Category Archives: testing

Mercedes GP 2012 Radical ‘New’ Nose

Today at Jerez, the first day of testing for the 2012 F1 Season, Mercedes GP revealed it’s new ‘nose’ (see exclusive photo below). Ross Brawn said it had significant aerodynamic advantages and that air would literally ‘pass over like water off a duck’s back’. Rosberg was first to drive it and Schumacher is looking forward to testing it shortly. An unnamed source in the pitlane said this was a stupid idea and that Mercedes engineers were clearly quacking up.

I don’t know if it is quick, but it sure looks cute to me.


2012 F1 Testing Begins!

by Jake McMillan

Hoorah, with the 2012 Formula 1 testing beginning at Jerez tomorrow we will finally get a little bit of F1 action! However, as I have warned before, we all need to be very careful about over-analysing the relative performance of the teams. Testing is exactly what it says with teams testing and fine-tuning the performance of the cars. Some things will work and some won’t.

Unless one team is significantly much faster throughout a test session, or is significantly off the pace, we will not know which team is really quickest until we get to Melbourne next month. Despite knowing this, we all get sucked in every year, trying to guess which team will be the fastest. This is okay as long as we  remember that it is just a guess:

  • Teams will be running different fuel loads from each other
  • Teams seeking sponsorship will inevitably want to appear quick by doing more low fuel runs
  • The cars will be developed further between the tests and the first race so until we get to Melbourne we really don’t know
  • All teams ‘sandbag’ to varying degrees

On-board with Massa at wet Jerez 2010 (Helmet-cam)

Here is an interesting video using a helmet camera of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa completing 2 laps at the wet Jerez circuit in Spain during F1 pre-season testing in February 2010.

The first lap is a slow out lap (starting in the pits) and the second lap is at race speed.

It’s interesting to see the driver’s perspective of going round the circuit and to see that Massa likes to lean his head towards the direction he is about to go, before he actually turns the wheel.

The video is hosted by

F1 2010 First Onboard Massa Test jerez
Uploaded by nickodu56. – NASCAR, F1, tuning and drift videos.

Final Pre-Season Test – Day 4 at Barcelona

Today was the final day of pre-season testing and the next time the cars will appear on a race track, it will be for real at the first Grand Prix of the season at Bahrain in 2 weeks’ time. This was the last chance for the teams to fine tune their cars and simulate race conditions.

It also provided perhaps the clearest comparison of the performance of the teams we’ve had over the whole of the 4 pre-season tests. The majority of teams, especially the top teams, all simulated low fuel qualifying runs and several, notably Mercedes and McLaren, completed heavy fuel race-length ones.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton went quickest today (and for the entire 4-day test) with a 1min 20.472secs lap. This was achieved on the 4th lap of a 4-lap run (1m24.451s; 1m21.469s; 1m30.535s (traffic); 1m20.472s) and clearly demonstrates that the McLaren has very good low fuel pace.

P Driver Team Fastest Time Diff. Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren (Mercedes) 1m20.472 134
2 Mark Webber Red Bull (Renault) 1m20.496 +0.024 59
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.539 +0.067 113
4 Adrian Sutil Force India (Mercedes) 1m20.611 +0.139 99
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull (Renault) 1m20.667 +0.195 76
6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m20.745 +0.273 122
7 Rubens Barrichello Williams (Cosworth) 1m20.870 +0.398 83
8 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber (Ferrari) 1m20.911 +0.439 67
9 Sebastian Buemi Toro Rosso (Ferrari) 1m22.135 +0.941 87
10 Robert Kubica Renault 1m23.175 +2.703 106
11 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus (Cosworth) 1m25.251 +4.779 65
12 Lucas Di Grassi Virgin (Cosworth) 1m26.160 +5.688 47

As the times show, the different teams are very closely matched, with the top 5 times separated by less than two-tenths of a second and the top 9 times separated by less than a second. That’s really really close. A comparison of the fastest times across the 4 days at Barcelona confirms this with the top 13 times produced by 7 different teams using the 4 different engine suppliers (currently operating in F1) and separated by less than 0.6secs.

This means we are in for one hell of a close season and as we head to Bahrain no team appears to be dominant.

  • McLaren will leave Barcelona with a lot of confidence. Their new aero package is clearly working and Hamilton completed 134 laps today without any technical problems.
  • Massa showed he can pilot the Ferrari as quickly as Alonso and was only 67/1000ths off Hamilton’s time and completed 113 laps today. Ferrari leave Barcelona as favourites, but only just, as they seem to have right combination of quick low and heavy fuel pace and consistency in long runs.
  • Mercedes have become more optimistic about their pace and although they have stated they are not where they want to be pace-wise, their analysis of their performance in Barcelona has lead them to believe they will be able to compete strongly at Bahrain. Schumacher said he was impressed by McLaren’s pace today but also said Mercedes have a new update for Bahrain which Ross Brawn has described as largely an “efficiency update” which should translate into a performance update.
  • Red Bull has improved and have good low fuel pace (only 0.02secs slower than McLaren), but their quick times were produced on shorter runs than were achieved by McLaren and Ferrari. Both Vettel and Webber got to drive today (as Vettel did not get much running in the wet yesterday) and the two drivers completed a combined total of 135 laps today.
  • Adrian Sutil in the Force India was 4th fastest today only just over a tenth slower than Hamilton. Their long run pace seemed competitive too so they could be a surprise team for 2010.
  • Not a good day for Virgin, again, as Di Grassi only completed 47 laps as they encountered more technical gremlins.
  • Lotus were slightly quicker than Virgin and have proved themselves to be more reliable. They believe they are 4 seconds off the pace of the top teams, but will be the best of the new teams entering F1 this year.
  • Hamilton’s race distance simulation saw him start with 1m27s laps, quickly move down to 1m25s laps and 26 laps into his run (and 6 laps after his first pits stop) he was lapping in the 1m23s region. He maintained good consistency, completing many laps in a low 1m23s pace and finished his final stint on that pace. He made 2 pits stops for new tyres during the whole simulation.
  • Schumacher also completed a race simulation and started on a similar pace to Hamilton but 36 laps in (and 15 laps after his first pits top) he was doing high 1m24s pace, whereas Hamilton was doing 1m23s laps. However, at the end of the simulation he got down to very high 1m22s pace which was quicker than the McLaren driver.

Jake McMillan

Here are some photos from today’s action:

Kovalainen wore these brand new race boots specially made for him by Sparco

Fastest times – Comparison of 4 Days at Barcelona

Below are the fastest times produced by the teams and drivers at the final pre-season F1 test at Barcelona over the last 4 days. It provides a good insight into the relative performance of the different teams.

The top 13 drivers, represented by 7 different teams and 4 different engines, are separated by half a second. That means we are in for one hell of a competitive season with no team clearly ahead of the rest.

Driver (Team) Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day  4 Diff.
1-Hamilton (McLaren) 1m22.152 1m20.472
2-Webber (Red Bull) 1m21.487 1m20.496 +0.024
3-Massa (Ferrari) 1m22.344 1m20.539 +0.067
4-Sutil (Force India) 1m22.606 1m20.611 +0.139
5-Hulkenberg (Williams) 1m22.407 1m20.614 +0.142
6-Alonso (Ferrari) 1m24.170 1m20.637 +0.165
7-Vettel (Red Bull) 1m21.258 1m23.254 1m20.667 +0.195
8-Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m22.514 1m20.686 +0.214
9-Schumacher (Mercedes) 1m21.689 1m20.745 +0.273
10-Barrichello (Williams) 1m21.975 1m20.870 +0.398
11-Kobayashi (Sauber) 1m26.216 1m20.911 +0.439
12-De la Rosa (Sauber) 1m23.144 1m20.973 +0.501
13-Liuzzi (Force India) 1m24.064 1m21.056 +0.584
14-Buemi (Toro Rosso) 1m21.413 1m22.135 +0.941
15-Button (McLaren) 1m23.452 1m21.450 +0.978
16-Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) 1m24.869 1m21.571 +1.099
17-Petrov (Renault) 1m24.173 1m22.523 +2.051
18-Kubica (Renault) 1m24.912 1m23.175 +2.703
19-Trulli (Lotus) 1m25.524 1m25.059 +4.587
20-Kovalainen (Lotus) 1m25.251 +4.779
21-Glock (Virgin) 1m25.942 1m26.305 +5.470
22-Di Grassi (Virgin) 1m27.057 1m26.160 +5.688
23-Fauzy (Lotus) 1m28.002 +7.530

Hamilton set his fastest time of 1m20.472secs on the final lap of a 4-lap run, which means the McLaren has a very good low-fuel speed.

Force India have done better than a lot people were expecting.

Comparisons of different drivers are less clear and one has to take into account what is happening in that team, developments and track conditions. For example, Button’s best time was nearly a second slower than Hamilton, but that was the first day McLaren were trying a significant new aero package and from his work, they were able to make set up improvements today.

However, the times produced by the drivers of Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Mercedes, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Lotus and Virgin are all very similar to their teammates.

Lotus appears to be winning the battle of the new teams, but it seems to be quite close in times.

A more detailed Barcelona Day 4 report can be found here.

Jake McMillan

Final Pre-Season Test – Day 3 at Barcelona

Mercedes are a little bit more optimistic as Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the day which was hampered by wet weather late morning and early afternoon. Schumacher had been pessimistic talking to the press yesterday but after looking at the data he was more confident as the team believes they were carrying more fuel than others.

Nico’s time was only 0.072s slower than the other Nico, “the Hulk” Hulkenberg, who set the fastest time of the whole test, so far, yesterday. He also managed to complete an impressive 128 laps, more than anyone else today.

Fastest times:

P Driver Car Best time Laps Diff.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.686s 128
2 Sebastian Buemi Toro Rosso (Ferrari) 1m21.413s 106 +0.727
3 Jensen Button McLaren (Mercedes) 1m21.450s 105 +0.764
4 Rubens Barrichello Williams (Cosworth) 1m21.975s 101 +1.289
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m22.344s 115 +1.658
6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.523s 68 +1.837
7 Adrian Sutil Force India (Mercedes) 1m22.606s 61 +1.920
8 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull (Renault) 1m23.254s 51 +2.568
9 Jarno Trulli Lotus (Cosworth) 1m25.059s 102 +4.373
10 Kamui Kobayshi BMW Sauber (Ferrari) 1m26.216s 105 +5.530
11 Timo Glock Virgin (Cosworth) 1m26.305 31 +5.619
  • Over the last 2 days, 3 different teams with different engines have produced the fastest lap times on low fuel that are very close to each other:  1)Hulkenberg (Williams) 1m20.614s; 2) Alonso (Ferrari) 1m20.637s and 3) Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m20.686s
  • At the end of the session, before it was unfortunately cut short by a red flag due to Barrichello, both Rosberg and Button were putting in quick 1m21secs laps. Button achieved a purple sector 1 (fastest of the session) which was then bettered by Rosberg a short time later. However, both drivers in those laps did not come close to Rosberg’s time this morning which suggests that the track conditions in sectors 2 and 3 had not dried sufficiently and that both drivers could possibly go quicker than Rosberg fastest time set in the morning.
  • Rosberg in the Mercedes was quicker than Button at the very end of the session but of course we don’t know the fuel loads
  • Most teams did race simulation runs today – Rosberg, Massa and Button were all doing 1m27s pace on a heavy fuel load at the start of their runs
  • Vettel was absent on track for most of the day as the Red Bull fixed a fuel pump problem
  • Not a good day for Kobayashi in the Sauber as his quickest time was 5.5secs off the quickest. However, they must have concentrated solely on heavy fuel running and the rain may have caused the times to seem slower than they actually were. His quickest time was on lap 7 of the 105 laps he completed today without any apparent technical issues. Kobayashi put in some exciting laps in the rain … even going round in slicks at one point!

Jake McMillan

Photos from todays action:

Final Pre-Season Test – Day 2 at Barcelona

Although Webber was a second quicker than anyone else yesterday, as predicted it was not long before his time was bettered as other teams tried low fuel qualifying simulations as part of the preparations for Bahrain in 2 weeks time. 5 drivers, including Vettel, went faster than Webber’s time from yesterday.

However, it was a nice surprise to see rookie and last year’s GP2 champion Nico ‘the Hulk’ Hulkenberg  especially as it appeared his Williams was a lot slower than Red Bull yesterday on low fuel. After the end of the first day he told the media that he thought the Williams was behind the Ferrari and Red Bull, but that they were “not far off”. He was right, although it is doubted whether Red Bull are on the same pace as Ferrari.

Here are the fastest times from Day 2:

P Driver Car Best time Laps Diff.
1 Nico Hülkenberg Williams (Cosworth) 1m20.614s 99
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.637s 134 +0.023
3 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber (Ferrari) 1m20.973s 114 + 0.359
4 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India (Mercedes) 1m21.056s 90 + 0.442
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull (Renault) 1m21.258s 125 + 0.644
6 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso (Ferrari) 1m21.571s 104 +0.957
7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.689s 85 +1.075
8 Lewis Hamilton McLaren (Mercedes) 1m22.152s 93 +1.538
9 Robert Kubica Renault 1m24.912s 53 +4.298
10 Jarno Trulli Lotus (Cosworth) 1m25.524s 70 +4.910
11 Timo Glock Virgin (Cosworth) 1m25.942s 52 +5.328
  • Hulkenberg set his fastest time in the afternoon 2 laps into a 3 lap run on the super soft Bridgestone tyres.
  • Alonso set his fastest time in the morning, only 0.023 slower than the Hulk, on soft tyres on a 3 lap run but did a couple of 5 and 6 lap runs where he dipped into the 1m20s several times. He did an impressive 24 lap run in the afternoon, clearly heavy with fuel and kept great consistency doing many laps in the 1m24s range. He caught Vettel at one point and tried a sneaky manoeuvre of missing the last chicane to get a run on him on the straight but didn’t get close enough so backed off to give himself space to continue his run.
  • Liuzzi in the Force India and Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso also did good long runs keeping a similar pace as Alonso. Indication that these 2 teams may be more competitive than they were last year.
  • Lotus continue to improve pace-wise but did suffer a hydraulic problem today
  • McLaren have been quiet with both Button and, today, Hamilton and unlike Jerez, they have not yet attempted a low fuel qualifying simulation run. Hamilton’s quickest time was set on the 1st lap of a 6-lap run. His heavy fuel load pace appeared to be 1m27/26s pace which is not impressive.
  • Mercedes had a quiet day too and Schumacher told the media they are not in a position to win at Bahrain but thinks they will be competitive.

Jake McMillan

You may like this onboard video of Raikkonen in 2008:

Photos from today’s action: