Jerez testing round-up: Frontrunners closer than ever in 2013

As the first of three test sessions drew to a close yesterday, nobody was quite sure who had benefited most from the 4 days running in Jerez. Drivers from Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren topped the timesheets, but the general consensus is that no one team has a large advantage over the others. Let’s have a closer look at what happened this week:

Combined timesheets

A collection of each driver’s fastest lap across the 4 days.

Driver Team Time Gap Tyre
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.17.879 S
2 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1.18.148 0.269 S
3 Jules Bianchi Force India 1.18.175 0.296 S
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.18.218 0.339 S
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.18.565 0.686 H
6 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1.18.669 0.79 S
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.18.760 0.881 S
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.18.766 0.887 M
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1.18.861 0.982 H
10 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1.18.905 1.026 M
11 Sergio Perez Sauber 1.18.944 1.065 H
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1.19.003 1.124 S
13 Daniel Riciardo Toro Rosso 1.19.134 1.255 M
14 James Rossiter Force India 1.19.303 1.424 S
15 Mark Webber Red Bull 1.19.338 1.459 M
16 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1.19.502 1.623 M
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1.19.851 1.972 S
18 Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari 1.20.316 2.437 M
19 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1.20.693 2.814 S
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1.21.105 3.226 S
21 Luiz Razia Marussia 1.21.226 3.347 S
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1.21.269 3.39 S
23 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1.21.311 3.432 S

It is probable that Bianchi’s and Gutierrez’s times were set on low fuel. Mark Webber did only heavy-fuelled runs on his testing days, which is why he languishes down the order.

Over 15,000km of testing was run over the 4 days, with Sauber completing nearly 2,000 of this mileage.

Red Bull’s superior reliability

Red Bull were one of the few teams to emerge from the Jerez test without a serious technical hitch.

Mercedes’ first two days were completely ruined, as a flaming exhaust and failing brake system ended Rosberg’s and Hamilton’s days early. Ferrari suffered an engine failure while Pedro de la Rosa was driving on the third day.

McLaren suffered several small problems across the test session, while Lotus were forced to shuffle between several exhaust arrangements on some days.

Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel was pleased with the performance of his RB9, stating it was:

"A little bit better because last year we had some issues with reliability. It seems 
that we have done our homework well and now we move onto Barcelona for another four 
days in a row to test the car and see if we find any leakage and if so then we try 
to fix it."

Doubts over Pirelli 2013 tyre performance

This year, Pirelli had aimed to make their new tyre compounds 0.5 seconds per lap faster than the 2012 sets. However, this has proved difficult to test, as Jerez’s rough track surface has hindered their efforts.

Technical director Paul Hembery explained the problem:

"What we can’t tell of course, on a track like this because it’s so abrasive. The macro 
is so far off the scale compared to everything else we see in the season. It’s changed 
compared to last year as well.

It’s most the bitumen aspect of it, it’s worn away, so you’re left with almost the 
rocks, the stones and the gravel almost on its own with nothing in between."

Mark Webber also had doubts over the 2013 compounds being comprehensively faster:

"The car was really understeering so we need to try and improve that tonight and get 
the car a little bit more responsive. Also the tyres are going away.

If you see a car on fresh tyres you see the performance is quite nice. If you look at 
a car on older tyres it doesn’t look very nice. The tyres are struggling to do quite 
a few laps, you see lap times in 22s, 23s. The naked eye can even see the problems."


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