Tag Archives: Barcelona

Barcelona testing day 1: Vettel leads, while Lotus drop out after chassis issues

Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull sported an aero measuring device on the rear wing

Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull sported an aero measuring device on the rear wing

Sebastian Vettel led the first day of 8 testing days at the Circuit de Catalunya today.

However, the main news story of the day was Lotus dropping out of testing after discovering serious issues with their chassis. More details will be posted on the site later.

Vettel’s time of 1:23.265 was slightly faster than Nico Hulkenberg for Force India. Lewis Hamilton was 3rd for McLaren.

Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Sergio Perez were within a tenth of a second of each other. Romain Grosjean managed only 7 laps in the Lotus before reporting “strange” handling from the car.

Heikki Kovalainen suffered a rear suspension failure and a spin, leaving him 9th with only 31 laps set. Sauber were forced to retire their C31 after gearbox problems, while Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso came to a halt on track with an hour to go.

Charles Pic had his first run in the Marussia car, finishing last but setting 121 laps across the day.

Times from Barcelona day 1:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull RB8         1:23.265   79 Laps
2.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India VJM05    1:23.440   97 Laps    +0.175
3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren MP4-27       1:23.590   114 Laps   +0.325
4.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso STR7      1:23.618   76 Laps    +0.353
5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari F2012        1:24.100   75 Laps    +0.835
6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes W03         1:24.150   51 Laps    +0.885
7.  Sergio Perez          Sauber C31           1:24.219   66 Laps    +0.954
8.  Bruno Senna           Williams FW34        1:25.711   97 Laps    +2.446
9.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham CT01        1:26.035   31 Laps    +2.770
10. Romain Grosjean       Lotus E20            1:26.809   7 Laps     +3.544
11. Charles Pic           Virgin MVR-02        1:28.026   121 Laps   +4.761

Mercedes reveal W03 in Barcelona

Mercedes' W03 features a large stepped nose

Mercedes' W03 features a large stepped nose

Mercedes are the final frontrunning team to release their 2012 F1 car, called the W03.

The Silver Arrows car has a distinctive nose design, featuring one of the highest steps on the grid so far. The bridge sections of the nose are particularly steep.

The W03 features a lower core weight than its predecessor. The Mercedes team noted that it took 4,500 parts to construct the W03, which is 200 more than the W02.

Over the last few months, the team have hired ex-Ferrari designer Aldo Costa, Renault engineer Bob Bell and Geoff Willis, who previously worked for BAR, Williams and Red Bull.

Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Norbert Haug has said that the aim from 2012 is to move into the top 3:

"2012 will mark the third season for our Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows works team, 
which was introduced in January 2010, and our target is to take a step forward in 
on-track performance.

A lot of work has been done throughout the last year, not just to design the new 
car but also to build a technical organisation that is capable of delivering to 
its full potential, with consistency. Our ultimate goal is to become regular race
winners and championship contenders, and so to write another chapter of success 
in the story of the Silver Arrows which began 78 years ago."

Team principal Ross Brawn called the stepped nose an “acquired taste”, but stated that the car is certainly a step forward from last year.

The W03 made its track debut in Barcelona today, with Michael Schumacher at the wheel.

A photo and video review of the testing season

So, as the Barcelona test concluded today, we have learned much about the upcoming season in 2 weeks time. For now, let’s have a look at some of the photos and videos that summarised this year’s testing season.

The Videos

Mclaren owned by Ferrari:

For the last few weeks, many of us have been worrying about the fact that most of the teams have been trying to hide their diffuser from the others. It’s been a hot topic: Will we see another diffuser battle? Mostly, cover sheets and boxes are used to stop other team mechanics stealing designs of the diffusers. But, in Barcelona, Ferrari went one step further (to the delight of the audience) to get the message through to McLaren.

For my childish side… PWNED!

Felipe Massa onboard head-cam:

Remember last year, when the Ferarri F60 was released, and we were treated to the great onboard footage of Massa’s first lap in the car? This year it’s even better, he’s driving in heavy rain conditions this time. Unfortunately the camera is pointing slightly downwards, so visibility isn’t great, but this video is still well worth a watch. Oh, and it’s also available in HD, which is nice 🙂

Life’s a Beach- Virgin Racing

I’ll get this out of the way, I’m not quite sure why they made this video! Still though, it’s got some nice shots of the Virgin car, as well as Lucas di Grassi’s attempts to sound badass, this time without the glasses.

The Photos

Putting on a brave face!

Putting on a brave face!

Like I’ve said before,there’s plenty of worry around the paddock of another diffuser battle this year. So, while most of the teams covered up the back of their cars and hid them away, Sauber put a smile on our face by making their diffuser more pleasant to look at! This is why I love privateers compared to manufacturers 😀

The reconquest begins, apparently...

The reconquest begins, apparently...

Note the flags of Oviedo on the left and right. This picture was taken on one of the first days of testing, when Fernando Alonso made his first appearances for Ferrari. Also, the eagle-eyed F1 fans may notce the two aces of clubs and diamonds, the same that Fernando has printed on the back of his helmet, to symbolise his two championship victories in 2005 and 2006(note ’05 and ’06 written in place of numbers on the cards). Obviously, the Spaniards were out in force to greet their hero, and made their presence known. They seem to be very confident of an Alonso comeback this season, and I’m with them!

Brought back down to earth

Brought back down to earth

Like the last picture, this was taken on one of the first days of Alonso’s test with Ferrari. This time, the Spaniard was forced to stop out on track with a mechanical problem. Fernando seemed very dissapointed to let down his fans afterwards, but this is F1.

Drying out

Drying out

It seems so long ago to me, but the two Jerez tests were blighted by heavy rain.  Teams struggled across the 8 days to find time to do full-length race testing. Here, a Bridgestone technician checks the track to see are conditions improving. In fact, they were.

Spun out

Spun out

Back to the 18th February. It was another disastrous day for the Virgin team, as yesterday Timo Glock only got 10 laps in the wet conditions. This day, it got no better, with the German spinning out ar Turn 2. A mechanical problem was believed to have caused the spin, and the wet track didn’t help. After the front wing incident, it became apparent that CFD didn’t make the Virgin car bulletproof.

The news did get better for the team, but it took some time.

Subtle observation

Subtle observation

More McLaren eagle eyes this time (they never get bored of it do they?). Here, the Red Bull of Mark Webber is being brought back to the pits after a mechanical problem.  The McLaren engineers had been closer, but you can see a Red Bull engineer getting them well back. Damn straight 😀

Set sail to Bahrain...

Set sail to Bahrain...

And, quick as a flash, it’s all over. Less than an hour after the chequered flag fell on the last day of testing, the teams were packing up to leave to Bahrain. Without a hint of delay, as I write this (the eve of the final day), most of the teams have already sent their trucks of equipment on their way to Bahrain. It’s kind of strange to see that the F1 world never sleeps.

28th February-Testing results: Hamilton concludes testing season

Lewis Hamilton at the final Barcelona test today

Lewis Hamilton at the final Barcelona test today

The final day of testing for 2010 ended today. For the next 2 weeks, the teams will now pack up and ship their equpiment to Bahrain for the season opener. So, for the last day in Barcelona, Lewis Hamiton topped the timesheets today.

The Briton set a massive 134 laps to get a best lap time of 1.20.472. The McLaren MP4-25 today received a new set of aerodynamic updates, which shows that the pace is very good for the team. In the morning, he focused on qualifying simulation, and then moved to race simulation (complete with 2 ultra-fast pit stops) in the afternoon. He was consistently fast throughout this simulation, which is great news for him and the team.

Behind Lewis was Mark Webber, who was only 0.024 seconds behind. As opposed to other days, Sebastian Vettel drove the RB6 in the morning, then handed it over to Webber for the afternoon. Vettel dissapointed, setting only the fifth fastest time in a low-fuel run. But, it must be noted that there were faster wind speeds and dust on thr track in the morning, so there was much less grip on a track which requires perfect aero setup. Webber, on the other hand, did a mixture of short and long fuel runs, to round off the teams’ preparations for the season.

Another very close effort here, as Felipe Massa was just 0.067 off Hamilton’s best time today. Again, like the McLaren, he did short-fuel runs in the morning and race simulation in the afternoon.  His race simulation was actually split up into 4 parts, which may have hampered his efforts. However, it still doesn’t quell the belief that Ferrari appears to be the strongest team after testing. Massa was very happy with testing in general, saying:

"I'm satisfied with the whole of testing, not just Barcelona.
Valencia and Jerez too - we did what we wanted to do, but it looks
like it will be a very tough and competitive championship.

We never expected to have an advantage and to go to the first race
and win in an easy way, definitely not. We expect to have a
competitive car, and this I think we have done. The car is reliable,
but also consistent, and that is what we want to start the season.
We are not here to be the champions of the pre-season.

We are here to work on the car, to try to have a good championship
and fighting for the championship."

Behind the top 3, Adrian Sutil was fourth in the Force India. His day was similar to Hamilton and Massa, so this shows significant improvement with the VJM03.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth, followed by Michael Schumacher. However, sixth wasn’t bad, seeing as he was only 0.273 seconds off Hamilton’s fastest lap. Again, his race simulation was the same as most of the other drivers.

Rubens Barrichello had an eventful day, after finishing seventh. In the morning, he spun out into the gravel, and in the afternoon stopped out on track with an unspecified problem. His best lap was only 0.398 slower than Hamilton’s.

Eighth and ninth went to Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi respectively. Both of theses drivers focused on short-fuel runs across the day, and Buemi got a few mechanical tweaks across the day. Kobayashi was close, only 0.439 off the best time, but Buemi was 1.2 seconds behind Kobayashi.

Robert Kubica got some updates for his Renault, but was unimpressive, finishing tenth overall. The new teams completed the back again, with Heikki Kovalainen leading Lucas di Grassi this time. Kovalainen got a 1.25.251, while Di Grassi got a 1.26.160.

Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne wasn’t too downbeat over the Lotus’ lack of pace today, saying:

"It was a game of two halves as they say; we had a good morning where
we were able to complete all our plans but a problem with the
programme change on the gearbox delayed us in the afternoon, which
meant we weren't able to do as much running as we wanted.

Overall, however, the test has been extremely productive - in
general we've had very good reliability, and the team is in very
good shape going to the first race.

Considering the length of time we've had to work on the project it's
a fantastic effort from the whole team. Everyone has worked
exceptionally hard over the two tests and we now have to work on the
pace of the car and improve that, but it's been a tremendous effort
from the whole team and I'm very proud of them."

Over the next few days, I will do statistics of all of the tests, as well as the best photos and videos from the paddock, which I should have up by tonight.

Today’s times:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1.20.472 134
2. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.20.496 +0.024 61
3. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.20.539 +0.067 114
4. A. Sutil F. India VJM03 1.20.667 +0.195 100
5. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.20.667 +0.195 76
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.20.745 +0.273 123
7. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.20.870 +0.398 84





K. Kobayashi

S. Buemi

R. Kubica

H. Kovalainen

L. di Grassi


T. Rosso
























Pictures from the final test:

27th February- Testing results: Rosberg leads the penultimate test

Nico Rosberg in Barcelona today

Nico Rosberg in Barcelona today

Nico Rosberg finished the third day of testing in Barcelona as the fastest man on track for Mercedes GP.

For the first time of this test, rain did hamper the team’s runnings for a few hours in the afternoon, so his early time of 1.20.686 was enough to keep him ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Jenson Button of McLaren.

Nico was very happy with his car, saying:

"I think in general there's no absolute weakness with the car at the
moment.We just need to nail the set-up a little bit better to really
extract the maximum potential from the car, which I think we're not
quite doing yet. We're close and maybe tomorrow we can make another
step in the right direction."

Even better for the German, Mercedes have promised him and Michael Schumacher a host of new aerodynamic upgrades before the season opener in Bahrain in 2 weeks time.

"We have some upgrades here, but the big package is coming for
Bahrain - and it's going to be a big package. But I'm sure everybody
else has similar big steps, and then we just have to see where we

Again, like yesterday, most drivers switched from short to long runs in the afternoon, as teams focused on race fuel loads.
There were many red flags out again today for stoppages out on track. Rosberg and Barrichello both stopped because of mechanical problems, while Buemi ran out of fuel after finishing a long-fuel simulation.
Behind the top three, it was Barrichello, Massa, Petrov, Sutil, Vettel, Trulli, Kobayashi and Glock. The Red Bull of Vettel fared poorly today, getting no running in the morning, and only completing 51 laps of 9 or 10-lap runs in the afternoon.
It was a better day for Trulli and Lotus, who completed 102 laps in total. His best lap was 9th quickest out of 11, and 4.3 seconds slower than Rosberg. On the other hand, Glock and Virgin had a very poor day. They only got in 31 laps, and the only properly fast lap was set very late in the afternoon.

Button was happy with his car, but believed more was to come, saying:

"There’s definitely more to come with this car. We went from having
high fuel in the car to going out and doing lower-fuel runs and it’s
very difficult because you haven’t done any set-up work. The day was
too short for me today, really.

Given another day of testing I know what I’d do to the car to
improve it. Hopefully Lewis will be testing a few things that are
useful tomorrow. Because to be out of the box with a package that’s
this consistent and with the pace that we’ve got, I’m very happy.

I don’t think we are at our maximum yet but we will do our best
tomorrow to get the maximum out of the car. The set-up changes the
team are thinking about for tomorrow could help us quite a lot and
improve the balance. It’s a good update but we’re not getting the
best out of it yet because we haven’t done enough laps."

Times from today:

Pos  Driver              Team         Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes     1m20.686s            128
 2.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso   1m21.413s  + 0.727s  106
 3.  Jenson Button       McLaren      1m21.450s  + 0.764s  105
 4.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m21.975s  + 1.289s  101
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari      1m22.344s  + 1.658s  115
 6.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault      1m22.523s  + 1.837s  68
 7.  Adrian Sutil        Force India  1m22.606s  + 1.920s  61
 8.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m23.123s  + 2.437s  51
 9.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus        1m25.059s  + 4.373s  102
10.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m26.216s  + 5.530s  105
11.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m26.305s  + 5.619s  31

Pictures from today:

26th February- Testing results: Hulkenberg puts Williams on top

The second day of the final test in Barcelona concluded with Williams’ Nico Hilkenberg on top of the timesheets.

It is believed that the German was running qualifying simulation work when he knocked Fernando Alonso off the top, in the early afternoon. Earlier in the morning, he had been doing 19 and 27 lap runs, before going on a race-type simulation.

Later in the afternoon, while all of the other teams switched to race simulation, the Hulk (a Williams nickname, not mine!) did qualifying runs, which explains his 1.20.614 lap time. Nico later spoke about his day:

"P1 today is nice but means nothing, to be honest. We're not in
Bahrain yet! It's positive for the team, and for me, to know what
the  car can do, though. "We did a lot of set-up work today and
have found some interesting  things so I feel ready and confident
to go to Bahrain now."

Williams technical director Sam Michael was similar in analysing the day:

“Nico finished his last day of winter testing today with a good run
of laps. Our programme included the evaluation of a new sidepod,
starts practice and some additional work on the set-up of the FW32.
We’re making progress, but there’s still plenty to do.”

Also, Fernando Alonso did all of today’s running with a new shark fin engine cover, as well as other aerodynamic updates. Now, only Williams, Lotus and Virgin are the only teams to have not run the shark fin engine cover technique. The Spaniard eventually reached 1.20.637 with a short-fuel run near the end of the day.

Behind him, Pedro de la Rosa was third. It was another very solid day for him and the team, with short-fuel runs in the morning giving him a time of 1.20.973. He then went to race simulation in the afternoon, and his best times were in the 1.22 zone. Every day the Sauber looks better and better, and de la Rosa agrees, saying:

<pre>“Today was a very good preparation for the season’s start in Bahrain. The reliability of the car was perfect and I think the performance was also good, especially in the race simulation. It was a very good exercise and I feel we have now done everything possible to get ready for the first Grand Prix. It was also a big day for me because it has been a while since I last completed a race distance. I feel very well and also really confident now.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi was 4th for Force India. Then the order was Vettel, Alguersuari, Schumacher, Hamilton, Kubica, Trulli and Glock. The Lotus of Trulli was still very slow today, as he reported the car as being 4 seconds off the pace of the leaders. His fastest lap was 1.25.524 after 70 laps. Timo Glock was similarly slow, with a 1.25.942 after 52 laps.

Two drivers who seemed off the pace today were Schuamcher and Hamilton. However, neither of these drivers went for low-fuel runs, and solely did race simulations, which explains their lack of fast laps. Schumacher had a raft of aerodynamic updates, and also worked on pit-stops and practice starts.

Robert Kubica also had his fair share of problems. His Renault R30 suffered suspension problems in the afternoon. Alan Permane explained this problem:

“Robert was in the car today for his first laps at Barcelona in the
R30. We spent the morning doing some set-up work, but in the
afternoon we had a problem with the suspension, which limited our
running. We’re still looking into the issue and will have the car
fixed and ready for tomorrow morning.”

Times from today:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.614 99
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.637 +0.023 134
3. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.20.973 +0.359 114
4. V. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.21.056 +0.442 90
5. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.21.258 +0.644 125
6. J.Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.571 +0.957 104
7. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.689 +1.075 85




L. Hamilton

R. Kubica

J. Trulli

T. Glock





















Pictures from today’s test:

25th February-Testing results- Webber fastest on day 1

Mark Webber gave his Barcelona test a flying start by ending the first day top of the timesheets. The Red Bull driver finished ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg.

This 4-day test in the Circuit de Catalunya will be the final test before the teams all travel to Bahrain, for the start of the season. So, the teams are now all concentrating on race set-ups and practicing pit stops.

Unlike most of the time in Jerez, conditions were almost perfect. Temperatures were good, and the very small threat of rain in the afternoon quickly faded.

Webber was on the pace all day long, and his fastest lap was an entire second quicker than the others. His time of 1.21.487 was the best of the day, followed by Hulkenberg (1.22.407) and Rosberg (1.22.514).

Pedro de la Rosa was 4th (1.23.144), ahead of Jenson Button in 5th. The McLaren team said that they were working an mechanical and aerodynamic set-up instead of race fuel loads, so his time of 1.23.452 isn’t to be taken as an indicator of performance. The Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi was 6th with a 1.24.064.

Fernando Alonso was 7th with a 1.24.170, and even Ferrari themselves called the day “difficult”. Vitaly Petrov was behind him, setting a 1.24.173. Jaime Alguersuari set the most laps (111) and his best lap was 1.24.869. Lucas di Grassi and Fairuz Fauzy filled out the back with 1.27.057 and 1.28.002 respectively.

Red flags were out all day long, with 6 in total. Most of these were because of stoppages out on track for Alonso, Fauzy, Webber, Rosberg and Button. However, Lucas di Grassi crashed backwards into the barrier at Campsa corner, the same corner where Heikki Kovalainen crashed in Spain 2008. The crash ruined his entire day, but the Virgin team say the car will be ready for tomorrow.

Times from today:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.21.487 109
2. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.22.407 +0.920 81
3. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.22.514 +1.027 107
4. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.23.144 +1.657 73
5. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.23.452 +1.965 100
6. V. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.24.064 +2.577 64
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.24.170 +2.683 74




V. Petrov

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

F. Fauzy


T. Rosso



















Pictures from the test:

Rossi has Ferrari simulator run

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi has had a go on Ferrari’s F1  simulator in Maranello today, as part of preperations for his upcoming test in Barcelona.

Ferrari had announced this week that Rossi, the 9 times motorbike champion, would be allowed a test of the team’s F2008, as a reward for winning his latest title. This test will take place in Barcelona, on Wednesday and Thursday.

Today, Rossi prepared for the test with a run in the team’s simulator, and was allowed to drive a Ferrari 458 around the Fiorano track.

Update: While Rossi was in the simulator, GMM reported that he had an appendix operation. Fail!