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Barcelona Test, Day 2 – Vettel the man to beat
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Barcelona Test, Day 2 – Vettel the man to beat
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Feb 2011   |  8:29 pm GMT  |  36 comments

On an interesting day’s running in the third official test at Barcelona, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull again came out on top and main rival Fernando Alonso was forced to admit that the world champion team look like they will start the season with an advantage.

Vettel did a series of short runs culminating in a lap of 1m23.315s, which is 2.7s slower than the pace set in similar circumstances last February on day two of the Barcelona test – a combination of downforce lost from the double diffuser and the relative pace of Pirelli tyres compared to Bridgestones.

Looking good (Photo: Red Bull)


Red Bull had a reliable as well as a fast day today, covering 104 laps with only small delays.

Once again the Toro Rosso showed some good pace, illustrating that although they are building their own car for the second year, the Red Bull sister team has been able to raise its technical level from last season. The runs were short, but so were Red Bull’s.

Ferrari lost some time today, for once, with electrical and other problems. But they still managed to cover 90 laps. New technical second in command Pat Fry said today that he’s delighted with the way the new Ferrari has been running and with how gentle it is on its tyres, but added that it’s harder to judge than last year where each team is in performance terms because not only of the fuel weight range but also the KERS and adjustable rear wing deployment. “The lap time can vary by seven tenths to a whole second depending on whether you use it all or not.”

He reiterated that success this season will be as much about making the fewest mistakes as it will be about sheer performance. He also talked up Barcelona as an ideal test venue for showing up the positives and negatives in a car, mentioning cheekily that it was there in 2009 when his former team McLaren realised that they had a serious problem with their car…

Alonso is in expectation management mode and said that the Red Bull has the performance edge, “We all know that Red Bull should be ahead of everybody, so we expect Red Bull to be very competitive. But it will be two or three races before we can say for sure. There is a lot to come from Ferrari as well.”

This is not surprising given were they were last season and where their 2009 car was relative to the rest before everyone was forced to adapt their cars to run double diffusers, which have now been banned. But as Williams’ Sam Michael told us last week, all the new rules for this year will also mean that the development rate will be higher than usual as the best teams extract the maximum from the new components. He believes we will see over a second of lap time gain during the season, so there is plenty to play for among the top teams. Red Bull, however, showed last year that their production facilities are able to keep pace with to anything Ferrari and McLaren come up with in development terms.

While Ferrari continues to put miles on its car, McLaren has been having some issues with its new car, which was launched a week later than its rivals and therefore missed the Valencia test. Jenson Button did only 54 laps today and spent much of the morning not running as the car had hydraulic issues and he admits that the team is a little behind at this stage, “We’re not doing as many laps as we’d like, so we’re a little behind some of the other teams, which is a bit of a disadvantage, but that’s something we’re addressing,” he said. “Over the next two days, hopefully our reliability will be better, and we’ll be fully equipped with spare parts.”

McLaren will be most anxious to secure a fourth official test to replace the Bahrain test in early March. It must now be considered most unlikely that either the test or the race in Bahrain will take place. A fifth test in mid March is a possibility in the event that the first race is cancelled.

Renault gave both its drivers time in the car today. Petrov had a troubled Friday losing time with issues on the KERS system. Mercedes continue their uncertain form, the day after Michael Schumacher said he felt they might win races this season but that the championship looked a tall order. Rosberg did a 1m 24.7s lap on a short run.

Tonio Liuzzi took the wheel of the 2010 HRT car for the first time today. The Italian covered 70 laps in total as he auditions for the final seat on the F1 grid.

BARCELONA TEST, Day 2
1. Vettel Red Bull 1m23.315s 104 laps
2. Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m23.519s + 0.204 97 laps
3. Alonso Ferrari 1m23.978s + 0.663 90 laps
4. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m24.008s + 0.693 118 laps
5. Heidfeld Renault 1m24.242s + 0.927 41 laps
6. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.243s + 0.928 125 laps
7. Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.730s + 1.415 131 laps
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.923s + 1.608 54 laps
9. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m25.194s + 1.879 80 laps
10. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m26.421s + 3.106 58 laps
11. Petrov Renault 1m26.884s + 3.569 61 laps
12. Liuzzi HRT-Coswrorth 1m27.044s + 3.729 70 laps
13. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m27.242s + 3.927 66 laps
14. Teixeira Lotus-Renault 1m31.584s + 8.269 26 laps

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36 Comments
  1. Frankie says:

    RBR being out in front comes as little surprise, because they have had nigh on 2 years of a shake down with concepts the others have to put a reliability tick against. Ferrari are carrying on where they left off and McLaren need something major to avoid this being a development catch up all over again.

    I’ll predict one of the top teams will have something novel to gain grid position from the new requirement of fixed axle weights in qualy. As Newey has been the master in the past, it would not surprise me to me to see him there again. Ferrari did such a good job last year, it could even be them. Previously you would not look much further than McLaren, but they seem to be having trouble spotting the wood for the trees.

    1. ACB says:

      Ferrari will start out better now that Alonso has been with them a year. It is also a point in their favor that they’ve hired some former Red Bull people as well.

      I don’t want to start a ‘Mclaren is in trouble’ meme, but sometimes F-1 is like war, you make all your plans and you consider all the options and when the first shot is fired it all goes out the window. They had a good strategy but the teething problems with the MP4-26 have held them back. We shall see. If anyone can pull it out its Mclaren.

  2. Chris Orr says:

    BBC reports that Vettel set a ‘searing pace’. I wouldn’t call beating a Toro Rosso by 2 tenths of a second searing.

    Renault is 3.5 seconds down, and i very much doubt they are that slow in terms of real pace

    1. M says:

      Pace, meaning over multiple laps without going in the pit. The pace of RBR is way above the others.

      The fastest lap means nothing.

    2. Alan Dove says:

      Observing long runs the RedBull is very very quick. The headline lap times are of little relevance when gauging exact car’s performance.

      However nothing can beat watching the cars and observing a few factors

  3. Seán Craddock says:

    James can you explain why some of the teams have bulges at the back of the car on the engine covers, where the “shark fin” was last season?

    I’ve seen it in Jerez on the Team Lotus, McLaren, and the Red Bull. With the Red Bull’s varying in size.

    Do you know what the teams are testing? Are we going to see these bulges throughout the season, because it looks very odd

    1. F1_Dave says:

      if its the hole towards the rear of the engine cover your on about then i think its for cooling.

      all the teams with kers have extra cooling ducts to cool the kers unit and batteries and the exit for these ducts is usually at the rear of the engine cover.

      the duct at the rear of the engine cover of the mclaren is also where the oil & gearbox system cooling duct exits.

  4. AlexD says:

    I guess the situation is as many predicted before the winter testing – Red Bull to have an edge again and Ferrari to be chasing again.

  5. ACB says:

    It seems to be getting more and more worrisome for Mclaren. Neither Button or Hamilton participated in the post season tire tests, and now they’re losing more time on the tires due to technical issues. This is the time to be working on strategy, hope they get it all sorted out. Poor weather for testing, and a cancelled race could really set them behind.

    1. ACB says:

      That should read ‘if’ there is poor weather or if the race is cancelled.

  6. JoTorrent says:

    Redbull is The fastest for sure. Ferrari looks promising & reliable but they’ll find it hard to match RedBull especially That neat bodywork round The gearbox : they should’ve opts for pullrod maybe. McLaren is different which means slow and unreliable. McLaren doesn’t care though : as long as The car makes headlines it’s ok & of course they are confident.

  7. efBir says:

    James, today a lot of happened in terms of race simulation. Both Mercedes and Red Bull did 66-lap race sim, and Red Bull seemed to be at least 1 second faster per lap compared to Mercedes. How would you read on that?

  8. Dale says:

    McLaren will be worried, hope they’re working flat out on their exhaust system as they need to pull soemthing out of the bag.

  9. TheLegend says:

    It does not seems so clear to me. Fernando did his fastest lap before doing 7 more, and Seb did a Q3 lap simulation. While RBR seems to be showing their potential, Ferrari keeps hiding some power.

    1. F1a says:

      Completely agree. No need for any panic at this stage. McL are only just behind and they are on a clear programme – not a Q3 run like RB.

  10. Richard D says:

    I’m starting to worry about Mclaren. James, do they seem as concerned as in testing for 2009? Or is there nothing to worry about… yet?

    1. James Allen says:

      We’ll know more at the end of the test

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      Radical, revolutionary, innovative car… All the staff someone has to hear from McLaren for yet another disappointing campaign.

      Now that plan A has failed they’ll move to plan B which consists in rushing barely finished updates, publishing them as the next thing after the relativity theory and praying

      1. Flintelli says:

        lets hope so!

  11. kowalsky says:

    mclaren’s decision to skip valencia with the new car, was a mistake in my opinion. God save the queen.

  12. John says:

    HI James, whats going on with McLaren? they have being very quiet in testing also struggling with the car

  13. Luke A says:

    I wouldn’t be too worried about McLaren – compare the opening two stints done by Jenson and Vettel today. It is likely they were both doing race sims and Jenson was faster and kept his soft tyres going for longer.

    Vettel

    43 1:29.759
    44 1:30.102 +0.343
    45 1:30.361 +0.259
    46 1:30.477 +0.116
    47 1:30.892 +0.415
    48 1:30.878 -0.014
    49 1:31.381 +0.503
    50 1:31.650 +0.269
    51 1:32.145 +0.495
    52 1:32.564 +0.419
    53 —-

    55 1:29.846 -2.718
    56 1:29.248 -0.598
    57 1:29.228 -0.02
    58 1:29.420 +0.192
    59 1:29.970 +0.55
    60 1:30.257 +0.287
    61 1:29.913 -0.344
    62 1:30.171 +0.258
    63 1:30.425 +0.254
    64 1:30.419 -0.006
    65 1:30.754 +0.335
    66 1:31.059 +0.305
    67 1:31.423 +0.364
    68 1:32.146 +0.723

    Button

    25 1:29.933
    26 1:29.554 -0.379
    27 1:29.750 +0.196
    28 1:30.142 +0.392
    29 1:29.834 -0.308
    30 1:30.359 +0.525
    31 1:30.217 -0.142
    32 1:30.310 +0.093
    33 1:30.412 +0.102
    34 1:31.021 +0.609
    35 1:31.506 +0.485
    36 1:31.707 +0.201
    37 1:32.448 +0.741
    38 1:32.698 +0.25
    39 1:33.113 +0.415
    40 —-

    42 1:29.429 -3.684
    43 1:28.838 -0.591
    44 1:28.832 -0.006
    45 1:29.447 +0.615
    46 1:29.856 +0.409
    47 1:29.768 -0.088
    48 1:29.837 +0.069
    49 1:30.154 +0.317
    50 1:30.866 +0.712
    51 1:31.069 +0.203
    52 1:31.793 +0.724
    53 1:31.780 -0.013

    A graph off F1 fanatic correlates this data into a visual representation, which also shows how much Mercedes are struggling as Rosberg was doing a race simulation at the same time as Vettel too.

    See here:- http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5051/5458431107_14eabfe7bb_z.jpg

    1. Carl Craven says:

      that is very interesting data.

  14. Fausto Cunha says:

    Nobody at the front has shown there ultimate pace, this year it´s even more difficult to understand the situation because of the tyres and the new gizmos.
    For me at the moment it´s Red Bull fastest than Ferrari second and than 3 teams Mercedes, Reanult and Mclaren.
    I don´t believe that Vettel´s fastest time was on a very low fuel load, i don´t think Red Bull is doing something different from last year and at Bahrein last year was the first time they run with low fuel.
    Ferrari looks fast, relieble and gentle on tyres like last year, they might have a chance specially at races.
    As for the others, very difficult to know, so many reliebility issues that it doesn´t look good.

  15. fausta says:

    It seems like another RBR and Ferrari battle with McLaren hopefully falling back and allowing another team like Renault to move forward. Should be an interesting start to the season with the likely cancellation of Bahrain and the new regulations.

  16. osterscott says:

    Hi James,

    How do you see the FW33 coming along. It seems to be going well on low fuel and soft compound tires. I guess the same could be said about the others as well, so how is it looking for them so far?

    1. James Allen says:

      They’ve had some niggles but there is also promise there. We’ll learn more by the end of the test

  17. Ryan Eckford says:

    I definitely would not rule out McLaren just yet. I will tell you an example of a similar situation that happened before I was born.

    In 1987, McLaren finished 2nd in the Constructors Championship with Prost and Johansson finishing 4th and 6th respectively, way behind Williams in terms of raw speed. For the 1988 season, they got rid of Johansson and replaced him with Senna. For the 1988 car, McLaren decided to go down the revolution path, rather than the evolution path. They produced a car for the 1988 season, which according to Neil Oatley, who was Alain Prost’s race engineer throughout 1987 and 1988, “a strikingly different car from its predecessor”. This car only had one day of testing. It was a huge step up compared to its predecessor and was comfortably faster than everyone else. The rest is history, as we all know. The situation for 2011 is similar to the 1988 situation. Time will tell.

    1. John says:

      Hmm i would not count Mclaren out either but note that in 1988, Prost n Senna were the class of the field…at a time when driving skill mattered more. Hamilton and Button aren’t really in the same league and are certainly not the class of this year’s field per se.

  18. Justin says:

    Hi James. Is it possible that McLaren are wasting too much effort trying to find this year’s must have holy grail of must have tricks such as previous years double diffuser or f-duct rather than concentrating on good old fashioned engineering?
    I hope they are sandbagging, but I suspect not.

    1. James Allen says:

      No I think they wanted to push the envelope on design and it’s going to take some time to bed in. I’m looking for signs of fundamental problems, as they had in 2009 at this stage

    2. Frankie says:

      McLaren have deliberately gone a different route to all the other teams. They have increased the length of the wheel base to gain superior rear aerodynamics. This looks a nailed on gain, but as we saw when Schumacher and Ferrari did this in the 90′s, that LWB gave other problems that took a long time to fix, especially in the slow speed corners. One of the biggest issues this season will be getting the tyres to work over an extended period. I just cannot see a LWB helping in that regard, more damaging.

      At the moment RBR look to be have superior aero without the drawback the LWB can bring. If I had to guess, it would be that McLaren are in worst shape than last year. I have always viewed McLaren as the epitome of F1 engineering design and development, but that seems to have disappeared over recent years. With the noticeable exception of the f-duct, they really have been poor out of the blocks, consistently having to play catch up.

  19. For Sure says:

    James, I am very worried about Mercedes form.
    Do you think they are going backward as usual?

  20. Jerome says:

    I also feel that it will be RBR versus Ferrari with Red Bull having the qualifying pace while Ferrari might have the edge in the races. The McLaren might win a few races but i don’t think it will win any championships. Well only time will tell

  21. Chris Hobbs says:

    James,

    Enjoyed watching at the circuit Fri pm and Saturday. On doing the circuit bus-tour, I noticed the amount of rubber left on the circuit off the main racing line – really large chunks in places; do you know if this is worse than previous years, and if so, does it mean there will be less likelihood of drivers going off-line during potential overtaking moves?

    Also noticed the (Lotus) Renault (GP) sounded awful under braking? Any idea what that is all about?

    Chris

    1. James Allen says:

      It is worse than in Bridgestone years, the tyres are chunking but Pirelli say that won’t happen as much once we get to venues where the track temp is well above 20 degrees. They say tyres will perform much better generally in hotter conditions

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