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Decoding a frantic day of Formula 1 action in Valencia
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Decoding a frantic day of Formula 1 action in Valencia
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Feb 2010   |  8:14 pm GMT  |  160 comments

Today the new cars from seven teams hit the track and Formula 1 2010 really took off.

Although there are still 40 days to go to the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, the new season kicked off in style with a frantic day of car launches and testing in Valencia.

Picture 55
We had first sight today of new cars from Toro Rosso, Williams and the Mercedes W01, the keenly awaited follow up to the championship winning Brawn. Michael Schumacher took the wheel in the afternoon for his first laps in a contemporary F1 car since the end of 2006.

Missing from the test this week are Red Bull, Force India and the new teams.

Most attention, inevitably, was on Schumacher and his return to F1 action. He quickly got down to work in the afternoon, having taken over the car from his new team mate Nico Rosberg and he went faster after just 18 laps. Rosberg had complained of sitting too low in the car and not being able to see out properly.

Rosberg did the initial installation laps and his best long run was at the end of his time in the car and his laps mainly in the high 1m 13s and low 1m 14s. Schumacher was on that pace straight away and in his final long run he was lapping in the low 1m13s and high 1m12s. Afterwards he was bright and breezy,

“I felt totally comfortable and really had a feeling that everything was very natural,” he said. “It felt just like at the very beginning of my career in 1991 when on the first lap, I thought ‘wow that was really fast’ and then on the second lap, I was just extremely excited. I feel like a young boy again and really enjoyed myself out there.”

Although it looks today as though Schumacher was faster, it will be a fairer comparison over the next two days when both drivers get more time with the car.

With new rules meaning that the cars will have to race with 160 kilos of fuel on board it is harder than in the past to decode the lap times, because the range of possible fuel weights is greater.

My understanding is that the front running teams will settle into a routine of running around 80 kilos of fuel, half full tanks, for their long runs to develop the car. Teams looking for sponsors or otherwise trying to catch the eye will be running around 40 kilos at times, a difference worth around 1.5 seconds per lap. This is something to watch out for over the four test sessions this month.

It will be very obvious all round when a time has been set on low fuel and new tyres.

The other comeback king, Felipe Massa, was fastest today in the new Ferrari. He set a time of 1m12.574 on the 14th lap of a 16 lap run and managed an impressive 102 laps. His long runs looked pretty good. He did one early on in the mid to low 1m 13s and later on did a ten lap run in the low 1m 13s. The car looks like it reacts well to changes.

“The car behaved very well, said Massa. “I felt it was an easier car to drive compared to last year’s. Last year it was always difficult to find the balance.”

It was a positive start for Ferrari. There have been rumours about the aero figures being poor and a B spec car being prepared. But my sources suggest that what has happened is that they recruited a new head of aerodynamics from Toyota in December and he brought a solution for a radical new diffuser with a hole the size of a sheet of A3 paper! It’s worth a lot in extra downforce and so Ferrari may well be building an update package around it, possibly for the first race if they can build it in time.

McLaren had Gary Paffett at the wheel for the first day, tomorrow it will be Lewis Hamilton and on Wednesday Jenson Button.

Paffett took the radical looking McLaren around 86 laps and set a fastest time of 1m 13.8s. Most of the long runs looked like they were run on heavy fuel, there was one long run in the middle of the day when he lapped mainly in the low 1m 14s to high 1m 13s.

Pedro de la Rosa managed 74 laps in the new Sauber-Ferrari and said, “The car was reliable right from the beginning, which meant we could follow our programme perfectly without wasting any time. Also the car reacted to our changes very well.”

His long runs were varied, the fastest in the middle of the day was a ten lap run in which his times compared with the Ferrari, but I would guess that he was running less fuel for that run.

Picture 56
Renault did not set any eye catching lap times in their new car today, but they covered 69 laps with Robert Kubica at the wheel.
“Tomorrow we will start working on the balance and trying to understand the car a bit more, ” said Kubica. “The narrower front tyres certainly had an impact on the car, but it’s difficult for me to judge as this is the first time I’ve driven the R30.”

Likewise, Williams looked like they were struggling a bit early on, but Rubens Barrichello covered 74 laps and set his best time on the fifth lap of a seven lap run. Barrichello brought out the only red flag of the day when he stopped out on track due to a software problem on the throttle system.

Sebastien Buemi managed just 18 laps in the new Toro Rosso, losing a lot of time to a gearbox control problem. This is the first car that the team has designed and built by itself, having relied on a car from Red Bull Technologies until now. Technical director Giorgio Ascanelli managed expectations today when he said that it was inevitable that there would be mistakes in this fledgling technical operation.

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160 Comments
  1. chuck says:

    what are the tall, antenna-like devices on top of the air scoops of the mclaren and the ferrari?

    1. Dave P says:

      If you look carefully at the photos, it is on all the cars in differing profiles….

    2. LoudHoward says:

      They’re pitot tubes to measure airspeed, they’re mounted so high so that they’re in the free stream. They thus have a direct comparison between the normal one mounted on top of the nose and they can use it for calibration I guess.

    3. Nick Robertson says:

      As far as I’m aware, they’re used as a more accurate way of measring speed and various forces exerted on the cars. Not entirely sure on the specifics, but that’s what I’ve been told.

    4. M__E says:

      to measure wind speed and parameters related to it.

    5. Alberto Dietz says:

      Simply to measure how far ahead Felipe and Michael are from the rest of the field, nothing more.

  2. The Hack says:

    One question about Schumacher, James. Has he yet had his FIA medical? I’m not suggesting that his neck hasn’t completely mended, but if you look at the portraits which Mercedes posted after the brand launch, you may notice that his head is attached noticeably off-centre to his shoulders.

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question. Is that you Mike, or someone masquerading as you (can never be sure these days!)

      1. bryan says:

        Has to be the real deal !!! always make me laugh.. great guy essential reading..

  3. Alan Dove says:

    McLaren back on the flow-viz again James! Can we read much into this?

  4. Brace says:

    James, many people (you forgot to mention it too) don’t take into account the fact that track got faster as the day went on, so Schu being faster than Rosberg is not really accurate conclusion because of that variable too.

    1. James Allen says:

      Up to a point, but as I said we cannot compare them fairly after one shared day. Give it time, the truth will out

  5. Noelinho says:

    Very glad to see Schumacher looking on the pace and very comfortable. ALso great to see Massa heading the times and the Ferrari looking handier than some had anticipated.

    I also had a chuckle just after lunch when I saw Massa and Schumacher had, at that point, identical fastest lap times!

  6. Dave says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that Kubica’s new helmet colour reminds me of Heinz Harald Frentzen’s helmet?

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Ah, more Buzzin’ Hornets…

  7. dren says:

    I wonder if the Williams issues were related to the Cosworth.

    1. Med says:

      I was wondering that too – I’m just hoping that they weren’t going for it too much yesterday and they have the pace; it’d put Sam Michael in a bit of a spot after saying a few days ago that they’ve done a clean sheet design etc etc but it turns out they’ve come up with a dog, especially since they don’t have the resources to do a McLaren and develop it through the season. If it is the Cosworth that’s the problem then it looks like it’s game over for the season before it even begins

  8. Ryan Jonik says:

    Schumacher is already showing that he can compete with the young boys. Not that this is surprising. But I bet after 2-3 races he will be the outright #1 at Mercedes.

    1. Tim Lamkin says:

      …….Sorry, you have no clue what fuel was on board….so… NO one knows …if he can compete with the “young boys”

      1. Ryan Jonik says:

        Don’t worry B. They have 40 days to be ready….

      2. Tim Lamkin says:

        Almost close you are…it will be 285 days and a few hours…14 Nov 2010

  9. Steven K says:

    Hi James.

    I have seen a couple of pictures of the dreaded Flow vis on the Mclaren. How did you think Paffet did today for Mclaren. I mean he was 1 second of the pace but we should have a better idea tomorrow when Lewis tests the car. I know you said you heard that the aero figures were dissapointing and when i saw the flow vis on the car again alarm bells started to ring. Were Mclaren the only team to use the flow vis paint today.

    Keep up the good work.

    PS why the hell arn’t you on BBC everyone thinks you should be

    1. Dale says:

      I think McLaren will miss Pedro as he was and is an excellent test driver.

  10. Matt says:

    James, can you find out more about the “Williams Hybrid Power” decals positioned on the cockpit sides, between the front wheels and barge boards. Is this related to KERS, which Williams said they would introduce this season, albeit a mechanical/fly wheel design, rather than the electronic/battery style used by Ferrari and McLaren last season.

    1. James Allen says:

      Kind of, it’s to do with the flywheel system they were working on last season, They’ve done a deal with Qatar government and its technology research centre and they are developing it for commercial use on trains and buses. That’s what the publicity on the car is for, I guess

      1. Matt says:

        So definately no plan to run it over a GP weekend?

      2. Trent says:

        Yeah I’m dying to know – might Williams use KERS this year? There seemed to be some chance of dissent with regards to the ‘Gentlemans Agreement’ from earlier talk. Frank, Patrick – DO IT!!

  11. Hairs says:

    Interesting that Renault have commented that they are excited to have Kubica on board to develop the car with them, and that it reminds them of the early days of Alonso. Kubica hasn’t shown any ability to develop the BMW’s, so let’s hope he starts living up to the hype soon for them. Kubica’s always struck me as a great driver that’s honestly been one step behind the general consensus about how good he is.

    1. Tomek says:

      I hope you’ll be proven wrong

      BTW I can’t remember if it was JA that wrote it, but I read that once enginners have switched telemetric datas of Lewis and Robert and they were so similar that when Hamilton looked at ‘his’ he didn’t realize that in fact they were kubica’s.

      1. Hairs says:

        I’d love to hear how either BMW or McLaren got their hands on a rival team’s telemetry to switch it in the first place!

      2. Tomek says:

        Firstly you could consider the fact that I wrote ‘once’ which not necessarily meant that it must have been in the F1 years. I admit that I was wrong.
        It was data of Lewis that was showed to Kubica, not the other way round. To not be proofless I have found the article I was writing about. And yeah, the author was JA.

        Have a nice reading!
        http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d0e7c146-73dd-11dd-8a66-0000779fd18c.html?nclick_check=1

  12. Athos says:

    Kubica said it was the heaviest car he’s ever driven, he seemed to be quite chuffed actually.

  13. Hairs says:

    Speaking of Frenetic, how do you think the first day of twitter.ja went? Great idea for a service, but I think it could do with a way of pruning retweets between people on the list – no sense getting a tweet from Fifth Driver, then having 5 or 10 news twitter sites re-tweeting it. Don’t know how easy that would be to implement, though.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, good point. We will take a look at that. Overall I’m really pleased with the response and the traffic. Looking forward to tomorrow

    2. M__E says:

      I was going to make the same point in the post about the launch of it, but you got here before me! – its mildly frustrating and time consuming to keep seeing the tweets re done every few min, means it takes literally 5x long to read the origional tweets.
      Good luck on figuring out a solution though, your developer web guy will earn his crust with that one! :D

  14. Stu G says:

    Hi James,

    The comment about Ferrari double diffuser was interesting, comparing the pictures of the fields diffuser today (http://www.formula1.com/gallery/testing/2010/480.html) Ferrari’s look under developed especially compared to mclarens.

    I was impressed to see Sauber running good times, do you really think it was down to lower fuel? towards the end of last year the bmw did find a reasonable package. Could they maybe have built a good car? I don’t expect them to ‘do a brawn’ but I really would like to see the newly independent Sauber team do well.

    1. Tim Lamkin says:

      Looking under developed is a bit difficult when it comes to air movement, something that looks good or developed might not work at all in actuality. NO way to make a call with out knowing the data.

  15. Rod says:

    Hi James

    Sorry for my english but I do have some questions and maybe you can help me.

    Did you see that mclaren once again sprayed that green ink to measure the air flow in the left sidepod. Check the flow in such part seems strange at this moment.
    Another thing that puzzled me is why do they open to holes in the sidepods if the air temp is so low?

    Regarding ferrari diffusse i think we will see a lot of new version before the first race.
    The main point is who can take more from this part. I believe the answer is who has the more tight packed rear end.

    Regards

    Rod

    1. CHIUNDA says:

      2009 all over again for McLaren? There drops out our favorite for 2010 WDC :=((

      1. James Allen says:

        No, I don’t think so. The use of flow vis paint is more likely to be them being ultra careful after what happened last year. Everyone does it at some point. Normally you would do this kind of thing at a shake down, out of sight, but I don’t think it’s an issue now. If they are still doing t in Barcelona at the end of the month, then they’ve got a problem..

  16. tom says:

    I’m personally a bit miffed about the way people are talking about Rosburg/Schumi.
    I’m a long term Schumi fan but i think the only reason he went any faster than Rosburg would have been fuel and the fact that until today nobody had ran in the new Merc, when Shumi got in they already had feedback from Rosberg and could tweak things.

    Rosberg is bloody good, make no mistake. i get that Schu is getting more exposure through the press, but all this including Barrichello’s “advice” (read sour grapes) to Rosburg is not fair and if anything is counter productive to the new Merc team.

    Sod it anyway, I’m glad to see Massa back on form, just hope he can stay competitive over the whole month and more so the season!

    1. Martin P says:

      Nico’s a big boy now. He can ask his dad to go have a word with someone.

      1. Steve says:

        That’s his problem. Time to be a man.

      2. Dale says:

        Rosberg is doomed………..

      3. las amazonas cachondas says:

        Didn’t james said, that rosberg was a very good driver? be carefull to be against the flow at this blog, you may be banned.

      4. Phil C says:

        not that much of a big boy if he was sitting too low in the car to be able to see properly…

        How could the team make a fundamental mistake such as that, aren’t driver fittings supposed to ensure no one else ‘does a Mansell’?

  17. Andrew S says:

    Teams looking for sponsors or otherwise trying to catch the eye will be running around 40 kilos at times

    Something I would not have thought of. thanks for the analysis of todays performance.

    Must admit when MS did the lap some 8 seconds better than the rest today I did get excited but then it was confirmed he cut the corner….. – welcome back Mr S!

    Looking forward to tomorrow :)

    Again cracking idea and launch with the website/twitter pages!

    1. Dale says:

      It’s all guess work at this stage, no team is going to openly alert others as to they are running, I’d also bet that one or more of the bigger teams will be holding a little back until the last tests not wanting to show their hand too soon.
      I for one really hope that McLaren are on the pace as Hamilton in a good care is sure to give us all some great viewing.
      I’d love to see Ferrari, McLaren, Redbull and Mercedes within a tenth or two of each other, then we’d see who really is the fastest driver

  18. Sven says:

    It is still early days but the moment of truth draws nearer for Rosberg. The question is not only about speed but also race pace over a complete Grand Prix where Shumacher exposes any weakness in his teammates.

  19. Paige says:

    James,

    Based on your feeling and what you’re hearing (if anything) from team members, how would you rank the cars up to this point? It seems like, based on your comments today, it’s Ferrari, Mercedes, then McLaren. What is your sense for how heavy each of them were running on fuel, so that we can get a better picture?

    And for us Macca fans, do you think their times were held down by running heavier fuel than the rest, and perhaps additionally by Paffett?

    1. James Allen says:

      Way too early to say. Ferrari looks not too bad, though. Seems to respond well to changes and its a good step on from last season in terms of downforce, but they were some way behind at the end of last year, so it’s a question of “Is it enough?” The next few weeks will tell us

      1. Martin P says:

        Has anyone heard anything else about the rumoured Ferrari “b spec” upgrade or do you think it was all smoke, mirrors & mischief?

      2. Kwok says:

        It is probably true.
        These people was used to be 0.5, 0.7 sec faster than anybody else.
        Therefore having Massa just on top of the time sheets is not good enough.

      3. CHIUNDA says:

        smoke, mirrors and mischief i would say; McLaren look like they have to do another round of crisis management

      4. Mr X says:

        There is a rumour of a B-spec Ferrari, but not because the F10 is slow.

        Ferrari have employed some new personal from Toyota ( too late to have an impact on the F10 ) and one of them is working on a new areo package ( diffuser and floor apparently ) that is said to be worth alot of downforce.

  20. TheGreatCornholio says:

    Great to see the season getting underway! Has anyone been able to obtain or watch any footage yet?

  21. Peter says:

    Cheers for that James useful insights as usual!

    I was wondering if you had caught sight of some images doing the rounds on some forums of the mclaren with some of that flow vis paint on it?

    While the car does not appear to be covered in it like last year surely it is not a great sign? It implies something isnt quite working as they expect…

  22. danish Hanif says:

    finally the wait is over, great to see new cars.

    if ferrari original F10 is that fast, i was wondering Spec b will be a further update. so they are ahead of the game.

    massa must be pleased with his times.

    I am sure that alonso will be 3 tenths faster atleast.

    roll on Barhain !!!! my money is on ALO for 1st win with ferrari and WDC.

  23. Chris Bird says:

    James – Sorry to be pedantic (difficult when you are a F1 anorak) but didn’t Schumacher test the latest Ferrari at Barcelona in 2007 during a group test?

    I have just finished your book the Edge of Greatness and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great information on Schumacher and perfect timing with his comeback. I am even starting to like the guy…a bit.

  24. yos says:

    Hello James, this time around last year you were quick on pointing the Mclaren of Hamilton and Kovalinen was 2 secs off the pace of the front runners, i didn’t want to believe you but you were right come Melbourne. I can’t wait for your last word of this year’s cars.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s harder to read at the moment, with the fuel loads and today is only Day 1. The picture will emerge over time, though

    2. CarlitosF1 says:

      Yes, way too early methinks too. I remember last year’s Renault looking very good up uintil the last test at Barcelona and look what happened. Also at some point Toyota and Ferrari were believed to be on top of the game and well, they thoroughly proved not to be after Melbourne…

      Also it is fairly pointless to try and label certain car parts as very developed or underdeveloped. Remember how ‘developed’ the Macca looked last year when it was unveiled? And yet the sexiest thing in the grid was 2 secs off the pace!!!!

  25. Chuck Jones says:

    I’m just waiting to read everyones blogs, then may make a comment.. It’s called “Playing Safe” The truth is I really enjoy this group, and how mature it is!

  26. Bayan says:

    James,

    I asked this question in your prior article but its more appropriate here i think. I just saw the Mercedes car and it looks really good and fast. But i have a question. Aren’t the exhaust tips on the car violating the rules? Didn’t ferrari have to modify there exhausts last year cause everyone made a fuss about the aero impact they have? Please confirm.

    Thanks James… also, love JA.Tweets.. keep up the great work..

  27. jose arellano says:

    the cars look beatiful with the new tyres,, specially that renault…

  28. Bayan says:

    james,

    Didn’t ferrari look like they might have a tripple diffuser? I saw a shot on the F1 offical site that i thought showed this. Did you see anything like that in any of the cars?

  29. Chris Chaffers says:

    With such limited testing available these days, why aren’t Jensen and Lewis doing all the running?

  30. Bill says:

    It’s complete speculation after just one day of testing, but I have a hunch that the Ferrari will turn out to be quite a bit faster than the McLaren over these next few days. Ok, it wasn’t Hamilton in the car, but I have trouble believing that Massa was 1.3 seconds faster than Paffet on talent alone, maybe more like 0.7 secs faster. And I’m sure that on at least one occasion during the day they ran on comparable tyres/fuel loads.

    With just one day gone I get the impression the McLaren is a good half second down on the Ferrari and Mercedes.

    By the way, does anyone else get the feeling that Schumacher’s classic psychological tactic of mercilessly crushing his team mate has already begun? Knowing how he operates I imagine he will want to have Rosberg completely demoralised come the first race of the season, and he’ll then exploit this weakness to make sure Rosberg knows in no uncertain terms who the team leader is. You don’t win 7 championships by being a nice guy, and there’s no denying what a genius the man is! Great to see him back.

    1. JF says:

      “Knowing how he operates…” I assume you are Schumi’s best buddy, or perhaps have learned some sort of Vulcan mind meld to gain such insight? Most hard core competitors try to get an upperhand one way or another, nature of the beast. Most of Schumachers crushing has been on the track, the psycology kicks in when the teammate finally has a moment of self-realization.

    2. LT says:

      It’s not that simple, it depends on what testing programme each team is running. McLaren might have been testing with a higher fuel load programme or may have been using the day to test thier systems rather than test thier performance

    3. Paige says:

      We don’t know the fuel loads they were running. McLaren reportedly were running heavy fuel throughout the afternoon.

      Ferrari may have been running Massa light to get his confidence up with top times. And Sauber may have been running DLR light to put up good times and attract sponsors.

      1. Dale says:

        I hope you’re right :)

  31. Paul Mc says:

    Regardless of weight and track conditions, Schumi has definitely silenced any doubters about his comeback. Right up there on the pace after all this time out of an F1 cockpit is fantastic.

    James i was just thinking, if the Nürburgring was on the calendar this year, would this have been the first time in which an F1 driver drove a corner that was named after him, in Schumacher and the Schumacher-S?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question – anyone have any information on this, has it been done before? He’ll do it next season anyway.

      1. Treebeard says:

        Wasn’t the senna S corner at Interlagos named this before 1994 and therefore Senna would have raced on it? please correct me if I am wrong

      2. Trent says:

        Having just watch some of the first race back at Interlagos (1990), I can tell you that this corner was called the ‘Senna-S’ then already!

      3. Carlos Eduardo Del Valle says:

        Yeah, Senna’s S was the name of that bend since Interlagos was reactivated back in 1990. Hence, Senna ran over his own corner. This footage is in Portuguese, from 1994, and Senna can be seen joking with the poor reporter:
        Whose S is this?
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EpEn6FmyRs

      4. Milton says:

        I believe that the “S do Senna” exists since 1990, when Interlagos was redesigned and Ayrton sugested this “S”.

      5. R/T says:

        Actually, Senna did it in 1990, when Interlagos came back to F1, after an overhaul done in 1989, in which Ayrton was giving his opinions and suggestions to Chico Rosa (the circuit administrator, and the guy who brought Fittipaldi to race in the UK back in the 60′s) and knowing his character, they gave his name to that corner

  32. piotr says:

    Kubica admitted after today’s test that he haven’t been driven such a heavy car ever before in his career, which might suggest that Renault weren’t looking for impressive lap times yet. He seemed happy with car’s performance and behaviour though. Should be helpfull in decoding today’s results I guess?

  33. shumi’s back, oh shumi’s back…. does a little dance oh! shumi’s back

    1. Nick Pauro says:

      that cracks me up! shame its in a weird grey looking car!

  34. Motser says:

    I can’t wait until the first race!!

    I’m a massive Schummi and Ferrari fan but I am looking forward to Massa winning the firt race!

  35. Richard Mee says:

    OK. So who wants to be a bookmaker this week?… thought not.
    I’ve got £20 burning a hole and I have to say I’m completely stumped-schmumped… not a clue!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s good that it’s hard to read, more chance to profit from the right call!

      1. Dave says:

        I put a fiver on Massa in January.
        I suggest you all follow suit, the kids a winner.

      2. garyp says:

        I put £20 on Shumi on the day he announced his comeback at 7/2. Odds have dropped a lot since!!!

  36. Owen.C says:

    So flow-vis for McLaren :S, have you heard any more rumours of them lacking downforce James?. Hopefully Lewis will give us some honest comments tomorrow.

    Thanks for the coverage James, it was greatly appreciated.

    1. Paige says:

      Paffett said that they were running heavy today, and that the car was quite “stable.” Whereas last year, the car was completely unstable.

      1. Red Andy says:

        Actually, if I remember rightly, McLaren were happy about the balance and stability of their car last year. It just wasn’t generating enough downforce.

  37. grunge says:

    personally i dont think you can say mclaren are slow….not a bit. actually i think purely going on the tiny evidence so far they possibly the fastest. the one thing you dont go on is the end of session fastest laps…that means absolutely nothing.

  38. Cucumber Mike says:

    Can anyone explain what the massive spike on top of the Ferrari is? (You can see it here: http://bit.ly/bLXwKE)

    It didn’t appear in the launch shots, so I’m guessing it’s some sort of aid to testing. But what? A camera? Or is it an aerial for telemetry stuff?

    1. Kwok says:

      Must be illegal….

    2. Martin P says:

      That’s what they use to pick up power from the invisible overhead cable they’ve been working on.

      I believe they got the idea after a Monte-Z went on a stag-weekend in Blackpool. It was either that or build a donkey apparently.

  39. Martin P says:

    Just a passing thought amidst all the excitement of the first day and Schumi’s return…. can I just say that it really is fantastic to see Massa back on track and at what appears to be an unaffected pace.

    James, if you get the chance, make sure he knows how many of us have missed him and I for one am very pleased to see him back.

    1. Sami says:

      Nicely said Martin, i’m with you on that mate.

  40. AlexD says:

    James, I think it is the high time you run another competition on the best prediction on who is going to win the first race.

    Let us pick 3 teams and let us win something:-)

    1. Nick Pauro says:

      MASSA

      1. AlexD says:

        I wish:-)

      2. Oboo says:

        FORZA MASSA

  41. Newt says:

    A half day of testing is not really competing, is it?

  42. jon says:

    Hi James,

    first post on your site but have been reading it for awhile.

    can i ask why has Mclaren used Paffett for todays test? not knocking him at all but i thought jenson and lewis would be out getting as much mileage in their new car as poss.

    also is there a limit on how many cars the teams can use?

    1. R.B. says:

      I think Paffet is testing so that he gets to know the car. Should he be needed as a replacement during the season, he would then be less likely to perform another Badoeresque style (c)riding.

  43. Naoise says:

    Just a few thoughts on today:

    It’s still early days obviously but I would be very cautious to read anything into Ferrari’s initial pace. Would anyone else agree with me that red cars have started very strongly in testing the past few years, yet come the start of the season this seems to amount to very little?

    As James has already pointed out, a very impressive comeback for Massa and Schumi however it might be worth noting that both drivers have probably done more mileage in the off season than any other driver; between GP2 tests for Michael and running in the ’08 spec Ferrari for Filipe.

    Another thought that struck me today, was how ugly contemporary F1 cars are becoming under the new regulations. I thought full width front wings were bad enough last year but the additional length in wheelbase caused by the bigger fuel tanks really ruins the appearance for me. I can’t help now but seeing a pre-Ferrari spec A1 GP car when I look at new Sauber for example. Is this just me or does anyone else feel this way?

    There’s some excellent video footage from the day here for anyone who hasn’t seen it: http://f1.gpupdate.net/en/formula-1-news/227217/massa-heads-testing-with-schumacher-in-top-three/

    P.S. Have only just discovered your blog James, very impressed so far.

  44. Tom Lodge says:

    funny everyone is forgetting about red bull. even james has eluded to that point. is seb vettel ready? he damn should be. 2009 was the learning year in a top car.

  45. Clackers says:

    McLaren have designed a complete dog of a car if we judge the car’s antics on the track on day 1. I can presume the MP4-25 will be over 1 second off the pace per lap of the front runners in Bahrain, and Lewis is not going to be happy about that. Anyone thinking that McLaren should not make the same mistakes as last year and carry on developing a dog of a car for no reason? If they put all their eggs in the 2011 basket NOW, then imagine how great that car would be this time next year! Sad days for McLaren fans, but I guess we could see Lewis and Schuey together at Mercedes next season, cos Lewis ain’t gonna hang around for too much longer.

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t be so hasty…

    2. Martin P says:

      Fernando?? Is that you??

  46. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    What a day:

    1) Schumacher showing Nico who the daddy is
    2) Massa coming back in style and silencing his doubters
    3) What a beautiful rear end on the McLaren!

    I suspect that McLaren are faster than they appeared today. On driving ability alone Paffet, with all due respect to him, must be giving away between 0.7 to 1.0 secs to a Massa or a Schumacher in any case. In addition, McLaren must have been running with a proper fuel load. What would be the point in sending out their test driver light?

    Tomorrow will give a much clearer picture I suspect….can’t wait!!

  47. Peter says:

    As a mega Schumi fan I’m really pleased to see he was quick and well in amongst the big names!

    No offence to the Valencia test circuit but is it a reliable circuit considering last year Renault performed very well on it in the couple of tests it had in 09. And look what happened! The Renault was arguably the worst car of the season (although it didn’t help the team having Piquet and the truly awful Romain Grosjean driving for them! LOL)

    1. Peter says:

      Amongst the first few – there weren’t too many BIG names out there having just remembered!!

  48. Dave P says:

    I thought the comment on Rosberg being too low in the car was fascinating…. If you look at the photos on Autosport of Rosberg you can hardly see him he is so low. How did they make that mistake… No wonder Schumacher was faster…. check out the photo

    http://www.autosport.com/gallery/photo.php/id/1324383

    The hump goes up just infront of his line of sight… crazy…

    1. Med says:

      Nice find – they’ll have to give him a booster cushion

    2. Tim Lamkin says:

      …and no one thinks there will be a #1 with Ross…..haha

  49. ja el dictador says:

    So james, do you still think rosberg is going to keep schumacher honest’

  50. Frankie Allen says:

    “With new rules meaning that the cars will have to race with 160 kilos of fuel on board it is harder than in the past to decode the lap times, because the range of possible fuel weights is greater.”

    Not only that, when it gets to the race itself fuel consumption could easily turn all this form on it’s head. I just think it makes it nigh on impossible until we see the first race and the fuel loads the teams are carrying, followed by the performance with the fuel used.

  51. Spencer says:

    Back at my hotel after a fantastic day of testing in Valencia. The circuit is one of the best I’ve been to for the ability to be able to see 70 percent of the track from practicaly anywhere. Only down side was the ability to see live timing anywhere.

    My first impressions of this years cars are good and there was a real emotional feeling as the first cars set off at 10am local time for their instal laps.

    After seeing the first publicity pictures of the Renault I was horrified! I was pleasantly suprised when I saw it in the flesh, and I think Kubica did a great job with it today not shown in the results. It struck me that Renault was running heavy all day by the breaking points.

    I’m an out and out McLaren fan but I have to say that the Ferrari looked in a class of it’s own today. The car looks really beautiful and poised. Massa did a great job and there was a real feel good factor that he was back and delivering. I sat on turn two for a couple of hours in the afternoon and the Ferrari wad definately breaking later and getting back on the power much earlier than any other car.

    Looks can be deceptive but I did not think that the Mercedes looked fast all day. From seeing the results I know it was, but it didn’t seem to have the fluidity that the Ferrari did with either Nico or Michael in charge. It also sounds horrible compared with all the other runners, popping and backfiring constantly. It’s also about 10db louder than anything else. Perhaps it’s those marginal looking exhausts!!!

    I saw improvent throughout the day from McLaren. The rear looked twitchy at times and it seemed to be strugelling for grip. I will not pass judgement until I see Lewis drive it tomorrow but I still feel it lacked a little down force……. Hey I’m no expert but I think they may be in trouble again.

    Sauber looks a nice solid car and the minimalistic look really suits. I take my hat of to De La Rosa who looked really at home in his new car.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the insights

  52. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Ohhhhhh. Groovy! As a troglodyte, I’d still like to see an actual race (turn ‘em loose at Portimao, I say) instead of the Test Times Grand Prix. BUT CARS ARE BACK ON TRACK. YES!

    I’ll play, Alex. In order (and I’ll be really, really, really, really, really bold and go down to 8th place), here’s my “Upset Special” for the first race:

    1) Sauber (Kobyashi)
    2) Mercedes (Schumi)
    3) Ferrari (Massa)
    4) Ferrari (Alonso)
    5) Williams (Rubens)
    6) Sauber (PDLR)
    7) McLaren (Button)
    8) Mercedes (Nico)

    Side bet: Assuming they both make the grid (fingers crossed), USF1 finishes ahead of Lotus.

    Do feel free to laugh (laugh, laugh, laugh, I say!) But March is approaching, so I’ve got Bracket Busters in there, in true NCAA Basketball Championship, a/k/a “March Madness,” fashion.

    1. Martin P says:

      Nico in eighth? Bit hopeful there. Although he will be running in a podium spot for a few laps before he gets over-excited, wets his nappy and runs wide.

      Kobayashi in first? Could well be true… I bet he’s the only driver Schumi wouldn’t dare put the chop on.

  53. Hephaestus says:

    Hi James. Great stuff your twitter link. Thanks a lot for that. I’ve got a question that worries me a lot as a mclaren fan. What do you make of the flow vis they used yesterday? Is it, as last year, an indication that they got it wrong once again and have issues with their aero figures? It seems they used it in 2007 as well but not as much as in 2009. Do you have any information you could share with us?

  54. Carlos Eduardo Del Valle says:

    Friendship between Massa and Schumacher seems to be as ok as ever:
    “I suddenly see my old car on the track and I’m not sitting in it, and it is a strange sensation, but it’s good to see my brother on track, in the car,” declared Schumacher, returning with Mercedes three years after retiring as a Ferrari driver, of his former team mate.
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLDE6102BK20100201

  55. R/T says:

    I said it some days ago, that MP4 25 seems to be a hard to setup car, now the flow spray coat in its aero parts, seems like they’re seraching for something

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      How can you have said it a few days ago before it even turned a wheel. You have no idea how much fuel was on board or what set up changes they were trying. That comment was made with no proof what so ever

      1. R/T says:

        I made a comment based on its appearance, just put the idea to work and remember that every single car in modern F1 with complex design and aero solutions was disputed as “troubled” (MP4 19 in 2004, with its carryovers from the MP4 18, had simply no room for cooling) or “hard to setup” as the most recent example that hideous and complex BMW F1 08, it took them time to fine tune its setup until reaching a front running performance, which they actually managed to, even fighting for that championship

  56. Simon says:

    It’s a warning to Schumi that if he beats the Ferrari it will be stuck where the sun don’t shine. :) well done to the old bloke from an old bloke

  57. Smokey says:

    Great stuff James.

    Shame the BBC haven’t found a role for you on their coverage.

    The first day of proper testing is always a great day for an F1 nut! Ive been told that the Mclaren is a lot faster than it looks today but I’m sure all will become clearer over the coming weeks.

    It strikes me that the rear end config on the Mclaren is not going to be condusive to slipstreaming and overtaking…good for them – bad for the sport and I can also see it causing high speed corner understeer. Still better than oversteer for Jenson!!

  58. Kwok says:

    Something is wrong with the Ferrari…
    it may not be a dog!

    1. DK says:

      Of course, it’s a Red Bull painted red …

  59. Arya says:

    With so little testing available and such a radically designed car ni hand, what goodness does it give to let Paffet drive the car for 1 whole day? Wouldn’t it be better used by at least letting Jenson have the feel of the car for half a day?

    1. R.B. says:

      Paffet will be the replace driver should he be needed. This is the only reason he drove today.

  60. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Note: I have no idea how I put a smiley there. Unintended.

    1. Jim says:

      I think your point eight, with “8″ next to “)”, got translated as a smiley.

      Computers, who’d have ‘em? ;-)

  61. DanielC says:

    The Red Bull hasn’t seen the track yet, neither have Alonso or Hamilton. I think there’s still a lot to be seen.

  62. F1ART says:

    The only thing you can take away from this is nothing. Too many variables?

  63. Nick L says:

    With all the unknowns to contend with – especially the fuel loads – I wonder if we will really be able to gauge the pecking order until the first race? It will keep the suspense going nicely for another month I’m sure.

  64. las amazonas cachondas says:

    James,
    What do you make to the test day’s change at ferrari between massa and alonso this tuesday.
    There must have been some political moves behind the scenes.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s because the shakedown at Maranello was cancelled last week due to weather. Nothing more than that

  65. Vic says:

    I just read about the changes to tyre rules. I’m dissapointed that the Q3 qualifiers (top ten) will have to start the race on the same tyres they qualified on. I know it will bring more strategy into it but i think it will affect raw pace at qualifying.

    1. Freespeech says:

      Couldn’t agree more, at last I though we’d be seeing in 2010 the real fastest driver in qualifying, what’s wrong with pure racing? Answer nothing when it’s on the right tracks.

      These fools at the FIA should just make sure F1 is always raced on the right track, what say ye?

    2. rpaco says:

      Inevitably then, most if not all will be starting on the softs, thus taking the mystery out of it.
      However for the race, presumably the primes will be favourite, thus we may see very early stops from all of the top ten.
      (ok shoot me down!)

  66. ash says:

    James, just seen that McLaren are running with green paint again…

    Any issues, do you think?

    1. Freespeech says:

      Sadly it’s looking more and more like it to me :( If it is the case 2010 will be the worse for it as I for one was really looking forward to the Hamilton/Alonso/Schumacher battle 8)

  67. Rob H says:

    to make the 15 days of testing equal between Jenson and Lewis they gave Paffet the spare day

  68. Andy S says:

    Has everyone done their FOTA survey???

    See link below

    http://www.lgf1racingfansurvey.com/

    1. Jon Wilde says:

      Poorly constructed again, a series of leading questions which each year seem to have little impact on how the sport changes.

      No questions on:
      Constant rule changes
      Value of new teams vs 3 car entries for top teams

      Only one question on the cost of the sport to fans!!! I thought FOTA wanted to reduce ticket prices for 2010 and that FOM supported it.

    2. rpaco says:

      Just done mine, felt the questions were very much loaded/biased and left no opportunity for our own views or suggestions.

  69. Glen says:

    Hello. Does anyone know why there are raised bumps mid way on the nose cones of the new cars? Is it a saftey or design thing?

  70. Jon Wilde says:

    With the change in rules on drivers having to carry the tires used in Q3 to the race will we see drivers set a hot lap 5 mins into the session then scrub tires in for the race in the final 5?

    Unless drivers are limited to one set of tires in the session, I can’t see why they wouldn’t do this. Am I missing something?

    I understand FIA and FOTA are trying to make the race interesting but it seems to be to the detriment of qualifying. We have again lost the chance to see drivers going for it on low fuel without having to conserve tires! F1 is becoming more about endurance than a sprint.

  71. Smokey says:

    The new tyre rule for qualifying is putrid. Qualifying has been one of the finest aspects of a dark few years for Formula one and now they go and mess around with that too.

    Unbelievable.

  72. On a lighter note….we have seen what all the F1 drivers are up to, who is driving and who is ‘in the garage’ but no word about the ‘WAGS’ what is the F1 etiquete regarding this James ? are they welcomed, are they banned ? or are they at home in the warm, as not enough spectators, or ‘movers and shakers’to see them ? !

  73. Freespeech says:

    Well it looks to me as though Ferrari have a lead on the others, I hope McLaren can pull the gap before the first race.
    Why can’t McLaren hit the ground running instead of having to do it the hard way?

  74. russ parkin says:

    james what the hell is going on with stefan gp?? what do tyhey know that no one else does?

  75. Carlm21 says:

    Good to see Massa topping the times. Keeps me feeling positive over my bet on him for the championship. His qualifying record speaks for itself, he just needs to out race Alonso which he will do. The cars look better this season.

    1. Sami says:

      I bet on him too!!!!!!!!!

      Forza Massa

  76. Jon says:

    The flow-vis paint in itself wasn’t what showed that McLaren were struggling 12 months ago.

    It was the fact they were using an illegal 2008 higher downforce rear wing, combined with using flow-vis, combined with the very slow laptimes UNLESS they were using this 2008 wing. There were all sorts of fanciful stories going around about “the new 2009 wing will have this much downforce and this 2008 one is just simulating it”, leading to the nickname “magic wing”. But no the aero had problems. I do get a kick out of the interviews now though especially the last few days.. “you knew 12 months ago straight away there was a problem with the car”.. actually some of the PR comments up until the final Barcelona test were hilarious and wouldn’t acknowledge anything. Lewis had an especially embaressing one, if you now look back at it with 20/20 highsight.

    The flow-vis in itself is nothing. McLaren have already set good laptimes with the wing the car was launched with. CRISIS AVERTED. You can breathe deeper now McLaren fans.

    And last thing, just a little reminder about how meaningless the test times are. Up until the final Barcelona test where it became clear Brawn was easily infront, Ferrari were seen as the quickest winter testing car. Afterwards, they were seen as top 2. And come Melbourne, they were nowhere and had to make a tyre gamble on Sunday because they qualified so far back. You never know what fuel anyone is running, that includes Ferrari.

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