Tag Archives: Robert Kubica

Stewart: 2010 drivers are the best ever

Stewart highly rates the 2010 F1 grid

Stewart highly rates the 2010 F1 grid

Jackie Stewart, three-times world champion in the 1960’s and 1970’s, has claimed that the current batch of F1 drivers are “the best ever”. He even went as far as saying that current title holder Sebastian Vettel could be compared to former legends such as Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill.

The 2010 title battle included 5 drivers and 3 teams, and went all the way to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Stewart was very impressed with the racing he saw across the year:

 "I think it's the best field ever. Red Bull had a good car this year 
but right down to the last race there were four drivers battling for 
the championship, and there were five for most of the season really 
in contention."

"Up there was a Red Bull, a Ferrari and a McLaren, and a Renault 
pushing and shoving, so you cannot ask for much better than that. 
It was a long season and it came down to the very last race. It was 
close racing too."

Despite enormous changes in Formula 1 over the years, to both the cars and the drivers, Jackie claims that the raw driver instinct remains the same:

"I think the animal is exactly the same. I don't think Sebastian Vettel is 
any different from what Jim Clark was, or Graham Hill was, or Jack Brabham 
was, or people who have won the world championship more than once."

"These drivers are the same - all the same desire, want, focus, commitment 
and God-given talent that has been developed to the highest level."

"So they are not different as individuals, but we have a crop of them just 
now and we have got a little closer unification of the quality of the 
performance of the cars, so it is going to give us better racing - and I 
see 2010 was as good as the late 1960s/early 1970s."

Despite giving particular praise to Vettel, saying that there is “a lot more to come”, he still says that all of this year’s title contenders are hugely talented. He also touted Robert Kubica as a future champion, and noted each driver’s different driving talent:

"Webber is still in there, and Kubica could one day be world champion. You 
also have Jenson driving in the smoothest and cleanest way of any driver, 
and Lewis is probably the best racer of the whole lot - and the best 
equipped is still Alonso. You have such a group of extraordinarily 
skilled people."

 

Ferrari were not given immediate order to allow Kubica through

In a complete contrast to Charlie Whiting’s evidence given a few days ago, it has emerged that Ferrari were not immediately ordered to instruct Fernando Alonso to allow Robert Kubica through at the British Grand Prix. Gazzetta Dello Sport has published the transcript of pit wall communications during the incident, which show that there was a long delay between the incident and Whiting advising Ferrari to let Kubica through.

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

According to Charlie Whiting, he immediately told Ferrari to let Kubica through. However, the radio transcript tells a different story:

13:31:05 The overtaking move takes place at Club and after one second Rivola calls Whiting, who replies after 11 seconds. Rivola asks: ‘Have you seen the pass? In our opinion there was no room to overtake.’

26 secs after the pass, Whiting asks to be given time to watch the TV footage.

13:33 Ferrari makes a second radio call – 1m55s after the pass. Alonso has completed another lap plus one sector, and is behind Nico Rosberg and Jaime Alguersuari, while Kubica drops further back.

Whiting tells Ferrari that the stewards think Alonso could give the position back. Rivola asks: ‘Is this the decision?’

Whiting replies: ‘No, but that’s how we see it.’

Rivola informs the team while Rosberg overtakes Alguersuari. On the GPS screen that shows the position of the cars, Ferrari sees Kubica dropping further back. Meanwhile, Alonso overtakes Alguersuari at Turn 2.

13:33:22 Ferrari makes a third radio call.

Rivola tells Whiting: ‘Alonso doesn’t have only Kubica behind. He would have to concede two positions now.’

While they discuss the matter Kubica is overtaken by Barrichello so Alonso would have to now give up three positions.

Whiting replies: ‘We have given you the chance to do it or not. Things being this way, the stewards will hear the drivers at the end of the race, but I understand your position.’

13:35:30 Kubica stops so Alonso can no longer give the position back.

13:45:31 The stewards investigate the Alonso/Kubica incident. The monitors then display ‘car number 8 under investigation’, 14m26s after the pass.

13:46:26 Just 55 seconds later the stewards decide that Alonso should have a drive-through penalty.

This shows that Whiting had a delay of two minutes of telling Ferrari to let Kubica through, not instantly like he had previously stated. Also, this would prove Ferrari’s claim that Kubica was dropping down the field too quickly to allow through, and it would have unfairly disadvantaged Alonso.

After a look at this evidence, I would have to question the drive-through penalty a little bit more. For sure, Fernando should have allowed Kubica through instantly, without his team telling him to, but it does seem strange that Charlie Whiting would have told the story incorrectly.

At the end of the day, while a drive-through penalty is still justifiable, the stewards’ time spent deliberating incidents must be looked at, as it had affected so many races this season.

Ferrari were advised to allow Kubica through

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has revealed that he advised Ferrari 3 times to allow Robert Kubica through, after an overtaking incident with Fernando Alonso during the British Grand Prix. Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty during the race after he cut a corner battling with Kubica, overtook the Renault but failed to give the position back.

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Under normal circumstances, after repeatedly advising Ferrari, this would have turned into an order to hand the position back, but since Kubica soon retired with unrelated mechanical issues, Alonso was unable to hand the position back. However, Charlie Whiting felt that Ferrari had plenty of time to instruct Alonso to let Kubica through, before the Renault retired.

Whiting claimed that, despite the penalty being issued many laps later, Ferrari were immidiately advised to hand the position back:

"We told Ferrari three times that in my opinion they should give the
position back to Kubica.

And we told them that immediately, right after the overtaking
manoeuvre. On the radio, I suggested to them that if they exchange
position again, there would be no need for the stewards to intervene.

But they didn't do that and on the third communication they said that
Kubica was by then too far back to let him regain the position.

It's not true at all that the stewards took too long to decide. For
us the facts were clear immediately: Alonso had gained an advantage
by cutting the track."

However, team principal Stefano Domenicali argued that, despite Alonso getting past Kubica, he didn’t gain an advantage:

"He tried to be aggressive to overtake, and we complained the 
drivers not to be aggressive and we complain about the lack of 
overtaking, and so at that stage, we felt as we normally do at 
that moment that we need to go on the radio with race control to 
check what is the position.

And normally, we take the right time to discuss with race control 
to make the judgement, and the moment when race control give us 
the instruction to give back the position to Robert, it was clear 
that Robert had already lost a lot of time - effectively he had a 
problem and he came back. That is the situation we analysed.

You can have a situation where immediately there is a possibility 
to give back the position to a driver if you feel that there is 
really an advantage that you gain. On our side we felt that was 
not the case otherwise we would have done it."

I was wondering after the race, why Ferrari didn’t complain loudly about the penalty being awarded, and this is clearly why. If Ferrari are pushing the rules that much just to gain one position, then they completely deserve any penalty that they get.

Kubica commits to Renault until 2012

Robert Kubica has announced that he is committing to the Renault team, after signing a new contract that will see him remain at the French outfit until the end of 2012. The Polish driver has, in his limited time with the team so far, made a huge impression and has scored massive points for the team.

Robert Kubica will continue to race at Renault until 2012

Robert Kubica will continue to race at Renault until 2012

Kubica said this about the new deal:

"It was a straightforward decision for me to continue with a team 
where I feel at home.

What’s important for me is to be in the right atmosphere, with a 
good group of people, where everybody is pulling in the same 
direction. This is what we have tried to build from the beginning 
of my time with Renault."

Team boss Eric Boullier outlined his plans for Kubica until 2012:

"There have been many rumours surrounding his future in recent 
weeks, which were a tribute to how well he has driven this year, 
and we are very happy to have agreed a multi-year deal.

Our clear goal is to become title contenders over the next two 
years. To do so, we need a driver of Robert’s calibre: somebody 
who is fast, totally committed and doesn’t make mistakes. His 
performances during the first half of the 2010 season were flawless,
and we hope to achieve great things together in the future."

This really was a no-brainer for Kubica, as there was no spaces available at any of the top teams, with Felipe Massa and Mark Webber both recently extending their contracts at Ferrari and Red Bull respectively. As Boullier said, the aim for Renault now should be to be in contention for championships by 2012, which should be no problem with Kubica at the wheel, provided the car is up to scratch.

Canada 2008 flashback: Kubica takes first ever win

As there was no Canadian Grand Prix in 2009, due to contract issues, I will instead focus on the 2008 race. It was a completely different situation back then, with Lewis Hamilton leading the championship by 3 points to Kimi Raikkonen, who was 2 points ahead of Felipe Massa, who was a further 2 ahead of Robert Kubica.

The track requires repairs overnight

The track requires repairs overnight

In qualifying, the entire grid was hampered by the track, which literally started to rip up and desintegrate in certain places. Hamilton managed to survive though, and put himself on pole position, ahead of Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. While Mark Webber got through to Q3, he was unable to set a time, as he had damaged his car on the broken track in Q2 on his in lap. Three corners (2, 10 and 11) had to be resurfaced overnight, albeit very cheaply, and the track had to be inspected by Charlie Whiting just before the race start.

Lewis Hamilton leads the field into Turn 2

Lewis Hamilton leads the field into Turn 2

The track survived the inspection, and Lewis Hamilton led the field into Turn 1. Robert Kubica tried his best to keep up with him at the first stint, but he simply couldn’t keep up, and Lewis opened up a 5-second lead by Lap 16. However, soon after this Adrian Sutil had a brake failure, and was forced to park his car in a dangerous position. The safety car had to be called out while the car was being removed, and this was just before the pit stops, meaning a headache in terms of strategy.

When the pit lane opened a few laps later, Hamilton, Kubica, Raikkonen, Massa, Rosberg and Alonso all opted to stop, while everyone else stayed behind the safety car. Though Hamilton was eager to retain his lead, his pit stop was longer than everyone elses. Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica emerged from their pit boxes side by side, but as there was a red light at the end of the pit lane (the field was still passing the start-finish straight) they were forced to stop alongside each other. Lewis approached from behind, and disaster struck.

He failed to notice the red light and stationary cars, and braked far too late to avoid them. He swerved, but ended up harpooning into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s car, ripping off the front of Hamilton’s front wing and suspension, and taking off Raikkonen’s rear wing. Both cars retired on the spot, and Nico Rosberg made situations even worse by hitting the back of Hamilton’s stationary car, breaking off his front wing, though he was able to continue.

Hamilton and Raikkonen retire on the spot, while Rosberg continues with a broken front wing

Hamilton and Raikkonen retire on the spot, while Rosberg continues with a broken front wing

Now the race was turned on its head. Two of the main contenders were out, and then it emerged that Felipe Massa’s fuel rig had failed, as a joint in the fuel line was broken. He was forced to pit again, and fell well down the pack. This left Robert Kubica leading the race. However, he had to pit soon enough, as he was on a 2-stop strategy.

Over this section of the race, there were 7 different leaders of the race, as each leader was forced to pit. Toyota were the biggest gainers, as both drivers had a stint leading the race despite starting in the midfield. Halfway through the race, and Nick Heidfeld was leading the race, though he hadn’t stopped yet. When he pitted, he still emerged in the lead, though just ahead of team-mate Kubica and Fernando Alonso. Robert had to stop one more time, and needed to get ahead of Heidfeld to take the win. So, he made his move.

Kubica overtakes Heidfeld, while Alonso keeps a close eye on the pair

Kubica overtakes Heidfeld, while Alonso keeps a close eye on the pair

Within a lap of Heidfeld emerging still in front, Kubica snatched the lead from him at Turn 1, and set about blazing a trail away from the German. He needed to be about 25 seconds ahead of Nick by his second stop, so he had to push. Though Alonso was 3rd and in contention for a podium, he soon spun out, handing 3rd place to David Coulthard.

Meanwhile, Felipe Massa was fighting his way back up the field after his botched first stop. One of his finest overtakes was at the final hairpin, where he managed to do a double overtake, on both Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen. After he pitted for the third time, he flew past Barrichello again, and set about catching the Toyotas. With only a few laps to go, he managed to get past Jarno Trulli to take 5th place.

There were many other incidents across the race. Nelson Piquet Jr crashed on Lap 39 (surprise) because of excessive brake wear. Kazuki Nakajime broke his front wing after hitting Jenson Button, and subsequently retired when the front wing was lodged under his chassis when he entered the pit, lost steering control and crashed in the entry of the pit lane. Also, Giancarlo Fisichella spun out from last place with a few laps to go.

Kubica had built up such a huge lead that he was completely unchallenged after his second stop. He crossed the line first ahead of team-mate Heidfeld, who was 16 seconds behind. David Coulthard was first, in his last ever podium finish in his career. He ran out of fuel 50 metres before parc ferme, and had to run the final stretch to the podium, quite similarly to Jenson Button in Monaco 2009.

This was the first time that Robert Kubica (or a Polish driver) had ever won a race, and it was the only win and 1-2 finish for the BMW Sauber team. It was the first time since Malaysia 2006 that neither a Ferrari or McLaren was on the podium, and the first time since USA 2006 that a McLaren hadn’t scored a point. It was also the first win for a German constructor since the 1962 French Grand Prix (Porsche), and the last ever victory (to date) of a BMW engine winning a race.

Kubica and Heidfeld celebrate their 1-2 finish

Kubica and Heidfeld celebrate their 1-2 finish

After this shock result, Robert Kubica was now leading the drivers’ championship with 42 points. Both Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton had 38, and Kimi Raikkonen was still on 35 after his retirement. Ferrari was still leading the constructors’ championship, but only by 3 points to BMW Sauber.

From then on, Kubica was pressurising his team to continue development on the current car, rather than the 2009 spec version. However, soon enough the team resisted his plea, and it is the main reason why he couldn’t fully challenge for the title in the end. But, his first ever victory still signaled that he had major talent for the future.

Australian GP press conference

Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa and an extremely interested Robert Kubica

Jenson Button, with Felipe Massa and an extremely interested Robert Kubica

Today we saw Jenson Button take his first win for McLaren, and Robert Kubica take a well-deserved second place for Renault. Here is the transcript of the post-race press conference:

Q: Jenson, an incredible race. 50 laps plus on a set of soft tyres. You made the early gamble for the slick tyres and that was the game changer. Was that your call?
Jenson Button:
It was. I think it is a lot easier for the drivers to feel the conditions. The team can see it on TV with the clouds coming in, but we can feel out on the circuit what is happening. I didn’t have a balance on the inters, I was really struggling and I lost a couple of places, so I thought ‘let’s get in, stick the slicks on.’ There was a dry line. A few places were a little bit wet. When I went into the pit lane I thought I had made a catastrophic decision as it was soaking wet in the pit lane. But once I got it going and up to speed, I had a little off at turn three, but the pace was pretty good and I was able to put in some good laps and overtake three or four cars when they stopped and put their tyres on, so it was the right call and I am very happy that I made it.

Q: How do you feel to win on the second race with your new team?
JB:
I mean, it is very special. It has taken me a little while to get to grips inside the car. The team has been fantastic though. They have really welcomed me in, but it has taken me a little bit of time to adapt to inside the cockpit. I don’t know what to say really, it is very difficult to put it into words. But a very special feeling and we will take a lot from this. I feel I am just building in confidence and hopefully when we get to the next race we can do something similar as this feels too good.

Q: Robert, you went from ninth to fourth at the start, then decided not to take a second pit stop for a new set of tyres. How hard was that call for you?
Robert Kubica:
It was difficult because we struggled with the warm-up, so when we saw Jenson being very quick we just pitted in the same lap as Felipe did. Our guys, the mechanics, did a fantastic job and I overtook Felipe in the pit stop but Jenson was much quicker with one or two laps already on the tyres. He built the temperature up, so they are very quick on the straight lines and I was not confident about the conditions as it was my first lap going through the corners with the slick tyres, so it was very difficult to fight with Jenson. It was tough. First of all I thought we would pit again. Then when I had really big degradation I asked my team if we are going to pit again and they said if we can manage we will not do it, so I took a bit more care with the tyres. But on the other hand I had first of all Lewis attacking quite strongly. He came very quickly behind me and I then…, I don’t know, he decided to pit. Then Felipe again, so I was just taking care of the tyres but also keeping good speed and that we would keep second place to the end.

Q: Felipe, it looked like pretty hard work early on and then the race came towards you and two podiums in two races.
Felipe Massa:
It is just fantastic, especially coming to Australia. My best result here was sixth. Having a problem in the qualifying and starting last in 2007 and then getting here which I cannot say was the best race for me. In terms of pace I was struggling a lot yesterday, but I did a fantastic start. We lost some positions on the pit stop and also a little bit on the track because of some mistakes with the difficult track. But it is just fantastic to have one second and one third. We know how important this is for the championship, especially my past. At the beginning of the championship I never had a lot of points like I have now, so this is very nice. The team did a fantastic job, so very happy to finish third in a difficult race like this.

Q: Jenson, Lewis pitted for a second set of tyres and complained about it afterwards on the radio. How did that decision process play out with you and the team and him?
JB:
I don’t know what their idea of pitting was. I guess he was stuck behind Robert and couldn’t get past. I never thought of putting on a second set. I didn’t think that would be an option really. It was always to run the race on one set of tyres if we could after it stopped raining. My pace was not great once I settled into the car. I felt I was starting to damage the rear tyres, so I settled into a pace that was consistent to not destroy the rears. The good thing was Robert was not closing and about 20 laps to go I started pushing just to pull the gap a little more just in case people had pitted and were two to three seconds a lap faster and it was just enough to get me to the end comfortably. We could not have done a better strategy. I think my decision at the beginning was my call but from a lot of feedback from what the circuit was doing and the other cars. It is always a team effort and I need to thank the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team for all their hard work and it is good to see we are improving every step of the way.

Q: Robert, this is the first time you have finished in Melbourne. What does this result mean for you and the Renault team?
RK:
Unfortunately, Australia was never lucky for me. I have been very quick each year and could finish in the last two years easy on the podium but for two crashes I didn’t manage it. To be honest we were not expecting to finish on the podium, so I think for Renault and myself it is a very special result as we were trying to push really hard during the winter. This is the best result we could get from the beginning of the season and it is a big thanks to the guys for all their effort but we have to keep realistic. We are not up to the pace for fighting for the podium in a normal race, so we have to keep pushing, keep working and I am sure we will manage sooner or later to be with the pace of the top teams.

Q: Felipe, a sweet moment for you at the start and a reverse of what happened in Bahrain. You passed your team-mate Fernando Alonso. Tell us about it.
FM:
Actually, I had a fantastic start, so I was able to do the start without wheel spin and I saw many cars in front, especially Fernando and Webber doing some wheel spin and I was able to do a very smooth start and pass them in a good way. I was very happy for the start and also the whole race was very difficult. Lots of slippery, low grip everywhere and to finish the race was very difficult today.

Q: Jenson, the track was damp at the start but when it dried out why was it so much easier today to overtake? Why was there so much more overtaking than there was in the first grand prix in Bahrain? Can you explain that?
JB:
I think it comes down to degradation. You had a lot of cars out of place which is different to Bahrain. The top eight cars were in the top eight slots pretty much. I think a lot of it is the degradation of the tyres. There was a lot of rear graining, some people did two stops, some people did one stop. Some people were trying to look after tyres, other people were pushing hard. There were lots of different ideas out there and it is great to see as, as you said, Bahrain was not the most exciting grand prix. I love that place and it was disappointing not to have a good grand prix, but here I knew what was going on. I could see quite a bit on the TV screens and it did look like a very exciting race. Hopefully we are going to have more races like this and that is what we all love.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jenson, second win here in Australia. You must be getting to like the place.
JB:
It is. It is. The start of the race wasn’t perfect for me. I touched with Fernando at turn one. I was half-way alongside him on the inside and I don’t know if he just couldn’t see me because of the mirrors. I don’t know what, but we touched. It obviously cost him a lot of time and it cost me a lot of time. It wasn’t the best start to the race and then on the inters I was really struggling. I just did not have a balance. A lot of oversteer in the car. There were very strange grip levels out there on the tyre and I was really, really struggling. I could see a dry line appearing in most places and at the rate my rear tyres were going away I knew there must have been enough grip for slicks. I made the call to pit early as I thought if I don’t pit early I am just going to keep going backwards. I thought it was a terrible call initially as the pit lane was so wet and after my first lap out of the pits I thought it was a pretty catastrophic mistake. But after that I could get into it. I found on the dry parts I could push pretty hard and then really it was about picking people off as they came out onto the circuit. It was a nice feeling as they are searching for the grip and I know where it is and I am able to overtake. It was a good feeling. I got up behind Sebastian and made a little mistake, ran wide, so I couldn’t really have a go at him. He obviously had his own problems. But from then on I just had to conserve the tyres. I had a big issue on about lap 15 where the rears just started going away from me and I had a lot of graining from the rear and I thought that’s it for me, they’re just going to swallow me up. I took a lot of front wing out, closed the diff and just hoped for the best really. Towards the end of the race I could start pushing and got the balance back and the car felt very good. I was in a very happy place the last 20 laps knowing I had a good gap and it would have been very difficult for anyone to catch me.

Q: What about the pace of Sebastian? Do you think you could have got on terms with him?
JB:
I was catching him initially and it was strange. He would start pulling away and I would start pulling him in. Then the team said you have got to look after these tyres. You are going to try and do the whole race on these tyres, 45, 50 laps, and I thought we will back off a little bit and see where we are. From previous experience, I don’t know if it is the case now, but the Red Bulls have been quite tough on their rear tyres. I just settled into a pace and we would see what would happen. I don’t know. If he had stayed in the race there are always ifs and buts and we don’t know how he would have ended up. The important thing is we came away with a win for whatever reason and I am very happy. The team should be very proud of themselves. We didn’t put a foot wrong.

Q: Robert, surprised to be second?
RK:
After yesterday, yes. Before the season, I think after two tests, I called my friend and I said ‘I think in Australia it will be possible to finish on the podium.’ It was around two months ago. Of course we were planning to finish on the podium with our pace. As we saw yesterday our pace was far off the podium but with this strange race we were able to make a lot of places and finish second.

Q: Do you think the higher temperature today was better for you whereas the low temperature yesterday wasn’t so good?
RK:
We know where we are struggling and I think yesterday was unfortunately a good example. We were very strong in P1 where there was a lot of sunshine and hot track conditions. Extremely competitive. Then unfortunately clouds came in for all weekend and the temperature dropped down and we were just struggling. We were not able to stress the tyre and increase the temperature, especially every lap of their usage. This was the case in qualifying. Okay, we are still not up to the pace of the top cars but today was a good example of not giving up and with a hard job, sometimes you get paid back.

Q: How much of a challenge did you have from the Ferrari?
RK:
I had more challenge from Hamilton and I was very surprised he pitted. First of all I thought it was a drive through as for me it was strange that he was pitting. He was much quicker than me. He was not far behind Jenson and at that point of the race if he had managed to overtake me, most probably he would go for it. He had quite a difficult time to catch me although there were a couple of places where he was very close to me and I think once he overshoot the braking. We were very close to touch, but then I had to take care of my tyres. Felipe came quite quickly behind me but I knew the cars behind they would struggle even more with the tyres, so I just settled to the consistent lap. As soon as I tried to push I did like three or four-tenths quicker a lap but then the lap again was four-tenths slower, so I just put up my pace which I thought would be reasonable without mistakes and try to bring the car home.

Q: Felipe, tell us a little bit about the first corner. What happened there?
FM:
The start?

Q: Yes.
FM:
I just did a great start, so I was able to spin the wheels much less than the cars in front. I was changing gears very quickly just to not get it to go into the wheel spin as the grip was very low. That gave me a lot of possibilities to just go through. I saw Fernando and Mark spinning the wheels and that was just great, especially to arrive at the first corner. It was very slippery to brake at the right place and not try to fight with everybody. It was a good point of the race.

Q: And you had quite big challenges from both Mark and Lewis during the race.
FM:
Yes, I made some mistakes. My tyres were suffering, trying to keep the tyres in the right condition, at the right temperature, especially at the beginning of the race. I was suffering from that yesterday as well. But then after 20 laps, let’s say, they started to improve a lot. Maybe I picked up the pace with a bit of degradation and I started to do my race twenty laps after I changed my tyres. For sure, we had some fights and I lost some positions in the race. But the team did a great job with the strategy, not to stop, and I think that was a great job for the top three.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, would you have ever thought that it would take you only two races to win your first race with McLaren?
JB:
No. I thought it would take longer than this, but a lot of it depends on what sort of car you come out of the box with. This race was obviously unusual. I don’t know where we would stand in general pace but it’s not what all racing is about. It’s about strategy, it’s about thinking and it’s about conserving and we did it correctly today and we came away with a good victory. This is very special. Whatever happens over the next few races, this means a lot to me, to be in this position right now. After being with one team for seven years and clinching the title and here, after two races, getting a victory is very special to me. A lot of that goes to the team for their efforts and making me feel welcome within the team, because that’s something I do need, to be competitive, and I have that. So now we’ve just got to look at improving the car because out and outright pace in qualifying is something that we’re lacking a little bit, so it’s an area we desperately need to work on. When you can get good points’ finishes like this it really does mean a lot to you when you don’t have a car that you think is quick enough to win races every weekend, so these are important points for us and we’ve just got to work hard and hope that we can bring some good packages to the next few races.

Q: Jenson, there’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of days over Bahrain; is this the race that might put the suggestions to rest for a while?
JB:
I don’t think there’s any getting away from the fact that we probably all thought that the last race was not the most exciting and what were we going to do about it now, but I’m glad that we haven’t really jumped to too many conclusions or ideas, because I think this race was a great race. I had a lot of fun; obviously when you win the race you have more fun than any other position but overtaking cars on the circuit and watching on the screen I could see that there was a lot of action going on. I hope it’s not just because of the weather conditions. I hope that we can have races like this because this is what we love and hopefully these sorts of races are here to stay. You are going to have races that aren’t the most exhilarating experience for us but that’s the way it is. Not every football match is fun to watch. It’s got to be a bit of a balance, I think. One thing that was pretty tricky in this race was the light. I had a clear visor and at the end of the race I was struggling to see on the last few laps. It seemed a lot darker than last year. I suppose it was because there was no sunlight, it was all behind clouds, so that might be something we need to look at a little bit.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Felipe, did you have a real chance to catch Robert, and what about the duels you had during the race with Fernando, except of course the first one at the first turn?
FM:
Well, I caught Robert but we didn’t have very good top speed on the straight and when I got very close, I lost a lot of grip, so it was not possible to get close enough to try to pass. So the only time I was passed was because I made a mistake in the second last corner, and then Lewis passed me and then I also made a mistake in turn one and then Mark passed me, so that was the only way I lost a position. So when you get very close, it was quite difficult and also Fernando, when he was behind me, sometimes he was just locking wheels. Then you see a guy coming closer and then you just do two good laps and then he’s far away with no possibility to pass, but it was a good fight from everybody, not just from me and Fernando but from most of the cars on the track. Most of the cars on the track were fighting the whole race, I think.

Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) To all of you; Red Bull has the fastest car but they are off the podium for the second race running. What do you think of that?
RK:
Better for us.
JB: I think they have got a very quick car and for whatever reason they aren’t here. I think reliability was the issue for Sebastian at the first race and I don’t know what happened here, so I can’t really say much on that.

Q: (Sudhir Chandran – Chequered Flag) Robert, you mentioned about those laps with Lewis behind you. Was it as difficult to keep him behind you as it appeared to us?
RK:
It was quite difficult because we are quite quick on the straight but McLaren, with the device that they are using, they are extremely quick and it was very, very difficult. He was much quicker than me, his tyres were in better shape and he had a more competitive car. I knew that without a mistake it would be difficult for him to overtake me, but I think he once tried before corner eleven and I didn’t see him in the mirrors and I thought he was on the inside. I left a space and it just shows that they were really quick. Jenson was side-by-side with me in the middle of the straight going into turn 13. That’s how it is. I was surprised when he pitted. It was very good for me, because I could just concentrate on saving the tyres, driving my pace and not concentrating on looking in the mirror and just blocking him, so it was a much better, much easier race for me.

Q: (Chris Lines – Associated Press) Jenson, could you tell us about the decision-making within McLaren? You stayed out, Lewis was called in. How much of that was the driver’s call and how much of it was the team’s call? Also, your thoughts on the first corner: Fernando got caught between you and Michael (Schumacher).
JB:
It’s always a very tricky corner here. It’s very, very narrow. When one person gets a bad start it can be a bit of a nightmare. Fernando got a poor start, so that meant that I was on the inside, Michael was on the outside and it’s difficult for three cars to get through turn one as we saw. But when you’re in a racing environment it’s very difficult and it can also be very dangerous to back out of that situation, because if you hit the brakes during the straight, you can cause a big accident behind you. I think it was just one of those things and I’m sorry for Fernando that he was turned around. It cost me a lot of places as well. So that was turn one, really. It was very slippery as well, so it was tricky for us on heavy fuel.
As for the stops, I don’t know if it was Lewis’s decision or the team’s. For me, I didn’t think we would be pitting at all, because that was never the idea for us, and that’s why I was looking after the tyres. Maybe he was graining the rears or maybe he flat-spotted a front or something, I don’t know. But it’s very tricky to look after the tyres when you’re behind another car as we’ve seen many times before, so maybe his tyres were getting seriously damaged behind Robert.

Q: An open question: how difficult is it to pass, with the cars’ aerodynamics the way they are, because we saw Hamilton and Webber really struggling towards the end with obviously better tyres. Is it extremely difficult this year or is it just the same as other years?
JB:
I found it very difficult in Bahrain. You’ve got a much smaller front tyre, so mechanically you have less grip, so when you lose the downforce by following other cars, which inevitably happens, you have less mechanical grip, so you have less grip. I think it’s more difficult this year. If we have another race like this where we have mixed conditions and the tyres are graining and people do two stops and some people do one, I think we can have a great race and especially in somewhere like Malaysia where it’s wide, it’s open, you can overtake, I think we can have a really exciting race, but here you’re a little bit limited to overtaking, so I’m surprised there was so much.
RK: I don’t think it’s just the tyres. For me actually it’s easier to overtake this year than it was in the past, because I’m driving a car that has better top speed. There’s quite a lot of percentage if you have good top speed or not and you want to overtake. If you are the quickest car in a straight line it’s easier to overtake than if you are the slowest. I don’t think it’s just the tyres, it’s everything. It’s always been very difficult to overtake in F1.

Q: (Tom Cary – The Daily Telegraph) Jenson, you appear very calm at the moment; how does the first win for McLaren compare with you first win with Brawn 12 months ago?
JB:
You can’t really compare victories like that. They are both very special but they are very different and the emotions that were going through my head before and after the race were very different also than last year. This one is a special victory because I’ve only been with this team for a short period of time but this is one of the main reasons why I wanted to be here. I think that the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team is pretty much always fighting it out for victories and as a driver you want to be in that situation. But on the other hand, I think the conditions helped us in this race, definitely. We’re not in the position to go to the next two or three races and walk away with victories, so we’ve got to enjoy this moment and think that we’ve got some good points when we’re not the quickest and we’ve got to work on the areas where we think we’re weak. We’re doing that right now and I think that every race we go to from here we will be closer and closer to the front when it comes to qualifying and hopefully race pace is pretty much there now.

Kubica fastest in Australia Friday practice 1

Robert Kubica in Friday Practice 1 today

Robert Kubica in Friday Practice 1 today

Robert Kubica topped the Friday Practice 1 session, as two stoppages disrupted the session.

Kubica’s best lap of 1.26.927, set during a five-lap stint, was enough to put him on top, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button. Nico was 0.199 seconds off the Pole, with Button 0.555 behind.

The session was disrupted by two stoppages, both caused by Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber. The first time, he hit a cone at Turn 12, damaging his front wing, and leaving debris across the track. The session was halted while the track was cleared. But, after Kobayashi left the pits, his front wing collapsed just before Turn 3, and he stopped out on track.

Kamui Kobayashi has a front wing failure at Turn 3

Kamui Kobayashi has a front wing failure at Turn 3

This second problem was probably caused by a poor repair of the first breakage.

Traffic seemed to be a huge problem at Albert Park this year, as there was very little space in between the cars on track. You can have a look for yourself at the video embedded below, of footage from practice there.

The new combination kerbs at Turn 9 caused a few problems. These new kerbs are high at the front end and low at the back side, which disencourages drivers from hitting them too hard. They were designed to stop corner-cutting at Turn 9. Both Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen spun here in Practice 1.

Paul di Resta made his first official F1 appearance, taking part in the pratice sessions only this weekend. He finished 11th, 0.3 seconds slower than his team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi. I have to say, he did a very good job today. This idea from Force India of using reserve drivers in Friday practice sessions is just what we need to get more yound drivers in Formula 1. Not that there’s a shortage of course, it’s just very difficult at the moment for young drivers to get into the sport.

Timo Glock was the slowest driver of the session, 7.998 seconds off Kubica’s time. He suffered problems with the car across the session. Also, there are rumours that Virgin will have to redesign the back of their cars, because the fuel tanks aren’t big enough to hold a race fuel load. Unless corrected by tomorrow, expect this to be a problem for the team on Sunday.

Lotus have moved away considerably from Virgin, while HRT have made excellent imrovements from Bahrain. Bruno Senna was only half a second behind Lucas di Grassi’s time, with Karun Chandhok another 0.8 seconds back. The team managed 24 and 19 laps with each driver, and there was only one stoppage for them, so reliability is much improved as well. This is a good sign towards a race finish on Sunday.

Pictures of both practice sessions will be up in a few hours, while an analysis piece should be done by tonight.

Here’s a video of Mark Webber showing us a lap of Melbourne (available in full HD):

Here’s another video, this time of spectator footage at 3 different points on the track. Note the lack of track space available to each driver:

Times for Friday practice 1:

Driver Team Time Difference # of laps
1 Robert Kubica Renault 1.26.927 22
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.27.126 0.199 18
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.27.482 0.555 22
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.27.511 0.584 18
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.27.686 0.759 23
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.27.747 0.820 21
7 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.27.793 0.866 22
8 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.28.014 1.087 21
9 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.28.114 1.187 18
10 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.28.192 1.265 18
11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1.28.537 1.610 25
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.28.550 1.623 19
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.28.572 1.645 21
14 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.28.683 1.756 22
15 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.29.465 2.538 13
16 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.29.712 2.785 18
17 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.30.249 3.322 26
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1.31.588 4.661 5
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.31.652 4.725 13
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.31.654 4.727 26
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.32.831 5.904 25
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.33.401 6.474 24
23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.34.251 7.324 19
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1.34.925 7.998 8

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.

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

Pictures from the test:

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