraulic setup is used, to try and fix the problem. This also explains why Timo Glock made so many installation laps before entering the pits today. As a result of all this diagnostic work, the team was only able to complete 10 laps of the Jerez circuit today.

Technical director Nick Wirth said:

“We have experienced a sequence of hydraulic problems which were tricky to diagnose on a new car. This caused us to suffer long and frustrating periods confined to the garage and when we did venture out on track it was purely to conduct a series of exploratory out-laps to try to understand if we had cured the problem. We eventually discovered the real issue, albeit rather late in the day. “

“Nonetheless, having fully identified the problem, we can fix it tonight and look forward to what we hope will be a more constructive day of running for Timo (Glock) and the team tomorrow.”

Here’s the thing: how much longer can things go wrong for Virgin? Glock and di Grassi must be sick of so many precious testing days wasted because of faults with the car. The changing weather is unavoidable, but this and last week’s front wing failure is hugely damaging to the team’s preparations for Bahrain.

17th February: Testing results- Vettel leads

Yet another wet day of testing at Jerez, as Sebastian Vettel gets his Red Bull RB6 to the top pf the timesheets today.

Unlike the other days, today was mostly made up of heavy showers and persistent dampness, meaning no properly fast laps could be set. The best time to be out on track was in the early afternoon, where Vettel set his lap of 1.22.593.

The day started out quite damp, with the cars lapping cautiously around the 1.30 mark. Minutes into the session, Lewis Hamilton caused the first red flag of the day, stopping out on track. Then, only 4 minutes after the green flags came out, Paul di Resta spun his Force India, and stopped the session again. The track was empty while the removal trucks got rid of the VJM03.

Paul di Resta after spinning out on track

Paul di Resta after spinning out on track

When the session resumed, the track was still damp. Massa’s lap of 1.30.327 was the fastest at around 9:00. Air and track temperature was around 13 degrees at this point. Light rain fell soon, and we were still waiting for most of the cars to come out for the first time at around 9:30. Fairuz Fauzy took out the Lotus for its first laps, running a very heavy fuel load, and lapped in a 1.39, 7 tenths slower than Hamilton’s best so far. Let me say that I’m impressed with the Lotus team so far. They have achieved far more today than Virgin did all last week.

Fairuz Fauzy in the Lotus

Fairuz Fauzy in the Lotus

Vitaly Petrov made Renault’s first appearance of the day at 10:00, but the rain suddenly increased, forcing him back into the pits immidiately. Although the sun came out quickly enough, the track was still wet. During a 6-lap run, Pedro de la Rosa set the fastest lap of 1.27.8at 11:00. The final car to leave the pits for the first time was the Virgin of Timo Glock, at 11:00, when the track was beginning to dry out. However, he only did one installation lap before pitting again. Track conditions soon improved, with a dry line starting to appear and track temperature around 23 degrees.

Rubens Barrichello brought out the third red flag, stopping out on track after he ran out of fuel. This seems to be a new tactic for many teams: run the car until it runs out of fuel, so as to get better fuel usage telemetry. However, the constant red flags are very infuriating for the others. By 12:00, lap times were falling fast, with Hamilton in the 1.24 zone after a 21-lap run, and Massa in the 1.23′s after a 5-lap run. Then, Felipe runs out of fuel (tactical), and brings out the fourth red flag.

When the green flag came out again, Sebastien Buemi was instantly on the pace, setting a 1.24.810 as his fastest lap so far. He was improving on his lap times every lap, so it was more good form for him and the team. Sebastian Vettel made a 24-lap stint work well for him, only 0.017 off Massa’s time. The German then set three fastest laps in a row at 13:00, his fastest lap being 1.22.593. This was the fastest lap of the day. Michael Schumacher finished a 24-lap run, but failed to set any fast laps, and his best got him into sixth place.

Timo Glock finally got out of the pits, but the rain started falling just then, and he pits once again. He manages an installation lap minutes later, but pits straight after. Fairuz Fauzy then went out in the Lotus, but without power steering, and Mike Gascoyne explains this is becasue of a supplier issue. He still set a lap time of 1:37.494, after 18 laps, in the wet conditions. The other drivers were inable to get near Vettel’s lap time, because of the wet conditions. Rubens Barrichello stopped out on the back straight, at 15:45. The session resumed with 12 minutes to go, and the usual scramble for fastest laps started. Times were improving, with most times in the 1.23′s and 1.24′s, but nobody beat Vettel’s time.

Wet conditions in the afternoon

Wet conditions in the afternoon

So Vettel was top, followed by Hamilton, Massa, Buemi, de la Rosa, Schumacher, Sutil, Di Resta, Petrov, Barrichello, Fauzy and Glock. Timo only managed 10 laps across the entire day. On the other hand, Lotus fared much better, with Fauzy managing 76 laps, but mostly in the wet, so he was 9.2 seconds off the fastest lap.

Times from today:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.22.593 99
2. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1.23.017 +0.424 72
3. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.23.204 +0.674 72
4. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.23.322 +0.729 79
5. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.23.367 +0.774 76
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.23.803 +1.210 111
7. A. Sutil Force India VJM03 1.24.272 +1.679 28
8.9.

10.

11.

12.

P. di Resta

V. Petrov

R. Barrichello

F. Fauzy

T. Glock

Force India

Renault

Williams

Lotus

Virgin

VJM03

R30

FW32

T127

VR-01

1.25.088

1.26.237

1.27.320

1.31.848

1.32.417

+2.495

+3.644

+4.727

+9.255

+9.824

74

55

109

76

10

Pictures from the test:

Abu Dhabi circuit sold to government

The Yas Hotel, right in the middle of the Yas Marina circuit

The Yas Hotel, right in the middle of the Yas Marina circuit

Yas Island, which includes the Yas Marina circuit, has been sold off by Aldar Properties to the Abu Dhabi government.

Note that this is not just the circuit, but also the other features on the island as well. On Gulf News, Aldar’s chief financial officer Shafqat Malek said:

“This includes roads, utilities on the Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit which is home to the Formula 1 race track, Yas Marina and the Yas Yacht Club.”

“The sale will improve Aldar’s liquidity position and help the company settle its debts this year of around Dh4.5 billion (about £ 720 million),” said Nabil Farhat, partner with Al Fajer Securities. “They will also have enough cash to complete their projects.”

The Yas Marina project is a $36bn development project by Aldar Properties. 1,700 hectares of the 2,500 have been claimed for development. This development includes a Warner Bros. Movie World (a theme park), Ferrari World (another theme park), the famous Yas Marina hotel, a water park, the Yas Mall, golf courses, lagoon hotels, and much more. And the Formula 1 circuit of course!

It was such a huge project, it was named the World’s leading tourism project at the World Travel Awards in November 2009. However, Aldar Properties has invested far too much into development projects over the United Arab Emirates, around $78bn. Therefore, the property crash in the UAE has prompted them to sell off their assets, to stay afloat. It is unclear whether the Abu Dhabi government will keep the Yas Marina facilities or not, but I’d say they will sell it off in a few years.

What we can learn from Jerez test 1

The first of 2 Jerez test sessions ended last Saturday, with the heavy rain having hugely affected the running for all the teams. Until the second test begins on Wednesday, there are many things we can learn from last week.

First of all, some teams who struggled in 2009 have certainly learned from their mistakes and improved hugely. Ferrari and Sauber are the two teams which spring to mind here. We all remember the fact that Alonso and Massa completely dominated the top of the timesheets in Valencia a few weeks ago. While we haven’t seen fastest laps from the team this time around, it must be noted that both drivers appeared to be running very heavy fuel load setups. The fact that they finished 4th and 7th (twice each) with this fuel load shows that they have serious pace this year. The news gets even better for the Scuderia, as we must remember that wet weather makes it even harder on a heavy fuel load, which adds to their achievements so far this year.

More consistent running from Ferrati in this test session

More consistent running from Ferrati in this test session

Sauber have topped only one session so far, but it is believed that they are running medium to heavy fuel setups as well. Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi have so far been impressive in all but one of the test days last week, when they were caught out by the wet weather. However, it must be noted that Kobayashi’s fastest lap on Tuesday was set on a low-fuel run.

Another team that I haven’t mentioned yet is Force India. The team that got so close to points on so many occasions, to the team that finally scored its maiden podium after Fisi’s heroics, to a team that is now showing very promising pace before the season even starts. It’s much different to last year, when the VJM02 was only fast on low-downforce circuits. Jerez requires a very good medium-high downforce setup, and the team have so far finshed 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th respectively. Adrian Sutil appears to be getting more out of the car than Liuzzi, but we’re not sure what fuel loads they were running. However, it is believed that they were using a medium fuel load for most of the time. One problem is, there seems to be a huge loss in performance when full fuel is applied. Sutil, on one occasion, had his lap times increased by 4 seconds per lap, after adding a 100kg (half race) fuel load. The team and Sutil have said that 5th place in the constructors championship is a realistic ambition this year, and I believe them. Hopefully, we won’t see a huge variant in performance in the car according to the circuit this year.

Sutil and Force India are aiming for 5th in the championship this year

Sutil and Force India are aiming for 5th in the championship this year

McLaren have been top of the timesheets once, when Lewis Hamilton set a low-fuel fastest lap of 1.19.583 (fastest of the 4 days) in the dying minutes of the final day. He was believed to be carrying 5 laps of fuel at the time. When he was filled up with fuel, he was languishing at the bottom of the timesheets most of the day. For example, at the start of a 25-lap stint, he was lapping in the 1.25′s. However, by the end of the stint, he was down to 1.23. It must be noted that this time was done on tyres that were 30 laps old, and in very cold temperatures, 6 degrees. (Hopefully) There will be no Grand Prix that will ever get near those sort of temperatures. We can therefore conclude that Lewis has solid pace in this year’s MP4-25. But what about Jenson? Unfortunately, no conclusions can be made about him, because of the conditions around his 2 days testing. On the first day, his fastest lap was 4 seconds off the pace, but that was a day of heavy rain, and he was running a heavy fuel load, so we can excuse him for that. The next day, he was much quicker, only .6 seconds off the fastest lap of the day. Even if it’s a bit inconclusive, I’d say that Jenson is doing fine in the car as well.

Jenson Button in the McLaren

Jenson Button in the McLaren

It’s been widely predicted that Mercedes will be on the pace this year. With the German line-up of Schumacher and Rosberg, it’s not hard to see why people are saying that. However, their pace isn’t convincing me yet. Sure, Rosberg topped the timesheets last Wednesday, but that was rain-soaked, and I don’t think he was running much fuel that day either. Since then, he and Schumacher have finished 6th, 7th and 5th respectively. Unfortunately, I can’t analyse their fuel loads, as I’m not sure on their figures. All I know is that they were not running very heavy fuel loads. Many people are saying that Schumacher set his fastest laps in the morning, when the track wasn’t rubbered in much, and this shows he has pace. I agree with this, but you have to note that it seemed like Schumacher was pushing like hell to get those times out. Spectators have noted that he was pushing the car too far slightly, which may add a pinch of salt. Even if I’m skeptical, Mercedes will definitely be in the top half  of the grid this year.

Michael Schumacher pushing it to the limit

Michael Schumacher pushing it to the limit

With teams like Renault and Williams, we can’t be sure. Both teams have all-new driver line-ups, so it may take time for them to get used to the cars, Petrov amd Hulkenberg especially. Unfortunately for Renault, Kubica’s fastest lap on Saturday was at the end of a 5-lap stint. The team were believed to have been running 6-lap stints all day long. The fact that they ended up 4th shows they don’t have the raw power to be at the top this year. Now, last December, the team said they wanted to be in contention for world championships by 2011, which is a bit of an ambitious target. However, if anyone will bring them up, it’ll be Kubica, so let’s see what happens there. Williams, on the other hand, are very hard to read this year. 10-lap stints are what Barrichello was doing all day, but we don’t know what Hulkenberg was running. The fact that he finished 3rd and 4th on the first 2 days is encouraging, though. Their engine, the Cosworth CA2010, seems to be good, with the speed traps showing good speed so far.

The team that finished on a high in Abu Dhabi knew they had to capitalise on their progress this year. Red Bull missed the first test in Valencia, and kept developing until Jerez. When their car was unveiled and first run, we saw very little pace. Mark Webber only finished 9th on both occasions, while Vettel was 5th and 6th. On the front, it would appear that they were struggling for pace. The good news is that Vettel’s fastest laps were set during a (at least) 20-lap stint. We’re not sure about Webber’s loads, but it seems he was running very heavy as well. Sebastian Vettel has spoke about these fuel loads already, saying:

“When you look at the lap times, you sometimes think it’s easy to say who is running on a lot of fuel or low fuel, but then people are playing around, so you might be three seconds off but still be quick when you are running with a full tank and others are not. It’s all a bit irritating – and very challenging. You might be seconds off the pace on Friday, but are really the fastest and you won’t know it until Saturday when you go to qualifying. We are heading into exciting times.”

Reliability has struck already, with a fuel pump problem sidelining them for 3 hours on Saturday, so they will need to control this before it hits hard, like in Valencia last year.

Three of the new teams, Campos, Lotus and USF1, have not even released their cars yet, so our attention is focused on Virgin. They were first out of the blocks with their VR-01, which was developed using only Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Their testing in Jerez, however, could be described as a disaster. On the first day, Timo Glock got only 5 laps in, after the heavy rain caught them out. Then, things got even worse on Thursday, when a front wing failure stopped Glock’s running after only 11 laps, which was on a heavy fuel load. His fastest lap was 10 seconds off Kobayashi’s that day. The team worked into the next day trying to repair the cause of the problem, the front wing mounting. When they finally got the car out on Friday, Lucas di Grassi could only set 8 laps, all in the wet, because of unspecified reasons. Since these 8 laps were in the wet, he was 17 seconds off the pace that day. Into Saturday, the car was much better, with di Grassi managing 63 laps all day. They were running a very heavy fuel load, so it was expected that he only ended up 8th at the end of the day, 2.5 seconds behind the leaders. If their initial pace was their actual performance, then they would count themselves lucky that the 107% rule was dropped years ago. However, I think that the Virgin has promise (no jokes!) and could be one of the better new teams this year.

Finally, we have Toro Rosso. We knew they would struggle last year, when Vettel left, and they couldn’t use the year-before Red Bull because of the rule changes. A poor 2009 was expected. However, now that they are producing their own car, we will soon be expecting more from them. Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Alguersuari have been retained for 2010, so it will be expected that these new (ish) drivers will improve over the season. This means that a lot of focus will be on their car. The STR5 has been very surprising so far, in that, across the 4 days, they have finished on top, twice 2 times, and 10th. The final day slump was believed to be heavy fuel running and aerodynamic comparisons, so we can now focus on the other 3 days. On the first day, Buemi was second, only 1 tenth behind Nico Rosberg. This was a rain-soaked day, but it still shows pace in the car. On Thursday, he was again second, this time only 0.07 behind Kamui Kobayashi. To make things better, Kobayashi’s fastest lap was a low-fuel run, and the weather soon turned dry over the day, so the STR5 was showing more and more signs of pace. On Friday, Jaime Alguersuari got in one of the fastest laps of the entire 4-day test, a 1.19.919, which was set in the morning. Even though rain fell soon after, I don’t think many drivers would have beaten his time. So, the first signs are very encouraging for Toro Rosso, but let’s be careful. We don’t know about what fuel they were running on those 3 days. However, I think it’s safe to say that they will improve upon last year.

It’s not right to make full assumptions about all the teams before the testing finishes, so now let’s look forward to the second test in Jerez. Hopefully the predicted floods and heavy rain will refrain this time.

Driver line-up for second Jerez test announced

The second Jerez F1 test takes place this week, on Wednesday until Saturday. As I said yesterday, there are already fears of heavy rain and floods for that test.

Until then, the full driver line-up has been announced for the 4-day test. This is as follows:

Team          Feb 17           Feb 18            Feb 19        Feb 20

Sauber        de la Rosa       de la Rosa        Kobayashi     Kobayashi
Ferrari       Massa            Massa             Alonso        Alonso
Force India   di Resta/Liuzzi  Liuzzi            Sutil         Sutil
Lotus         Fauzy            Kovalainen        Kovalainen    Trulli
McLaren       Hamilton         Hamilton          Button        Button
Mercedes GP   Schumacher       Rosberg           Schumacher    Rosberg
Red Bull      Vettel           Vettel            Webber        Webber
Renault       Petrov           Petrov            Kubica        Kubica
Toro Rosso    Buemi            Buemi             Alguersuari   Alguersuari
Virgin        di Grassi        di Grassi/Glock   Glock         TBA
Williams      Barrichello      Barrichello       Hulkenberg    Hulkenberg

This list may change if  driver drops out for some reason.

This test will be the first time that we will see the Lotus T127 in action, after its release last week.

Michelin discussing return to F1

Michelin F1 tyres

Michelin F1 tyres

Tyre maker Michelin is in “formal discussions” with the FIA, concerning a possible return to Formula 1 for the company. The French team had previously supplied tyres in F1 from 2001 to 2006.

With Bridgestone announcing that this will be their last year in F1, the FIA are on the lookout for a new tyre supplier. It is rumoured that Yokohama and Avon were looking at the possibility, but these rumours appear to be unfounded.

According to Bloomberg, Managing Partner for Michelin Jean-Dominique Senard said:

“We might consider returning but there are some very clear conditions. The major point is to make sure the tyres show what they can bring to the automotive industry.”

It is understood that Michelin’s conditions are relating to environmentally friendly products. The company’s new direction appears to be in protecting the environment with their tyres. So, if Michelin could produce an F1 tyre that lasted a full race distance, and maybe the materials could be recovered afterwards, it would be a great image for the company.

Of course, when many think of Michelin, they think of Indianapolis 2005. I don’t blame these people, it was a disgrace, but I believe that it would be good to see them back, as long as they bring something innovative to the sport.

The one tyre that nearly single-handedly threw them out of the sport... Ralf Schumacher's tyre at Indianapolis 2005

The one tyre that nearly single-handedly threw them out of the sport... Ralf Schumacher's tyre at Indianapolis 2005

Flood risk for Jerez next week

Testing at Jerez last week

Testing at Jerez last week

As if the teams weren’t disadvantaged enough by the rain that hampered last week’s testing at Jerez, there is news that even worse weather is forecast for the rest of this week.

The second Jerez test begins on Wednesday, and ends on Saturday. Showers are forecast for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with very heavy rain predicted for Thursday. It is understood that the rain will probably be much heavier than last week.

The teams were looking at the possiblity of relocating to Portimao or Barcelona, but had to drop the idea because of “logistical challenges” that were involved in the move.

Rain like this is a huge problem for the teams, especially the new ones. Because of the testing ban, this is effectively the only time where drivers can get used to their new cars. The rookie drivers, like di Grassi, Petrov, and Hulkenberg need as much dry testing as they need, and heavy rain like we saw last week is a large disadvantage to them. The new teams, Lotus, USF1, Campos and Virgin, are also affected, because their cars now have much less time to be tested and worked on.

If you remember last year’s testing, where very heavy rain hampered the test at Portimao, the teams did not return this year. It would be safe to say that the teams will not return to Jerez next year.

13th February: Testing results – Hamilton just on top

Lewis Hamilton set multiple late laps-believed to be a low-fuel run- to finish the final day in Jerez on top.

The Briton set a lap time of 1.19.583, the fastest lap of the entire 4-day test at Jerez. However, this day of testing was not without another set of weather difficulties.

When the track opened at 8:00 this morning, the track was still fully wet from yesterday’s rain, and had plenty of standing water. Air temperature was a very low 7 degrees Celcius. Light rain was still falling at this point. While intermidiate tyres were being used, times were still about 9 to 10 seconds slower than the fastest of the entire test.

By around 9:00 the track was becoming more greasy than wet, as the drivers got used to the conditions. The first red flag of the day was out at 9:02, as Sebastian Vettel stopped out on track, after a run of 22 laps. The track continued to dry as the session restarted and continued, and by 10:30 dry patches were appearing around the circuit. There was a lull in action, as the teams pondered going onto slicks. Vettel’s tyres appeared very bald at this point.

An engineer tests the track as the circuit slowly dries out

An engineer tests the track as the circuit slowly dries out

Felipe Massa was the first to go onto slicks, and set a time of 1.24.022 at 11:00. This prompted everyone else to make the change, and the times started to fall. Track conditions were rapidly improving now. Within 15 minutes, Rubens Barrichello had slashed the fastest lap to 1.22.319.  Michael Schumacher went out on track at 12:35 and set a time of 1.20.971 within 5 minutes. However, the German’s car slowed to a halt 10 minutes after this, bringing out the red flags.

While Schumacher's car was fixed, the team tested their new electronic lollipop

While Schumacher's car was fixed, the team tested their new electronic lollipop

The track reopened at 13:10, with Lucas di Grassi finally getting out on track in the Virgin. He had made an appearance earlier, but only set 12 laps. But, he was well off the pace, with a fastest lap of 1.25.683 at 14:00, when everyone else was lapping in the 1.22′s and 1.23′s. He improved slowly, however, and was down to 1.22.912 by3:15. He set more than 50 laps across the day.

The real pace was being shown by Felipe Massa, who had been going on marathon runs all day long. More than 160 laps (500km!) over the afternoon showed how heavy he was running, and his fastest lap was 1.21.485. It is obvious that he was racing most of the day with a race fuel load. He did stop out on track in the morning, but it didn’t affect his running that much.

Felipe Massa after stopping out on track

Felipe Massa after stopping out on track

For the last half an hour, the focus was on low-fuel runs rather than race loads. Sutil, Kubica, Massa, Hamilton and Vettel all broke their personal records of today’s test. The fastest lap of the day was set by Hamilton, a 1.19.583, 5 minutes before the session ended.

Adrian Sutil impressed all day long. Like Massa, he seemed to be running heavier than the others, but still described the car as “nice to drive” and “pleasant”. Today he was working on brake and race set up. He also said that he is thrilled with the performance of the VJM03 and has never felt so confident going into a season before.

There will be a few days for the teams to analyse the data from this test, before testing resumes here in Jerez on the 17th. Until then, I’ll write up an analysis of the last few days.

Times from today:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1.19.583 113
2. A. Sutil Force India VJM03 1.20.180 +0.597 84
3. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.20.341 +0.758 90
4. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.20.358 +0.775 85
5. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.20.613 +1.030 84
6. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.21.203 +1.620 90
7. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.21.485 +1.902 160
8.

9.

10.

P. de la Rosa

L. di Grassi

J. Alguersuari

Sauber

Virgin

Toro Rosso

C29

VR-01

STR5

1.22.134

1.22.912

1.24.072

+2.551

+3.329

+4.489

105

63

98

Pictures from the test:

New Lotus T127 launched

The new Lotus T127

The new Lotus T127

The Lotus T127 has been launched in London today.

As I reported a few days ago, the team are to use the same livery that they used in the 1950′s and 1960′s. This is green, with yellow stripes.

The last time Lotus raced in Formula 1 was in 1994. The team is now owned by Air Asia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes.

At the launch, Fernandes said:

“Words cannot express how I feel today. It is an amazing job to get an F1 licence, have five people in Hingham and turn up today with this car.”

“I was thrilled when Clive [Chapman] said that this was just like te beginning of Lotus back in the early days.”

Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen are to be the team’s drivers for 2010. They will join the other teams in Jerez testing next week. The car has already been shaken down, in Silverstone last week. The engne firing-up was completed a few days beforehand.

Clearly, the Lotus name puts a lot of pressure on Fernandes. Speaking at the launch, he said:

“We know we have a huge burden on our shoulers, standing on the shoulder of giants – Clark, Moss, Hill, and Mansell. We know we have a tremendous journey in front of us, we are honoured and cherished to be a part of history – we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts and we will do our best to return Lotus to its glory days.”

The livery looks great, as it really suits the car design. There are parts of the car that appear very well designed, like the hugely complicated front wing and endplate sections. The mid-section of the car looks good also. However, I’m slightly concerned at the simplicity of the rear wing and nose cone. The rear wing is incredibly plain and boxy, with no endplate add-on at the sides. The nose cone, while slightly similar to others in places, does not incorporate Red Bull’s horned nose design.

Having said that, the design doesn’t look bad, so I’m looking forward to their efforts in 2010.

Pictures from the launch:

12th February: Testing results

Jaime Alguersuari at today's testing

Jaime Alguersuari at today's testing

Jaime Alguersuari went fastest in today’s test at Jerez, as heavy rain yet again hit the circuit in the afternoon.
Half an hour before the test session began at 9 in the morning, light rain began to fall. Temperatures were as low as 9°C throughout the day. However, by 9, the water on the track had mostly dried out. The session was quickly stopped though, because after only 8 minutes Pedro de la Rosa pulled over because of an unspecified problem. He was able to rejoin half an hour later.
But, the rain came back at 9:50, which gradually increased across the next half an hour. The conditions still diminished after this, and Rubens Barrichello was the first to be caught out, spinning at Turn 14 and bringing out the red flags for the second time.

Rubens Barrichello after spinning at Turn 14

Rubens Barrichello after spinning at Turn 14

Rain continued to fall for the next few hours. By 1:00, the cars were beginning to kick up spray behind them. It became very apparent that the morning times were going to be the fastest of the day. The falling conditions were well shown by Nico Rosberg, who was the first to switch to extreme wet tyres, at around 2:00. Very few cars were running after this.
From 2:30 until 4:30, conditions were at their worst, with very heavy rain now pounding the track. Rubens Barrichello summed it all up, saying the track was “like a river and undriveable”. Adrian Sutil spun off at 2:45, causing a third red flag of the day. The Force India car remained in the pits for the rest of the day, because of the team having to repair an electrical problem. The team said afterwards that they were looking to have another flying lap, but didn’t have enough time.
The Virgin team had yet another torrid day, with Lucas di Grassi at the wheel. On Wednesday, they were caught out by the rain, and yesterday Timo Glock had a front wing failure. Today, the Virgin car was forced to wait in the pits until 3:40 (6.5 hours), because the team were still redesigning the front wing after the failure yesterday. A shortage of components hampered their work. Di Grassi made 1 installation lap, before having to return to the pit lane again. He managed another 7 laps over the rest of the day. Since all of his laps were in the wet, his fastest lap was a miserable 1.37.107, more than 17 seconds behind Alguersuari. The Virgin team have managed only 25 laps across 3 days.
The Spaniard’s fastest time was a 1.19.919. He was followed by Pedro de la Rosa (1.20.736) and Adrian Sutil (1.21.428). The rest of the drivers, in order, were: Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton, and Lucas di Grassi.

Times from today’s tests:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR5 1.19.919 76
2. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.20.736 +0.817 48
3. A. Sutil Force India VJM03 1.21.428 +1.509 48
4. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.21.603 +1.684 72
5. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.21.783 +1.864 59
6. V. Petrov Renault R30 1.22.000 +2.081 68
7. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.22.820 +2.901 53
8.

9.

10.

R. Barrichello

L. Hamilton

L. di Grassi

Williams

McLaren

Virgin

FW32

MP4-25

VR-01

1.23.217

1.23.985

1.37.107

+3.298

+4.066

+17.188

120

68

8

Pictures from today’s testing:

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