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Alonso pulls crowd as Ferrari dominates first test in Valencia
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Alonso pulls crowd as Ferrari dominates first test in Valencia
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Feb 2010   |  8:53 pm GMT  |  163 comments

In front of a crowd of 40,000 fans at Valencia, Fernando Alonso had his first drive in a Ferrari today and set the fastest time of the week.

On a historic final day of this first test, there were three world champions on track with Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button also getting a feel for the Mercedes and McLaren respectively.

“It was an important day for me, first time in a Ferrari,” said Alonso. “A very emotional day this morning and also last night. I think I maximised the day in terms of laps and time on the track and I feel good.

A historic day for Alonso and Ferrari

A historic day for Alonso and Ferrari


“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix.”

The Ferrari has tended to focus this week on shorter runs of 10-20 laps on the whole. Alonso and Massa both did plenty of laps in the 1m 11s range, unlike their rivals, but there was no sign of anyone going for outright lap times on low fuel. Most people seem to have been working on reliability this week. In the refueling era tests like this would be conducted on a two stop fuel load, say 50-60 kilos. Now with no refueling it makes sense to test at a mid level load, based on a one stop plan, so 80-100 kilos and that is what has been happening.

Perhaps next week at Jerez we will start to see some teams pushing the performance envelope a little and we will see the outright pace of some cars on low fuel. We will also see the new cars from Force India, which shook down at Silverstone today as well as the new Virgin car and the one we all want to see, the Red Bull.

“I think at the next test we might have more of an understanding when people are running very different fuel loads, ” said Jenson Button. “And you can get an understanding of the difference of those loads and how much time per 10 kilos it is. Then you can work out who is quick and who isn’t.”

Button admitted that the Ferrari is “quick,” but added the caveat, “we don’t know how quick”.

It’s been an encouarging week for Ferrari and the stories about poor downforce figures seem to have gone quiet for the moment. Alonso’s time today was set on the fourth lap of a 12 lap run.

The Ferrari’s long run times look very consistent; Alonso did a 16 lap run in the late afternoon, which started out in the low 1m 13s and gradually came down smoothly and consistently to the high 1m 11s, which is roughly the difference in fuel weight, so the car seems to be well balanced and looks after its tyres pretty well.

The tyres being used in Valencia were the new soft and supersoft Bridgestones.

The BMW Sauber has been very consistent all week, with both Kobayashi and De la Rosa setting times in the low 1m 12s on largely short runs of 8-10 laps at a time. The car managed 1,000 km of running and it seems to respond well to changes, which is positive.

We have quite a variation in the length of cars this season with the McLaren, BMW Sauber and Ferrari at the longer end of the scale and the Renault and Williams shorter. It appears that the longer cars are working better, but it’s early days yet and hard to draw conclusions.

The old firm; back and meaning business

The old firm; back and meaning business


Schumacher did 82 laps today and is clearly in pretty good shape physically. The car seemed fairly consistent on the long runs of 23 laps or so, the same length runs Rosberg was doing yesterday. He ended with a super consistent 16 lap run in which all but one lap was in the 1m 14s. But the times were not coming down as demonstrably as the Ferrari’s as the fuel burned off. He said afterwards that he doesn’t expect to be winning races at the start of the season.

This time last year Jenson Button could barely wipe the smile off his face; on his first day in the Brawn he already knew he had a car he could fight for the championship with. Clearly the shift to a new team and the lack of reference points is making him more guarded this time, but he didn’t have a great start today, by all accounts spending quite a bit of time in the morning getting comfortable in the car.

And he certainly wasn’t raving when he said, “From Lewis’s comments yesterday he is happy, we all want more. That’s the way we are, but we have a good base to work with.” He set his fastest time, a 1m 12.9 on the final lap of a nine lap run. With more fuel on board later on he was lapping in the high 1m 13s and low 1m 14s.

McLaren have been on a different programme from Ferrari and Sauber. McLaren have been doing runs of 20-25 laps at a time, which means that they have had at least 60-80 kilos on board. There has been no sign of a push to find the pace of the car.

Last year’s GP2 front runners, Nico Hulkenberg and Vitaly Petrov were out today for Williams and Renault respectively. Williams continued their conservative progress with the new Cosworth engine, while Petrov got used to the car.

HEADLINE LAP TIMES, VALENCIA, DAY 3

1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:11.470 127 Laps
2. Pedro De La Rosa BMW Sauber 1:12.094 80
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:12.438 82
4. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:12.576 97
5. Jenson Button Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1:12.951 82
6. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:13.097 75
7. Nico Hulkenberg Williams 1:13.669 126

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163 Comments
  1. John Glynn says:

    Great pic of Fernando in the Ferrari. Let’s hope it’s a match made in heaven. Certainly one many of us have waited years to see – and I am no Ferrari fan!

    1. Mark Hitchcock says:

      Agreed. I’m neither an Alonso or a Ferrari fan but that picture makes my heart flutter with excitement.

      1. CHIUNDA says:

        then you are a ferrari fan

      2. Mark Hitchcock says:

        Except…I’m not.
        It’s just an exciting driver/car pairing.

        If pushed, I’m a Red Bull fan. But I’m more a fan of drivers than teams.

    2. Hutch says:

      I’m really worried that Alonso will dominate this year. Let’s hope that there’s a close fight all season!

      1. Nick Pauro says:

        I would prefer domination! But maybe Massa style!?

      2. yer says:

        alonso will dominate, how? think your out of of sync

      3. John Ferdinand says:

        Only if he is alowed to cheet! This is one of the worst moves Ferrari ever made!

      4. Alberto Dietz says:

        Right on the nail. Better still, make that THE very worst ever.

  2. Dauné says:

    I think these three days have been interesting, in as much as we have seen the main cars and drivers. However, without knowing actual fuel loads etc., it is very much a guestimate as to which is the best car. The two Jerez tests may show more but I still think the qualifying at Bahrain will sort the wheat from the chaff.

    1. Med says:

      It’s the same every year really; we seem to fall into the same pattern of waiting all winter, then as soon as they hit the test tracks everyone’s looking to see who’s doing what, but always with the caveat of “you can’t really tell what anyone’s doing”. It’s been made worse this year (but in a good way) with the addition of James’ twitter page – I keep checking back there every 10 mins just to see if there’s anything interesting that’s popped up.

      It’s probably simply down to the fact that we can’t really tell what’s going on that makes it so rivetting; I think people have been more excited about Valencia testing than they will be for the GP later this year

  3. Sebee says:

    Brawn and Schumi aren’t laying down their cards on the table. No need for premature reveal. Nothing better than making them feel like they are best and surprising them at the first GP.

    Bottom line, welcome back, nice cars, looking good on track. But we didn’t learn much outside of the fact that Schumi is still fast.

    We’ll have to really wait for that first race to know the truth.

    I wonder if teams will risk fuel strategy and if we will see a podium car run out of fuel on the last lap this year for extra drama…

    1. Med says:

      Brawn’s quoted on the BBC as saying they’re a little off the pace, so either they’re not laying down their cards or they’ve lost a couple of them.

    2. R/T says:

      Just remember the turbo era, mostly noticeable after FISA imposed the tank fuel capacity, when the teams, especially the Honda powered ones, got their fuel almost frozen to compress its particles and fill the tank

    3. zawillow says:

      I know it’s off topic, but I think the gamble teams might take with fuel if a wet race is expected could be very interesting. If it turns out to be dry, I think we’ll find teams running out of fuel – which puts quite a lot of emphasis on the teams weather predictions.

      1. lip_iceman says:

        Good spot…

      2. Sebee says:

        You drove it hard, burned a bit of extra fuel – because consumption up front is not the same as in traffic.

        Now you’re in position to finish P3 but you know it will be touch and go on fuel. Obviously you’re going for it. If you come in you’ll be lucky to grab any points. I think it’s just a matter of time before we see just such a scenrio play out. A last lap fuel surprise for a bit of extra drama.

      3. Robert McKay says:

        And just to add further, how much gamble do you take on a SC appearing? For one, we’re going to Canada, after all :-D

      4. Sebee says:

        Good one Robert. If I’m calling the shots for Virgin, I may just cut out a bit of fuel to let this thing be a bit ligher and faster. I’m sure we’ll see more safety cars with a fuller grid. Now what about Monaco with all these newbies? It’s been a long time since we had a re-start.

        With all these rule changes even I forgot what the panalty was for 2010 if you need to refuel during the race. I recall it was a number of seconds spent in some panalty box, right?

    4. yer says:

      think ferrari will be the car that will not finish the race cause of fuel consumption

  4. Dale says:

    Fingers are firmly crossed that McLaren have got it right, it’d be a great shame if Ferrari had a big car advantage, I want to see Lewis and Fernando going head to head in near equal cars.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if Redbull come out of the blocks with a rocket ship – bring on the first race 8)

    1. Med says:

      I agree, one of the best things about last year was how you could never really tell who was going to have the fastest car at a particular circuit; it’d be a shame if Ferrari were way out front.

      If it were Williams out front…

  5. Morris Mao says:

    A new era really is coming to us this time?

  6. Alex Petrov says:

    Perfect match. First time with Ferrari – first result. Yes fuel loads matter and so on. But why does highly rated last year’s DWC needs more time with McLaren that Alonso with Ferrari. They both are in new cars.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      Different programs, different approaches, it doesn’t tell us anything, but you’re free to root for whomever you wish.

    2. Dale says:

      Could it be Alonso is better than Button :?:

      1. Med says:

        Or perhaps Button is better, so they want more feedback from him?

      2. las amazonas folladoras says:

        i think so.

      3. Freespeech says:

        Me too :)

    3. R/T says:

      Just a point – The MP4 25 is hard to setup and they are running on higher fuel loads

      And knowing Jenson, he usually doesn’t like to setup and fine tune a car, he is a very good performer when the car is fast from the start, pretty much like that BGP 001, in which he sat and drove it quickly, most of the times with Rubens’ setup

  7. Connor McKinley says:

    Hi, read the site for a while, first time commenting, great site James

    Early yet but seems that Ferrari are more positive than last season. I think it will be interesting to see the Red Bull, i would fancy it to be very quick after last season but perhaps the refuelling ban may not favour them as much as others. Last year the likes of Brawn and Ferrari seem to have the characteristic of being easier on its tyres and pit stops will be more flexible with the mandatory figure not being introduced

  8. Morris Mao says:

    Here

    Compare Alonso with Massa, their best times

    Compare Schumacher with Rosberg, their best times

    Compare Button with Hamilton, their best times

    I saw a vivid exapmle of how a Champion is different from a No-Champion, and how a Champion is different from another Champion.

    1. aziwal says:

      You missed one thing..

      how a car is different from another.

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes but they are all trying to achieve the same thing aren’t they, which is get faster as the fuel burns off and look after the tyres? It’s about covering the 200 miles faster than the next bloke, nothing more

    2. R/T says:

      There’s no valid point in any of the comparison

      First, we don’t know how every car was set to any of the drivers, the track got much more rubber than each previous days, and then, Massa and Alonso’s case, he admitted that Massa gave him all the points of reference and he even said that he felt comfortable with Massa setup, and then again, his time went on the fourth lap of a twelve lap run, while Massa’s time went just in the first fast lap of an eleven lap run, of course Massa was more acquainted to the car, but still, not that easy to dismiss any of them

    3. adam says:

      No you didn’t. They were running at different times. The track conditions change.

    4. CHIUNDA says:

      I have to admit i already get the sense Alonso is the de facto No.1 driver at Ferrari and Schumi at Mercedes which cannot be said of Button at McLaren – but hey, this is just the first test.

      1. James Allen says:

        I don’t think that is the case at Ferrari – that’s going to be quite a battle. And in general no driver worth his salt will show his hand at this early stage. You always keep a few tenths in your pocket for qualifying at the first race!

      2. Paulo says:

        Do some teams hold back in testing so they don’t show their true pace? I remember last year that Red Bull did that.

      3. Wingers says:

        Totally agree with you James.

        But knowing the way Alonso operates, you get the feeling he went to bed last night with a grin, thinking me 1 – felipe 0…

        It’s going to be very interesting watch this unfold. very.

      4. yer says:

        massa admirer

    5. Hayden L. says:

      naturally… i’d assume the later tester would benefit from the data and setup of the former…

      not a wise choice to pass judgement so early until the first qualifying stage…

    6. Gil Dogon says:

      Well let me say its also a first reply for me and joinn the others congratulating James on this great site, after surfing it furiouslt for the past week.

      And to the point, I think actually Massa seems to be highly under-rated by the fans/press, and the above poster. I agree that Hamilton and Schumacher seems to be the top dog so far, but there is little (0.2 sec maybe) between the times of Massa and Alonso. I have a feeling this pairing will be the closest Rivalry on track. I think Massa is quite unique in his relationship with teem mates. First and foremost Schumacher, which seems more like a mentor to him than a rival, which was the best thing at the time. With Kimi he had a polite rivalry that never got acrimonious and he measured quite well against him. Don’t forget he almost beat Lewis in 2008, and it is debatable which of them had the car advantage that year. His ‘good boy’ looks and demeanor hide a psychological resilience and determination. I am sure his injury will only make him return stronger (Somebody remembers Schumacher in 99?). It will be very interesting to see what happens next season in Ferrari …

      1. James Allen says:

        Thank you. The week has definitely got 2010 off to a good start

      2. Sami says:

        I agree with you on Massa. He has always been the stealthy driver. I think he really can win this years title, if the car is good.

        I really like his attitude, he is so likable and in the car i get the sense he is an animal!!

        Forza Massa.

  9. Andy C says:

    It does raise a smile with me about some of the range testing. It’s no surprise that Ferrari are running best times as they are if they are pulling short stints.

    If we have a gp cut to 11 laps they will be well placed. I don’t see any sign of worry at mclaren. What is important is not 10-20 laps, but the pace over a half distance.

    The teams are all just getting comfortable with their new cars and finding some baseline setups and development areas.

    Let’s see the later tests for outright speed.

    James,
    any insights from insider comments (don’t name your sources) about who they think I’d looking good (general concensus). Is anyone very worried about the Ferrari pace? I think there will be little to chose from 3 teams come the first race.

  10. alex m says:

    Fascinating insight as always James, thankyou.

    I am surprised the Brawn seems so slow and the Ferrari so good. Whatever the fuel load is in the Red car, it is holding together and putting in textbook laps. What exactly is the significance of FA’s times descending with the fuel, and Merc’s not ? The Merc is using more tyres, or not using them properly ?

    One more thing, with all the race fuel on board in 2010, will not the race Starts be a lot trickier to get right ? Both the launching, stopping it for the first corner, and and actually getting round …

  11. George says:

    I’m relieved to see the Ferrari is doing well, I doubt it will be so dominant once the season begins but given it’s form so far it should be near the top.

    As a side note, how much slower than last year do you think the cars will be, given the smaller front tyres and larger fuel tank?

  12. AmandaG says:

    Hi James

    Can I ask when you mentioned that nobody seemed to be going for outright laptimes on low fuel, did you mean Ferrari as well?

    It’s just that a lot of people seem to be under the impression that Ferrari have been doing a lot of light stints as opposed to everyone else.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well if you look at how they set the times, these were not low fuel runs, ie one out lap, one flying lap and one in lap on fumes.

      1. LT says:

        but thier stints were still shorter than most thus they were still lighter in comparison. When they did longer stints thier lap times were comparable to McLaren.

      2. Med says:

        But then they could’ve still been running with a heavier fuel load and just wanted to test out more variables under that load, so kept coming back in more often; even the teams themselves don’t really know where they stand exactly so I don’t think we stand much of a chance…

      3. Martin P says:

        Fewer laps doesn’t mean they had less fuel… they could have been running half full tanks but simply doing enough laps on them to get the data they wanted.

        And of course quick is one thing…. but it also needs to be efficient or they could give away any outright speed advantage by needing extra fuel weight to get through the race.

        James, I know this might sound a weird (and badly worded!) question, but have you got any idea of the ratio of fuel weight/economy to time? i.e. If the Ferrari is half a second faster than the others, but not as efficient.. how much extra fuel will it take before they’ve cancelled out their advantage?

      4. las amazonas folladoras says:

        relax… if ferrari have an advantage the other’s will catch up. If they couldn’t watching the fight between massa and alonso would be interesting.

      5. CarlitosF1 says:

        I think Domenicali and co. may have included such short stints in this very first test because maybe they also wanted to make one last checking of Massa’s supposedly full recovery.

        That could explain why they’re making their drivers try and find some pace when everyone else seems to be aiming for consistency, reliability, balance, etc. Or maybe it was both Alonso’s and Massa’s will to do so and start the mind wars. Or maybe I’m just getting a little paranoid!! :-D

        BTW people, any opinion on who could look quickest of the two latins?

      6. Andy Gibson says:

        Not necessarily. You don’t know that the cars are empty at the end of the run.

        Ferrari could start a run with 50 laps worth of fuel, do a 20 lap run and so finish with 30 laps worth, still heavy. Meanwhile McLaren could start with 30 laps worth to do their 30 lap runs, and end empty.

        I doubt that is the case, and certainly not that extreme a difference, but the number of laps they do tells you nothing of fuel weight.

        The crucial point at this stage, as James emphasises, is how the laptimes vary/improve during a stint as that shows far more about how the car is performing.

  13. Jasper says:

    So far so good with our hopes for the dream 2010 season -the 4 way fight between the 4 top teams. I think it’s fair to say that Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes all seem to be there or thereabouts. Thereabouts in the case of Mercedes. I just hope Red Bull don’t turn up with something that’s gonna blow everyone away!

    1. JB says:

      I’m not saying it won’t happen, but with Red Bull fighting for the championship last year until the bitter end, it will be a heck of an achievement for them to come out of the blocks a long way ahead of their rivals in 2010.

      I think the four-way (maybe more) scrap is still on!

      1. James Allen says:

        They should do as they had the fastest car at the end of last season. The last major update to it was Singapore. To me they should be the team to beat in Bahrain

      2. dejabrew says:

        …And seeing that they’re taking extra time to unveil the RB6 gives the impression that they’ve got something real special up their sleeves. I’m excited too! -Love the site, James! Kudos to you and your readers! This truly is ‘The Intelligent Alternative’ of F1 sites. :)

      3. James Allen says:

        I think that’s right – they have stability of engineering, engine, drivers and management, more than any other top team and they have taken the extra weeks in developing the car. I’m expecting something special next week; the car to beat.

      4. CHIUNDA says:

        Very true

      5. Dale says:

        Not sure that’s correct, if I recall correctly McLaren blitzed the fuel qualifying and fuel corrected was somewhat faster than the Redbull and had they not had a problem with their car during the race would probably have won the race 8)

      6. JB says:

        Sure, it was fast at the end of last season but so was the McLaren, as Dale says. I agree that the Red Bull may well prove the car to beat, I’m just predicting (hoping) that the margin won’t be that big!

      7. Segedunum says:

        Errrrrrrr, no. The Red Bull was by far and away fastest in the race at Abu Dhabi.

      8. Freespeech says:

        Wasn’t the McLaren the fastest car at the end of the season?

  14. Cabby says:

    “. But the times were not coming down as demonstrably as the Ferrari’s as the fuel burned off. ”
    Maybe burning less fuel than the Ferrari and/or starting with a different fuel load so that the reduction of weight is less significant?

    1. Segedunum says:

      It’s entirely possible, and a point well made. There are worries as to how thirsty that Ferrari is.

  15. Andy Sheppard says:

    Well it certainly looks like round one to Ferrari, although it will be interesting the see the pace of the Red Bulls. If the momentum has been carried on from last season then Vettel’s in with a chance for title.

  16. Steven says:

    I’ve noticed that the Ferrari exhaust appears to exit much farther forward than any of the rival cars. Is this a radical solution to the limited amount of engine development allowed or merely different packaging?

    1. george debenham says:

      I seem to remember ferrari engine people mentioning that they have done some work on a new exhaust system to help improve the fuel economy. This perhaps explains the exit point.

    2. R/T says:

      They probably changed something in the engine’s firing order to improve the fuel economy, as you said

      And when the firing order is changed the whole exhaust pipe should be reworked to improve the exhaust gases flowing out with losing the compression, therefore keeping the compression high the torque goes up and the fuel burns more efficiently, making the engine more frugal

  17. TheGreatCornholio says:

    James, even with your expert’s eye it must be seriously tough trying to work out who’s doing what with how much fuel? I’m expecting the press to pick up on Jenson being slower than Lewis but wondered what your take on it is? Currently planning my summer holidays around the F1 season. How sad is that!

    1. Dale says:

      I’d bet Jenson’s stating to feel just how good Lewis (can’t be as much as 0.7 sec can it) is and I’d bet out of the two of them Lewis sleeps a lot better.

  18. Jonathan Chan says:

    James

    Pre-testing you mentioned you would monitor Hamiltons ability to manage his tyres due to his aggressive driving style and with the new regulations prompting a more subtle driving style… As Lewis was focusing on longer runs on Tuesday compared to his rivals did you manage to spot antyhing?

  19. Trent says:

    Has the Ferrari ‘red’ changed this year? It appears more red than the Marlboro orange they switched over to a few years back. Is this the Ferrari red of old??

    1. RocK says:

      Santander Red?

    2. R/T says:

      They changed it in Monaco 2007 or 2008, from the 1997 2006 Rosso Corsa to the Rosso Perlato, which resembles the colour that marked that forgettable era from 91 to 95

      1. Trent says:

        Wow nice info. Very interesting – it’s jsut hard to tell the colours on TV. Thanks

    3. las amazonas folladoras says:

      they came back to this red a few years back. 2007 belgian gp if i am not mistaken.

    4. Dale says:

      I hate the white they have on this years car, it just isn’t Ferrari does it :?:

  20. Darren says:

    40 thousand at a test, f1 management need to open there eyes with this.

    This should be the future of f1, more testing open to the fans and sponsors ( i hear the tills ringing)

    1. Petition2DChicaneTamburello says:

      Not every year is 2010 and anything rare becomes all the more precious.

    2. Martin P says:

      It’s a slightly false picture though…. if you didn’t have Schumi then the numbers might be lower.

      Also if they weren’t in Spain the Alonso effect might not kick in. But you could also say if they did it at Silverstone a few thousand might have gone to see Jenson and Lewis.

      I agree though, the tests should at least have been streamed live online, if not the “red button”.

    3. las amazonas folladoras says:

      more than at the turquish gp 2009.

    4. Dale says:

      I agree, as an F1 fan for many ,many ,any years I always looked forward to the tests and miss not having them during the season.
      They should both have more testing and show these tests either on TV or on the web with commentators such as James Allen so nutters like me can follow them and enjoy all that’s F1 8)

      1. James Allen says:

        Commentating on a test would be really challenging. I did Le Mans for TV a few times in the early 1990s and that was hard enough, talking for hours on end with not much happening!

      2. Darren says:

        talking for hours on end with not much happening!

        …….like been married

      3. Freespeech says:

        Maybe if the likes of Ant Davidson or a Pedro dela Rosa were commenting it would be more insightful as they’d know what each team were likely testing?

    5. Trent says:

      What about the tests being in a different country each winter? Less useful comparitive data for the teams, but everyone is in the same boat. These roadshow days get good crowds, even in ‘non-f1′ countries, and if the tickets are cheap people will come – as we have seen this week in a country that already hosts two races.

  21. when kimi was reported as going to the ferrari i truly felt in my heart we were already watching the next period of dommination. It never worked out that way but i cant help feel the same watching alonso. He mirrors MS in so many ways.

    1. JohnBt says:

      “He mirrors MS in so many ways.” I haven’t seen Alonso pushing anyone off the track though.

      1. fastmikey says:

        Don’t be fooled. He is the same competitive animal that Schuey is, you don’t hold you teamate up in qf to be playing by the rules!

        Thats why we watch . . .

      2. jam says:

        no he just hides the fact he knew about singapore crash ;)

    2. JohnBt says:

      2007, 2008 & 2009 was Alonso’s downtime. Alonso’s been down for so long looks like up for him now. All the best to you Fernando, it was painful for me too.

    3. Alan Dove says:

      Schumacher never got beat by a rookie in the same car. I love Alonso don’t get me wrong, but in terms of driver/team relationship building Lewis/McLaren took it to a whole new level.

      Let’s hope for everyones sake though we see Alonso/Hamilton/Schumacher battling it out next year!

      1. Mirage says:

        Schumacher was never team mate to hamilton without number 1 status. Lewis was part of Mclaren family long before Alonso joined so of course they had a special relationship.

      2. Raf says:

        And Schumacher never had a team racing against him.

      3. Amritraj says:

        You are right. That Lewis’s management (Dad Anthony Hamilton) went to Max Mosley to consult him on the Lie-Gate episode really took the driver/ team relationship to a whole new level. And later Anthony was lobbying for a drive at Brawn GP…Really thick, I must say.

    4. Dale says:

      This time though they have a second driver that will not be walked over and we all know how Alonso deals with situations like this don’t we :?:

      1. Petition2DChicaneTamburello says:

        No, we don’t. This is the first time Alonso’s going to a team with an established front driver already there.

        The situation was totally different at McLaren. He was signed a year in advance as a Champion. Came to the team as a Champion to be paired with rookie. He expected to be team leader, and quite logically, but when he didn’t get it, it put him off very badly. Plus he knew that the team, deep down inside, wanted Hamilton to win anyway…(which made it even worse, of course)

      2. Milton says:

        Yes, Massa is no Barrichello, he won’t let Alonso pass on the last corner just because some engineer demanded it. (Unless it’s really to decide the championship, like Interlagos ’07.)

      3. rafa says:

        I think that “beaten by a rookie”, although a very popular comment is not factual: they ended up tied in points, which hardly could be described as “beaten”. You might argue that since Alonso was the current WDC he did punch below his weight, but there was a lot of fishy stuff going on, like FA snail´s pace in the final races. Anyways, if we side-line all the conspiracy theories on one side and the other, bottom line is they tied in points.

  22. Brace says:

    I think there was actually more people today (Wednesday, middle of the week) in Valencia then there are at Turkish GP! :)

    1. James Allen says:

      That is for sure. 40,000 is a good crowd in Bahrain too! It was 55,000 over three days

  23. ck says:

    too early to call. Last year after the first test everyone was saying how good the Ferrari looked… Even when it was testing in bahrain with toyota (double diffuser) I remember “experts” fearing that Ferrari had the upper hand. Far from how things turned out to be so let’s wait and see.

  24. Jasper says:

    The funny thing is some of the new cars seem to appear quite Red Bull-esque, but I bet the new car will look completely different. It’s gonna be interesting to see what Red Bull have come up with that’s been designed around the double diffuser concept from the start, I bet all the other teams were getting a bit worried when they announced the late launch date…

  25. Antonio Tammaro says:

    Ignoring the test itself for a min. I was quite intrigued at alonsos interview after the session today. There seemed to be a lot of praise toward massas work over the previous days. I’ve seen drivers aknowledge engineers and mechanics this way – but never team mates in such a fashion. It was hugely refreshing to see, unless it was the begining of some mind games or PR speak.

    Excellent Blog – been Reading since last summer.

  26. Sebee says:

    Funny how everyone believes the Ferrari pace, and everyone is dismissing Sauber pace as sponsor grab attempt. Funny indeed.

    1. James Allen says:

      We will see. There is no hiding place when the flag drops

    2. Icarus says:

      Sauber needs sponsors, Ferrari doesnt. Simple as that!

  27. Hephaestus says:

    Hi James. I was wondering whether Alonse time coming down so quickly could mean more fuel consumption which would not be good news. As for the ferrari aero figures, don’t you think that the real revelator will be Barcelona as seen last year with Mclaren? I think valencia will hide any flaws pretty well and doing well there doesn’t prevent a car from struggling in Barcelona the real procecutor. I’ve got the impression that Mclaren where pretty strong in the long run. Btw my boss told me that I spend too much time on foreign sites these days (I’m French) as I spend a lot of time on your blog & twitter site. You shouldn’t have done such a great job. Now you are a danger for productivity lol

    1. Brace says:

      You better get your boss into F1 then, so he can enjoy it too. :)

  28. But the times were not coming down as demonstrably as the Ferrari’s as the fuel burned off.

    But that is to be expected. This is lacking insight. I expected more from you :-(

    The Ferraris are known to be greedy on fuel, so they will lose more weight per lap. The Mercs are the opposite, so they will lose less weight per lap. Thus the differential per lap is skewed in Ferraris favour. Its as if you are treating each lap by each car as having the same performance improvement per car (in seconds) rather than percentage improvement compared to previous laps by the *same car design*, and that isn’t true, the latter is the correct way (*).

    Perhaps I am being overly harsh. I’ve spent a lot of the last three months studying web analysis and writing software to do that. As a result I don’t look at numbers quite the same way as before. I look at ratios and change rates rather than raw numbers. The insight is in the interpretation of the former, not the latter.

    (*) Quite apart from the fact that times set on 20%-30% of the full race distance are meaningless. The main wear on the tyres will be on the runs that are between 100% and 50% of the distance. Only then will we see the true performance of the car when it is running the last 50% on tyres that have already paid the price.

    This anti-spam system is SO ANNOYING. Impossible for me to post without changing my email address.

    1. James Allen says:

      You are being over harsh. The difference in fuel consumption between the Ferrari and the Mercedes is not that great!

  29. khan says:

    So many people jumping to conclusions after only three days of running!
    Signifies the interest this particular season has been generating. And 40000 people at a test, race promoters the world over will surely be licking their lips.
    Whoever is fastest, we are in for a treat surely.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s inevitable and shows how much interest there is in F1 2010

      1. Tim Lamkin says:

        And how much lack of understanding there is in F1 fans….soryy….

      2. Brace says:

        Especially when you don’t have to fork out 3 months pay to attend. :)
        Nod to certain Mr. E.

  30. F1Community says:

    I’ve always said that Alonso is an amazing talent. We are truly gearing up for an epic F1 season in 2010. I can’t wait any longer… bring it on.

  31. Glen D says:

    Amazing updates James!! This week has been all the better for your insights!!

    As a big Alonso fan i’m glad Ferrari, on the face of it, seem to have produced a good car this year to give Alonso a chance to fight for the WDC.

    Until the 3rd and 4th tests we wont get the full picture of who is really in the hunt but i’m liking BMW Sauber being up the front. Kobiyashi, for me, is quite an exciting racer.

  32. OppositeLock says:

    James, any honest feedback from the Williams camp about the Cosworth engine? Weight, fuel, power, reliability?

    I am wondering how far behind it is after being out of F1 for so long. Especially after the other engine manufacturers made “reliability” tweeks to their, ahem, frozen engines.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m going up to Cosworth next week

      1. Dale says:

        So will they tell you :?:

  33. Tom says:

    Would it be fair to say that Valencia is not really a pointer towards the result in Bahrain, a short track with mid-low speed corners?

    I suppose what I saying is, please don’t let the Ferrari be half a second quicker than everyone else…

    1. James Allen says:

      It would. Barcelona is a much better indication of a good car for the season

  34. Dorian says:

    Firstly I’d like to say: Great site Mr Allen, and I always liked your commentary during the races!

    I’m a die-hard Ferrari fan and as such it pleases me no end to see the results that testing has brought thus far. Of course, it’s too early to say how close, or perhaps how far the relative performance of each car is.

    Despite also being a die-hard McLaren ‘anti-fan’, I still believe they’ve got a lot more up their sleeve and as there’s a very long, historical rivalry between the two teams, I’m hoping they’ll be front runners.

    As others have said, I think that Red Bull is the unknown quantity at this stage. As you said James, they had the fastest (and in my opinion most beautiful) car of 2009. Adrian Newey is a design genius and I hope he doesn’t disappoint this year. Let’s just hope the Renault engine doesn’t let them down.

    Forza Ferrari!!!

  35. Kakashi says:

    i must say that so much i have read on various forums on internet that i think Alonso is the most hatred guy in F1 but i must admit that whatever I have seen of him thus far… he seems to be a nice guy… he gave credit to Massa as well as to the team on a number of occasions…
    anyways.. i m happy for sauber… they are doing well.. hopefully they have a good car in the races too…
    i wonder if redbull is about to surprise the grid :D

    1. Alan Dove says:

      The only surprise from RedBull would them building a dud of a car. They are expected to be building an absolute rocket. BUT with Newey distratced by the 2009 season will the RBR 2010 be as revolutionary… hmm…

    2. Freespeech says:

      Alonso has learnt to play his politic better since he cocked up at McLaren ad we all know how politicians cannot be trusted :!:

  36. Ben says:

    James, do the cagey comments made by Button that play down the excited comments of Hamilton strike you as someone who has stepped into a car that is slower than the one he got out of, or at least not significantly different enough?

    Assuming they are comparing it to the car they were driving at Abu Dhabi does that reveal the relative performance of 09 McLaren and the Brawn at the final race? Or is he just disappointed after having such a dominating testing session last year? I can’t believe anyone would think they would start off like that two years in a row!

    Also – do you think Ferrari opted for shorter stints to make sure they were constantly at the top of the timing sheets in order to put to bed the rumours about their aero figures? I’m not suggesting this doesn’t mean their car is fast, because they have dominated this test so convincingly – but as the rumours were escalating it would be a natural reaction to go aggressive and top the headlines.

    It’s worked too – The bookies have promoted Alonso ahead of Hamilton as favourite for the title. I think it will be an Alonso Hamilton battle for the title, but Ferrari will have the upper hand.

    I think Vettel will win in Bahrain though, but once we hit Europe he will cease to feature in the title race.

  37. Kakashi says:

    Hi James… one thing has been bothering me since I saw the car launches… Ferrari seems to have Redbull 09 like nose… doesn’t it transpire as unfair? as in copying a design which RBR designers would have spent lot of work/resources on developing? isn’t there something like copyrights or similar for car concepts in F1.
    ( apologies if this was a stupid question )

    1. Henry says:

      Not at all they all try and copy each other as much as possible – just think back to the start of last year and the double diffuser row. What is illegal would be actively stealing design or technology – i.e. the spygate scandal. After all there’s a limit to what they can make from just looking at the cars.

    2. Peter says:

      Copyrights on design in f1 don’t seem to exist. Just because you can copy it doesn’t mean that you understand it.

      Remember those wheel covers, they were a ferrari idea that everyone copied including redbull. There are countless examples of teams copying each other in years gone past.

      So all is fair in love and war.

      1. Petition2DChicaneTamburello says:

        Besides, the Merc looks even more like the RB5; everything from the nose to the side pods and the area around the pilot cabin is very Red Bull-esque.

  38. Z says:

    James, do you know which layout of Valencia they ran on? If it’s the full layout, then it’s a decent mix of medium to low speed corners, and a crazy fast one. The team performances would be a decent indication of how balanced their cars are.

  39. Arya says:

    James, I hear RBR had engine cavitation problems during their bench tests, due to odd positioning of the large fuel tank. That caused the absence from this test as it looks. How much do you read into those reports?

  40. Ben G says:

    Ta for the invaluable updates from Valencia.

    Now for conspiracy theory no. 42;
    Red Bull aren’t just waiting for more time in the wind tunnel, but because Mr Newey has come up with such a cunning plan that he doesn’t want to give his rivals too much time to copy it. Behold, the sextuple diffuser (or something).

  41. clutter says:

    You do not have to think what the others say of Alonso… creates what you see and hear directly of Alonso, he never lies, before lying prefers not to speak… for that reason it seems arrogant but in fact is timid.
    The press UK needed an idol, to push Lewis Carl Davidson “local” Hamilton and to discredit the “Latin” was really easy.

    Much people I form its opinion on Alonso in that period and is an error. In fact neither the Hamilton pair Ron Dennis was so angelical nor Alonso so demonic… but you draw his own conclusions.

    Mr. James Allen, you have one of the Web but serious and interesting of the world of the F1, thank you very much by your work.

    Greetings from Valencia
    Translation with Google…sorrys.

  42. F1 Dave says:

    Got 2 tips.

    Ferrari recently hired an Ex-Toyota guy who has an idea for a new diffuser. Initial figures indicate this new diffuser design could give Ferrari 2-3 tenths more. I understand they will test it at the final Barcelona test & could run it at bahrain.

    Mclaren were also running there aero paint on the car during the final day & a half. They only pulled the aero paint out last year when the drivers felt there was an aero imbalance with the car & wanted to verify the driver feedback relating to it.

    For now it looks like Ferrari are looking strong & that McLaren ‘may’ be on the back foot a little bit although obviously time will tell if this is correct or not.

  43. Lockster says:

    Hi James,

    Have you been able to glean any thoughts on how Kobayashi will go against De La Rosa?

    He certainly seems to be continuing in the positive manner that he displayed in the last two races last year.

  44. Wingers says:

    James, just as a fun question, not really topic related.

    You have done AutoBios for Schumacher and Mansell. Who if you had the chance now would be the most intriguing do you think to do a book with?

    Personally I can’t wait to read Rubens Barrichello’s autobio, but only because of his ‘interesting’ relationship with Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. I would also like to know what Juan Pablo Montoyas story on F1 would be like, and what exactly makes Alonso tick…

    But who would you like to pen a book for more than any other?

  45. Mr G says:

    Ferrari quick, Mercedes slow, McLaren half way, Sauber looking for sponsor …….
    Just remember what has been said at the Ferrari, McLaren and mercedes presentation.
    The cars racing at the first GP will be different from the original ones, a B spec as someone called it.
    I think all the front runner teams are gathering data to be used to come up with the best B spec possible. Only Red Bull might have already the B spec ready.
    So, all the speculations are exciting but not very usefull.

    Let’s see what Barcelona tests will bring before coming to conclusions

  46. R.B. says:

    I wonder whether this racetrack can appreciate the engine strength. I mean that maybe slow corners aren’t letting the superior engines to gain time. As such Mercedes engine is on top, I doubt this fact has changed overnight.

    Maybe ferrari fans should not celebrate winning the championship so quick as this dominance could turn to be due to circumstances.

  47. Jack Tors says:

    Damn Alonso’s helmet is ugly against the Ferrari red… talk about a sore thumb.

  48. Dieter 53 says:

    just looked at YouTube today and saw alonso making a speech at the FIA gala to receive his trophy, at that moment, the camera pointed to Michael and his face told a different picture, it told the whole story, he had been dethroned,Alonso came in to stamp his authority, I doubt Michael would have retired had it not been for Alonso stopping him.

    I know for sure that Michael would not be making eye contact to whoever beats him and will more likely spend more time looking at the rear of the Ferrari, the team he has worked so hard to be where it is.

    1. haha says:

      alonso fans in their fantasy world, writing scores. lol.

    2. Ethan X says:

      which video is that on youtube ??

    3. Ethan X says:

      Yeah I found that Video on yutube you are talking about – funny but I bet Schumi had that expression when JV and Hakkinen received their trophies,not just for alosno ..only alonso fans like yourselves make believe in your minds that Scumacher got ‘dethroned’ ….
      so then can we say that alosno got dethroned the following year by Hamilton …Plaese stop with Alosno beat Schumi debate cause we all know that it was’nt FA that beat MS but it was Michelin and Renault …

    4. Amritraj says:

      Delusional.

      1. Sam says:

        If stupidality is a crime, you would be totured by FBI agents.

        He made that speech in 2005 and MS wasn’t in the championship.

        Jenson Button beat him last year, does that mean that Alonso have to be scared of him and retire?

        MS had Prost,Senna,Mika,Kimi, a broken leg and a team that had no gear box department in 96.

        He had gone through all those challenges and never gave up.
        One (arguably) “tyre champion” won’t slow down a man like him.
        Check out Alonso’s press conference in 2006 Brazil, he actually said he was very lucky to beat him. He does speak his mind, always.

      2. Amritraj says:

        Sam, I think you have responded to the wrong post here. Having read your post, I gather you wanted to respond to Dieter 53. I am pretty much against what Mr. Dieter 53 in professing through his post.

    5. bond007 says:

      hi can anyone share the link on his sppech plz …. i coudnt get it :( … any i agree that Alonso is worthy champ … he might say hes lucky n all out of generosity …. that doesnt mean hes is not gud to beat schumi….. i really cant understand ppl writing him off so easily … how can ppl not remember him defending at imola 2005…awesome drive ….. n that suzuka overtakes..he overtook schumi twice ..n successfully defending the WDC … n many more…. wen u talk abt alonso’s car n tyres u shld not forget schumi won WDC’s 5 times in row coz hes got best car.. now wen some wen else gets worthy car n wins..its only coz of car?? bullshit ..now can some one share the link plz ..:D

  49. Jonathan Dye says:

    It always make me laugh at the start of the season when people say ‘its too early to tell’ and ‘testing times mean nothing’ and then go on to make wild predictions about teams relative pace.
    Its too early to tell!

    Anyhoo…

    James, do you know what is going on with the masts that are springing up off the top of the camera pods on the Ferrari and I think I saw one on the Mclaren too?

  50. Raziel says:

    wow!.. i’m new in this site and I must say… this is great!…. Congrats James!….. :D

  51. Michael S says:

    Alonso is one of those guys that everything goes right for… in ’05 the McLaren’s fell apart and he won the title at Renault. McLaren stopped work on the ’06 early for the ’07 and it was a rocket for him. Last year Ferrari stopped working on their car early and it looks like he will get the best car at Ferrari as well now….

  52. Sebee says:

    That still doesn’t explain or solidify the pace of one and not the other. The reality is we can’t make anything out of these numbers.

  53. Jonathan Schutte says:

    I must say, I’m a HUGE Ferrari fan but I’m definitely no Alonso fan (don’t get me wrong, I respect his accolades as a driver and think he’s 1 of the best in terms of skill – I just don’t think he’s a great guy out of the car). However, seeing that photo and reading / listening to all the hype… Even I’m starting to get a little excited about the prospect of him racing for Ferrari. Still – GO MASSA! :)

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