Tag Archives: Lucas di Grassi

Jerome D’Ambrosio joins Virgin for Friday sessions

Jerome D'Ambrosio, also reserve driver for Renault, will now drive in FP sessions for Virgin

Jerome D'Ambrosio, also reserve driver for Renault, will now drive in FP sessions for Virgin

Virgin Racing have announced that they have signed Jerome D’Ambrosio as a test driver and as an “evaluation role” for 4 of the remaining 5 races this season. He will be replacing Lucas di Grassi in certain Friday Practice sessions for this season.

He will take part in these FP sessions in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil, and the team will be continually assessing his performance. He will replace Lucas di Grassi for all of his racing time, alongside Timo Glock. At the moment, he is competing in the GP2 championship, and currently 10th.

It is also believed that he will take part in the 4-day test in Abu Dhabi after the season conclusion.

It is worth noting that while Timo Glock has 2 years left on his contract, Lucas di Grassi’s expires at the end of this year, although Virgin have the option to extend this. While D’Ambrosio may well just be being evaluated for a drive later on, the idea of him replacing Di Grassi next year can’t be ruled out.

At the moment, D’Ambrosio is part of the Gravity Sport Management, of which the CEO is Eric Boullier, team principal of the Renault team. Similarly, Jerome is a reserve driver for the Renault team, whose reserve drivers are all managed by Gravity Sports. Therefore we can’t rule out Renault using Virgin to try out the 25-year-old either.

Ferrari fined, while Petrov, Di Grassi, Chandhok and Glock receive penalties

The FIA has handed out punishments to different drivers and teams, most of which were for gearbox-related incidents.

First of all, both Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi were given 5-place penalties, for Virgin failing to notify the FIA of the gearbox ratios they would be using within 2 hours of the end of Friday Practice. This means that Glock and Di Grassi will start 22nd and 23rd.

Next, Karun Chandhok and Vitaly Petrov also received 5-place grid penalties, this time for unscheduled gearbox changes. Vitaly Petrov changed his gearbox after his crash in Saturday morning practice, but it is unknown when Chandhok had his gearbox replaced. Either way, their gearboxes were supposed to last 4 races, so a 5-place grid penalty was inevitable.

Finally, Ferrari were fined $20,000 after qualifying, after Fernando Alonso was released unsafely into the path of Nico Rosberg. Nico was forced to brake sharply to avoid a collision, and nearly his his back left wheel against the pit wall in the process. The FIA concluded that the Ferrari mechanics failed to ensure that the coast was clear before releasing Alonso out of the garage.

You can view the FIA’s report on the two Virgin drivers here.

You can view the FIA’s report on the Alonso-Rosberg incident here.

Virgin to update only Glock’s car

Lucas di Grassi will have to settle for the earlier version of the VR-01

Lucas di Grassi will have to settle for the earlier version of the VR-01

Virgin have said that they have only been able to update Timo Glock’s VR-01, which features a larger fuel tank, in time for the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.

This means that Lucas di Grassi will be forced to drive the older version of the Virgin car, with the undersized fuel tank. The team, however, blame the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic flight disruption for holding up their development programme:

"What should have been a useful three-week break in the calendar,
and an opportunity to ensure we are fully prepared for the European
season, turned into something of a race against time thanks to the
fallout from “The Volcano”. It took up to five days after the
Chinese Grand Prix before the entire team were back in England,
so we had to rush headlong into preparations for Spain.

The planned modifications to the chassis were always going to be
our most significant development, but they were also the tip of the
iceberg in terms of what we will bring to Barcelona. As a new team
we will be using new trucks and a new motorhome for the first time
and on top of that we moved into our new race preparation facility
while the team were stranded in China, so we certainly had a lot
going on for us when we finally made it home.

Nonetheless, the team have done an admirable job and we’ll be
heading to Spain this week full of optimism for the next phase of
our debut season."

“The designer of the car, Nick Wirth, added:

Since Shanghai, we have conducted an extensive investigation into 
the failures that halted the obvious progress the team has been 
making since its debut. That investigation has highlighted a number 
of issues that are currently being addressed by the race team, 
Wirth Research and our key suppliers and our continuing aim is 
to put an end to the reliability issues that have dominated our 
Grand Prix debut.

Having worked tirelessly to prepare the new car for the race, 
including its successful re-homologation, it is a bitter pill 
to swallow that we are unable to complete the second car due 
to the “volcanic delays”. Running two fundamentally different 
specification cars at Barcelona will certainly challenge the 
team, but as the reliability fixes apply to both specifications, 
we’ll keep our heads down and focus solely on getting both cars 
to the chequered flag."

It really is a shame that they can’t fully sort out their fuel tank issue yet, but I have to feel that the volcanic disruption is just an excuse for them not being able to make the changes in time themselves. Even after this, there may still be hydraulic problems with the car, so I’m not expecting a Virgin to get to the finish in Spain.

Bahrain GP Friday press conference

Today it was a case of old to new, as today’s press conference replaced world champions with up-and-coming youngsters. Today we had Lucas di Grassi, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Heikki Kovalainen and Robert Kubica. Here is the full transcript:

Q: Gentlemen, how is it to be in F1? Lucas, would you like to start?
Lucas Di Grassi:
For me it is a great honour to be here in F1. It is my first races as official driver, so there has been a lot of work, a lot of effort to arrive in this position, so I am just enjoying every minute I am in the car, trying to learn as much as I can and trying to evolve as a driver. It is a great feeling.

Q: Nico?
Nico Hulkenberg:
I mean it is nice and great to finally be here but I am sure every driver who has come here worked very hard and long for it, same for me. Just happy to be here and looking forward hopefully to a long career.

Q: It is the same thing for Robert and Heikki in a way; a new team for you, Robert. What are your feelings about that?
Robert Kubica:
Quite happy, actually. It is not easy to change after four years being with one team. It is quite a different mentality team, so we have done quite good work in winter to prepare for the new season, new challenge. It is okay.

Q: And for Heikki?
Heikki Kovalainen:
For me also. Obviously I had a very different winter. We started from zero with the team and have seen the team growing and building all the time. We managed to do a little bit of testing but arrived here a little bit on the back foot. But today has been fantastic. Both cars have been running without any problems so far. It is very good and the atmosphere is very good. I am enjoying it. I think F1 is good as always.

Q: Lucas, tell us about your day today and how things have been going?
LG:
I had pretty much a difficult start to the day in P1. I had some small issue in the car which did not allow me to do many laps and I need more mileage. Everything got back to a good position in P2 as I did quite a good run with both sets of tyres and we were able to do a different set-up change, so it helped a lot.

Q: How do you see the weekend developing for you and the team?
LG:
Everybody in the team is pushing really hard. As everybody knows the car came together months ago and we had a lot of problems in testing, so our main reason to be here and our main way of development is to get everything done properly and with it on time. We are not rushing anything. We are making sure the car is having the best performance. The team is working very, very hard and the team worked all night last night, so everyone is giving 100 per cent and I am trying to do the same when I am driving.

Q: Nico, a remarkable day for you ending up sixth. How has it gone?
NH:
It was okay. We were able to go through our programme and be able to get comfortable in the car on the track. It ran smoothly without any technical or other problems.

Q: In testing, you held the record for red flags, so you must be happy with the reliability today?
NH:
Yeah, I mean again also Williams has pushed very hard and still everyday there is a new guy coming from the UK bringing new parts, not only performance parts but reliability parts, to get our car better. A big thank you to the guys in the factory. Without them we would not be where we are.

Q: How good a teacher is Rubens Barrichello? The most experienced guy on the grid.
NH:
He is not really teaching me. I am just looking at what he is doing. As a team-mate he is always transparent. I can see how he drives, how he works, how he approaches the weekend, so in that aspect I can see and learn from him.

Q: You have got a new engine. Is it quite a surprise where you are?
NH:
With a new engine? I think Cosworth have also done a good and remarkable job. We did not have any problems during winter testing and again here the engine is running fine and performance wise it is not too bad at all.

Q: Heikki, you had the Mercedes engine last year and you can compare the Cosworth to the Mercedes. How does it come out?
HK:
I think to give a direct comparison is probably not fair as the performance of the car at this stage is very different. But I think so far they have done a very good job. Like Nico says, the reliability has been fantastic. I have not had a single problem. I don’t think if anyone had a problem with the engine and just the initial feeling is that the power is competitive. I don’t think that will not be an issue. I think it is good.

Q: What is lacking within the car? Is it your confidence?
HK:
It is not confidence. What is lacking is another 10 to 20 months of time and give the team a bit of a chance to put some performance into the car. We built the car and the team in just under six months time and you cannot ask for more than this. We put the car on the track in testing and today we looked like a professional race team. We were running the car first on the track this morning. I mean you cannot expect performance to be better than this yet. I am sure it will be. We have already shown many things that not many teams could do, so I have all the confidence that given a bit of time, give us a year or two, even less than that, we can put a lot of performance in the car and move up the grid. You have got to start somewhere and we are still growing, we are still building the team so it is not my confidence. I am very confident in fact. I have had a good winter and I feel 100 per cent shape and I feel today I had a very good today and we went forward but we need a bit of time.

Q: How do you see the weekend developing? Do you feel you will be able to close that gap to the established teams?
HK:
If we could find three or four seconds it would be pretty good, wouldn’t it. I am sure we will be working hard but we just do not know yet what everybody else has done. We have just focussed on our own preparation today like a professional race team does. We will prepare for the race, we have compared the tyres, we have done various checks with the set-up and tried to tune the car for the circuit and also for myself getting adapted to the circuit. That is what we are really worried about. I am sure eventually we can close the gap to the leaders and that is what we are here for but it will not happen overnight. The teams ahead of us are all good teams. Formula One is incredibly competitive but we have been quite brave. We have entered the competition and from what we have shown today I think we can go with chin up, full steam ahead.

Q: Sebastian, how do you feel about today?
Sebastian Vettel:
I would have loved to run more. I think this morning the circuit was not in very good shape with not a lot of rubber down, especially on the new part of the circuit. But in the afternoon I think we had quite a lot of rubber, but I did not run very much. I had a problem with the brakes, brake failure, and Mark had a problem as well, so I would have loved to do more laps.

Q: Is it a worry to have that failure? Brakes is a big thing this year.
SV:
It is not a nice feeling, but it depends where it happens. I think it happens if you go up in Monaco up to the casino it is the worst place. Here there is quite a lot of run-off, so it was no problem, but it is not something you like to happen.

Q: Fifth fastest with that brake failure. Do you feel that is where you are or do you think it should be better?
SV:
I think today is still very difficult to read. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is a bit more difficult, but if you really want to say precisely where everyone is I think at this stage it is still a bit too early. From what I have seen in the session it is no secret that this afternoon Ferrari seemed to run a bit heavier whereas Mercedes tried with a little bit less fuel in the beginning and then put some fuel back into the car for the rest of it. I think at this stage we are in decent shape. I would have loved to run a lot more and get more laps and more data, but at this stage I think Ferrari and McLaren look extremely competitive.

Q: Last year the team did a fantastic job with the development. It is almost certainly going to be a development battle this year. Are you confident in the programme that Red Bull have?
SV:
Yeah, as you said it will be the same kind of battle as last year. Obviously that is not very cheap. But for everyone it is the same thing, so where we are now and I am sure the cars will improve a lot as they are still quite young. I think this year there is a lot to discover with the new regulations, no refuelling, the tyres are different, so I think everyone is in a steep learning curve and we will see. The cars we will have at the end of the year they might be better but you get 25 points for a win here as you do at the last race, so we will see.

Q: Robert, your feelings about today? You ended up 15th.
RK:
It was quite a good day. It was different running with this temperature compared to winter testing, so we have quite a nice run, smooth without major problems. We have to work a bit on the car to improve it and try to do our best tomorrow which will finally be the day of truth.

Q: You’re a former pole-winner here. What are your feelings about the circuit, particularly the new part?
RK:
The new part doesn’t look really interesting, at least for myself it’s a kind of a street circuit, it reminds me of a Monte Carlo a bit, the Monaco race track. It’s very slow, a lot of bumps, quite tough for the tyres and very appropriate compared to the old section of track. Yes, it was quite dirty as Sebastian mentioned. This morning it was quite slippery there. Afterwards it improved but there is still quite a big delta shift between the grip of the new section and the old section.

Q: And you’ve been quoted as saying that Renault could create a surprise?
RK:
When did I say this, a long time ago? Well, it depends how it goes but I think we were in pretty good shape in winter testing, maybe not in the last tests but before we were surprisingly good. But we have to keep working. Actually, we are doing it very hard. The guys didn’t go to bed last night, preparing the car because new bits arrived quite late, so it was quite a tough two days for them. But let’s hope we will pay them back on the performance side.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Mikolaj Sokol – Rzeczpospolita) Sebastian and Robert, with 23 cars on the track, some of them significantly slower than you, how can you deal with traffic? Is it a big issue?
SV:
Yes, I think it is a big issue, especially practice and at least the first qualifying session. Of course, speaking to Lucas or Timo or the other guys, Heikki, it’s not the easiest time that they have to face. Obviously they are just about to start, so I think it’s fair to give them time. For sure, if you arrive and you have that big delta between the cars and at least six cars are quite a bit slower than the rest and for sure it could be a problem and one or the other will suffer. It will happen in qualifying that you probably don’t get your lap time. These guys are trying their best as well, so you have to respect that, but if you’re five seconds quicker then it’s very difficult to estimate at the start of the lap if you will be fine or not. Here, I think it’s quite OK because you can see quite a lot, but if you go to Singapore or Monaco where half of the circuit is blind anyway then it’s very difficult. We’ve had problems in the past with traffic, it will be quite a mess but that’s life, I guess.
RK: Yeah, I’ve had similar problems to Sebastian. They are there, for sure they are not having an easy time to keep the car on the track, so that’s how it is. They are there and from our side we can only try and get some more space when they are in front of us, but it’s hard for them, it’s hard for us. That’s how it is.

Q: (Tomasz Richter – TV Nova) To you all, do you enjoy the new section of the track or would you prefer to go straight after turn three?
RK:
Old one, probably, old section, so old track.
SV: I think that the biggest difficulty is that you have a different level of grip as well, which makes the delta quite high. If you look at the asphalt of the new circuit compared to the new track it’s quite different. That doesn’t make life easy, it’s actually very slow, very bumpy, so I also prefer the old track.
HK: I don’t know the reasons for the change – I don’t know if there is a good reason. I thought the old one was good but for me, if we drove to the centre and back, I don’t really have a preference.
LG: I preferred the old one. I raced here in GP2 and it’s quite a fast part of the track which is now a very slow section and very bumpy, so I preferred the old one.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat ) Sebastian, how difficult is it to decide which compound to use for Q3 at this circuit?
SV:
Well, I think the biggest unknown is how the racing will look on Sunday. Obviously the temperature should help all of us but I think it will nevertheless be something new. Either it will be total excitement for the spectators, a mess for us in the car, because some drivers will struggle more with tyres, some less, or it will be boring and the cars will just follow each other because they’re stuck behind each other and they can’t do much, so I think we have to see. In qualifying, first of all we need to see what we have done today compared to the others. Then tomorrow morning – the latest at lunchtime, more or less, you have to decide what you want to do in qualifying. I think first of all you have to manage to get into Q3. It looks tight, so it won’t be easy. There is a strong midfield as well, so if you are talking of the top teams, you have a very, very strong midfield and they could easily ruin your day. I don’t know yet. If you ask me now, I have no clue. I also think it makes it more difficult, as I said, because we don’t know how the race will unfold. We will see.

Q: Nico, your ex-partner Nico Rosberg set fastest lap in his first race for Williams, so do you expect the same this year?
NH:
No, I don’t expect the same. I hope for a good points’ finish but as Sebastian mentioned, we are still a bit left in the dark as to who is where, even today. There are big differences in lap times, and obviously big differences in fuel loads, so we will have to wait and see where we end up but I hope for a good points result.

Q: (Cezary Gutowski – Przeglad Sportowy) For the Renault-engined guys: there is some noise about getting engines up to parity. Do you think your engines are that under-performing? Do you think you really need more horsepower?
SV:
I think an engine here, an engine there. Obviously engine regulations are frozen and yes, last year we didn’t have the easiest time, especially myself. We had some engine failures. Nevertheless, I think we did a very good job recovering. Reliability was fine after we fixed the problem and we did not have to change an engine, so we did not have to take a penalty. I think, last year, everyone had more or less the same opinion that the Mercedes engine was probably a bit ahead of the rest and as I said, the regulations are frozen, so what can you do? I think we don’t have anything to fear, no weakness from that side, so for sure, as I said, a little bit maybe, but it’s very difficult to measure as well. The cars are different. If you look at our top speed compared to the Renault top speed, it’s totally different because the car is a different car, different concept, different amount of drag on the straight, so you can’t really compare just from the speeds.
RK: If the regulations were the same I might have some sort of feeling because I switched from another engine supplier to Renault but we are running much heavier this year, so it’s difficult to compare. I think we just need to wait. Actually, in the past Renault has always been very good with their consumption. I think a lot of people improved that so we maybe still have a bit of an advantage but not as big as it was in the past, for sure. Horsepower is always welcome, more power is always welcome.

Q: (Oliver Knaack – Berliner Zeitung) Sebastian, you missed more than 30 minutes of this last practice, can you describe the exact failure of the brakes, what happened at the front or rear and what was the problem?
SV:
Maybe some of you, between the practice and the press conference were able to have a coffee. I was not. I just got out of my suit and had a short de-brief and came here so I don’t know the reason yet for the failure we had, so we need to see. It’s always difficult. You don’t really analyse within the session because you just make sure you change (the damaged part) as quickly as possible and use the amount of time you have left. It was on the front, the front left. I think you could see that from the TV.

Q: (Tomasz Richter – TV Nova) Nico, we could see some black smoke from the front tyres; do you expect some brake issues regarding the heavier cars and are they the same brake specification as last year?
NH:
It shouldn’t be a problem but Bahrain is always quite heavy on brakes. I’m sure every team is aware of that. We take that into consideration but it’s just brake dust. If you have big braking from 300kph down to 60 kph, there’s just a lot of smoke but right now I’m not too worried about that.

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:

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.

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:

Di Grassi: Virgin car will be black

Artwork of the possible Virgin F1 livery

Artwork of the possible Virgin F1 livery

The second driver for Virgin, Lucas di Grassi, has said that the Virgin 2010 F1 car will be primarily black.

He also said that this will enable him to use the same type of helmet that he has used since the age of 14.

The release of the 2010 Virgin car is currently unknown.

Briatore to sue FIA for “loss of income”

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore announced today that he is to pursue legal proceedings against the FIA, for the loss of income to his driver managment business.

The FIA had previously banned Briatore from all motorsport, after he was found to have conspired with Nelson Piquet Jr and Pat Symonds to cause a crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Last month, a Parisian court overturned this ruling, saying that the FIA did not have the authority to remove Briatore from the sport. However, the ban had meant that many of Briatore’s drivers had left his agency. This included Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Lucas di Grassi. Briatore told The Telegraph that the FIA would be sued for the money lost because of this.

“We lost Alonso, we lost [Heikki] Kovalainen, we lost several drivers,” he said. “We will sue the FIA for the money we lost.”

The FIA has already announced that it is to appeal the French court’s decision.

In my opinion, this can only end in disaster. Alonso, Kovalainen and Di Grassi left of their own accord, not because of the threat of having their superlicenses removed. This court battle is only giving negative publicity to a scandal which should have been closed up months ago.

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