Tag Archives: Adrian Sutil

Sutil leads in the rain in German FP1

Adrian Sutil topped a heavily rain-affected Friday Practice 1 session at the Hockenheimring. The track started out very wet, and then slowly started to dry out as the session continued, although times were still very slow, the fastest of which were in the 1.25s. The biggest surprise came when Lewis Hamilton crashed out after only 8 laps.

Adrian Sutil topped FP1 in the Hockenheimring today

Adrian Sutil topped FP1 in the Hockenheimring today

McLaren had fitted the new and fully working blown diffuser to Hamilton’s car this weekend, but information was going to be limited in the wet conditions. Matters were made even worse when Lewis lost control at the end of Turn 3, and hit the barrier nose-first, then rotated and hit the left-rear. This left the McLaren out for the rest of the session.

Adrian Sutil was faster by an entire second to Felipe Massa, who spun several times on the drying track. Behind him were Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Pedro de la Rosa in the top 10.

Further back, Sebastian Vettel was 11th while Timo Glock was 12th for Virgin. Behind them, it was Robert Kubica, Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli, Jaime Alguersuari, Lewis Hamilton, Lucas di Grassi, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi. Fairuz Fauzy made another appearance at Lotus, but was 1.7 seconds slower than Trulli, and ended up 21st. Bruno Senna took back his seat, and was 22nd, followed by Michael Schumacher. He was running full wets at the end of the session, even when the track was drying out, as the car was suffering from a rear wing problem. Sakon Yamamoto was 24th, and an entire second away from his team-mate as usual.

Looking at Hamilton’s crash, it seemed to be that he stamped on the throttle a little too early, which shows how bad the conditions were out there. Here is the footage:

By the way, I know I said that I wouldn’t be around today, but I was back earlier than expected, so I was able to get the reports up today. Qualifying coverage will still be delayed tomorrow.

Chinese GP Thursday press conference

Sebastien Buemi, Adrian Sutil, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher at the Chinese GP press conference

Sebastien Buemi, Adrian Sutil, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher at the Chinese GP press conference

At today’s press conference, we had Adrian Sutil, Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Buemi, and Lewis Hamilton. Here is the full transcript:

Q: Adrian, what was it like having your friend Lewis breathing down your neck in the last race for 20 laps or so?
Adrian Sutil:
It was not an easy race. At the beginning it all went right and we had a good pace, so I was quite comfortable with my position and then in the last 20 laps Lewis made a lot of pressure. He arrived really, really fast and he was on the soft tyre. I just tried to do no mistakes and keep my line and concentrate to the end of the race. I knew it was going to be quite a long race and long laps for me with him pressing behind. But in the last couple of laps I had the feeling his tyres were going off a little bit, so I could breathe a little bit more and I had a little gap, so it was still under control, but I know him and he fights until the end.

Q: I guess it does confirm that the team has taken quite a step forward this year?
AS:
Yes, we are doing really well I think. I am very happy that we improved so much over the winter. I had a good feeling over the winter. We did everything very efficiently and the work is still going on. That is not only the first three races where we were doing great. Of course we have our goals this season and we want to do even better. It is all set up well and we can improve this position in the next races.

Q: What about the contribution of Paul di Resta? He comes in and drives on the Friday morning, is that a distraction for you or is that a good thing?
AS:
Well, I want to be in the car always of course even on Friday morning but we agreed to it during the winter. He is our test and reserve driver and he has his chance on the Friday morning swapping the car. Once in mine, once in Tonio’s (Liuzzi). I think in general it is a good thing for young drivers coming into Formula One to get a chance to test a little bit. Now with the testing ban they don’t have any driving experience. When there is a problem with the race driver they need to go in the car and they are not prepared, so this is a way to do it better to give them a chance to settle well into Formula One.

Q: Sebastien, Toro Rosso this year have had to design their own car. Tell us about the advantages and disadvantages of that?
Sebastien Buemi:
For sure it is not an easy thing to set up a team which was not building its own car last year. It has been big work during the winter and we are getting up to speed with the updates in the wind tunnel, so we will see the result in the middle of the season. But we have a good car to fight in the middle of the pack and score points if we do a good race, so it is not too bad.

Q: Difficult start to the season, but is it getting better now?
SB:
It was not the start of the season I was expecting but sometimes difficult things happen. It has been the case this year, so we will see what we can achieve here. We saw a good improvement in Malaysia and we seem to be quite a lot closer to Force India and Williams and I think it doesn’t look bad for finishing near the points or in the points. That will be our objective this weekend.

Q: How difficult is it for you that you have had a whole season’s experience but you don’t have a more experienced driver to help with sorting out the car? Is that a problem for you?
SB:
To be honest in Formula One I have never had a really experienced driver with me, so I don’t know how it is to work with someone with a lot of experience. I do my best to improve the car and the team and now it is getting a lot better with experience and knowing all the circuits and knowing how the race weekend goes. I think we can achieve a good set-up and a good car during the practice, so I will take it as it comes and try to do my best.

Q: So not really a problem?
SB:
I don’t think so.

Q: Lewis, I think you have been out and about in Shanghai today. You were at the Expo I believe?
Lewis Hamilton:
Yeah, this morning before we went to the track we stopped by the Expo and I got to see a little bit of it and I just have a small tour around the UK’s Expo. It was quite a cool and special building they have created there. But it was just a quick stop and I did a bit of a press conference and that was it.

Q: We are three races in to the so-called rivalry between you and Jenson Button. How is it going?
LH:
We are doing well. We are scoring lots of points for the team. He is a doing a fantastic job and we are getting on really well. He brings nothing but positiveness to the team and I think he is a very well balanced and well-rounded guy. We get on really well and it is working well for us.

Q: I guess the real worry if anything is Red Bull’s pace. How much of a worry is that? And the team was taking steps and making new technical decisions to counter that, but they have had to abandon that.
LH:
We have not had to abandon much. There are so many different things in the pipeline and one of those was to go in a similar direction as perhaps some other teams have done. But it is clear everyone cannot do that now. I don’t know how that affects others but it doesn’t really affect us. We still have updates that we are working on and should be coming in the course of the next few weeks or months. I am looking forward to seeing the updates come but I know the guys back at the factory are flat out. We try to make as many improvements as we can. Last weekend we seemed to be very competitive with them through practice but in the race the Red Bulls pace was a little bit… I don’t know if they were pushing that much, but we have just got to keep our eye on the ball and keep pushing.

Q: Michael, do you still feel Mercedes is a little bit behind? Where do you feel it is?
Michael Schumacher:
I guess you have Red Bull and Ferrari being a little bit up front and then probably it is right to say that McLaren is a little bit up front on us although the last race could not really show it. We are probably still in fourth position at the moment.

Q: How is the development coming along from your point of view?
MS:
As you expect in Formula One every kind of race you being new things and it goes step by step. I am quite happy with the general development trend. Naturally as probably most of the teams we will have a little bit bigger upgrade in Barcelona due to time availability and so on, so we are all look forward to that.

Q: You’ve now been back for three races. Have you found things very different since you left F1 three years ago?
MS:
Well, the number of questions and style of questions and all this sort of thing is pretty much the same. Driving the car, in a way, as well. It’s natural that there are some characteristic changes but at the end of the day, every year, you get a new car, and you just adapt and work the car around your needs. Yes, it has taken a little bit of time after being out for three years, it does need a little bit more time, especially with less winter testing available. But I’m feeling pretty good, I have to say. It’s worked out almost quicker than I expected it to do and I feel very comfortable in the car now and I look forward to when things get to the end to show a little bit better.

Q: Do you think a younger Michael Schumacher might have been more frustrated with the time it’s taken to get back right to the very top? You seem more relaxed…
MS:
It depends what age you’re talking about, because when I came into Formula One I would have obviously been very happy with the results we’ve had, because you haven’t had a ranking or a position. If you talk about after winning certain championships, then naturally you would have been a little bit less happy, but with having all this kind of experience, coming back after this break, I feel more than happy with what’s going on. One of the big and interesting things is working with the team to develop the car and being involved in this kind of process. That is so much of the fun. The driving is fun as well but you get used to that pretty quickly, but working on the details, that’s what makes it up for me.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, do you think that the F-duct is going to give you the big advantage that many of your rivals suspect or do you see Red Bull as the main team to beat you?
LH:
I still see Red Bull and Ferrari as the teams to beat here. You don’t know what Mercedes have brought either, so I think it’s the same as every race.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To all drivers, with these low temperatures currently do you expect problems heating the tyres, especially the hard ones?
AS:
For sure, temperatures as low as six degrees which is what we have now is going to be a problem, especially on the hard tyre. We will have to see on Friday, tomorrow, how it looks but I know there will definitely be some warm-up problems. I’m not so concerned that they will never work but they will just take a long time to come in, probably around five or six laps until you get them to a certain speed. So we have to see, we have to adapt the set-up work a little bit to it, but we’re also expecting slightly better temperatures for Saturday and Sunday.
MS: It’s going to warm up over the weekend, so less of an issue.

Q: (Marco Degl’Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Michael, are you not a little disappointed because of this wave of criticism which has been rising up over the last few days, because a lot of people are impatient that you don’t win?
MS:
You see, I’ve been around long enough to know what I call the wave of emotion. During the winter everybody was every emotional and very supportive and positive and once you’re up on this edge of the wave, there’s a natural happening that you start to fall over the edge and whether you are the reason for it, or whether it’s just a natural happening, it’s not always important and because the results have not been as great as some people have expected and even myself, yes, I would have loved to have better results but then the competition is very high and in this respect it’s a natural happening to not have the same positive feedback in the media. But you know, I know exactly what I’ve been doing, I know what’s been going on and I’ve no reason from my side to be disappointed, quite honestly. I still feel very happy. Whether people like it or not is their own choice.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport) Michael, considering the situation that you explained very well, yesterday Fernando said that in his opinion you are still in the fight for the championship this year. Do you agree with him?
MS:
Indeed, yes, I do, because if you take the points system, and you have seen that Fernando had a retirement in Malaysia for whatever reason, it can happen to all of us. I had my retirement in Malaysia, so at one point in the season, most likely, that will hit the guys who are fighting for the championship. If we have a quick enough development pace, there’s no reason why we can’t fight for the championship, it’s far too early and there’s such a long season ahead. Development is so important, and we all know how fast the rate of development is. I’m pretty sure we have good potential to develop this car, so it’s far from feeling and thinking that this season is over, for Nico (Rosberg) and even for myself.

Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport) A general question to Lewis and perhaps Michael as well. It’s quite tight at the top of the drivers’ standings after three races. Are you expecting it to remain such a tight battle between maybe six or eight drivers as we continue, or do you expect, when we get to Europe, when the development race kicks in in earnest, that we will see people leaping ahead? Sebastian (Vettel) could have won all three races so far.
LH:
Yeah, you’re right, Sebastian could be quite a bit ahead at the moment, but I think at the moment it is very close, and I’m hoping that it stays like that for some time but undoubtedly, at some stage during the season, whether or not Red Bull continue to have not such great reliability, as Michael was saying, anything can happen and it can happen to any of us. We just have to try and stay as consistent as possible. You cannot afford too many DNFs, so I think that is probably what every team is trying to maintain, try and stay as consistent as possible.
MS: I think I answered that before.

Q: Michael, I know this is the second time you have been in Shanghai over the last four years; do you have any special feelings about this city and also for your professions here?
MS:
Well, it’s been a while that I have not been here, but it’s quite impressive to see the development. I stayed in town for a couple of nights and I’ve been around a little bit. It’s impressive to see this. It’s always been one of the Grands Prix you enjoy coming to because the enthusiasm of the fans is pretty extreme, so the reception I got when I’ve arrived at the airport or when I arrived at the hotel has been interesting, so naturally we look forward to hopefully performing well for the fans that we have here.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Sebastian, you seemed to be well ahead of your team-mate most of last year and this season too, but the last race was somehow different. Do you feel threatened by Jaime Alguersuari now?
SB:
I think that the last race has been a bit difficult for me. I had a small contact on the first lap with (Kamui) Kobayashi and it broke my front wing, so I did most of the race with a broken front wing and when we changed it, I did the third fastest lap in the race, so it’s difficult to compare, but for sure he has done a good race, he finished in the points, so there’s nothing to say. If you look at the qualifying and everything, it still seems to look good for me, so I just hope for a good race weekend when I can show my speed up to the end, without any problems.

Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport) Michael, this was the scene of your last Formula One victory before you retired in 2006. Could you talk about the last time you experienced that winning feeling, feeling what that race was like for you, memories of that race and perhaps how you could carry that forward into a lovely result on Sunday?
MS:
I’m not a person who looks too much into the past, quite honestly, so forgive me if that’s not in myself. I would rather look forward and have slightly better races than I have in the past two races, which were a bit out of my control. But the track and car and situation should be good enough to have a good race.
The track is a little bit particular, because there are quite a few corners that, depending on whether you have a good balance in the car, are good fun. If your car struggles in terms of balance, you get really angry because in turn one or 13, it’s going to be a mess if you don’t have a good balance and it’s going to be great fun if things work out. It changes your emotion quite a lot.

Q: (Nick Mulvenny – Reuters) Lewis, you obviously had a great win in 2008, but in 2007 you remember what happened then, when you came off the track. Do you think that you’ve matured as a driver, that that sort of situation wouldn’t happen today? That you would insist that you should pit rather than stay out on bald tyres?
LH:
Well, I know where the gravel trap is now, so I don’t think I would be in that position again. Of course, having the experience and being a few years down the line, I think I’m able to understand and make calls for myself, but I don’t think that we as a team would put ourselves in that position again. I’m confident that we won’t be there again.

Sutil leads Bahrain Friday practice 1

Adrian Sutil in FP1 this morning

Adrian Sutil in FP1 this morning

The first practice session of the year got underway today in Sakhir, Bahrain, with Adrian Sutil topping the timesheets, with Felipe Massa also showing impressive consistency throughout.

Ferrari and McLaren also lead at certain points, but Sutil managed the two fastest laps of the session to take the top spot. The strange thing, to many people today, was that the times were much slower than last year. Adrian’s fastest lap was a 1.56.583. Compare this to Jarno Trulli’s pole position lap of 1.33.431, and you can see how much fuel they were carrying. However, you must also bring into the equation the extended circuit length, which may make up for a lot of this extra time.

As I said earlier, Felipe Massa in the Ferrari showed the most promise this morning. 10 of his 19 laps were within 1% of his fastest lap, which was a 1.57.055. He finished 4 tenths off Sutil’s time.

The most worrying aspect of today, however, is the complete lack of pace, or none at all, shown by the three new teams. Virgin only set a time for Timo Glock, who only got 8 laps in, with a best time of 2.03.680. Lucas di Grassi only did an in and an out lap, which means he didn’t set a time. Lotus were slightly slower than Glock,  but more consistent, with Kovalainen and Trulli setting 21 and 15 laps respectively.

Then we get to HRT, who set no laps at all. Bruno Senna went out for 3 laps, but didn’t set a time. Worse still, the car was reported to be all over the place to drive, with extreme handling problems. More on this soon.

Adrian Sutil was very happy with his pace this morning, saying:

"It's time to race now after so long out of the car. This morning we
 were checking all the systems and setup we learnt over testing but 
nobody really knew where we were going to be.

It's our goal to get two cars through to Q3 for this weekend and 
I think we now have a very good baseline with the car and good downforce 
compared to last year.

We can be a top ten runner with this car this year and myself and Tonio 
are working well together. If we can qualify in the top ten now, it can 
lead to decent points which is, at the end of the day, what we want to 
do consistently this season. I would say it's a promising start to get 
there, for sure."

An analysis piece on both practice sessions should be up by tonight.

Times from Friday practice 1:

Position Driver Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.56.583 18
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.56.766 0.183 18
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1.57.041 0.458 19
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.57.055 0.472 19
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.57.068 0.485 19
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.57.163 0.58 19
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.57.194 0.611 19
8 Nico Rosberg Williams-Cosworth 1.57.199 0.616 15
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.57.255 0.672 17
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.57.662 1.079 16
11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.57.722 1.139 18
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.57.894 1.311 20
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.57.943 1.36 17
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.58.399 1.816 13
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.58.782 2.199 11
16 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.58.880 2.297 13
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 2.00.250 3.667 18
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2.01.388 4.805 11
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2.03.680 7.097 8
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2.03.848 7.265 21
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2.03.970 7.387 15
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth N/A N/A 2
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth N/A N/A 3
24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth N/A N/A 0

Pictures will be added when possible.

19th February- Testing results: Webber leads in the dry conditions

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

At last, the sun breaks through in Jerez, as Mark Webber makes full use of the glorius sunshine to top the timesheets today.

In fact, there were torrential downpours last night in the area, as many personnel struggled to even get out of the track. In the morning, although the track was slightly damp, the sun was out, so it would clear very quickly. Nearly everyone was confident of good weather today. In the first half hour, there were only a few installation laps to check the conditions, but not much else. But, at 08:30, Heikki Kovalainen stopped out on track with a clutch sensor problem. The team brushed it off as a small problem, but the Finn was forced to wait on the sidelines until 12:00 to get out again. Meanwhile, by 09:00, the sun was out in full force, track temperatures had risen, and the track had completely dried out.

Many drivers were lapping either cautiously or very heavy with fuel. The fastest times were in the 1.23 and 1.24 zone. At 09:40, there were reports that Lucas di Grassi had crashed at Turn 12. It soon  turned out that he didn’t hit the barriers, but only just avoided them. This was to be the second red flag of the day, after Kovalainen. However, once the session restarted, Kobayashi instantly brought the session to a halt again, but it is unclear what happened. It seems as though he simple stopped on track. Once the session restarted, it was time for slick tyres, with Alonso, Kubica, Sutil and Webber out to take the most from it. Webber’s 5-lap run left him in the 1.24’s, while Alonso, and then Alguersuaria and Schumacher, all got into the 1.23’s. Jenson Button headed out at 10:30, had the track to himself for a while, and immidiately got a 1.22.6 as his reward.

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Track temperature was now 22 degrees, and there was less wind than yesterday, so fastest laps were estimated to be nearly as quick as the ones last week. Lucas di Grassi did one installation lap, to inspect for any damage to his car, and pitted quickly, and many believed the car was fine. At 10:30, Fernando Alonso got a 1.21.969, after a 7-lap run. Button got back out again, and by 11:00 got a 1.21.435. Webber and Alonso soon got 1.21.7 and 1.21.8 repsectively, which meant the track had rubbered in well. After 6 laps, all of Button’s laps were in the 1.21’s, which shows he was really on the pace. Webber was 5 laps into his stint, all in the 1.22’s, when he stopped out on the straight, with a suspected mechanical problem.

At 11:30, it seemed that Nico Hulkenberg was mixing lap times with pit stop practice, but only getting into the 1.25 mark with his laps. This, however, was believed to have been a full race simulation, which means he would have been full up on fuel.  Soon though, Button broke into the 1.20 zone, as part of a 7-lap run. By 12:30, Adrian Sutil was the next to improve his times, getting a 1.22.5. Schumacher, after a 10-lap run, got a 1.21.9, with most in the 1.22 or 1.23 range. At 13:00, Alonso went back out, and was suddenly firing on all cylinders, getting straight down to 1.20.115, then 1.20.1, 1.20.6, 1.20.5, 1.20.6, and 1.20.7. This great consistency shows the Ferrari has true pace this year. Kovalainen was out at 13:00, to test two different types of tyre compound rather than fuel,but his fastest lap was only 1.26. He soon had to pit though, because of a cracked exhaust.

At 14:00, Webber got a 1.19.3, putting him 7 tenths clear of the rest of the field. He soon managed a 1.19.6 before pitting. At 14:20, Lucas di Grassi caused another stoppage, this time at the Dry Sack hairpin. When the session resumed 20 minutes later, Webber immidiately got a 1.19.299. Kovalinen got back on track at 15:00 after his exhaust problem, and got a 1.24.924 on one of his first laps out. From then until the end, it was just race simulations, so no new fast times were set. The session was ended 3 minutes early, after Hulkenberg stopped at the Dry Sack corner, but we’re not sure what the problem was this time. Despite this, he managed the most laps today, with 138, ahead of Alonso on 132, Alguersuari on 120, Webber on 115, Button on 101 and Kubica on 100. Di Grassi only got 34, while Kobayashi got 28.

All of today’s times:

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.19.299 115
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.115 +0.816 132
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.394 +1.095 101
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.21.432 +2.133 138
5. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.437 +2.138 79
6. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.21.916 +2.617 100
7. A. Sutil F. India VJM03 1.21.939 +2.640 69
8.

Red9.

10.

11.

K. Kobayashi

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

H. Kovalainen

Sauber

T. Rosso

Virgin

Lotus

C29

STR5

VR-01

T127

1.22.228

1.22.564

1.23.504

1.23.521

+2.929

+3.265

+4.205

+4.222

28

120

34

68

Pictures from the test:

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:

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:

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:

Force India VJM03 launched

The Force India 2010 car, to be called the VJM03, has been launched online today.

The team has said that this year’s car is an evolution of last year’s car, the VJM02. That car was superb in low-downforce conditions, but hugely struggled everywhere else. This year’s car is hoped to be much better in medium and high-downforce circuits.

Force India are to continue using Mercedes engines, widely considered the best engines on the grid last year. Their driver line-up has also been unaffected, with the team electing to stick with Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Paul di Resta will be the reserve driver, and will take part in Friday practice sessions with the team. This widens speculation that he will be hires as a race driver for 2011.

The car was fired up earlier today. It will make its first public debut tomorrow, when Adrian Sutil drives the car at the second of the main F1 tests, in Jerez. The car’s designer, Mark Smith, said:

“The VJM03 is definitely an evolution of the VJM02 in terms of the design philosophies we have developed at Force India over the last year. We are very happy with the direction, therefore we have opted to evolve the car rather than significantly revise.”

“Obviously one of the major aspects we have had to contend with are regulation changes which have had a considerable impact on some aspects of the design of the car. The removal of refuelling from races increases the amount of fuel needed to be stored in the cars – almost twice the amount we ran in 2009. There is a compromise now: either make the car much longer or wider, or, as we have done, a combination of both. This of course has influenced the mechanical design solutions and also the aerodynamics, specifically with respects to the diffuser and bodywork.”

“Even with the ban of double diffusers for 2011, we recognise that we still have to push as much as we possibly can in this area in 2010 as we have targets to meet and the double diffuser is a key development aspect of the car.”

“The VJM02 was a relatively low drag car that showed well on the low downforce tracks. As was demonstrated throughout 2009, that was a useful attribute but as we go into 2010 we have tried to maintain a high level of aerodynamic efficiency, but we recognise that our championship position will be enhanced by a general level of performance that is suited to all types of circuits. We have, we believe, quite an efficient car overall.”

The livery is almost exactly the same, except the sides of the rear wing are now green. A bit lazy, in my opinion, but it’s still nice paint work. The car features a much wider wheelbase, mostly made at the back, for the larger fuel tank. The shark fin engine cover has been revised, the engine intake is lower and further forward, and the nosecone is higher. However, the team is not sporting last year’s Reb Bull horned nose design. The front wing actually looks much simpler, with bigger and less main sections, and oddly plain endplates.

They were right: it is definitely only an evolution rather than a revolution. The real question is whether they have solved their downforce problems. We should get a good indicator tomorrow at the Jerez test.

Force India have released interviews with Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer:

Adrian Sutil, driver

2009 was a transitional year for the team, and you scored your best result in F1 to date. How would you sum up this year?
2009 was a really important year. I was very close to scoring points in a lot of races and, frustratingly, something always happened. So when we got to Monza, it was a pretty perfect weekend. I scored my first front row, my first points since 2007 and it gave me a lot of extra confidence. I was very happy when the success came and it was for sure a big moment in my career, the turning point. It’s really different to start from the front row and race at the front and I feel it has helped me to grow. I know I need to follow it up this year now.

How do you feel going into this year?
I hope we will have a good season and I am pretty confident we will. We have had a good winter and a very good development programme so expectations are high. The car looks great, we did a positive step with the wind tunnel simulations but let’s test and see where we are. I know we need to perform well and from my side I have tried to be perfectly prepared.

What will your aims be this year, how do you intend to build on last year?
2010 is a really important season and we are very optimistic about going well. When you start a season you always want it to be better than the previous one and I think this year it’s important to be consistent from the first race. It’s the first time we have been completely on schedule so I feel this will be the first season when I can show from the beginning to the end what is possible on the car and what I can do. I’d like to be in the midfield and be competitive from Bahrain.

This is now your fourth season with the Silverstone-based team. What does this stability mean for you?
I feel really good in the team, it’s like family for me as they know me very well, they know how I work and my strengths and weaknesses. With that kind of relationship they can really get the things that suit me and I have confidence in them to do it. At the end of last season I felt very good and it was hard to find a better option for 2010. Over the past four years we have of course seen many different changes but when Vijay took over in 2007 it was a step in the right direction. He’s committed to go for it and he has his goals. Right now we’re looking really good, we’ve sorted out all the issues and this winter has been a consistent working situation so it’s a big advantage. It’s nice to be one of the few teams who have stability now and can just focus on the racing.

The competition is very tough this year, with new teams and more world champions in the field than in previous years. What are your thoughts on this?
The competition of course will be really tough with four world champions in the field now – of course Lewis and Jenson in McLaren, Fernando in the Ferrari and now Michael back in Mercedes. I have a lot of respect for all of them and I’m actually really excited about being on the same grid, but at the end of the day they are your competitors. You can’t hold them up as heroes or goals – when we’re racing they are people you need to beat. If you do go well against them it will really lift you so I’m looking forward to seeing how I do.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, driver

It’s finally a chance to get a full race season under your belt for the first time since 2007. What are your thoughts on this?
After one and a half years in a test role, I feel really prepared, both physically and mentally for a full race season. My objective is to be as strong and consistent as possible and give good feedback to the team to help them improve. For sure scoring points as many times as I can is going to be the key and you never know, perhaps we can get something more as well if everything comes together.

How would you review your five races in 2009? What did you learn?
It was a great opportunity to learn the tracks and then get back to the rhythm of a F1 car. I was a bit disappointed with some races, but we knew that the car would suit Monza much better than the other types of circuit. We had a bit of bad luck as well, like qualifying in Brazil when I aquaplaned off. Although it was difficult to score points, it was important for me to show that when the car is performing well I am ready to bring the results in and I’m always the same, fast competitive driver I’ve always been. It was a good warm up for 2010.

Do you feel this time round as a racer you’re approaching it differently?
In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together. Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I’ve built a good strong relationship with them. I feel like I’m in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past. This year is a new start for me. I’m a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality. It’s a different Tonio and I’m looking forward to what can come. I’m still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.

Do you feel confident in the VJM03?
I have to say that the team, looking at what we did last year, has done a fantastic job. They never stopped working on the 2009 car to push right to the end, but have been flat out for 2010 as well. I am really confident in the work they have done over the winter and we’ve built a car that can regularly be in the points. That’s also my aim, plus to be more consistent and competitive throughout the whole season.

With the new teams coming in, Force India won’t be the smallest team on the grid any more. Is this an advantage?
Yes, this is an advantage for us as we know how to operate on smaller levels that the bigger teams will have to get used to, while the new teams have a tough job to do. I think it will be a good season for us.

Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer

You’ve been with the team for nearly four months now. What impressions have you gained?
I like the atmosphere in the team. With half the people of a big team we design a good car and the wind tunnel guys do a very good job in getting the numbers that are required. You just don’t have the time or resources available to waste, so you just get on with the job.

When you joined the team was in a very stable situation, and was enjoying some success on the track. Has that helped to make things very straightforward for you?
I think stability does produce results. That’s not to say you shouldn’t change and improve as clearly you should, but huge upheavals never help. If you can have stability with the right people pulling in the same direction, you’re much better off. Fortunately we have that here.

What improvements are already underway?
There are two big improvements from 2009. One has been the increase in our CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] resource, thanks to a new partnership with CRL in India, which has increased our capacity by five-fold. The other principal area has been the utilisation of the wind tunnel to a greater extent, almost 24 -7. Coupled together this has allowed us to take great steps forward. Last year Simon Roberts also instilled some very good processes and procedures that have also helped to refine our procedures, communications within the company and ultimately the decision making process. Simon did a great job in doing that, and I’m going to carry that forward.

Like Red Bull you missed the Valencia test, and instead you are shaking down the new car at Silverstone. What was the thinking behind that?
It was a strategic decision. By missing the first test, we can gain a little bit more development time – a little bit longer in the tunnel, a little bit longer thinking about what’s important on the car. It was just a trade-off decision. We completed a shakedown day, before the testing started that regains a little bit of what we’ve lost.

This year there is a Resource Restriction Agreement taking shape – how does that affect Force India?
There’s a step down in personnel allowed at races this year, as well as on external expenditure, but neither affect us at all. If we change nothing this year, we’ll be below both of the levels set whereas some other teams will have to come down. It is very much to our advantage as we are not having to learn any new skills or working operations procedures.

What are the big challenges that the team faces over the next year or two?
Our biggest challenge is to get the wind tunnel up to 24-7, and becoming efficient with our CFD capacity. For you to maximise your performance there are a thousand little things that you need to get right. This year the racing is going to be a bit different, with no refuelling, and it’s always good to have more money so you can do more development throughout the year!

You mentioned the changes in race strategy this year. Do you think that the team could gain from being quick on its feet and making the right calls?
Yes, especially early on in the year when people haven’t quite settled down yet. I think in F1 we’re all quick to learn, and quick to learn from each other. If we can make some good calls early on, that will help us.

You have kept the same drivers. What do they bring to the team?
Adrian is a great asset. He’s very talented, and he’s fast and fearless, and he’ll gain from the experience he now has. If Tonio can learn from last year, and his confidence is up knowing that he’s got a regular seat now, he has great potential.

Finally you have signed Paul di Resta as third driver. How do you see his role?
He’s a young driver with a lot of potential, and we’re going to work with him to maximise that potential. And that should be to the benefit of this team. He can help us in simulator testing, and he should be doing some Friday testing just to get familiar with the car and hone his skills. And then we’ll see about the future.

Pictures of the new VJM03 (helmet photos included):

Di Resta closing in on Force India drive (includes interview video)

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Current DTM driver, Paul Di Resta, says that he is currently closing in on a contract as a test driver for Force India for this season.

He has driven a Force India before, in the young driver test last December, and impressed with getting 2nd fastest laps in 2 days out of 3. Regarding this test, Di Resta was happy, saying:

“Yeah. We had a very difficult year in the DTM last year. It did not get off to the best start but then, during the year, we started talking to Force India. And thankfully they gave me an opportunity to go down to Jerez and do three half days in the car.”

“It was a big opportunity and something I have waited a long time to do, to get a serious chance to drive the car, and it was very productive. We came out very strong and also moved forward and built a relationship with Force India.”

He is currently in negotiations with Vijay Mallya and the Force India team regarding a test driver contract for this year. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi have already locked out the race seats. He stated:

“Things are moving along quite strong. Since the test for sure we have been in talks, and I would say we are about 90 per cent there. We are in the final stages of finishing off for the programme they have set and hopefully we can build a very long and strong relationship for me to try and race with Force India in the future.”

Di Resta also added that he may not be able to compete in DTM in the future with Merceedes, having spent 3 years with the team.

A full interview with Paul Di Resta, at the Autosport International, is available here:

Sutil: 2010 a big opportunity

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, driver for Force India, thinks that 2010 can be a huge opportunity for him and his team.

In an interview with Formula1.com, he says that Force India can now be an established team:

“It feels very good to be a competitive team in Formula One. The 2009 season was one of the most important seasons for us. We were able to make a name for ourselves in F1 with constantly good performances and a few huge surprises. Now it’s important to continue our good work and try to be even more competitive in 2010.”

“What probably was a shortfall in the past is now turning into a big advantage for us right now, as we are used to working within a small budget and with less people. We can fully concentrate on our development, as we used to do over the last few years, without having to shift energy into various downgrades. Other teams need to learn – probably painfully – how to work efficiently with less people and a reduced budget. That could take a little while and so 2010 could be a big opportunity for us.”

Speaking about the new car, the VJM3, he said:

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now. For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

Talking about his schedule before the season begins, he stated:

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now. For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers