Category Archives: Testing

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."


Marussia driver Maria de Villota seriously injured in testing crash

Maria De Villota was taking part in her first F1 test

Maria De Villota was taking part in her first F1 test

Marussia’s test driver Maria de Villota has been seriously injured, possibly sustaining “life-threatening injuries” in a testing crash in Duxford today.

The 32-year-old female driver was entering the pit section after her first run, when her MR-01 suddenly accelerated into the back of an articulated lorry, at around 20-30mph.

The lorry had a loading board extended at the time, and it is believed that De Villota’s helmet collided with it first, as the rest of the car would have gone underneath the lorry.

While it is still unclear how this sudden acceleration occurred, it is possible that she was caught out by the car’s anti-stall system, which can throw a car forward if the driver is not careful. The only other F1 car De Villota has driven – a Renault R29 – did not have an anti-stall feature installed.

BBC Cambridgeshire presenter Chris Mann described the crash:

"She got into the car, fired it up and did a test run at probably about 200mph in 
the rain.

The car was slightly misfiring but there didn't seem to be any concerns.

She came back into the area we were in with the engineers. She slowed down but then 
suddenly, inexplicably accelerated through the crowd and smashed into the side of 
the truck.

The top of her car and her helmet seemed to take the brunt of it. She didn't move 
for about 15 minutes. Fire crews were there within seconds and the ambulance within

After a while we thought we saw some movement of her hands but she appeared to be 
unconscious or unable to move for quite some time."

De Villota joined the Marussia team in March, and has reportedly been waiting for this testing day all year. Based on reports so far, we will have to wait and see will she be able to take part in another one again.

Barcelona testing day 4: Raikkonen ends testing on top

Raikkonen finished testing on top

Raikkonen finished testing on top

The final day of pre-season testing concluded today, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing testing the way he started it – on top of the timesheets.

The Lotus driver set a 1:22.030 in the morning, followed by Fernando Alonso. Bruno Senna finally showed a glimpse of Williams’ potential pace in 3rd.

The entire field was within 1.5 seconds of the leader, as most teams opted to set low-fuel runs in the morning. The afternoon running saw most teams switch to race simulations.

Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov caused today’s two red flags, both drivers stopping out on track during the day.

Sebastian Vettel spent the entire day at the bottom of the timesheets, as Red Bull continued to do setup changes. His running in the morning was delayed by a problem with the pre-existing setup, and not the new package installed yesterday. Similar to yesterday, the car was covered in mechanics and umbrellas as it entered the pits.

The only team with the ability to do any more running is HRT, who want to test out their car tomorrow at a filming day. Marussia, who also have not turned a wheel this year, will not be able to test until Melbourne, as they still have not passed the FIA crash tests.

Times from Barcelona day 4:

1.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus E20          1:22.030   121 Laps
2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari F2012      1:22.250   115 Laps    +0.220
3.  Bruno Senna           Williams FW34      1:22.296   53  Laps    +0.266
4.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India VJM05  1:22.312   101 Laps    +0.282
5.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber C31         1:22.386   72  Laps    +0.356
6.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren MP4-27     1:22.430   115 Laps    +0.400
7.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham CT01      1:22.795   101 Laps    +0.765
8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes W03       1:22.939   100 Laps    +0.909
9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams FW34      1:23.347   48  Laps    +1.317
10. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso STR7    1:23.393   100 Laps    +1.363
11. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull RB8       1:23.608   23  Laps    +1.578

Barcelona testing day 3: Perez leads rain-affected session

Perez headed the timesheets in Barcelona

Perez headed the timesheets in Barcelona

Sergio Perez was fastest on the second-last day of testing in Barcelona.

The Mexican set the fastest time in the morning, edging out Jenson Button by 0.009 seconds. During the afternoon, rain began to fall, meaning that Perez’s time of 1:22.094 would stand as the fastest. Nearing the end of the day, there was reports of hail at Turn 1.

As opposed to the top two’s soft tyres, Daniel Ricciardo set his fastest lap on super-soft tyres en route to 3rd place.

Felipe Massa was 4th for Ferrari. The Italian squad raised eyebrows today after announcing that their drivers will not be talking to the media at any point during the weekend. The team’s Twitter account claimed that “The decision has been taken to keep the whole team fully focused on the job and there is not any polemic [controversial] intent behind it.”

Red Bull were the team to watch today, testing a heavily revised RB8 featuring a new exhaust layout. Mechanics were seen swarming around the car once it entered the pits, to block any photos of the new layout. Mark Webber was half a second off Perez with the updated car.

The front 9 drivers were separated by 0.8 seconds. Only Kimi Raikkonen was drastically off the pace, struggling with his steering in the morning, and setting only 43 laps across the entire day.

Meanwhile, HRT have confirmed that they will not be appearing at the final testing day tomorrow. The team still hopes to turn a wheel before Melbourne though, by doing a filming day next Monday.

Times from Barcelona day 3:

1.  Sergio Perez        Sauber C31          1:22.094   13  Laps
2.  Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27      1:22.126   44  Laps    +0.009
3.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso STR7     1:22.361   131 Laps    +0.061
4.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012       1:22.447   122 Laps    +0.319
5.  Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05   1:22.828   108 Laps    +0.352
6.  Bruno Senna         Williams FW34       1:22.836   111 Laps    +0.386
7.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham CT01       1:22.893   64  Laps    +0.536
8.  Mark Webber         Red Bull RB8        1:22.978   70  Laps    +0.568
9.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes W03        1:22.932   129 Laps    +0.838
10. Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus E20           1:25.379   43  Laps    +3.285

Barcelona testing day 2: Grosjean leads heavily disrupted session

Grosjean continued to lead proceedings

Grosjean continued to lead proceedings

Romain Grosjean stayed on top in today’s heavily disrupted testing session in Barcelona.

The session was stopped no less than 8 times – several times for fog in the morning.

Grosjean set 124 laps today, posting a 1:22.614 to take top spot. Jean-Eric Vergne was set to post a faster time on super-softs, before his Toro Rosso stopped out on track.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso were a tenth of a second apart in 3rd and 4th, posting their times on medium and hard tyres.

The next 5 drivers – Kovalainen, Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Schumacher and Hamilton – were separated by less than 0.3 seconds. Michael caused 2 red flags, while Kobayashi and Hulkenberg had hydraulic and driveline issues respectively.

Williams continued to fill the bottom of the timesheets, with Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado 10th and 11th.

Times from Barcelona day 2:

1.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus E20           1:22.614   124 Laps
2.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso STR7     1:23.126   31 Laps     +0.512
3.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull RB8        1:23.361   85  Laps    +0.747
4.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari F2012       1:23.447   125 Laps    +0.833
5.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham CT01       1:23.828   104 Laps    +1.214
6.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber C31          1:23.836   77  Laps    +1.222
7.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India VJM05   1:23.893   33  Laps    +1.279
8.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes W03        1:23.978   79  Laps    +1.364
9.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren MP4-27      1:24.111   65  Laps    +1.497
10. Bruno Senna         Williams FW34       1:24.925   48  Laps    +2.311
11. Pastor Maldonado    Williams FW34       1:25.801   20  Laps    +3.187

Barcelona testing day 1: Grosjean puts Lotus back on top

Grosjean overcame last week's chassis issues

Grosjean overcame last week's chassis issues

After suffering chassis issues at the last test, Lotus returned in fine form, with Romain Grosjean leading the first day of the final test in Barcelona.

Despite most drivers continuing to focus on long-fuelled runs, the timesheets were much closer at the top – the top 8 were covered by less than a second.

Lotus were forced to strengthen their front suspension after the chassis problems last week, adding 1kg in core weight. However, the solution hasn’t slowed the E20, with Grosjean setting a 1:23.252. Jenson Button was two tenths further back.

Sergio Perez ran out of fuel at the end of his run, but was still 3rd. Mark Webber spent most of the day on prime long-fuel runs, setting a 1:23.820 later in the afternoon, going 4th. Nico Rosberg set 128 laps en route to 5th.

Heikki Kovalainen did not take part in today’s test after falling ill with food poisoning. Vitaly Petrov took his place, setting 123 laps, but stopped out on track during the day.

Williams had another disappointing day, with Pastor Maldonado last, setting only 58 laps. Onlookers at the Circuit de Catalunya have continually reported seeing the FW34 suffer from chronic understeer around the circuit.

Times from Barcelona day 1:

1.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus E20           1:23.252   73 Laps
2.  Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27      1:23.510   64 Laps     +0.258
3.  Sergio Perez        Sauber C31          1:23.820   118 Laps    +0.568
4.  Mark Webber         Red Bull RB8        1:23.830   102 Laps    +0.578
5.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes W03        1:23.992   128 Laps    +0.740
6.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso STR7     1:24.216   113 Laps    +0.964
7.  Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05   1:24.305   98  Laps    +1.053
8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012       1:24.318   105 Laps    +1.066
9.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham CT-01      1:24.876   123 Laps    +1.624
10. Pastor Maldonado    Williams FW34       1:25.587   58  Laps    +2.335

Latest testing news round-up

As the third test session of 2012 draws to a close, we have only 4 more testing days before the teams roll into Melbourne. While many cars are still sandbagging in terms of pace, a clearer picture of the 2012 grid is now visible. Here is the latest news from the last few days:

HRT pass crash tests, but testing still in doubt

The HRT car has finally passed the FIA crash tests, allowing it to take part in pre-season testing.

However, doubts remain as to whether the team will be able to make it to the final test in Barcelona.

The F112 has been homologated by the FIA after passing the rollhoop test a few days ago. Despite this, the car is still not fully assembled, and sources within the team are only “hopeful” that the struggling team will be able to turn a wheel before Melbourne.

Massa: Ferrari back on track

Felipe Massa believes that Ferrari have finally found the key to unlocking the pace of their F2012.

The Scuderia have been plagued by disappointing pace so far in testing, as they struggled to adapt to the radical car. However, Massa has claimed that the team have found consistent pace:

"I think it's definitely the direction we need to follow for these last days of
testing we have, and I think today was a positive day, not so much in the morning
but in the afternoon.

I have to say that now we are a little bit more positive because we found the
direction to work and I'm sure now, having found the direction, we can see the
development coming.

In the afternoon we were able to do more than eight/nine timed laps consistently.
The laps were very consistent and it was very positive. We still need to work a
lot but at least we found the direction to get a much better car to drive, not
just for laptime for also for consistency."

In the past we didn't have so many directions to follow. This year we have so many
directions, so many possibilities and the most important thing was to find the right
one, and I'm sure we found it."

Still, when asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how prepared the team was for the upcoming season, Felipe only replied “more than 5”.

FIA to tie up ECU loopholes

In the latest attempt to clamp down on teams manipulating exhaust gases to achieve downforce, the FIA have tightened the stricter engine mapping regulations implemented for 2012.

Back in October, it was revealed that new engine mapping regulations would eliminate exhaust gas manipulation. However, an engine supplier has tipped off the governing body, saying that teams had found a way to improve the flow of gases by inducing a misfire.

It has been confirmed that the FIA have worked with this engine supplier to remove this innovation. A revised software package for the standard ECU unit will be introduced before the Australian Grand Prix.

Marussia fails crash tests, testing ruled out

Marussia, like fellow team HRT, have failed the crash tests for their 2012 challenger.

However, it comes at a much more critical time, as this means the MR01 almost certainly cannot take part in pre-season testing. As this article was updated, it was unclear what sector the car failed in, but the issue cannot be rectified before March 1st.

A statement from the team read:

"The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of 
its 2012 race car – the MR01 – has been delayed as a consequence of not passing 
the final FIA crash test.

All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. 
Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the 
regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running 

The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later 
this week [1-4 March] and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash 
test at the end of the week."

Barcelona testing day 4: Kobayashi ends test on top

Kobayashi was the eighth driver to be fastest in testing so far

Kobayashi was the eighth driver to be fastest in testing so far

Kamui Kobayashi finished the third test session of 2012 on top of the timesheets.

While the Sauber C31 was delayed by a broken exhaust, the Japanese driver set a 1:22.312, ahead of Pastor Maldonado. Kamui is the eighth driver in 8 testing days to be on top, following Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado.

He also set 144 laps – the most of any driver so far. Pastor Maldonado set 134 laps and finished 2nd.Paul di Resta went wide at Campsa corner during the day, but recovered to be classified 3rd.

Ferrari focused on making large setup changes to their F2012, and Felipe Massa finished 5th, just behind Jenson Button in 4th.

Two of the slowest teams on the grid suffered the most technical-related woe. Caterham were forced to make an engine change to Heikki Kovalainen’s car limiting him to 70 laps. Meanwhile, Marussia were forced to call off their testing altogether, after suspension damage on Charles Pic’s car couldn’t be repaired.

The final 4-day test will begin on March 1st in Barcelona. Red Bull and Ferrari will arrive to this session one day late, but will continue their running until the 5th.

Times from Barcelona day 4:

1.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber C31          1:22.312   144 Laps
2.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams FW34       1:22.561   134 Laps    +0.249
3.  Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05   1:23.119   101 Laps    +0.807
4.  Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27      1:23.200   115 Laps    +0.888
5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012       1:23.563   103 Laps    +1.251
6.  Mark Webber         Red Bull RB8        1:23.774   85  Laps    +1.462
7.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso STR7     1:23.792   92  Laps    +1.480
8.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes W03        1:23.843   139 Laps    +1.531
9.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham CT-01      1:26.968   70  Laps    +4.656

Barcelona day 3: Maldonado leads for Williams

Maldonado put the Williams FW34 on top

Maldonado put the Williams FW34 on top

Pastor Maldonado headed the third day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Venezuelan driver set his fastest time early in the morning, and was almost a second faster than second-placed Michael Schumacher. Kamui Kobayashi ran out of fuel on track during the day, but still finished in 3rd.

Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa all replaced their teammates for today’s and tomorrow’s testing. They finished 4th, 5th and 7th repectively.

The Red Bull team suffered a difficult day to say the least. After their new wheel guns proved to be unreliable in the morning, Webber’s RB8 stopped out on track with an hour to go, and was immediately hidden away by the Red Bull mechanics. It is unclear what caused the stoppage, but reports from Barcelona indicate that the team have left the test session early, and will not return for tomorrow’s final test.

Paul di Resta lost his engine cover during the day, while Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham was halted by suspension issues. Timo Glock replaced Charles Pic at Marussia, setting the 9th fastest time, ahead of Petrov.

Times from Barcelona day 3:

1.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams FW34       1:22.391   106 Laps
2.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes W03        1:23.384   127 Laps   +0.993
3.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber C31          1:23.582   99 Laps    +1.191
4.  Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27      1:23.918   114 Laps   +1.527
5.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso STR7     1:24.433   78 Laps    +2.042
6.  Mark Webber         Red Bull RB8        1:24.771   97 Laps    +2.380
7.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012       1:24.771   84 Laps    +2.380
8.  Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05   1:25.646   83 Laps    +3.255
9.  Timo Glock          Virgin MVR-02       1:26.173   108 Laps   +3.782
10. Vitaly Petrov       Caterham CT-01      1:26.448   70 Laps    +4.057

Barcelona testing day 2: Hulkenberg puts Force India on top

Nico Hulkenberg led proceedings for the second day of testing

Nico Hulkenberg led proceedings for the second day of testing

Force India’s new driver Nico Hulkenberg topped the timesheets for the second day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The German, who clocked a 1:22.608 put the VJM05 0.04 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez for Sauber. Sebastian Vettel had an entertaining on-track duel with Lewis Hamilton for a few laps, before finishing 3rd.

Fernando Alonso was 4th, and was still cagey on delivering a verdict on the F2012, saying the team had plenty of work still to do. Daniel Ricciardo caused two red flags, only setting 50 laps en route to 5th place.

Both on long-fuel runs, Lewis Hamilton and Vettel duelled on track for several minutes, with Sebastian eventually being allowed through. Lewis ended the session 6th.

At the back of the field, Valtteri Bottas got his first taste of the Williams FW34, setting 117 laps on his first day. Behind him, Vitaly Petrov and Charles Pic were the slowest of today’s testers.

Times from Barcelona day 2:

1.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India VJM05    1:22.608   112 Laps
2.  Sergio Perez       Sauber C31           1:22.648   85 Laps    +0.040
3.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull RB8         1:22.891   104 Laps   +0.283
4.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari F2012        1:23.180   87 Laps    +0.572
5.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso STR7      1:23.639   50 Laps    +1.031
6.  Lewis Hamilton     McLaren MP4-27       1:23.806   120 Laps   +1.198
7.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes W03         1:24.555   82 Laps    +1.947
8.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams FW34        1:25.738   117 Laps   +3.130
9.  Vitaly Petrov      Caterham CT01        1:26.605   69 Laps    +3.997
10. Charles Pic        Virgin MVR-02        1:27.343   108 Laps   +4.735