2 tests completed and 2 to go! So who the hell is quickest at the moment? Well, I think you may know the answer to that. We don’t know.
Because we ‘don’t know the fuel loads’, which has officially become the most uttered and written phrase in the F1 world (so much so that is has been abbreviated to DKtFL), the fastest lap times produced are almost meaningless.
For example, take the last day of testing at Jerez this week, Jaime Alguersuari posted the slowest fastest time (yes, you can have the slowest fastest time) of 1min 24secs in dry conditions which normally would suggest he and the Toro Rosso is slow. Wrong! As the day before in dry conditions he had the fastest fastest lap time (yes, you can have the fastest fastest time) of just under 1min 20secs which was also the second fastest time of the whole 4-day test. Those pesky fuel loads are messing with our minds!
So how on earth are us fans meant to know who is quickest? We have to rely on gossip, rumours, conjecture, insider knowledge, speculation, reading body language and lots of equally unscientific things that will make us think we know what is going on, but really we won’t know anything. The teams obviously have a lot more data to make assessments, but it seems they don’t know much better than we do.
Claire Williams (Williams PR person and the daughter of Frank Williams) tweeted on Friday a very interesting message, ‘According to my sources, it’s looking like Ferrari & McLaren are the ones to beat at the moment (boo!) ’. Ross Brawn also suggested something very similar in his interview with the BBC at the end of the first test. So it seems according to the data the teams have access to, they think Ferrari and McLaren are doing well, but no one really knows for sure.
As the great Inspector Clouseau might say, “I suspect everyone and I suspect no one”.
Bored of reading words? Here are some stats you might like:
Test 1 Valencia – Combined Times
Test 2 Jerez – Combined Times
|Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25||1min 19.583||0|
|Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR5||1min 19.919||0.336|
|Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari C29||1min 19.950||0.367|
|Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR5||1min 20.026||0.443|
|Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes VJM03||1min 20.180||0.597|
|Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth FW32||1min 20.341||0.758|
|Robert Kubica||Renault R30||1min 20.358||0.775|
|Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W01||1min 20.613||1.03|
|Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25||1min 20.618||1.035|
|Nico Hülkenberg||Williams-Cosworth FW32||1min 20.629||1.046|
|Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari C29||1min 20.736||1.153|
|Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes VJM03||1min 20.754||1.171|
|Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W01||1min 20.927||1.344|
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault RB6||1min 21.203||1.62|
|Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F10||1min 21.424||1.841|
|Felipe Massa||Ferrari F10||1min 21.485||1.902|
|Vitaly Petrov||Renault R30||1min 22.000||2.417|
|Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault RB6||1min 22.043||2.46|
|Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth VR-01||1min 22.912||3.329|
|Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth VR-01||1min 29.964||10.381|
Even more stats you will like:
Total Distance covered during the 2 Tests
|Driver||Total laps||Total distance (km)|
|Pedro de la Rosa||307||1294.254|
|Lucas di Grassi||71||314.388|
|Car/Model||Total laps||Total distance (km)|
|Toro Rosso STR5||601||2567|
|Red Bull RB6||298||1319|
|Force India VJM03||283||1253|
|Virgin Racing VR-01||87||385|
Still not enough stats for you? Okay here is one more table:
|Engine||Total laps||Total distance (km)|
TEAM and DRIVER Pre-Season Half-Term Report
Looking very good and maybe slightly ahead of the rest at this moment of time? That Ferrari engine has been amazingly super reliable and they have stacked up a huge and almost unprecedented amount of mileage during the tests. The mileage has been achieved through doing some long runs with impressive times produced at the end of them which suggests they have good tyre wear, in that they are don’t have much of it! Both drivers doing very well and they will be feeling happy and satisfied right now.
Massa – He has done most the mileage in the car and he is on the top of his game, as if he had never been away. He has been quick, precise and aggressive
Alonso – Has slotted into the team like he’s been there all his life. He and Massa seem closely matched and as long as there is no repeat of what happened at McLaren, the two of them could push the team to a lot of success this year
The other teams seem to think they have been quick, but apart from the low fuel glory run of Lewis on the last day of the second test, their quickness has not been obvious at all. They have concentrated on running lots of fuel mainly and like other teams running through their schedule of set ups and have attached all sorts of weird looking measuring contraptions to their car. They have not really had any technical issues and have completed a reasonable number of laps (3rd highest amongst the teams). They appear to be content with where they are at the moment.
Hamilton – He is driving well, got a lot of laps under his belt and it is clear he likes this car a lot more than he did last year. Although the low fuel glory run does not mean much, I think he and the rest of the team will be glad he did it and did 3 consecutive laps that were sub 1min 20secs.
Button – He was not comfortable in the car at Valencia but that seems to have been sorted at Jerez and in his interviews was more buoyant and relaxed. He now feels he can push the car and will be hoping for dry weather next week.
They have been competitive but the reading of the body language and what they are saying in the interviews is that they feel they are behind Ferrari and McLaren at this stage. They have had some handling issues, but still seem confident that these are quite normal issues to have at this stage and can be resolved quickly. It was speculated that perhaps this talk and their pace was a case of sand-bagging but it seems they are being genuine. They are not slow but are not the quickest at the moment.
Schumacher – His return at Valencia was exciting and he put in some good laps, but seemed relatively quiet at Jerez. He seems to have the measure of Rosberg.
Rosberg – He has been quiet at both tests and done nothing of note. This does not necessarily mean anything, but the car does seem to have issues that are being resolved and so maybe he can shine more when these have been resolved.
Their launch and arrival at the Jerez test was eagerly anticipated but turned out to be rather a low key affair. Their car looks good and is producing lap times of a similar nature to the other teams but does not look like the class of the field just yet. However, make no mistake about it, this is a well designed car and it may take them a while to tune its set up to maximise its speed. We won’t know more about this until they perform at the next test next week.
Webber – He seems happy with the car and is talking very confidently. Is this Aussie bravado or can he feel something that we cannot see? Last year was difficult for Mark as due to his injury he did not start the season in full health and ability. This year he seems pumped up and very excited at being able to compete at his best in a good car.
Vettel – A lot of people put him favourite to win the championship, but he has had a quiet start with his new Red Bull. He did produce some quick times on the final day at Jerez when the wet track was drying out which shows his skill and the grip of the Red Bull in those conditions.
They have not seemed quick and, in fact, seem to have been slow for most of the first two tests. However, they have been quietly getting on with business, running through their testing programme diligently and have done little, if any, real low fuel running. They have done the second most number of laps and the Cosworth engine seems to be doing very well and is proving reliable. Reading between the lines of what the team has been saying, it appears the car seems good, but they have identified a number of areas to work on and improve to make it better. They seem competitive.
Barrichello – Driving very well and the Williams seems to be handling well. He has put in a lot of laps and seems to be satisfied with their progression. He may the most experienced man in F1 at the moment, and the second eldest (behind Schumacher), but he seems motivated and will be providing Williams with a lot of expert technical feedback to improve the car.
Hulkenberg – The Hulk will be happy, although he doesn’t seem to be a very smiley sort whilst working, with how he is doing. As a rookie it is important to get embedded into the team and most importantly feel confident and relaxed in the car and it seems like he has done that. He has done enough laps in the car now that he will be able to push the car and help with the car’s development.
They are a difficult team to read at the moment, because they have shown themselves to be quick at both tests. The Ferrari engine in the inappropriately named BMW Sauber team is working very well and is being super reliable. However, the car does not look as stable as the other cars and this could impact their tyre wear. Will they be a team that qualifies well and has bursts of speed when on new tyres in the race but ultimately fades away?
Kobayashi – He has been quick at both tests and seems comfortable in his new team and car. He seems like the real deal.
De la Rosa – He claims he has been getting rid of the rust from his driving and seems to be quick but the car has been visibly unstable and it will need all of his experience to help improve and develop the car to be a serious contender rather than an occasional one.
The Toro Rosso team could be a dark horse and the mix of their Red Bull roots and super Ferrari engine could make them a strong force this season. They have inexperienced drivers but do not rule them out. They have been quick during testing and seem to have a bit of work to do on their car, but they are definitely in good shape. They’ve put in a healthy number of laps and will be happy and satisfied with what they have achieved so far.
Buemi – He has been doing well it seems, but the only criticism at this stage is that his very inexperienced teammate seems to be doing just that little bit better. WDtFL so cannot judge too harshly and their fastest times were quite close, but Alguesuari does seem to have the edge
Alguersuari – The lad’s doing good (he’s a lot younger than me so feel I can be suitably patronising) and he will be pleased the car is quick and he has the edge over Buemi.
There seems a lot of confidence and motivation within the Force India team. They were back of the field at the beginning of last year and made excellent progression to be a solid mid-field team with Fisichella even finishing 2nd at Spa last year. They were determined to carry this progress through into 2010 and by all accounts they seem to have done it. The new car works, its reliable and seems to be competitive. More will come from them next week.
Sutil –He is driving well and was quickest for most of the afternoon on the final day at Jerez. He seems to have the edge over Liuzzi at this moment in time.
Liuzzi – Will be pleased to have a F1 drive but needs to up his game a little. However, there is plenty of time for him to adjust to a new team and car.
They had a slow start to testing in that their car did not seem quick straight away, but by the end of Valencia and in Jerez their times seem reasonably competitive. However, they have done nothing to shine so far, except for their very shiny yellow cars of course. The team has been through some tough times and was almost out of the sport completely so their performance is actually quite good. They will need to improve if they want to be a team regularly fighting for points.
Kubica – He has driven the 3rd most laps of all the drivers in testing so far and seems to be doing well. Renault will need to extract all the information they can from him to improve and develop the car.
Petrov – The Russian rookie will be pleased that he has got to grips with his new team and car, but he seems to be off the pace of his teammate at the moment.
They are the first of the “new” teams to launch their car and although were not able to do much running on the first couple of days as the front wing fell off and they had to wait for parts to be sent across, they managed to complete over 60 laps on Saturday afternoon and put in a fastest time just over 3 seconds slower than the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton. They will actually be very happy with that. They have made it to F1, the car works and is not ridiculously slow. They can only improve from this point and it is fantastic to see them out there.
Di Grassi – He has been able to get the laps in with the new car and seems to be doing okay, but we can’t assess until he and his teammate have got more laps under his belt.
Glock – Has only completed 16 laps and a lot of those were only single lap runs.
The Next Test – Jerez on Wed 17th Feb