Posted on March 17, 2009
Brawn still a clear second ahead of the rest | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Today is the final day of the group pre-season test programme for Renault and Brawn. McLaren and Williams continue until Thursday. It’s the last chance the teams in Jerez will have to try out new parts and fine tune their cars on the track before Melbourne. We have Brawn, McLaren, Williams and Renault all operating with a single car.

So far this month the two main stories have been the stunning performance of the Brawn Mercedes cars, which came so close to never seeing the light of day after Honda pulled out of F1 and the trouble McLaren has been going through with a slow car.

Those two teams are to the fore in Jerez this week, with the Brawn car clearly a good second faster than the rest, while McLaren seems to have improved its car thanks to new aerodynamic parts, including a new diffuser.

Yesterday’s lap time sheet was misleading. It showed Alonso fastest, but that did not tell the story.

Rubens Barrichello drove the car yesterday morning and his lap times looked effortlessly fast and consistent. It’s not just the speed of the Brawn which impresses. It is the consistency, which makes it a formidable weapon in races as well as qualifying.

Rubens was easily circulating in the 1m 19s all morning. His fastest time, a 1m 18.398s lap, came on lap 4 of a 7 lap run, in which three of the laps were 1m 18s and three were low 1m19s. The car would go signficantly faster on a low fuel qualifying simulation. He handed over the car to Jenson Button, but the Brit managed only a couple of short runs before the car stopped with a gearbox problem, missing the last two hours of running. The car has done well to run fairly trouble free so far, but this incident shows that reliability is the main concern for Melbourne.

rubens-testing

Renault’s Fernando Alonso ended the day a fraction faster than Barrichello, catching all the headlines, but his time came out of the blue, on a single lap qualifying simulation, so he would have been carrying quite a bit less fuel than the Brawn car. Looking at his other runs, they were manly quite short, but a 14 lap run saw laps mostly in the high 1m19s and low 1m20s, the thick end of a second per lap slower than the Brawn.

McLaren had Lewis Hamilton on track and the world champion did mainly short runs, mostly in the 1m 20s and 21s. He did a 21 lap long run with laps mainly in the low 1m20s, so a good second off the Brawn car.

Williams had Nico Rosberg doing long runs once again. The team seems to have focussed on long runs with heavy fuel at the recent tests, clearly working on reliability. The car showed that it’s pretty fast though, in Barcelona, when Rosberg took the fuel out and went for it. Yesterday the car was lapping in the low 1m 21s improving to 1m 20s on the third long stint.

It looks as though there isn’t much to choose between the McLaren, Williams and Renault in performance terms, but the Brawn is in another league altogether.

Extrapolating that out with the results from last week’s test, it seems that the pecking order at the moment is Brawn, then a gap to Ferrari, Toyota and BMW, then a small gap to Renault, McLaren, Williams, Red Bull with Force India and Toro Rosso somewhere just behind that group.

But as we saw last week with Renault and have seen this week with McLaren, the cars are so new, it’s possible for a team to make a big step with one development part. So the pecking order may not stay that way for long.

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Brawn still a clear second ahead of the rest
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  1.   1. Posted By: Alan Dove
        Date: November 30th, -0001 @ 12:00 am 

    James please take a look at this video from Jerez.

    Why is it it that in every video throughout the tests of the MCLaren we see the driver not even loading the chassis, or slipping the tyres. For me this is very odd. Just compare the McLaren to Alonso’s Renault. The body language is totally different.

    It’s clear Alonso is pushing the Renault, yet with the McLaren it isn’t even being pushed. I know McLaren have come out and said that they are slow but I fail to believe we are seeing their true pace considering Hamilton/Kovi aren’t even pushing the car one bit.

    HHmm…. I reckon McLaren are the dark horses for a Melbourne win, I really do. They are up to something still!

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  2.   2. Posted By: Tim
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 8:13 am 

    Are the teams not running until tomorrow, with McLaren having Thursdays to themselves?

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  3.   3. Posted By: Finn
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 8:46 am 

    We’ve had speculation that Brawn might be running light or that BMW might be sandbagging, etc.

    Maybe Brawn are the only team to show their real pace and all the other teams have been sandbagging. Come Oz, the pack really might get shuffled up a lot.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Peter
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 9:01 am 

    I guess Ferrari and Co working day and night this week to get closer to Brawn. I think the question is how much time can they gain with a Williams/Toyota/Brawn type of diffusor and a couple of aero modification, but one sec just seems to be a bit to much. If Ferrari and BMW can’t get close to Brawn soon, it will be decisive from the championship point of view.

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  5.   5. Posted By: steve
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 9:02 am 

    renault and alonso are being heavily underestimated – as they always are. watch them…

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  6.   6. Posted By: Alastair
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 9:07 am 

    James, re. the pecking order, can you break down which cars are running KERS and which are not? I know Brawn are not and Ferrari are, Toyota not, BMW are (?) Renault and Mclaren are (not sure about Renault), Williams are, Red Bull are (?) Farce India and STR not.

    Is that correct (all off the top of my head, so probably not totally correct).

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Rich M
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 9:26 am 

    Thanks for this James, reading the headlines yesterday would make you think Renualt have made a massive jump! Insight like this is invaluable for those of us sitting at home. Keep it up.

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  8.   8. Posted By: myurr
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 9:26 am 

    Seriously doubt that McLaren are going to introduce new parts at their private test day on Thursday. Today is Hamiltons last day of testing and I’m sure he’d have wanted to be driving the car with all the mods possible. So if it isn’t introduced today, it’s not going to be introduced before the first race (although maybe on the Friday).

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  9.   9. Posted By: guy
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 9:45 am 

    I hope you’re right – but why would they so clearly they there is a problem if there wasn’t – mercedes, Ron the sponsors et al would never allow it.

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  10.   10. Posted By: Rodrigo Lamas
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 10:06 am 

    Teams running KERS at the moment are only Mclaren, Ferrari, Renault and BMW.

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  11.   11. Posted By: F1Wolf
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 10:14 am 

    Rubens was easily circulating in the 1m 19s all morning. His fastest time, a 1m 18.398s lap, came on lap 4 of a 7 lap run, in which three of the laps were 1m 18s and three were low 1m19s. The car would go signficantly faster on a low fuel qualifying simulation.

    Jenson Button is confirming your words already … 1:17.844 today

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  12.   12. Posted By: Bob
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 10:17 am 

    During low fuel, two lap stints, this morning the Brawn and Williams are only 2 tenths apart. They’re not that fast, James. I expect Brawn to be scraping for the last points paying positions not victories.

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  13.   13. Posted By: Ted Jones
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 10:26 am 

    Where can you find out the live times from testing?

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  14.   14. Posted By: Sparhawk
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 10:46 am 

    Don’t you think that the McLaren improvement might be caused of the nature of Jerez, which is not so punishing to bad aero as Barcelona?

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: alex m
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 11:10 am 

    James, there are still reports that McLaren are running with a blanked off diffuser, trying to isolate some aero problems. Given this, and the fact that now cars get a lot of downforce from the diffuser, are they in effect ‘blanking off’ a second or two from their performance ? Could it be that despite all the smoke, the McLaren is the fastest car out there, or at least in far better shape than we think ?

    What is your views on Alonsos low fuel run[s]… it keeps his fans happy as many do not study the sport in great detail … or greater than they want to….and grabs a few headlines but I wonder who it is that instigates it. Is it FA himself, the team, his manager or the sponsors ? His performance at the 08 Barcelona race where he qualified so well only to pit very early and show the whole time was a vainglorious fraud that put his car even lower down the finishing order than it would have been.

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  16.   16. Posted By: Ben G
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 11:10 am 

    Great vid!

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Gary Davidson
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 11:39 am 

    I’ve been following on this site all winter … It’s in Spanish but it gives you the times. [ Gracias, Gary - el moderador ]

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Alan Dove
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 11:47 am 

    All you have to do is watch the McLaren on 80% of the videos on the web from testing to see they are up to something.

    They are approaching testing from a different angle than last year. They had similar issues with traction, yet are now not even testing or pushing the car at all. It’s very odd indeed.

    They have admitted they are in trouble, so we have to take that into account, but maybe they are not as bad as the timesheets appear.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: Chris
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 12:18 pm 

    Yep with Macca continuing on Thursday. James will never change it seems………

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Kevin M
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 12:43 pm 

    I refuse to believe that McLaren are ‘sandbagging’ because a team of their stature can’t really afford to do that sort of thing. McLaren fans don’t follow that team to watch them finishing last. Sure this is only testing, but it’s the same team and they will always want to be as fast or faster than the Ferrari. I’m sure they’re relatively happy to accept that the Brawn car is fast considering they helped rescue the team, but to have all of the other teams ahead is not good PR leading up to the first grand prix.

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: Konstantin
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 1:00 pm 

    I dont see any difference in the “body language” between Macca and the rest. They just have to cope with the low grip. Its that that the car allows to be pushed.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: lbh
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 1:22 pm 

    McLaren did not help rescuing ex Honda team, Mercedes did.

    It’s very unfortunate Honda decided to leave since as with the car their KERS had 15 months development and over a $100 million invested. It would have made the gap even bigger.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: guy
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 2:01 pm 

    The new scoring system has just been announced………. wins decide the championship!!

    Also interesting optional budget cap of £30m with more technical freedom…..

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Alan Dove
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 2:14 pm 

    Konstantin, trust me there is a substantial difference in how the cars are being driven and behave.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Dulait
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 4:31 pm 

    These times are correct. Any inside information on these times James? Any word on fuel loads, tyres etc….

    If both times were set on similar fuel loads and tyres, then Williams have been sandbagging.

    You cannot imagine that Ferrari, Toyota, BMW are slower than Williams, which would mean they are at least as quick if not quicker than Brawn?

    So much smoke and mirrors!

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: mfelat
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 4:56 pm 

    Toyota, Brawn, Williams, Force India, Red Bull and Torro Rosso are all reported that they are not going to start the season with KERS, whereas Ferrari, McLaren and Renault are beleived to start with it. BMW stated that they are ready to use the system but they haven’t decided yet.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 5:25 pm 

    JA writes: Tim and Chris – last day for Renault and Brawn, McLaren and Williams continue until Thursday. Thanks for pointing out the lack of clarity in original post.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Dan
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 5:57 pm 

    Thanks for the insight JA, after reading Autosport i was left with analysis of the times and your contribution is invaluable to me. And that’s from someone who wasn’t your fan on TV. :)

    That video is too messy to determine anything useful other than the Brawn looks very good over the bumps at the end.

    Bottom line is the Brawn is fast and McLaren are working there a***s off to narrow down a problem.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Dan
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 5:59 pm 

    Or should i say ‘no’ analysis of the times….

    Brawns diffuser looks fancy, very ingenious.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Swen
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 6:01 pm 

    Alan Dove: In this video I saw only one lap in which the McLaren wasn’t being driven hard and that was the lap in which Hamilton weaved to probably get into the tyres.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Jasper
        Date: March 17th, 2009 @ 7:06 pm 

    Renault are the first team to confirm that they will definitely be running KERS in Australia according to Autosport! Assuming that the Brawn car proves to be fastest in qualifying there, (as the general feeling seems to be that it’s currently the fastest car). It’s going to make for a really exciting start, how will Button & Barrichello be able to fend off the likes of Alonso and any of the other cars who have KERS at the start? And then once any KERS cars get in front of Button & Barrichello, they will have to fight to keep them behind, but they will have the KERS at their disposal to prevent the Brawn’s from getting a run on them into any braking zones!

    Just thinking about it, assuming the reading of the cars relative pace is correct, Brawn fastest, followed by Ferrari, Toyota, BMW and Renault. The Australian GP could turn out to be a really fascinating tactical battle, but if anyone’s good at race strategy and tactics it’s Ross Brawn! Bring on Australia!

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: sean
        Date: March 18th, 2009 @ 3:29 am 

    has anyone heard if brawn has got sponsors or are we going to see an all white car rolling out next friday morning.Imagine if they were to win dont think bernie would be happy.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: kinslowdian
        Date: March 18th, 2009 @ 1:05 pm 

    The speed of Brawn GP, isn’t it down to them running the car without ballast to look quick in order to get some big name sponsors, I remember Arrows doing a similar thing in 2001 or 2002.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Top Posts « WordPress.com
        Date: March 19th, 2009 @ 12:26 am 

    [...] Brawn still a clear second ahead of the rest Today is the final day of the group pre-season test programme for Renault and Brawn. McLaren and Williams continue [...] [...]

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