Tag Archives: Force India

Force India fined €1m in Aerolab dispute

The Queen’s Bench Division in the High Court of Justice in London have fined Force India €1m, and damages and interest at 8%, to the Aerolab company, who are currently in dispute with the team over unpaid fees, and the wind tunnel model that Aerolab made for Lotus.

Force India have been forced to pay €1m to Aerolab in their ongoing dispute

Force India have been forced to pay €1m to Aerolab in their ongoing dispute

This is the first result of the Aerolab-Force India dispute, although there is more to come, as Jean Claude Migeot, director of Aerolab, will be charged in Bologna regarding a criminal complaint there. Also, it is unclear whether Lotus will come back into the equation, as their wind tunnel model still is regarded to have been designed questionably by Aerolab, as it may have included Force India intellectual data.

Although there is little more information on this battle, it is believed that the Italian Grand Prix weekend may result in more exchanges of action, as Force India’s assets will be under Italian jurisdiction.

2010 Mid-season review: Force India

Last year, there was no doubt that Force India had a fantastic low-downforce package, as shown by their shock performances in Belgium and Italy. While the team only amassed 13 points across these 2 races, and therefore the season, it was well-known that the team would have to develop a medium-downforce specification if they were to make the next jump. So far, the VJM03 has done exactly that, and has made excellent progress to begin challenging the top teams.

Paul di Resta could be the key to allowing Force India compete with Renault and Mercedes

Paul di Resta could be the key to allowing Force India compete with Renault and Mercedes

At the start of the season, it was Vitantonio Liuzzi who was getting the points, with 2 consecutive top 10 finishes in Bahrain and Australia. After this, Adrian Sutil became the driving force of the team, with a 5th place in Malaysia, and has since got 5 points-scoring finishes in a row, leaving him with an impressive 31 points.

Liuzzi, meanwhile,  has only 12 points, after 3 9th places and a 7th position finish. His drive was in doubt before the Canadian Grand Prix, but a very good 6th place in qualifying seemed to quell these fears. But, a first lap collision with Felipe Massa appeared to ruin his chances of a points finish, but he recovered to get 9th place, still ahead of his team-mate. In Valencia, when Sutil drove from 13th on the grid to 6th, Liuzzi had no pace, and fell from 14th to 16th.

It seems odd that Vitantonio continues to drive at Force India, when there is a fantastic talent sitting on the sidelines, called Paul di Resta. This man, in 2006, beat Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 3 championship, so I am at a loss to explain why he is not racing in Formula 1. He has been allowed to occasionally race in FP1 sessions (3 times this year so far), and once beat Liuzzi when he took over Sutil’s car. Certainly he should be allowed a proper opportunity in F1, even at the expense of Liuzzi.

Aside from the drivers themselves, the car must also be improved if the team are to challenge the top 5 in the championship. While their Mercedes unit is well up to the task, and their new exhaust blown diffuser is on the way, a high-end aerodynamic package must be available to the team if they are to be competitive at every race.

This is not to imply that Force India need dire improvements, just that if they are to make more progress, changes must be made, most notably replacing Liuzzi with Di Resta.

Can Liuzzi hang on?

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been comfortably outpaced by team-mate Adrian Sutil this year

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been comfortably outpaced by team-mate Adrian Sutil this year

This is the third attempt Vitantonio Liuzzi has had in Formula 1. Only 2 of those should really be taken into consideration though, as his first stint with Red Bull was an absolute mess, as the driver rotation system left him on the sidelines far too often. Despite this, he has had plenty of time to adjust to F1, but he still hasn’t made the grade.

This season, he has been comfortably outpaced by team-mate Adrian Sutil in practically every race. He has been out-qualified 6-1 by Sutil, and that would have been 7-0 if it wasn’t for Vitaly Petrov’s crash in Monaco qualifying. So, the question is, how long can Liuzzi hang on for? Because there is increasing pressure from many sides to see him go, most notably from talented rookie test driver Paul di Resta.

As we can see here, his pace against Sutil has been very poor in the first 7 races, being out-paced in all but one race: (Don’t forget Sutil was in a first-lap collision and had an engine failure in the first 2 races)

Bah Aus Mas Chn Esp Mon Tur Points
Adrian Sutil 12 RET 5 11 7 8 9 22
Vitantonio Liuzzi 9 7 RET RET 15 9 13 10

In his entire 51 races in Formula 1, I have only seen 2 notable performances. The first was his drive to 6th place at the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. However, this was overshadowed by him still being beated by team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who was 4th. The second good drive was Italy 2009, where he was in contention for a podium, before a transmission failure ruled him out. That was his first race returning to F1, but he has been unimpressive since then.

Some people will argue that some of it is just bad luck, and Liuzzi may well have the pace to match Sutil. However, this next chart says differently. This chart puts Sutil’s and Liuzzi’s qualifying performances together. Since qualifying is low-fuel, it is an excellent opportunity to show true pace in a driver.

(Note: If one driver was knocked out in Q1/Q2, then the other driver’s time will be from that same session, to ensure similar track conditions when the times were set.)

Bah Aus Mal Chn Esp Mon Tur
Adrian Sutil 1.54.996 1.25.046 1.50.914 1.36.671 1.21.985 1.15.318 1.27.951
Vitantonio Liuzzi 0.627 0.697 1.34 0.49 0.869 -0.257 1.007

Worse still for Liuzzi, there is a very talented youngster in the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to drive in Formula 1. Paul di Resta has been competing in several Friday Practice sessions this year, and even with such limited milage has been showing potential. Shown below are Di Resta’s times comared to Sutil and Liuzzi:

Aus Chn Esp
Adrian Sutil 1.38.008
Vitantonio Liuzzi 1.28.192 1.23.284
Paul di Resta 0.345 0.61 -0.254

As we can see, on one occasion Paul di Resta has managed to beat Liuzzi, this time in Spain. The other time, Liuzzi was faster, but only by three tenths of a second. However, that was Paul’s first ever practice session, so that is a very poor margin for Liuzzi considering that. On the other hand, when Sutil was up against Di Resta, he comfortably beat him by 6 tenths.

In my opinion, Di Resta should get Liuzzi’s seat, preferably by the British Grand Prix. Don’t forget, this is the man who, in the 2006 F3 Euroseries, beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel to the title by 11 points. A talent like this doesn’t deserve to be wasting away in DTM, so I fee that Liuzzi should make way if he doesn’t improve soon. What do you think?

Force India also suing Gascoyne, and Mark Smith leaves for Lotus

Mike Gascoyne is now being involved in the dispute between Force India and Lotus

Mike Gascoyne is now being involved in the dispute between Force India and Lotus

A day after Force India announced that they were suing Lotus for copying their design of their 2010 car, it has been revealed that Mike Gascoyne, the Chief Technical Officer, is also being sued as part of this court battle. Gascoyne worked with Force India from 2006 to 2008.

At the moment, it is understood that Force India are suing Lotus and Gascoyne, as they believe that the green and yellow team have used Force India’s pre-season design in their own car, through the Aerolab company, which provides aero tunnel usage for both teams. Lotus claim that they are simply caught up in a spat, and have revealed that Aerolab have provided them full indemnity in this case.

However, a statement from Force India today very clearly states that the Lotus team “has utilised and benefited from the use of Force India F1 Team’s intellectual properly”:

"The Force India F1 Team confirms it has instigated UK civil 
proceedings against 1Malaysia Racing Team SDN BHD (a Malaysian 
company), 1Malaysia Racing Team (UK) Limited (Lotus Racing's parent 
companies), Michael Gascoyne and Aerolab SRL. Force India also 
confirms that a complaint for disclosure of confidential information 
was filed in December 2009 with the competent authorities in Italy 
and that investigations are being conducted.

Force India believes that Lotus Racing, via its use of Aerolab and 
Fondtech facilities and data, has utilised and benefited from the 
use of Force India F1 Team's intellectual property, including 
components and tyres exclusively licensed by Bridgestone to the 
Force India F1 Team, on its wind tunnel model design for the current 
Lotus T127 chassis without permission from the Force India F1 Team. 
Force India states these are very serious claims and therefore it 
would not be taking such action if it could not provide supportive 
evidence.

Additionally Force India would like to clarify that any action 
between Aerolab and Force India for undue termination of contract 
is now being addressed by the courts. Force India confirms it paid 
approximately one million euros in autumn 2009 to secure the payment 
claimed by Aerolab and it is now for the competent courts to decide 
whether, indeed, this outstanding amount should be paid to Aerolab 
given the seriousness of these current allegations.

For reference, the civil court action documentation is in the public 
domain and can be accessed via the High Court of Justice, Chancery 
Division."

This is getting more and more serious every time I hear something about it. To make matters worse, it has been revealed today that Mark Smith has left Force India to join, you guessed it, Lotus. At Force India, he was the design and technical director, and will now be technical director at Lotus.

The reason I’m concerned about this is simple. When he worked at Force India, Mark Smith was the Design Director of the last 4 Formula 1 cars (2007-2010) that the team have made. Seeing as this controversy is centred around the pre-season designs of Lotus’ and Force India’s cars, it would be a disaster if Smith brought IP (intellectual property) with him to Lotus, as this would just fuel the debate even more.

Force India suing Lotus over wind tunnel design

Lotus' pre-season car design, which Force India claim was copied from their design through Aerolab

Lotus' pre-season car design, which Force India claim was copied from their design through Aerolab

Germany’s Motorsport Total is reporting that the Force India team are suing the Lotus team, over their cars’ wind tunnel designs. Force India claim that Lotus used pre-season designs that were being made similarly at Force India. This dispute also involves the Aerolab company.

Essentially, here is the dispute. A few months ago, Force India made queries when Lotus’ pre-season design had certain similarities to their own. Aerolab were caught up in this, as they provide wind tunnel usage to Lotus, and are in a technical partnership with Force india since September 2009. However, previously, last November, Aerolab sued Force India over “serious and persistent breaches of contract”.

Lotus work with Fondtech, the parent company of Aerolab. In fact, even last year, Force India had again raised concerns that Lotus had copied designs off their 2009 car, and put them into Lotus’ 2010 car. However, no legal challenge was raised until now.

In their defense, Lotus claim that they are simply caught up in a spat between Force India and Aerolab:

"Lotus Racing has been joined as a co-defendant in civil proceedings
which are principally between Force India and Aerolab/Fondtech.

These proceedings do not allege any wrongdoing on the part of Lotus
Racing. Aerolab/Fondtech vigorously denies any wrongdoing and have
provided Lotus Racing with a full indemnity in relation to the
claim."

More on this story as it develops.

20th February- Testing results: Button on top in final day at Jerez

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

The Jerez testing fortnight finally ended today. Note the “finally”, because the teams must have been completely exasperated by the horrible weather conditons we have had over the last 2 weeks. Nevertheless, Jenson Button finished the test on a high, as he topped the timesheets today.

The Briton’s time of 1.18.871 was the fastest of the entire testing fortnight,  ahead of Robert Kubica (1.19.114) and Kamui Kobayashi (1.19.188). The weather was excellent today, as shown by the fact that the 3 fastest times of the last 2 weeks were set today. Most of these fast laps were set in the morning, as everyone switched to heavy fuel running in the afternoon.

Unlike the other days, we didn’t have scrambling of strategies to suit the conditionsm as the teams focused mostly on long fuel runs. Therefore, we didn’t see as much action as we have over the last few days. However, one of the main causes of concern was for Mark Webber, who suffered a serious mechanical problem. This has not been explained yet by Red Bull, but his engine was changed as a precautionary measure. Also, the only other red flag today was for Timo Glock, who stopped after another hydraulic problem for the Virgin car.

In fact, before the problem, he was really on the pace, lapping the same as the rest of the midfield, before the hydraulic gremlins showed up again after only 28 laps. Jarno Trulli and the Lotus team fared much better. Although their best lap was 1 second slower than Glock, they managed 141 laps in total, the highest of any driver today.

The rest of the paddock all were as solid as Lotus. Jaime Alguersuari got in 139 laps, followed closely by Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso (137). Nico Rosberg got 130 laps, while Kubica and Kobayashi managed 117. Otherwise, Button got 108, Webber got 87 and Liuzzi got 80. Over the last 4 days, Nico Hulkenberg has got the most mileage in, with a mammoth 275 laps.

Statistics from the entire test will be up soon.

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.18.871 108
2. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.19.114 +0.243 117
3. K. Kobayashi Sauber C29 1.19.188 +0.317 117
4. A. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.19.650 +0.799 80
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.061 +1.190 130
6. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.436 +1.565 137
7. J. Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.053 +2.182 139
8.9.

10.

11.

M. Webber

N. Hulkenberg

T. Glock

J. Trulli

Red Bull

Williams

Virgin

Lotus

RB6

FW32

VR-01

T127

1.21.194

1.21.919

1.22.433

1.23.470

+2.323

+3.048

+3.562

+4.599

87

137

28

141

Pictures from the test:

18th February- Testing results- Barrichello storms through the rain

Today in Jerez, we again saw the weather hamper runnings, but not without some good news. For example, Barrichello proved he has pace in the Williams, and the Virgin finally got up to speed.

Once again, as the session started at 8, the track was damp and required intermidiates. Unlike the other days, all the teams are pessimistic about the forecast. Inside Ferrari simply says on Twitter: “Nothing new at Jerez: just rain, rain and more rain to come…”

The good news is that Timo Glock was straight out of the pits today in the Virgin, and within half an hour had set 15 laps. But, he speared off at the Michelin corner (turn 2), and the red flags were out while his car was being recovered. When the session resumed, Felipe Massa led the way with a 1.30 time. At 9:00, Heikki Kovalainen made his first laps for Lotus, made 3 installation laps, but failed to set a time, and returned to the pits soon after. Yesterday’s power steering issue had been resolved, so the team were confident. Worryingly enough, Glock’s off was more serious than anticipated, as the doors to the Virgin garage were locked off as the car was taken apart for repairs. He didn’t actually hit anything when he spun, but it is believed thata mechanical problem of some sort caused the spin.

Timo Glock after spinning off

Timo Glock after spinning off

By 9:20, Ferrari were reporting a problem with Massa’s car, saying: “We have a technical issue: the stop will not be short… Nothing serious but it will take time to sort it out.” The rain soon got heavier, and more was forecast for later today. The rain got so heavy that all of the electricity sockets in the media centre lost power, because of electrical problems. Lewis Hamilton made the call for extreme wets at 9:40, and his fastest lap in his 5-lap run was a 1.36, showing how bad the conditions had become. By 10:00, the red flag was shown, not for an incident, but because there was so much standing water on the track. While the teams regrouped, it turned out that there was a problem with Kovalainen’s Lotus. It is unclear what happened, but a picture was taken, so you can see for yourself.

A problem in the Lotus pits

A problem in the Lotus pits

In fact, by 10:30, the weather was so bad the teams couldn’t even practice pit stops. The media centre apparently didn’t even have lighting, the journalist’s laptop lights were the only brightness in the room. Let’s make it clear, though, that this is nowhere near the monsoon we saw at Malaysia last year. Vettel, Kovalainen, Glock and Buemi all went out soon, but didn’t manage much, although Glock and Vettel did get good mileage in the conditions. By 11:30, Glock had finished a 13-lap stint, leaving him with 40 laps already under his belt. Plenty of cars braved the conditions, but few set good lap time, mostly in the 1.35 range. At 11:50, Kovalainen ran off at Turn 3, after an 8-lap run, and got stuck in the gravel. His front wing was badly damaged, so Lotus were forced to evaluate the damage to the car.

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

By 12:30, conditions were slightly improving, with no rain falling, but the track still wet and windy. Vitaly Petrov managed a 1.30.6, a good lap in those conditions. Everyone was still on extreme wets at this point. Rubens Barrichello was alternating betwen very fast and very slow laps, getting a 1.27 and a 1.35 in the same 17-lap stint. His best and worst times were 9 seconds apart, showing you how varying the conditions were. It wasn’t the rain that was hampering the team’s efforts, it was the wind. Inside Ferrari reported: “The wind is making the day even more troubled…” The good news was, the track was improving, as Petrov got into the 1.27.8 by 13:00.

By 1, everyone knew that the Lotus would be out of action for the day. Kovalainen was apologetic on his Twitter account, while Mike Gascoyne said: “Slight off for Heikki. Knocked off the front wing. Spare on its way but will not be here until 2am in the morning so no more running today” . “Conditions drying up so a shame not to get any dry running today”. Up to about 14:00, there was little change at Jerez, at the track still wasn’t drying out enough. Paul di Resta handed over his car to Vitantonio Liuzzi at 2, and he got stuck in immidiately, setting a 1.30.6 after 9 laps. Many teams had given up on conditions, such as Ferrari, who decided to practice pitstops, as the Williams crew watched them sometimes.

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

At 14:30, Timo Glock went out, and was the only man on track for 15 minutes, before Petrov joined him. Glock finished an 8-lap run, his fastest lap being 1.31, and getting up to 46 laps. He pitted, went straight back out, and instantly set a 1.30.4, only 3 seconds behind Barrichello. This pushed them up to 8th in today’s standings. Unfortunately, by 15:00, most of the teams were either practicing pit stops or testing race preparations. While many cars went out at the end for a final run, they were nowhere near the pace they needed, so it was a frustrating end to the day for everyone. Barrcihello’s earlier lap of 1.27.145 was the fastest of the day, followed by Petrov, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, De la Rosa, di Resta, Glock, Liuzzi, Hamilton, Buemi and Kovalainen. Barrichello set the most laps, with 98, while de la Rosa only got in 8 in the morning. Barrichello’s fastest lap meant that 6 different teams have topped the timesheets in as many testing days. This is very good news for this season, even if most of it was in the wet.

The predicted floods never arrived, but it was close to it in the morning. The good news is, better conditions are forecast for tomorrow.

Update: Virgin have released a video of their day in Jerez. Clearly they had nothing better to do while it was wet :P (extreme Virgin joke reference possibility!)

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.27.145 98
2. V. Petrov Renault R30 1.27.828 +0.683 56
3. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.28.162 +1.017 70
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.28.515 +1.370 71
5. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.28.879 +1.734 92
6. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.29.691 +2.546 8
7. P. di Resta Force India VJM03 1.30.344 +3.199 33
8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

T. Glock

V. Liuzzi

L. Hamilton

S. Buemi

H. Kovalainen

Virgin

F. India

McLaren

T.Rosso

Lotus

VR-01

VJM03

MP4-25

STR5

T127

1.30.476

1.30.666

1.31.633

1.32.678

1.33.554

+3.331

+3.521

+4.488

+5.533

+6.409

72

24

57

57

30

Pictures from today’s 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:

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