Tag Archives: Williams

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3-post series, looking at each individual team with less than 2 weeks to go until Melbourne. So without further delay here are the next 4 teams:

Mercedes

Mercedes may well leap to the front in 2011

Mercedes may well leap to the front in 2011

After the fairytale double championship success of 2009, last year was a huge shock to the Brackley outfit. With only a handful of podiums courtesy of Rosberg, and Schumacher’s performances lacklustre at times, 2011 is a crucial year for the silver arrows.

Despite struggling in the first few test sessions, a large upgrade package has launched Mercedes back to the top of the testing timesheets. Although we aren’t exactly sure how the W02 is shaping up just yet, it seems as if the team has minimized the damage from the loss of the double diffuser and F-duct.

With Schumacher happier than last year with the slick tyres, things are looking up. Nico Rosberg appears to be very happy with the performance of the car, so race wins can’t be ruled out for either driver in 2011.

Renault

There's a lot more to the R31 than a shiny new livery

There's a lot more to the R31 than a shiny new livery

Despite the ongoing battle with Lotus over naming rights stealing the headlines (for all the wrong reasons), Renault may have made huge progress over the winter behind the scenes.

The front exhaust-blown diffuser looks like a stroke of genius, and rumours hint that there are more technical secrets hidden inside the R31. However, the temporary loss of Robert Kubica has shot down some of the high expectations they may have had. Despite Nick Heidfeld taking his seat, there are very few drivers in the world who could replace Kubica.

Vitaly Petrov is still learning, and podium finishes may be too much to ask. Heidfeld is fantastically consistent, but this means that the team will lose out in terms of raw performance.

Despite a radically designed car, Renault may still lose out, though by no fault of their own.

Williams

A radical rear end design may help or hinder Williams

A radical rear end design may help or hinder Williams

At first glances, Williams’ Fw33 doesn’t seem to be particularly exciting, having shied away in the midfield for most of testing. However, a closer look at the car will hint that the team have quietly produced a very interesting car.

With some difficulty, they have created their smallest-ever gearbox, which is crucial to having a tight rear end layout on the car, which benefits both aerodynamically and mechanically.

A low differential, combined with high-angle rear axles, have manipulated the rear wing to squeeze more downforce out of the car. Unfortunately, their coveted flywheel KERS will still not be run yet, the team opting to run a conventional battery system – for the moment.

The loss of several important sponsors has hurt the team financially, and perhaps this is what prompted them to drop Hulkenberg for sponsor-laden Maldonado. The PDVSA logos (Pastor’s sponsor) all over the FW33 demonstrates this.

Reliability appears to be a huge problem at the moment, but their raw pace has yet to be discovered.

Force India

Force India may struggle to improve

Force India may struggle to improve

The end of 2010 was very disappointing for Force India, considering the way they started the year battling near the frontrunners. 2011 has seen the field raise their game, and after losing two senior team personnel, the team may find this year just as difficult.

Both James Key and Mark Smith have left to join rival teams, leaving the technical department under-resourced. The blade roll-hoop design is risky, but apart from this there doesn’t seem to be huge leaps in design compared to the VJM03.

On the other hand, the arrival of Paul di Resta (who has beaten Sebastian Vettel in lower racing categories) should bring some extra pace. A Mercedes KERS system, by far the best of the pack in 2009, is also a huge boost.

However, I feel that this is not enough for Force India to even retain their ground. Their car has failed to impress many in testing, and the midfield will probably be the only battleground for the team in 2011.

The final post, part 3, will be up tomorrow.

Williams reveal FW33 in interim livery

The Williams FW33 in interim livery

The Williams FW33 in interim livery

Williams skipped the media release of their new car, and went straight to the track instead, to show off their Fw33 car.

Driven by Rubens Barrichello today, the engine cover section has been revised, the sidepods have been changed, and a very high nosecone has been adopted.

The car will remain in its traditional navy testing livery until the first race in Bahrain.

Maldonado confirmed at Williams for 2011

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

After Nico Hulkenberg made way a few weeks ago, Pastor Maldonado has been unveiled as the new Williams second driver, alongside Rubens Barrichello, today.

He is the 5th out of 6 GP2 champions to progress to F1 after winning the GP2 title. The last time a Venezuelan driver was in Formula 1 was Ernesto Viso, who drove in Friday Practice for Midland in Brazil in 2006. Before that, Johnny Cecotto raced back in 1984 for Theodore and Toleman.

Pastor previously tested an F1 car with Minardi in 2004, where Giancarlo Minardi complimented his driving, even though he was only 19 at the time.

Williams have also released a Q&A with Maldonado:

What started your career in motor sport?
PM: Having competed themselves, my father and my uncle are very passionate about motor sport, so I inherited it from them. In my city of Maracay, there is a go kart circuit about five minutes from my home. When I was about three or four years old I said I wanted to race but I was too young, then when I reached the age of seven my father gave me a kart and we started from there. From that moment until now we have never stopped.

After karting in Venezuela, I came to Europe in 1998 to compete in international kart races, which was great for me to get experience racing outside my country. After consistently being at the top, I decided to move to Italian Formula Renault. I won the championship in my second year. We made the jump to GP2 in 2007 but I only did half a season as I had an injury. We came back in 2008 and finished fifth in the championship, just six points adrift of the leader in a very close championship.

You were crowned GP2 champion this year. What does that feel like?
PM: It was an incredible season. We were competitive from the beginning and went on to win six races. The team worked well together to achieve victory and by the middle of the season I already had a good gap and took the title at Monza.

Do you think you are ready for F1?
PM: GP2 is a very good championship; it really prepares drivers well for F1. I have worked very hard to get to this position and yes, I definitely feel ready.

How does it feel knowing you will be driving for AT&T Williams next year?
PM: Williams do an amazing job. It is unbelievable to be here and to be part of the team. It is a dream.

What do you make of your new team mate Rubens Barrichello?
PM: For sure Rubens is a pleasure to have as a team mate as he is a very experienced driver. I can learn so much from him. It will be fun as he is South American too! I think it is going to be a very interesting team.

How will you prepare for your first F1 season over the winter?
PM: I will keep pushing in my training and working in the simulator. We don’t have a long time, just one or two months before the first test, and I am going to be fit and ready.

You had a day in the FW32 at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver test. How did that go?
PM: It was amazing. It was a big moment for me because only days before I had been driving a GP2 car and there are some big differences. I improved lap after lap and completed the programme so it was a very good experience for me.

What are the differences between a GP2 car and an F1 car?
PM: There are three big differences. The first is the difference in engine power; the F1 car has amazing power and a higher top speed. Secondly, the braking point; the brakes are a lot harder in F1. Finally there is much more downforce and general grip.

You will be only the fourth Venezuelan to have ever driven a Formula One car. What does that mean to you?
PM: It has been nearly 30 years since Venezuela has had a driver in Formula One so the country has been pushing young drivers in the hope of having someone represent them. I am happy to now be that driver.

To summarise, what will be your objectives for the 2011 season?
PM: I just want to do my best, to be as close to the top as I can and to get the maximum out of the car. The team are working very hard and I need to push to be at the top as soon as possible. I am a rookie but that isn’t going to be a problem. I need to keep focussed and to do my job.

Nico Hulkenberg to leave Williams

Nico Hulkenberg has said today that he will be leaving the Williams team for the 2011 season onwards. This comes only two weeks after he obtained his first ever pole position at the Brazilian GP.

On his official website, he said:

 I heavily regret that, because I would have been happy to 
stay with Williams. I want to thank the team for a great 
time and I wish Williams all the best for the future.

However, his manager Willi Weber, who used to manage Michael Schumacher, has said that Nico will definitely be driving for another team for the 2011 season. It is heavily suspected that the man to replace him at Williams will be Pastor Maldonado, the current GP2 champion.

While Hulkenberg has already said he doesn’t want to drive for Hispania, he will take part in testing with them this Wednesday.

Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Williams this year

Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Williams this year

Although Nico scored 22 points this season, compared to seasoned veteran team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who took 47, I’m surprised at this decision. His pole position in Brazil was hugely impressive, and he has been improving steadily over the second half of this season.

But, as it seems to do too much these days, money talks, and Maldonado brings a huge sponsorship package from Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA.

Hulkenberg takes shock pole position at Interlagos

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

In an incredible twist that only Formula 1 could play host to, rookie driver Nico Hulkenberg has taken pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, throwing the championship battle focus straight out of the window. He took top spot an entire second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who led Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button struggled, and will start 11th, with his championship aspirations now doomed. Here is today’s report:

Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

Conditions were not optimal for the start of qualifying. Saturday Practice had been wet enough, then more rain fell between then and qualifying, meaning intermediate tyres were the way to go – for the time being.

The track wasn’t particularly wet though, so many cars stayed out for the entire session, hoping that the racing line would dry out, but it didn’t. The surprise of the session came from Force India, as both cars were struggling horribly in the damp conditions. Vitantonio Liuzzi spent some time in the knockout zone, before improving to 16th, while sending Adrian Sutil down to 18th. However, Adrian may have had a faster lap, ha he not been held up by Liuzzi during the session. Because of his 5-place penalty after his dangerous driving in Korea, he will start 23rd.

Timo Glock was easily the fastest of the new teams, setting a 1.22.130. He was followed by Trulli, Kovalainen, and Di Grassi. Christian Klien continued to beat Bruno Senna with apparent ease, this time by 0.7 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Adrian Sutil (Will start 23rd)

19) Timo Glock

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Heikki Kovalainen

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Christian Klien

24) Bruno Senna

Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

After being matched by Fernando Alonso in Q1, the Red Bulls led the way in Q2. The track continued to dry, but not quickly enough, as the fastest laps were still in the 1.19 range, well away from slick conditions.

The fun of the session came from the battle between Felipe Massa and Jenson Button to continue to Q3. Button could only manage 10th on his final lap, and Massa’s last effort knocked the McLaren back into 11th.

A surprise also came from Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg failing to get through, and they will start from 12th and 13th respectively. The Toro Rossos were 14th and 15th, Nick Heidfeld was annoyed to be back in 16th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was well off the pace in 17th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Rosberg

14) Jaime Alguersuari

15) Sebastien Buemi

16) Nick Heidfeld

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi

Q3

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

For the leaders’ first runs in Q3, they continued to stay on intermediates, although dry patches were becoming visible on the tarmac. When the inters began to wear far too much to be used effectively, Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to make the switch to dry tyres.

Lewis Hamilton initially took top spot on super-soft tyres, but then came the first of a series of shocks – Nico Hulkenberg knocked the McLaren off top spot with apparent ease. Fernando Alonso then went faster, but Hulkenberg simply came around a minute later even faster again.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Hamilton and Alonso all took another lash at the Williams, but they all fell short by one tenth, as the paddock suddenly realised that a rookie was on pole position. But more was to come, as Hulkenberg had one more lap under his belt, and set a simply incredible lap: 1.14.470, an entire second faster than the rest of the field.

His team-mate Rubens Barrichello was 6th, ahead of Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov. However, these drivers were significantly overlooked, because of the simple fact that they were up to 2 or 3 seconds slower than Hulkenberg.

So, Nico takes his first ever pole position, the first for Williams since Nick Heidfeld in Germany in 2005, and the first for Cosworth since France in 1999 (Considering that that engine was actually marked as a Ford, you would have to go back to the 80’s to find the last time a Cosworth took pole).

Times from qualifying:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Q1        Q2        Q3
 1.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:20.050  1:19.144  1:14.470
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.160  1:18.691  1:15.519
 3.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.025  1:18.516  1:15.637
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.931  1:18.921  1:15.747
 5.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:18.987  1:19.010  1:15.989
 6.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:19.799  1:18.925  1:16.203
 7.  Kubica         Renault                1:19.249  1:18.877  1:16.552
 8.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:19.879  1:18.923  1:16.925
 9.  Massa          Ferrari                1:19.778  1:19.200  1:17.101
10.  Petrov         Renault                1:20.189  1:19.153  1:17.656
11.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.905  1:19.288
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:19.741  1:19.385
13.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:20.153  1:19.486
14.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.158  1:19.581
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.096  1:19.847
16.  Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari         1:20.174  1:19.899
17.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:20.592  1:20.357
18.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:20.830
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.130
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.250
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.378
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.810
23.  Klien          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.083
24.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.796

Hispania to use Williams gearboxes for 2011

The Hispania team have announced that they are to use Williams gearboxes for the 2011 season onwards. They follow Lotus in moving away from the current supplier to all 3 new teams, Xtrac.

Hispania will use Williams gearboxes from 2011 onwards

Hispania will use Williams gearboxes from 2011 onwards

Hispania have, along with the other teams of course, suffered many technical retirements this season, and like Lotus, many of these were because of transmission and gearbox failures. Geoff Willis has previously complained about Xtrac’s lack of reliability:

.

"Most of our problems have been related to transmission 
hydraulics, which is a complicated part of the car. It 
is the first time that Xtrac has been involved as a 
supplier of the whole system."

It appears as if Cosworth engines had a role to play in this deal as well. Both teams already use Cosworth engines already, and Williams claim that today’s deal will “extend for the lifecycle of the current Cosworth engine technology”.

This is a good step forward for Hispania to associate themselves with a trusted supplier. Xtrac won a contract from the FIA to supply cheap transmission systems to the new teams this year, but have done themselves no favours by supplying what appears to be very unreliable machinery to Lotus, Virgin and Hispania.

While both Lotus and Hispania have both stated their intentions to move away from Xtrac, Virgin have made no such announcements. Bernie Ecclestone has recently suggested that Virgin is suffering from a lack of investment by Richard Branson, and this may be what is holding them back.

2010 Mid-season review: Williams

In recent years, it has become impossible to count how many times Williams claim that they will bounce back up the grid, with a new upgrade or change to the car. 2010 has been no different, with lacklustre performances all throughout the season, despite a good line-up of drivers, or so it would seem.

Nico Hulkenberg needs to improve if Williams are to make progress

Nico Hulkenberg needs to improve if Williams are to make progress

Actually, at the start of the season, it didn’t seem this way. Rubens Barrichello qualified 9 tenths off Sebastian Vettel’s time, and nearly got through to Q3. In the race, Rubens was 10th, scoring one point, while GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg was 14th. However since then, their form hasn’t improved. Despite a few points finishes, their pace has been consistently mediocre, and a small amount of retirements highlights this fact.

After the loss of Nico Rosberg to Mercedes, Williams must have known that it would have been difficult to finish many races in the points like they did last year. His replacement, Barrichello, has finished 4 races in the points, while Hulkenberg has only one, with a solitary point in Malaysia. Since then, Hulkenberg’s best finsish was 13th in Canada, well below what would be expected of the reigning GP2 champion.

After Rubens finished an excellent 4th in Valencia, which was aided by the safety car, has has 19 points to his tally, while Nico has only one. I think that Rubens is doing as well as he can, whereas Nico needs to seriously up his game to help push Williams through the field. His pointless crash in Spanish practice showed that he trying very hard, but needs to be more mature in the car.

So far, Williams’s performance has been quite disappointing this year. Their progress for the 2010 season depends on 2 factors: better development of the car, and Hulkenberg. Williams are set to unveil their new exhaust-blown diffuser at Silverstone, which will provide another performance boost to the car. It is up to the drivers – especially Hulkenberg – to make the most of it.

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:

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

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

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

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

Timo Glock after spinning off

Timo Glock after spinning off

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

A problem in the Lotus pits

A problem in the Lotus pits

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

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

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

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

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

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

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

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

Today’s times:


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

9.

10.

11.

12.

T. Glock

V. Liuzzi

L. Hamilton

S. Buemi

H. Kovalainen

Virgin

F. India

McLaren

T.Rosso

Lotus

VR-01

VJM03

MP4-25

STR5

T127

1.30.476

1.30.666

1.31.633

1.32.678

1.33.554

+3.331

+3.521

+4.488

+5.533

+6.409

72

24

57

57

30

Pictures from today’s test:

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