Tag Archives: Michael Schumacher

Schumacher voted most popular F1 driver

The FOTA logo

The FOTA logo

A few weeks back, FOTA launched “the most exhaustive F1 fan survey ever”. A huge range questions were put to the fans, and one of these has become the first result to be published from the survey. Michael Schumacher has been voted the most popular driver in F1, ahead of Fernando Alonso.

However, the margin of how popular he is is quite surprising. Schumacher took 19.5% of the entire vote, compared to Alonso’s 9.7%. In third place was a driver who isn’t even in Formula 1 any more – Kimi Raikkonen.

This is the first result of a huge survey. Over 90,000 (knock off a zero there, and I can make a good few jokes!) people took part, and there will be a huge degree of expectation to see some of the answers, such as how they feel about races, and how they could be improved. These results should be out within a few weeks.

Bahrain GP Thursday press conference

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Thursday conference

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Thursday conference

The first official press conference of the F1 2010 season began today, with the drivers being Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. Here is the full transcript of the interview:

Q: A question to all of you. What are you most looking forward to during this season? Who is going to start? The World Champion.
Jenson Button:
The same as all of us I think, and that is getting out there. It has been a few months since we actually raced for three of us here, so getting out there and racing, that’s what we all love. Testing is part of the job but racing is the bit what we really enjoy. I am looking forward to getting out there. It is such a competitive season, it looks like. It is possibly one of the most exciting seasons we have seen in Formula One, so just being a part of that is very special.

Q: Lewis, what are you most looking forward to?
Lewis Hamilton:
Just getting on the track. Testing was good fun but obviously we did not have as much testing as we have had in the past and the more time in the car the more fun we have. Just looking forward to it all kicking off and to see where everyone else sits.

Q: Felipe?
Felipe Massa:
Well, to get back to racing after eight months. It is a long time. I am looking forward to getting back to racing, to starting in a good direction after as Lewis said not many tests. But it is nice to be back racing.

Q: Michael, after an even longer absence what are you looking forward to? And welcome back.
Michael Schumacher:
Thank you. The green light or the red light going off.

Q: The green light or rather when the red goes off?
MS:
Yes.
FM: You are very motivated. You are already in the overalls.
MS: Exactly.

Q: Fernando?
Fernando Alonso:
The same as everybody. Just starting the competition, the racing. Testing is okay but it is just preparation for the race itself, so looking forward to Sunday.

Q: Who has walked around the circuit? Any of you? Michael, what are your thoughts on the new section of the circuit? It is all probably fairly new to you.
MS:
The first part looks quite exciting. The later part a little less exciting, but then you have to drive it and feel it in reality.

Q: Has anyone else been around the circuit to have a look at it? Jenson, been around the circuit?
JB:
No, we are going out this afternoon.

Q: Lewis?
LH:
The same.

Q: Jenson, a new team. What are the greatest changes and challenges for you?
JB:
I think moving teams. I was with my previous team for seven years, so moving teams can be tricky. It is a completely new environment, it is a real challenge and most of us do not really like change, but it has been good. Even after sort of two months I really feel part of the team. We have not even gone racing yet and I feel a big part of the team. I have always worked very hard to make myself fit into a team reasonably well but the team have been great. They are so hungry for a good season. Last year for them was not the best and it has made them hungry for success this year. It has been good and having the simulator there has helped me a lot to get used to the environment of being in this car. I spent a lot of time at the factory, not just with the engineers, just spending time at the factory, so I am part of the furniture there. Testing has gone well as well. It is important to really use every second or every minute you are with the team as it comes around very quickly. We have Friday and Saturday morning before qualifying but it is not a lot of time, so you have got to be ready for when you arrive here in Bahrain.

Q: Having number one and being World Champion on the car. How motivating is that or is it even restrictive?
JB:
I can’t see it as restrictive in any way. You should look at it in a positive way. Stepping into the car and seeing the number one on it is a very special feeling, especially here in Bahrain at the first race. Just before I put on my helmet and I look at the car and see the No 1 it is going to be an emotional moment but as soon as you step into the car and close your visor last season is out the window and you are purely focussed on this year.

Q: You won here last year. Is it a good circuit for you?
JB:
I like it. It is a fun circuit to drive and it is a place you can overtake which is great. The new section is pretty slow. There are nine new corners on the circuit and most of them are slow now, so it is tricky and I look forward to getting out there and seeing what we make of it as it is difficult walking around it and trying to understand it. The simulator is useful but still in reality it is nice to get out there and feel it in the car. I hope it does make overtaking better but I am not sure if that is going to be the case. I think it could possibly make the racing more exciting as it is very tricky, so I look forward to getting out on the circuit tomorrow morning.

Q: Lewis, the man next to you is the reigning World Champion. How does that change things for you? Is that extra motivation?
LH:
I don’t think it makes a huge difference. Jenson has been welcomed into the team and he seems to be doing a great job, very productive, enthusiastic and he has really brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team. I can only see it as a positive. On my side, for me, just from coming from not so good a year last year but to finish on quite a high I feel just as determined as ever if not more.

Q: Which of the rule changes has been the most challenging as far as you are concerned?
LH:
Probably just being a little bit heavier. Otherwise it has been pretty straight forward. Just trying to understand the tyres a little bit and understand the approach to the long stints being a little bit different to last year on lighter fuel but otherwise it is pretty straight forward. I am sure this weekend will be a challenge for everyone but we are all in the same boat.

Q: You finished second here in 2007, the first time you came here.
LH:
That seems like a long time ago. We had a good car back then. The last two years things haven’t been particularly special but hopefully this weekend will be a new start for us and hopefully a positive for me and Jenson.

Q: Felipe, a big welcome back to you. What is it like to return, to be back in the car and back at a race meeting again?
FM:
It is just nice to be back in business. That is my job for many years. I have lost a bit of races and just nice to be back. I feel really happy and a lot of motivation to get back to the job.

Q: You are a former winner here, but also in the past you have had some slow parts to the season. Is that something you are conscious of and determined to change?
FM:
I think it is something that we understood in the past that the first race is important to finish, important to score points. Even in the last years we always had some problems in the car to finish the race. That I hope doesn’t happen. I hope we can finish most of the races in good points as we know at the end of the season it is always important to be there on a good amount of points. Many people say at the beginning of the season what is important is the reliability. Reliability is always important. It is important to finish the race. We did a lot of kilometres in the winter test which helps when you have a good car to start the season.

Q: Michael, what’s it like to be back at a race meeting when you are a driver and fully involved after an absence of three years?
MS:
Well, naturally it is a bit more intense. From the morning to the evening with lots more details than you want and naturally you have to pay attention.

Q: How much are you still team building? People have spoken how you built a team at Ferrari. What is happening at Mercedes now?
MS:
I think it is difficult to say right now what is going to be the development. Naturally you have to adapt, you have to evolve developing into the team. It is probably the thing that you will find some potential, you still can improve, to understand how at certain moments the team will work, why it will work, how you can combine the two things. But so far I have to say that the guys are good guys. It is good harmony, particularly due to knowing the boss quite well and he knows me too. It makes things a lot easier, a lot smoother, but otherwise I am sure there is some potential we will have to develop.

Q: You are a two-time winner here. What are your feelings about this circuit?
MS:
Making it three.

Q: Fernando is a two-time winner as well, aren’t you?
FA:
Yes, three also.

Q: But Fernando, again new team, new challenges. What are the major challenges? What are the major changes?
FA:
As Jenson said I think every time you change team you need to adapt yourself a little bit to the new people, the new philosophy of working, of preparing the season. It has been a great time so far. I have been very comfortable with the team from day one to now, so I think we arrive at the first race with a good preparation and ready for the fight.

Q: Ferrari have been said to be one of the two top teams. Is that the way you see it?
FA:
Not really. We are not comparing too much the times in winter or making many predictions for these first races. We have just been concentrating on our programme to try to be as prepared a possible for the first race. I think the four teams – Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari – any of the four teams can be a favourite for this race and for the first part of the championship with, I am sure, some teams also like Sauber and Force India, they will have a very good race as well. I think we will do our best. We are well prepared for this start of the season but we want to be World Champions in November, not in March. We will do our best but the goal is to win the championship and we know this is not easy at all and we need to work very hard for 10 months, so it is only the start.

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Thursday conference

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at the Bahrain Thursday conference

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Thomas Richtr – TV Nova) For all the drivers. If it was up to you and not working groups or the FIA, would you choose this year’s regulation regarding the refuelling ban and heavy cars at the start or last year’s regulation when it was a sprint from pit stop to pit stop?
FA:
I am happy with any decision. It is just a new challenge for all of us. For the engineers, teams, drivers it is change in Formula One, so any change is normally welcome as it offers you the possibility of discovering some new area of our sport. I am happy with the change but I was happy last year. We will see. We need to give some time to the new regulations to see how the races are. If we see more overtaking, if not? Maybe the races are very spectacular or maybe the races are very boring. We need to wait and see a few races to see if the new regulations are working or not.
MS: Last year… yeah, for the simple fact it leaves more scope for strategy. Naturally, as a race driver you want to drive the fastest car and if you have full tanks to half full tanks it naturally makes a big difference.
FM: I think the regulations have to be good for everybody: for the drivers, for the teams but also a lot for the guys who are watching the race. It’s very difficult to say which ones (regulations) I prefer, the new ones or the ones from last year. We haven’t yet done a single race, it’s very early to say which one I prefer, but I think if it’s good to everybody – for the moment I don’t think anybody is against the regulations, so if it’s good for everybody, it should be no problem to change. It’s also a new challenge for everybody, as Fernando says, so we just need to focus on every new point and try to do the best.
LH: I think it’s a new challenge in the sport for all of us and the key is that we’re moving forward, so I’m excited to see how it works and I’m sure we will do everything we can, collectively, to put on a good show.
JB: I think everything’s been said. I think turn one’s going to be pretty interesting with that much fuel – going down to turn one. I think we forget about qualifying as well. Qualifying is different to last year: we will be running on low tanks all the way through, which is great. I think we will have more of an understanding after qualifying than the last couple of seasons with the cars on low fuel. But I think the differences from qualifying to the races will be bigger than we’ve seen before. Some cars will be very good on light fuel, maybe not so good on 150/160 kilos of fuel, so it’s going to be interesting to see.

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport) Michael, do you remember how you felt coming into the sport for the first time, up against champions who you had watched, the likes of Senna and Prost and so on? With your record and reputation, you’re very much the man to beat; is it going to be everyone else’s aim to attack you and challenge you on the track?
MS:
Yes. Basically when I arrived, I wasn’t that full of confidence to be on the same playing field but being with them the first time, I noticed that I could be (competitive) and I do feel pretty much the same now. There’s no reason why somebody should not feel in the position to fight me because all those guys who will be on the grid on Sunday have good reasons to be there because they’re highly talented. I have the greatest respect for each of them; for me, each one is a big competitor that I have to look at.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, you always said you don’t like understeer in your cars, and this year, due to the weight of the car, the tyres, the nature of the cars, you have understeer. Do you think that because of that we may not see the best of you?
MS:
I think it varies very much from car to car, it’s a characteristic which is given to a car. Sometimes, you’re right, it may be given by the tyres, then it’s up to you and your team to get the balance that you want, because in the past, don’t forget a car suited me because I like oversteer, I like a neutral car, the fastest car, whatever that is!

Q: (James Allen – Financial Times) Fernando, you’ve talked about settling in; do you think you’re ready to win? And what do you think of Michael coming back?
FA:
Yes, I think I’m ready to win. Every time you arrive at the first race of the championship you’ve been preparing yourself all winter for this moment, so I’ve been waiting very long to be here at Ferrari as well, many years of preparation for this moment, so now I feel ready to fight and hopefully we’re in a position to do that. To have Michael here, OK – it was a surprise for sure when he came back but as I said many times, it’s a very good thing for all of us, for all the drivers, for our sport and that can only help Formula One and because we are part of Formula One, all the drivers, it also helps us, so I am very happy that he’s here and hopefully we can have good fights.

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Question to Jenson and Lewis: just been watching the dynamic between you two guys while the other three have been answering questions at the front. You’ve been having a good laugh and a joke, sharing comments etc. Is that a good indicator of the friendship/relationship you two have already developed over the past few weeks together?
JB:
It’s all for show! Exactly what we were told to do by Steve (press officer Steve Cooper).
LH: I agree. We’re focusing on a potential move to acting in the future!
JB: And no one’s asking us any questions, so…

Q: (Sarah Holt – BBC Sport) I have a question for you, Jenson. How do you feel about defending your title this season against Fernando in the Ferrari, Michael back at Mercedes, Lewis in the same equipment as you will have? Do you feel you will need a dominant start again this weekend?
JB:
Yes, I think every championship, for any champion, I think it’s important to be quick out of the blocks. If you look back, normally the guy that really fights for the championship and gets the championship is strong from the word ‘go’, so yes, I think it is important for all of us to be up there at the front here in Bahrain. The competition is very fierce, I must say, but that’s why it is exciting. For a fan of Formula One, this season should be electric, it really should be. If it’s not, we’re doing something seriously wrong. It’s obviously great to have Felipe back after his horrific accident last year. Great to have Michael back because it makes me feel young again! Looking at this race, I don’t think there have been so many competitive drivers in competitive cars for a long time, so it’s great to see.

Q: (Jacques Deschenaux – GP Guide) To all of you, will the new distribution of points with 25 for the first, 18 to the second, change your approach and maybe your strategy for the race?
MS:
You still want to score the 25, so that’s the main strategy. It’s certainly a little bit fairer, I think, in a way that if you have somebody who wins most of the races, naturally you will most likely say that he is going to be the champion by the end of the year, rather than somebody there just sitting, waiting and taking second and third places and suddenly being World Champion. I don’t think that makes much sense, as it has been in past years. Actually I think I was the reason why it was implemented, the small gaps, because I was winning so much and nobody could find a way to stop that. I think it’s absolutely correct, the way it is now.
FM: I think it’s correct as well. I think the winner, the victory is always more important than anything, so if you win, maybe to have a little bit more points is always better. So I’m with Michael.
LH: Well, what they said was right. It’s another challenge, it’s a small change to the results. As Felipe said, when you win the race it should be rewarded perhaps a little bit more than the guys who come in second and third. I think it will be interesting to see how it pans out. I’ve not really thought about it too much to be honest.
JB: I think we need to see how it goes. It’s the same as before. You still want to go out and win as many races as you can. Obviously when you’re fighting for a championship – I know how that feels now – it’s about being consistent as well. When you’re fighting for a win, it’s very difficult to hold back and think ‘I’ll come in second and pick up the points.’ We all want to win races and that’s what we’re here to do.
FA: I agree.

Q: (Carlos Miquel – Diario AS) Fernando, in the past you have said Michael is the best driver in history. Now, Michael is back, do you believe the same? And a question for Michael: who could be your biggest rival this year?
FA:
Yes, if I said that, it’s because I really think that. If you see the World Championships that Michael has it’s something that is impossible to repeat and part of the history in our sport, as I said. Looking at the numbers, Grand Prix wins, pole positions, championships etc, I think we all agree that Michael is the best ever, so I’m happy that he’s here and as I said, hopefully winning a championship or winning a Grand Prix with Michael on the track has more value, so we will try.
MS: At my age, I keep forgetting things if they are too long away, so what was the question?
Basically, I think there are the four main teams that you’re looking at and in all those cars – so you’re talking about a potential eight drivers, seven around me that I have to look out for. Four of them are sitting here right now and there are three more that aren’t here right now. It’s very tough to mention which is the one, but it doesn’t matter who it is, because you’re focused on the one that it is.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) To all of you apart from Michael Schumacher: you were saying, Fernando, that winning a race ahead of Michael Schumacher would bring more importance. Don’t you think that if Michael starts to win too much, it’s going to be very bad for all of you in the end and for the sport too?
FM:
Well, for sure we need to work very hard not to let him win too much. Every team wants to win but it’s the best for the sport to have the best drivers on the track, the best teams fighting on the track and I think that’s always great for the sport. Anyway, everybody wants to win, everybody wants to keep winning all the time. But it’s a big competition, so I think it will be very difficult as we saw in the tests, to see a single car winning every race. But anyway, you never know. The race starts now and we need to wait and see.
LH: We have to wait and see, we have to wait and see.
JB: Yeah. I think you’ve answered it yourself.
FA: I agree!

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

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

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

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

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

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

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

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

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

All of today’s times:

Today’s times:


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

Red9.

10.

11.

K. Kobayashi

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

H. Kovalainen

Sauber

T. Rosso

Virgin

Lotus

C29

STR5

VR-01

T127

1.22.228

1.22.564

1.23.504

1.23.521

+2.929

+3.265

+4.205

+4.222

28

120

34

68

Pictures from the test:

17th February: Testing results- Vettel leads

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

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

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

Paul di Resta after spinning out on track

Paul di Resta after spinning out on track

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

Fairuz Fauzy in the Lotus

Fairuz Fauzy in the Lotus

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

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

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

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

Wet conditions in the afternoon

Wet conditions in the afternoon

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

Times from today:

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

10.

11.

12.

P. di Resta

V. Petrov

R. Barrichello

F. Fauzy

T. Glock

Force India

Renault

Williams

Lotus

Virgin

VJM03

R30

FW32

T127

VR-01

1.25.088

1.26.237

1.27.320

1.31.848

1.32.417

+2.495

+3.644

+4.727

+9.255

+9.824

74

55

109

76

10

Pictures from the test:

13th February: Testing results – Hamilton just on top

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

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

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

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

An engineer tests the track as the circuit slowly dries out

An engineer tests the track as the circuit slowly dries out

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

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

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

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

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

Felipe Massa after stopping out on track

Felipe Massa after stopping out on track

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

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

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

Times from today:

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

9.

10.

P. de la Rosa

L. di Grassi

J. Alguersuari

Sauber

Virgin

Toro Rosso

C29

VR-01

STR5

1.22.134

1.22.912

1.24.072

+2.551

+3.329

+4.489

105

63

98

Pictures from the test:

11th February: Testing results

Kamui Kobayashi put in a low-fuel run near the end of today’s testing, to take the fastest lap of today’s running in Jerez.

Sebastien Buemi had led for most of the day, with a 1.20.026, but Kobayashi’s lap of 1.19.950 was enough to see him on top. However, there was concern at Virgin, where Timo Glock had a “front wing mounting problem”, which basically ment the front wing fell off. This was only after 11 laps, and even worse, there was a shortage of components, which meant that the team will have to wait until tomorrow to continue testing. Glock has managed a miserable 16 laps in 2 days, and has finished last on both occasions.

Back at the top, Jenson Button was behind Kobayashi and Buemi in third (1.20.618), and was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica, Webber and then Glock.

There was another problem, however, in the form of yesterday’s intermediate tyres wearing too quickly. Many of the drivers were today complaining about excessive wear on the tyres, even when the track was saturated with water. Nico Hulkenberg said:

“Even though we were picking up a lot of water on the track they still seemed too soft. They were wearing a lot quite quickly.”

Jenson Button, however, believes the problem is with the Jerez circuit itself:

“It’s quite an abrasive surface here. The wet tyre felt like it would last forever but the intermediate had a much shorter lifespan. I think that was the same for everyone. It’s about keeping a balance so you’re not destroying one end. It is an abrasive surface and layout here and we saw the same thing last year.”

On another subject, Hulkenberg has said that there is definitely a power increase with this year’s Cosworth engine, compared to last year’s Toyota one. He said:

“It’s good, I’m very positively surprised about it. There’s been no issues with reliability and drive-ability’s very good. It feels better, it feels stronger [than the Toyota].”

Times from today’s test:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. K. Kobayashi Sauber C25 1.19.950 103
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.20.026 +0.076 121
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.618 +0.668 83
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.629 +0.679 67
5. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.20.754 +0.804 80
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.003 +1.133 124
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.21.424 +1.474 129
8.

9.

10.

R. Kubica

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.22.003

1.22.043

1.29.964

+2.053

+2.093

+10.014

103

99

11

Pictures from today’s testing:

3rd February: Testing results

Yet another day with Ferrari on top of the timesheets today in Valencia, but this time it was Fernando Alonso who led the way.

A massive crowd of over 35,000 (compared to 7,000 for the last 2 days) greeted Alonso at the track. His fastest lap was a 1m11.470s. This was not only a great lap, but it was at the start of a long stint, so it wasn’t just a loght fuel load that was pushing him on. However, Alonso has remained cautious, saying:

“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix. We are at that period of winter testing.”

“We need to make the car very, very strong and until Barcelona or the last test at Jerez I think we will not look for the performance.”

He added: “The first impression is always good. It was very good last year, and I was not in Q3 very often. For that I’m very, very cautious.”

Pedro de la Rosa continued to set fast laps, coming in 2nd with a best lap of 1m12.094s. It is understood that the Mercedes car does not have its full diffuser integrated yet, but Michael Schumacher still came third with 1m12.438s.

Behind them, Jaime Alguersuari was fourth, followed by Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg. Nico was involved in an incident with de la Rosa earlier in the day, where the two clashed. Hulkenberg’s car was believed to be marginally damaged. He still managed to get 126 laps out of the car across the day.

Times from the day:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)   1:11.470  127
 2.  de la Rosa    BMW Sauber-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.094   80
 3.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)   1:12.438   82
 4.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.576   97
 5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:12.951   82
 6.  Petrov        Renault              (B)   1:13.097   75
 7.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)   1:13.669  126

Pictures from today's testing:

February 1st: Testing results

The first day of testing concluded in Valencia today.

We saw the launches of the Williams, Mercedes and Toro Rosso cars. Then, 7 of the teams headed out for testing at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Temperatures were around 12 degrees Celcius.

Felipe Massa finished top of the timesheets today, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa and Michael Schumacher. Massa completed the most laps (102) and set the fastest lap at 1:12.574. Mercedes were the onlt team to run both of its drivers, with Schumacher 3rd (1:12.947) while Rosberg was 4th (1:13.543). Robet Kubica was last, driving for Renault, lapping in a 1:15.000 as a fastest lap, 2.5 seconds slower than Massa.

The only red flag was for Rubens Barrichello, who spun while out on track at around 4.45 pm. Toro Rosso only got 18 laps in with Sebastien Buemi, because of a gearbox problem.

Full testing results:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1:12.574 102
2. P. de la Rosa BMW Sauber C25 1:12.784 +0.210 74
3. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP W01 1:12.947 +0.373 40
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes GP W01 1:13.543 +0.969 39
5. G. Paffett McLaren MP4-25 1:13.846 +1.272 86
6. R.Barrichello Williams FW32 1:14.449 +1.875 75
7. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1:14.762 +2.188 18
8. R. Kubica Renault R30 1:15.000 +2.426 69

More photos of testing today (more photos in the individual car launches):

Mercedes W01 launched

The new Mercedes W01 car has been launched in Valencia.

The livery was revealed a week ago, in the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart. It’s good, but not great, I feel.

The car itself appears to look quite similar to last year’s Brawn. The main change is the revised nose cone, which is quite lower than other teams. The engine air intake has a very different shape. Also, the car sports last year’s Red Bull raised nose, as copied by Ferrari with their F10.

Otherwise, I’m actually struggling to find differences to last year’s Brawn. Hopefully underneath there are many changes, because at the moment I’m not convinced.

Nico Rosberg drove the car in the morning, before handing it over to Michael Schumacher for the afternoon.

Photos from the launch:

Jose Maria Lopez confirmed at USF1

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Argetinian Jose Maria Lopez has been confirmed as a driver for USF1 for this season.

However, the fact that the deal was announced by the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, shows the politics behind the move. His political connections, such as Carlos Reutemann, show that it was more his influence than his driving prowess.

When asked about the move, Lopez said:

“This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina.”

“I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I can’t thank Peter and Ken [Anderson] enough for this opportunity. Of course a new F1 team faces many challenges but our goal is to improve with each race and build a foundation that will eventually see this team competing for wins and championships.”

Peter Windsor explained why they signed him:

“We’ve been following his career since he dominated the Renault V6 Championship in 2003 and we’re thrilled to have him on board as we return America to Formula One.”

“Lopez is a consummate professional and born leader. The most revealing thing about his character was how he handled the disappointment of not racing for Renault after three years of testing with them in F1. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for himself, he returned to Argentina and totally dominated the local scene, winning 38 races and three championships. He became a major star as a result and, in turn, the Argentine nation – a country where F1 is second only to soccer – has got behind him.”

I’ve already said that I’m doubtful of Lopez’s driving ability, but I’d say he’s better than the last bunch of Argentinian drivers. Gaston Mazzacane was aeons off the pace in 2000 for Minardi and 2001 for Prost, and is well known for taking out his pit crew in Indianapolis 2000.

Then before that we had Esteban Tuero, in 1998 for Minardi. The only thing I can remember about him is his pit stop in, erm, Argentina.

Then we had Norberto Fontana, who is famous for holding up Jacques Villeneuve to try to help Michael Schumacher win the 1997 championship.

Hopefully Lopez is better than those lot, but I’m still doubtful whether he deserves the drive or not.

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