Tag Archives: Mercedes

Heidfeld released from Mercedes to test for Pirelli

Nick Heidfeld is leaving Mercedes to join the Pirelli tyre suppliers

Nick Heidfeld is leaving Mercedes to join the Pirelli tyre suppliers

Mercedes GP have confirmed that they have released their test and reserve driver Nick Heidfeld, to allow him to test for the Pirelli tyre company, in preparations for the 2011 season. It is unclear whether this means Heidfeld can get a drive with a team next year or not, as it depends on how long the tests last.

The first tyre test will start today at the Mugello circuit, behind the wheel of a Toyota TF109, which has now been confirmed by Pirelli. As well as these tests during this season, all of the teams will be allowed to try the tyres out, in a 4-day test in Abu Dhabi after the season concludes.

Paul Hembery has explained why Nick was the ideal choice for their test driver:

“We’re delighted to welcome Nick into the Pirelli family, and
we’re confident that he’ll do a great job for us. The role of
test driver is a crucial one, so we were looking for a driver
who had plenty of recent Formula One experience, the speed to
push our new tyres as hard as possible, and the consistency to
provide reliable simulations, as well as the analytical skills
to relay information accurately to our engineers.

Nick fits the bill in every respect and we’re very pleased to
have secured his services and obviously thankful to Mercedes GP
Petronas for agreeing to release Nick from his contract. As for
the car, we have a policy of complete impartiality, so we did
not want to favour any existing team. The Toyota was the perfect
solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven
speed and reliability but without links to any of the
manufacturers currently competing in Formula One. I’m confident
that we have an extremely good package that will give us every
opportunity to maximise the potential of our tyres prior to
the start of next season.”

Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld has said:

"First of all I would like to thank Ross Brawn, Norbert Haug 
and Nick Fry for allowing me the opportunity to become Pirelli’s 
official test driver.

The team has always said that they would not stand in my way 
if such a chance arose and they have kindly allowed me to take 
up this exciting new role. I would like to thank everyone at 
Mercedes GP for the great cooperation that we have had this 
year.

I have greatly enjoyed supporting the team in my position as 
Reserve Driver and have felt welcome right from the outset. 
It was impressive to have the opportunity to work with the 
current World Champions and I wish the team all the best for 
the remainder of the season and beyond.

It’s a great privilege for me to join Pirelli in order to 
carry out this vital work and I am very grateful to Mercedes 
GP Petronas for releasing me from my contract to take on this 
role. Through the experience I have built up over the years, 
I’m confident that I will be able to provide Pirelli with 
some important feedback regarding the development of next 
year’s tyres.

I’ve got a lot to give but I haven’t been driving so much 
this year, so it is good to get started! Together, I’m sure 
that we can create a dynamic range of tyres that will make 
Formula One an even more exciting sport in the future.”

One interesting thing to note about this, though, is the fact that Nick will soon gain extensive knowledge of next year’s tyres, which obviously will play a huge part in the performance of the cars. With this information on board, he may well be in huge demand for a drive next year, as the teams strive to gain as much detail on the tyres as they can.

Disgraceful Schumacher deserves ban after lethal move

I have stated countless times that Michael Schumacher’s “comeback” has consisted of nothing but cheap defensive shots, and driving his opponents into the wall/gravel/grandstand. However, today’s performance takes the cake, as he shoves, into a concrete wall at 300km/h, a former team-mate which held the door open for him for 5 years.

Two different views from the Schumacher move that has sparked huge controversy already

Two different views from the Schumacher move that has sparked huge controversy already

The stewards have since served Schumacher a 10-place grid penalty for the next race in Belgium, butthis is nowhere near enough. Barrichello was inches away from a crash that could have easily been fatal, and it would have been completely Michael’s fault. He tried to justify his move by saying afterwards: “I think I left him too much room because he passed.” This single-handedly explains why I think that he should just walk away today from F1, as he has become nothing more than a pathetically arrogant, and dangerous, disgrace to the sport.

There has always been a group of supporters that have hated Schumacher for his illicit moves, such as taking out Damon Hill in Adelade to win the title in 1994, the failed championship-stealing move on Villeneuve in 1997, shoving Frentzen into the gravel in Canada 1998… do I even need to go on?

Even worse, he seems to practically endorse his moves. He stated afterwards that: “I think I left him too much room because he passed.” Clearly he has forgotten one of the most important rules in motorsport, and it’s called sportsmanship. The worst thing is, a similar accident happened today in Superleague Formula, where Chris van der Drift’s car split in half after a huge crash (although it is designed to do so):

As you heard in that video, it was a communications error that caused that crash, but it is a clear sign of what could have happened today. The main difference in this situaion was that there was no gap between the car and the wall, which meant that, in the event of a crash, Barrichello’s car would have speared sideways into Schumacher’s car (not 100% a bad thing) and ending in the cars smashing into the wall at Turn 1, with no guarantee that they would be the right way up.

Our last huge crash was only in Valencia, and it is far too soon to see how close the drivers can cheat injury again. In my view, rather than a penalty, Schumacher should just admit he has contributed absolutely nothing useful to Formula 1 this year, and is putting all of his fellow drivers at risk, and hang up his helmet for good. My favourite underdog Nick Heidfeld will be waiting to take his seat.

Here is the video again, if you didn’t see it live:

Technical evolution of the cars in 2010 (Part 1 of 3)

In a 3-part series, I will look at how this year’s Formula 1 cars have developed technically, as well as new innovations on the cars. This is the first post, looking from testing to the 7th race in Turkey. The second part will be written up after the end of the European season (after the Monza weekend in September), and the final part will be after the season concludes.

F-duct

The F-duct is the most controversial innovation so far this season, and has already been banned for next year. The F-duct got its name, as it was located where the “f” on Vodafone is on the engine cover on the McLaren car. McLaren developed this invention before the season began, but it was really only first noticed in the first few races.

The F-duct will be explained in its original McLaren format, as it has been altered by other teams. There is a duct on the nose of the car, which takes air in and feeds it to the rear wing, which is perfectly normal. This air travels around the side of the car, and crucially, past the side of the cockpit. So, a driver had place their hand/wrist/leg on a hole on this tube, and stop the air travelling to the rear wing. This means that there is less air on the rear wing, meaning less downforce and less drag.

The F-duct is only applied on straights, as this is the only situation where less downforce is wanted. It is estimated that an F-duct is worth between 6-10km/h on a straight. Sauber were the first to copy this design, followed closely by Ferrari, then Force India and Red Bull. Each team has used a different configuration, such as Sauber’s duct beginning on the sidepod and not the nosecone.

While Force India and Red Bull are the latest teams to introduce the F-duct, neither of them ran it during the Turkish Grand Prix. Red Bull found their system to be inconsistent and difficult to operate, though it is unknown why Force India did not run the device.

Mercedes' opening of their F-duct

Mercedes' opening of their F-duct

Red Bull's more complicated F-duct system

Red Bull's more complicated F-duct system

The driver-operated mechanism for the Force India F-duct

The driver-operated mechanism for the Force India F-duct

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Mercedes’ airbox

At the start of the year, Mercedes GP had managed to avoid making its airbox design a structural part of the car’s rollover protection, and therefore wasn’t part of the chassis development ban. This meant that the team were free to change it across the season. Before the first race, a small slot was introduced behind the engine air intake, which improved aero efficiency at the rear of the car.

However, by Barcelona, the team had already introduced a radical new intake, which is much lower and further back than before. It is still not a part of the actual chassis, as it is part of the engine cover, meaning it can still be developed over the season. These changes ensured that airflow over the back of the car was cleaner, and helped the performance of the rear wing.

So far, no other team has attempted to copy this design, or at least we haven’t seen it in action yet. Having said that, it is an ugly invention, so I wouldn’t be sad to see this innovation fail.

Mercedes' new airbox innovation

Mercedes' new airbox innovation

Nico Rosberg running Mercedes' radical new airbox

Nico Rosberg running Mercedes' radical new airbox

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Ban on outboard wing mirrors

An outboard wing mirror is where the car’s wing mirrors sit on the outside of the cockpit, often on top of the turning vane. However, the problem with this design was that it was outside the drivers’ peripheral vision, which meant that it was not within their straight line of vision, meaning a driver had to look away from the road to look in the mirrors.

After many near misses and collisions, most notably Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in Australia, the FIA sought to ban outboard wing mirrors, effective from the Spanish GP onwards. Though these mirrors were worth about one tenth of a second in aerodynamic efficiency, the teams were forced to move their wing mirrors to the inside of the cockpit, so they were inside a drivers’ peripheral vision.

Outboard wing mirrors, visible here on the Williams FW32

Outboard wing mirrors, visible here on the Williams FW32

Wing mirrors on the inside of the cockpit, seen here on the Red Bull car

Wing mirrors on the inside of the cockpit, seen here on the Red Bull car

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Diffuser starter motors

As with outboard wing mirrors, diffuser starter motors have been banned, in this case since the Australian Grand Prix. Under normal circumstances, a Formula 1 car’s starter motor is in the back of the car, which makes it easy for the mechcnics to plug in the starter motor. Remember, F1 cars do not carry a starter motor themselves. To accomodate this, a small hole or slot must be made into the diffuser section of the car, to allow the starter motor to be plugged into the car.

However, the teams began to see how they could exploit this section of the car. The slot was made unnecessarily large, and aerodynamically sculpted, so as to improve airflow around the diffuser of the car.

Once complaints were made, the FIA swiftly closed the loophole allowing these devices to become too large in the first place, by placing a size limit on diffuser starter motors.

McLaren's diffuser starter motor, which was one of the designs against the rules

McLaren's diffuser starter motor, which was one of the designs against the rules

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This was the first of a 3-part series. The second post will be up after the Italian Grand Prix weekend.

FIA to change safety car rules

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

The FIA has admitted a “lack of clarity” regarding safety car rules, and has promised to change the regulations accordingly. Following Michael Schumacher’s penalty for overtaking on the last lap as the safety car had already pitted, much critisism has been aimed at the rules for not being clear enough.

However, since then, the FIA have issued a statement, saying that the rules were not clear enough, and would consider changes at the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on June 23rd. They said:

The problems identified during the final lap of the Monaco Grand 
Prix, counting for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, 
showed a lack of clarity in the application of the rule prohibiting 
overtaking behind the Safety Car.

Adjustments to the regulations are necessary to clarify the procedure 
that cars must meet when the last lap is controlled by the Safety Car 
whilst also ensuring that the signaling for teams and drivers is made 
more clear.

These adjustments will help to avoid the problem which occurred during 
the Monaco Grand Prix from happening in the future.

The Formula One Commission, upon a proposal of the F1 Sporting Working 
Group will submit an amendment to the Sporting Regulations to address 
this issue. These amendments will be considered by the World Motor Sport 
Council at its next meeting in Geneva on June 23.

To be honest, I’m not sure what rule they can actually change. In the regulations, it is clearly stated that overtaking is not permitted when the safety car pits at the end of the race. Having said that, providing clarity on the issue works just as well.

Regarding the initial penalty, opinion is split. In the poll I put up yesterday, 50% believed that the penalty was wrong as it was under racing conditons, 21% wanted a smaller punishment, and 29% thought the penalty was fair.

Mercedes to ditch Schumacher appeal

Schumacher passes Alonso on the final corner, because of confusion over racing and safety car conditions

Schumacher passes Alonso on the final corner, because of confusion over racing and safety car conditions

Mercedes GP have announced that they are not to appeal the decicion to hand Michael Schumacher a penalty at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. This means that the provisional result, with Sebastien Buemi now entering the points, will now stand.

However, the team have still called Schumacher’s penalty “disproportionate”, and that they are to discuss the terms of Article 40.13 with the FIA, the rule which was used to penalise Schumacher after the incident. They also announced their approval of having a former F1 driver on the stewards panel. Damon Hill, who some criticised for being a former rival of Schumacher, and therefore maybe wouldn’t have been fair, received hate mail after their punishment was handed out.

Mercedes’ statement is as follows:

On the final lap of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes instructed
our drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, to race from
safety car line one until the finish line as permitted under
articles 40.7 and 40.11.

Mercedes were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no
overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car
conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race
control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the
green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line
one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car
and all drivers were free to race.

This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the
teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers
instructions to race to the finish line.

It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race
that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and
acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation
but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation.

Mercedes would like to emphasise that we fully support the inclusion
of past drivers on the stewards panel and are completely satisfied
that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally,
impartially and properly in this matter.

The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next
Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of
post race penalties. We believe that the 20 second penalty imposed
on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.

Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the
FIA has recognised the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in
the best interests of the sport, Mercedes will not be submitting an
appeal.

Seeing as how many appeals against these sort of penalties fail, I’m not surprised to see Mercedes give up. Still though, I’m not sure if they were in the right or not.

We have come to the conclusion that when the safety car pits on the final lap, the cars should go across the finish line with no overtaking. But, there were green flags being waved, and Fernando Alonso did seem to be quite aggressive exiting La Rascasse, whch showed that he was still racing (even if it was what cost him the place). Force India, Renault and Red Bull all instructed their cars to race until the finish line as well, so there’s still plenty of fuel for debate here.

Here is the incident again:

Forgotten heroes: Luigi Fagioli

Luigi Fagioli

Luigi Fagioli

This is a name you probably won’t recognise. While he is one of Italy’s most successful racing drivers ever, most of his career came before the World Championship, and therefore modern F1 records, began in 1950.

He was born on 9th June 1898 in Osimo, Ancona Province in the Marche region of central Italy. As a child and young adult, he spent much of his time in hillclimb races, racing in an old French Salmson voiturette. He entered Grand Prix racing in 1926, and by 1928 had attracted the attention of the Maserati brothers. They allowed him to race a Maserati on the Targa Florio. He quickly became known as the Abruzzi Robber, because of his wild temperment which sometimes went completely out of control.

Luigi Fagioli driving a Maserati in 1931

Luigi Fagioli driving a Maserati in 1931

Despite this, he was successful in Grand Prix racing, winning the Coppa Ciano and the Circuit of Avellino in 1930. In 1931, at the Monaco Grand Prix, he entered battle with Louis Chiron, who had a Bugatti Type 51, which is widely considered to be one of the most famous racing battles of all time. Fagioli was at a disadvantage, as his Maserati 26M was geared towards long straights, not the twisty nature of the Monaco circuit. Depsite this, he showed his immense skill, but lost out to Chiron in the end, finishing 2nd. He got his revenge later that year, winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, beating Chiron and his fellow Italians, Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari.

In 1932, he won the Grand Prix of Rome, and in 1933 was signed for the Alfa Romeo team, run by Enzo Ferrari, replacing Tazio Nuvolari. He soon won the Coppa Acerbo, Grand Prix du Comminges and the Italian GP. He was always supremely confident, and would blame drivers and retaliate those who made mistakes out on track. He also took risks others wouldn’t, and often got involved in unnecessary crashes, which gave him a somewhat bad reputation. However, his talents were undeniable, and he was poached by Mercedes to drive one of their Silver Arrows for 1934. His mechanic was the famous Hermann Lang.

Luigi Fagioli at AVUS in 1933

Luigi Fagioli at AVUS in 1933

However, he had a very difficult relationship with his team and co-drivers. In his very first race for Mercedes in 1934, team manager Alfred Neubauer ordered him to move aside for his team-mate, Manfred von Brauchitsch, so he could win the race. Luigi was under the impression that he was the number 1 driver, as Von Brauchitsch was inexperienced, and his other team-mate Rudolf Caracciola was injured. Fagioli was absolutely disgusted, and parked his car in anger. It quickly became clear that Luigi was only able to win when his German team-mates weren’t able to. Despite this, in 1934 he was able to win his second Coppa Acerbo, and the Spanish and Monza Grands Prix.

Luigi Fagioli at the 1936 Monaco Grand Prix

Luigi Fagioli at the 1936 Monaco Grand Prix

In 1935, his car was upgraded to the W25B model. This allowed him to win the Monaco GP, AVUS and Penya Rhin races that year. However, despite his success, his relationship with his fellow team-mates got even worse, especially with Rudolf Caracciola. Against team orders, Fagioli would try to pass him, sometimes getting through and sometimes not. This completely ruined his relationship with the team, and he left for Auto Union for 1937, purely to beat Mercedes-Benz. By this stage, racing was only for him to get revenge on others. It got even worse at the Tripoli Grand Prix of 1937, Fagioli was trying to pass Caracciola for the entire race with no team orders, but failed. After the race, Fagioli threw a wheel hammer at Caracciola, and then tried to attack him with a knife.

It would have probably got even worse, but his health problems quickly became apparent. He was suffering from crippling rheumatism, and it was seriously damaging his racing ability. At the Coppa Acerbo, a race he had won twice already, he was in such a bad state that he could only walk with a cane, so he admitted defeat and dropped out of the race. Combining this with World War 2, Luigi was never seen racing again for years. Nearly everyone assumed that was the end of his career, but they were wrong.

In 1950, the first ever FIA Formula 1 World Championship was forming. 52-year-old Fagioli had recovered well from his rheumatism, and shocked many by returning to drive for Alfa Romeo. Amazingly, he did very well, as he got 5 podium finishes in 6 races (the Monaco race was not held), which earned him third place in the first ever championship.

Luigi Fagioli finished 2nd at the first modern F1 race, the 1950 British Grand Prix

Luigi Fagioli finished 2nd at the first modern F1 race, the 1950 British Grand Prix

Luigi Fagioli at the 1951 Mille Miglia

Luigi Fagioli at the 1951 Mille Miglia

But, his first race of 1951 was his last. He shared a car with the famous Juan Manuel Fangio to win the French Grand Prix, which gave him the award of oldest driver ever to win a race, a record which he still holds today. However, he never raced in Formula 1 again after that.

In 1952, he signed for Lancia to drive sports cars, and finished third in the Mille Miglia, ahead of his arch-rival Caracciola. But, while he was practicing for a touring car race which was a supporting of the Monaco Grand Prix, he suffered a seemingly minor crash, breaking a hand and a leg. However, he had suffered internal injuries also, and died 3 weeks later from complications from his injuries.

He has a race named after him: the Trofeo Luigi Fagioli Hillclimb, a competition that he loved. It is held in Gubbio, and was created in 1966 in memory of Fagioli. Simone Faggioli has dominated the competition in recent years, winning 5 times since 2001. However, I have found no family link between Luigi and Simone, even if they do share an extremely similar surname.

Though his temper often got the better of him, sometimes with disastrous consequences, his thirst for racing and pure skill was undeniable, but unfortunately he will never be remembered as he should, since he barely competed in modern Formula 1. But, his success before this shows how he should have won championships, but health and time blocked the way.

Can Schumacher survive in the new Formula 1?

Despite being much less praised than his team-mate, Nico Rosberg has out-performed Michael Schumacher in all areas so far

Despite being much less praised than his team-mate, Nico Rosberg has out-performed Michael Schumacher in all areas so far

So far in the three races of the 2010 Formula 1 season, only two drivers have been out-qualified 3-0 by their team-mates. One of these is Vitaly Petrov, the former GP2 driver from Russia, who has a well-established team-mate in the form of Robert Kubica. He has been doing decently in the races so far, so there isn’t a problem here yet. And the other is 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

In Bahrain, Australia and Malaysia, Nico Rosberg, who hasn’t even won a single race yet, has beaten him in qualigying. In Bahrain, Nico was fourth while Michael was three places back in seventh. In the race, Rosberg struggled to keep up with the frontrunners, while Schumacher couldn’t make much progress. They ended up 5th and 6th. Seeing as how it was his first race back, there wasn’t much worry. But, in Australia, Nico was again a tenth quicker than Michael. In the race, Schumacher was hit at the first corner, and fell to the back. While Fernando Alonso was able to fight back through the field, the German struggled, getting stuck behind Jaime Alguersuari for over 30 laps, which completely ruined his race.

In Malaysian qualifying, with the torrential conditions, the rainmaster was expected to shine. But, he burned out his tyres too quickly in Q3, and ended up 8th, only 0.05 seconds ahead of rookie Kamui Kobayashi, in a much more uncompetitive car. Meanwhile, Rosberg did well to qualify on the front row, and got a podium in the race. Schumacher never got a chance here, as a wheel nut failure caused him to retire early on.

I am aware it has only been three races, and bad luck has played a part, especially in Malaysia. But, the simple fact is that Nico Rosberg has 35 points to Schumacher’s 9. Times have changed since Michael Schumacher was the unbeatable force in Formula 1, taking multiple championships in a dominating car. Now, the rookies aren’t scared of the 7-time world championship, as shown when Jaime Alguersuari pushed him onto the grass. The last time that happened was in 2003, again in Australia, with Kimi Raikkonen. Back then, it was a sign that the young drivers were fighting back, and it came true with a fantastic season. This time, it seems to be a sign that the Formula 1 world has moved on from Schumacher.

It is too early to make conclusions about Schumacher’s comeback just yet. But, I can’t help but worry that he will never be able to return to the top like he used to. Being in an uncompetitive car must be hugely demotivating, but this is Michael Schumacher we’re talking about. Hopefully, by the end of the year, a win could be a possibility for him and Rosberg.

But, this all hinges on whether Ross Brawn and Mercedes can pull themselves together, and give the German duo a competitive car. What do you think will happen?

Brawn: Mercedes behind with preparations

Ross Brawn

Ross Brawn

Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn has admitted that his team is behind in preparations for the Bahrain Grand Prix and the rest of the season, but believes the team still has a strong car.

While Mercedes has returned to F1 for the first time since 1955, they had taken over the old Brawn GP team, so it w0uld have seemed that they would have been well prepared. However, Ross Brawn says differently:

"Everyone at Mercedes GP is proud to be representing the rich
motorsport pedigree of Mercedes-Benz as we start the season as the
first Mercedes works team for over half a century," Brawn began. "In
addition, knowing that we go into the new season as the reigning
World Champions gives the team confidence and a fierce pride to
defend our position.
owever, this is a new season and a new challenge. We had a strong
pre-season testing programme with the MGP W01 but we have not quite
reached the level of preparation that we would have liked prior to
Bahrain; the car shows promise and we have a strong development
programme planned for the season but there is a lot of hard work
ahead to ensure that we will be in the fight for the title.

It’s odd to me reading this, after what happened last year. When Jenson Button won his sixth race out of 7 in Turkey, Brawn GP switched focus to their 2010 car, which would end up as the W01. Their wind tunnel (believed to be up to 5 wind tunnels) system was now completely working on the aerodynamic setup for 2010, and not the rest of the season. The wind tunnel was used for 2009 twice after this, in Valencia when Barrichello ended up winning, and near the end of the season, just to ensure that Button had a good enough car to secure the title.

Apart from these two times, the 2010 car has been developed on from June 2009 until now. So how can they say they are behind in preparations? The team say the car shows promise, rather than saying it’s good right now, which says a lot. One possible reason for this problem is a wind tunnel calibration error. I’m saying this because it happened to the team back in 2007 (when they were Honda). It’s not based on facts, but it could be a possibility.

Brawn then talked about his views on his driver line-up and the 2010 season:

"I am very pleased with how our new drivers, Michael and Nico, have 
settled into the team and developed a close working relationship," 
Brawn continued. "They have really pushed the development of the car 
throughout testing and they will push each other to achieve better
results on the race track.
This season should be a fantastic one for the fans, with so many 
talented drivers competing and what is likely to be a very close 
fight for the title between the top teams - and that can only be 
good for our sport."

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:

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

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