Tag Archives: Jerez

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."

 

Hamilton suffers brake failure and crash on first Mercedes test

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes career hasn’t gone off to the best start, as the Brit crashed out of the second test day in Jerez today.

The W04 failed to slow for the Curva Dry Sack – where Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve clashed in 1997 – and speared into the barriers, travelling as fast as 160mph before being slowed down by the gravel trap before impact.

Mercedes have confirmed that the shunt was caused by a brake failure. Hamilton had only completed 15 laps before the incident, and had only driven the new car today.

Lewis described the incident soon after:

"I just hit the brake and for a split second it was working and then the pedal 
just went straight down and wouldn’t work. I don’t know, I just had to brace for 
impact. This is what testing is all about, but of course we’d like to have done 
several days.

It’s disappointing for all of us here in the team because everyone worked so hard 
over the winter. We didn’t anticipate this but I’m glad we get it out of the way 
now so we don’t have to worry about it happening in the future."

After two days of testing, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean have topped the timesheets so far. Instead of daily reports, an article summarising the 4-day session will be put up here after its conclusion.

Here’s a video of the incident: 

First impressions from 2012 Jerez testing

Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already

Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already

As the first of 4 pre-season tests draw to a close, we are beginning to form an idea of how the grid might shape out this year. Several news stories have also added interest to the speculation, as teams try to hold their cards close to their chests.

Here is the summary of news and events from testing so far:

Ferrari doubtful over pace?

Despite Fernando Alonso leading the timesheets on day 4 of testing, the Ferrari team are remaining quiet on whether their car can compete against Red Bull. Felipe Massa refused to clarify how he felt on the F2012, and technical director Pat Fry said the team still had lots of work to do:

"I am not happy with where we are at the moment. There is a lot of room for us 
to improve. Reliability-wise it is good. Performance-wise I think we are okay.

But we can play around with the performance and improve the car in some corners, 
and some particular parts of the corner. But I would not say I am happy yet until 
we get the whole thing working."

Force India feeling positive

Meanwhile, the Force India team are very happy with their progress over the winter.

Targeting 5th place in this year’s championship, their VJM05 appears to have a solid baseline for the team to build on. After missing a day of testing due to Jules Bianchi’s mishap, Nico Hulkenberg was happy with their progress:

"The long runs were useful for that and it also allowed me to start understanding 
the new tyres. There is still a massive amount to learn and lots of data to look 
at, but it feels like we have a good baseline to develop from and I’m pleased with 
how the day went."

HRT to miss testing again?

HRT’s embarrassing 3-year drought of not setting a single lap in testing looks set to continue, as the F112 (more than likely the car’s name) failed the mandatory FIA crash tests last week.

This year, a new regulation forces the teams to have passed the 17 crucial crash tests before the car can take part in testing. However, HRT’s car only passed 14 of these. Reports suggest that the car failed the roll hoop and lateral nose tests by “a minor margin”.

However, this still means that the car will not be ready for the second test in Barcelona. While the team are still aiming to turn a wheel before the first race in Melbourne, it is not an encouraging sign for the fledgling team.

Until the new car passes crash tests, Pedro de la Rosa will continue to drive last year’s F111.

McLaren and Ferrari exhausts declared legal

After the reactive ride height controversy last month, the FIA’s Charlie Whiting has approved exhaust layouts designed by Ferrari and McLaren.

A ban on exhaust blown diffusers this year forced teams to make their exhaust outlets visible from above, and have no influence on the performance of the diffuser. However, other teams in the paddock were worried that Ferrari and McLaren had found a way to manipulate exhaust gases to benefit other aero sections of the car.

While this would appear to be against technical regulations, Whiting has given the green light to both teams. According to Sky Sport’s Ted Kravitz, this will prompt more aggressive exhaust designs for other teams in the Barcelona tests:

"I understand from sources in the pit lane that FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting 
has told the teams that he considers Ferrari and McLaren exhaust designs as legal.

Even though the way those two teams have packaged their exhaust outlets, with 
channels leading exhaust gases out to specific areas of the car and therefore 
appearing to have a beneficial aero effect, which is against new exhaust regulations, 
it seems Whiting believes that they comply sufficiently with both the letter and the 
intention of the law.

This has been accepted by the other teams, who launched with less aggressive exhaust 
concepts and it means that they will now effectively green light their own, shall we 
say more exotic, exhaust designs.

We can expect to see these in time for the third test in Barcelona, if not before."

 

Jerez testing day 4: Alonso ends Jerez test on top

Fernando Alonso showed some of the pace of the F2012 in the final Jerez test

Fernando Alonso showed some of the pace of the F2012 in the final Jerez test

Fernando Alonso concluded the 4-day test session at Jerez by going quickest in the Ferrari.

In a much colder day than previous days, Alonso set a 1:18.877, beating Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Vettel by 0.7 seconds. The world champion got off to a slow start, being delayed by an electrical problem on the Red Bull RB8.

The top 6 drivers were separated by less than a second. Lewis Hamilton headed Romain Grosjean in 4th and 5th.

Kamui Kobayashi suffered a hydraulics leak in his Sauber C31, causing one of three red flags. Bruno Senna caused the other two when his Williams stopped out on track.

Jarno Trulli finished much slower than the other 8 drivers, but hailed his introductory day in the Caterham CT01 as his “best ever” first test. He also reported no problems with the car’s power steering – an issue he struggled massively with last year.

There will now be a 10-day break before the next test begins at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Times from Jerez day 4:

1. Fernando Alonso        Ferrari F2012       1:18.877   39 Laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne       Toro Rosso STR7     1:19.597   80 Laps    +0.720
3. Sebastian Vettel       Red Bull RB8        1:19.606   49 Laps    +0.729
4. Lewis Hamilton         McLaren MP4-27      1:19.640   86 Laps    +0.763
5. Romain Grosjean        Lotus E20           1:19.729   95 Laps    +0.852
6. Kamui Kobayashi        Sauber C31          1:19.834   76 Laps    +0.957
7. Nico Hulkenberg        Force India VJM05   1:19.977   90 Laps    +1.100
8. Bruno Senna            Williams FW34       1:20.132   124 Laps   +1.255
9. Jarno Trulli           Caterham CT01       1:22.198   117 Laps   +3.321

Jerez testing day 3: Rosberg keeps Mercedes on top

Rosberg kept the Mercedes W02 on top

Rosberg kept the Mercedes W02 on top

Nico Rosberg kept last year’s Mercedes on top of the timesheets for the third day of testing in Jerez.

Rosberg took over from Michael Schumacher, and beat his teammate’s time by over a second today. This concludes Mercedes’ running in Jerez, as they will not take part in testing tomorrow.

Romain Grosjean was fastest of the 2012 cars, finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso made their first appearances in 2012 testing, taking 4th and 7th places respectively.

2012′s new rookies had a difficult day. Giedo van der Garde spun out with an hour to go, finishing 9th. His test was not as bad as Jules Bianchi’s though, as the Force India driver crashed on only his third lap, setting no fast laps. This prevented the team from running Nico Hulkenberg in the afternoon.

Times from Jerez day 3:

1. Nico Rosberg            Mercedes W02        1:17.613   118 Laps
2. Romain Grosjean         Lotus E20           1:18.419   117 Laps   +0.806
3. Sebastian Vettel        Red Bull RB8        1:19.297   96 Laps    +1.684
4. Lewis Hamilton          McLaren MP4-27      1:19.464   80 Laps    +1.851
5. Jean-Eric Vergne        Toro Rosso STR7     1:19.734   79 Laps    +2.121
6. Sergio Perez            Sauber C31          1:19.770   48 Laps    +2.157
7. Fernando Alonso         Ferrari F2012       1:20.412   67 Laps    +2.799
8. Bruno Senna             Williams FW34       1:21.293   125 Laps   +3.680
9. Giedo van der Garde     Caterham CT01       1:23.324   74 Laps    +5.711
10.Jules Bianchi           Force India VJM05   No time    3 Laps      N/A

Jerez testing day 2: Schumacher heads the field

Schumacher beat Webber to take top spot

Schumacher beat Webber to take top spot

Michael Schumacher was fastest in the second test day at Jerez.

The German, driving last year’s W02 was a second faster than yesterday’s time set by Kimi Raikkonen. Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo were fastest of the 2012 cars in 2nd and 3rd.

Jules Bianchi, new test driver for Force India, drove the VJM05 in the morning, going 4th. Kimi Raikkonen had an off in the morning, running into the gravel trap.

Felipe Massa and Jenson Button did not make much improvement on yesterday’s times, both focusing on higher-fuel runs. Massa is cagey on talking about the F2012, while Button has descibed the MP4-27 as better all round compared to last year’s model.

Sergio Perez took 9th, after replacing Kamui Kobayashi this morning. Pastor Maldonado was 10th for Williams. Caterham ran KERS on their car for the first time, and Heikki Kovalainen managed an impressive 139 laps without any technical difficulties with the new system.

Pedro de la Rosa was again last for HRT, albeit only 3.5 seconds off Schumacher’s time.

It is expected that we will see Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Giedo van der Garde get their first tastes of their 2012 cars tomorrow.

Times from Jerez day 2:

1. Michael Schumacher  Mercedes W02         1:18.561   132 Laps
2. Mark Webber         Red Bull RB6         1:19.184   97 Laps    +0.623
3. Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso STR7      1:19.587   100 Laps   +1.026
4. Jules Bianchi       Force India VJM05    1:20.221   46 Laps    +0.660
5. Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus E20            1:20.239   117 Laps   +1.678
6. Paul di Resta       Force India VJM05    1:20.272   69 Laps    +1.711
7. Felipe Massa        Ferrari F2012        1:20.454   95 Laps    +1.893
8. Jenson Button       McLaren MP4-27       1:20.688   85 Laps    +2.127
9. Sergio Perez        Sauber C31           1:20.711   68 Laps    +2.150
10.Pastor Maldonado    Williams FW34        1:21.197   97 Laps    +2.636
11.Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham CT01        1:21.518   139 Laps   +2.957
12.Pedro de la Rosa    HRT F111             1:22.128   64 Laps    +3.567

Heidfeld leads Jerez Day 3

Nick Heidfeld led Day 3 in Jerez

Nick Heidfeld led Day 3 in Jerez

Nick Heidfeld made the best possible application for the empty Renault seat, by leading the third day of testing in Jerez.

Fernando Alonso had led the timesheets for most of the day, but with an hour to go Heidfeld 1.20.361 lap put him on top. Michael Schumacher concentrated on long runs, and was 3rd.

Lewis Hamilton only completed 36 laps, but was still quick enough to go 4th. Kamui Kobayashi was 5th, despite causing two red flags after stopping out on track twice. Sebastian Vettel was 6th.

Sebastien Buemi caused another red flag when he Curva Angel Nieto, and could only manage 7th. Heikki Kovalainen was 8th, and Rubens Barrichello lost a lot of time with a KERS problem, demoting him to 9th.

Paul di Resta spun at the same spot as Buemi, and was 10th, while Jerome D’Ambrosio was 11th and 2.5 seconds off the Force India.

Heidfeld said he “couldn’t have done any better” with his driving today, but was still unsure would he get the drive with Renault this year. Adrian Sutil, who handed over his Force India to Di Resta today, complained about the durability of the super-soft Pirelli tyre:

"It’s a good tyre for one lap.

Sometimes you probably lose a little bit in the last sector, already, so you have a 
very good first and second sector, the last one drops away, but it’s still a lap 
time improvement.

It will be interesting how it lasts during a race distance, they’re going to be 
really, really critical.

The medium (tyre) we have is different. It’s very hard, quite a lot harder, and it 
doesn’t last longer, for some reason.

So it’s just very slow in the first few laps and the degradation starts very early, 
still, even with the hard compound. I was not so confident on that tyre and not so 
happy. it’s just the difference you have between the tyres. It’s pretty big.”

Heikki Kovalainen, meanwhile, was pleased with the progress of the Lotus car:

“The whole concept is now a modern Formula 1 car. It’s much more like a Formula 1 
car should be.

The rear end is very good. The gearbox and the engine feels good, the gear-changes 
and generally the rear end is working really well.

And the chassis feels like a proper Formula 1 car. It’s much, much lighter. This 
time last year we were overweight, we could not take any weight out of the car. 
Now we have ballast in the car – a lot of ballast.

So it’s a huge difference. I don’t know how much the chassis is lighter – I think 
it’s around 20 kilos, something like that.

Of course we still need to improve and find more pace. But it’s very encouraging 
what the team has been able to do in a short period of time. Of course now it gets 
difficult – the last part to catch the guys ahead of us is going to be tricky.”

Times from Jerez Day 3:

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Nick Heidfeld       Renault               1.20.361             86
 2.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1.20.493   0.132     131
 3.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1.21.054   0.693     114
 4.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1.21.099   0.738     36
 5.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1.21.242   0.881     84
 6.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1.21.574   1.213     98
 7.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.21.681   1.320     92
 8.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1.21.711   1.350     61
 9.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1.22.227   1.866     99
10.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1.22.945   2.584     64
11.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1.25.471   5.110     72

Jerez Day 2: Schumacher heads the field

Michael Schumacher was on top in Jerez

Michael Schumacher was on top in Jerez

Michael Schumacher led the way in the second day of testing today in Jerez.

His fastest lap was made more impressive by the fact that it was not a low fuel run – he had more than 10 laps of fuel on board at the time. Felipe Massa continued his good pace in Jerez, several hundreths off the Mercedes.

Sergio Perez examines his wrecked Sauber

Sergio Perez examines his wrecked Sauber

Jenson Button got his first taste of the McLaren MP4-26, and was 3rd. He later revealed that he was forced to abort his flying laps on super-soft tyres after a red flag, and never used the KERS and adjustable rear wing systems.

Jaime Alguersuari was the first of several drivers to cause red flags, the Spaniard stopping out on track in the morning. Nevertheless., he was 5th, ahead of Mark Webber, who concentrated on heavy-fuel runs, and Adrian Sutil.

Sergio Perez crashed out after only 56 laps, and ended his day prematurely in 7th, ahead of Timo Glock. Vitaly Petrov was 9th, but struggled with rear brake locking, and spun out during the day, causing another red flag.

Pastor Maldonado was the second driver to crash, but much more seriously than Perez. Maldonado crashed his Williams at Turn 4, damaging both the front and rear of the car. His team was also forced to take apart and analyse his KERS unit, after it displayed warning signs in the morning.

Jarno Trulli was last, as his day was cut short by mechanical problems.

Sutil struggled all day, and blamed high degradation on the medium compound Pirelli tyre:

"The medium tyre we have here is different to before, and I was not so confident on
that, not so happy.

The tyre is very hard, quite a lot harder than what we had before. But it doesn't last
longer for some reason.

It's very slow in the first few laps, then the degradation starts very early still.
Even after five to six laps the degradation starts again, and I was expecting much
more.

[Pirelli] probably go a different way [to Bridgestone], which is good for the sport.
It's a big challenge to drive on the limit with these tyres.

They are very oversteery, very low grip, so it is very easy to make mistakes. The
difference you have between the compounds is very big, but in general I like them."

Times from Jerez Day 2:

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1.20.352             112
 2.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1.20.413   0.061     116
 3.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1.21.009   0.657     69
 4.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.21.214   0.862     72
 5.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1.21.613   1.261     113
 6.  Adrian Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  1.21.780   1.428     73
 7.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1.21.857   1.505     56
 8.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1.22.208   1.856     57
 9.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               1.22.493   2.141     65
10.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth     1.22.591   2.239     38
11.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault         1.23.216   2.864     40

 

Jerez Day 1: Massa heads the field

Massa headed today's Jerez session

Massa headed today's Jerez session

As the Formula 1 paddock rolls into Jerez for the next round of testing, Felipe Massa leads the timesheets after day 1.

He set his fast times early, and stayed on top for most of the day. Sergio Perez was over 7 tenths behind in the Ferrari-powered Sauber, while Mark Webber was third.

Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock and Adrian Sutil were all trying out their 2011 cars for the first time, while HRT did not attend this test, instead moving to Monza for a few filming days with Pirelli.

Daniel Ricciardo only drove in the morning, but was still 4th. Hamilton was happy with the improvements of his MP4-26 in 5th, and Jaime Alguersuari was 6th, sharing his seat with Ricciardo.

Adrian Sutil had only 28 laps today, while Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg were 8th and 9th. Jarno Trulli was 10th and Timo Glock 11th. Pastor Maldonado was last, stuck in the pits because of a rear wing problem, and only did 14 laps.

Three red flags disrupted today’s session. Sergio Perez stopped out on track in the morning, while Rosberg stopped later on. Vitaly Petrov later spun his Renault into the gravel.

Pirelli brought all 4 tyre compounds to this test, and drivers seem to be happy with the new rubber so far.

Hamilton drove his car for the first time, and appears impressed:

“How it felt today was definitely a step forward.

Whether that’s aero or mechanical, I haven’t yet identified exactly which part it is but 
it’s a good thing that it feels good initially.

My initial response was that it felt quite comfortable to drive and there’s certain areas 
I noticed particularly that were quite a good improvement on last year.

We didn’t do that many runs today, we had quite a lot of programmes to get through. So I 
was really doing what a test driver would do: just go out and do this test, that test. We 
did that all day generally.

The car feels good, it’s positive. My initial thought was it’s a good step better than 
last year so I was quite happy with it.”

Times from Jerez Day 1:

Pos  Driver             Car                   Time       Gap
 1.  Felipe Massa       Ferrari               1.20.709
 2.  Sergio Perez       Sauber-Ferrari        1.21.483   0.774
 3.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault      1.21.522   0.813
 4.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.21.755   1.046
 5.  Lewis Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      1.21.914   1.205
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.22.689   1.980
 7.  Adrian Sutil       Force India-Mercedes  1.23.472   2.763
 8.  Vitaly Petrov      Renault               1.23.504   2.795
 9.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1.23.963   3.254
10.  Jarno Trulli       Lotus-Renault         1.24.458   3.749
11.  Timo Glock         Virgin-Cosworth       1.25.086   4.377
12.  Pastor Maldonado   Williams-Cosworth     1.34.968   14.259

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 :D

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 :D

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.

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