Fernando Alonso set the benchmark time on his second and final day of this test in the new Ferrari F150 car at Valencia today, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Force India’s Paul di Resta third quickest.
The Ferrari has covered an impressive 108 laps, over 200 laps in total (800 kilometres) in its first two days of testing. Alonso told Italian colleagues that he was astonished by the reliability and had never seen anything like it before,
Alonso did some long runs today, which impressed other teams. This is a similar story to this stage last season, showing that the F150, like its predecessor appears to be kind to its tyres. With wear on the Pirellis still looking quite high, this is an early positive indicator for Ferrari.
Not everyone has enjoyed such reliability as new car niggles have affected many teams. Williams have had a frustrating time, Renault lost time yesterday, although today they covered over 100 laps. Mercedes had a fuel system problem today,
Sauber had a frustrating day with only 42 laps turned by Mexican rookie Sergio Perez. Technical director James Key said that the lost time was due to “some issues with the rear bodywork of the car, which needed time to be fixed. Then unfortunately we suffered a power train issue early in the afternoon.”
Today saw both “Lotus” branded teams out on track together for the first time, with Robert Kubica in the black and gold Renault, sponsored by Lotus and Heikki Kovalainen in the new Team Lotus car. He suffered problems with the power steering system and did only a handful of laps. The system had to be flown back to the UK for repair so it can be used tomorrow. Nevertheless Kovalainen was able to give the car a thumbs up, “The whole concept feels right,” he said.
Rubens Barrichello lost time with a problem in the Williams battery KERS system yesterday and had a wiring loom issue today. Williams technical director Sam Michael, meanwhile, made an interesting comment on the time taken to activate the adjustable rear wing, “With a hydraulic system, we’re down to a few milliseconds to activate,” he said. “When the driver comes off the button or applies the brakes it returns to the high downforce position. While testing the system in the simulator, we asked the driver to hold the button down and allow the system to automatically bring it back when applying the brakes, but there were certain situations where you want the driver to bring it back before he touches the brakes.”
Pastor Maldonado had his first run in the new Williams car, while Mark Webber managed to do a few laps in the Red Bull towards the end of the day.
Apart from the indications on the Ferrari, it is still early days yet, with not too much to read into the relative lap times, as the teams come to terms with the new tyres from Pirelli and KERS in particular. Pirelli has the medium, soft and super soft tyres available this week.
There is a report in German magazine Auto Motor und Sport that McLaren’s new car, due to be launched on Friday in Berlin, has a version of the sidepod mounted exhausts seen on the new Renault. Engineers I have spoken to about this innovation say that the complexities of it and the repackaging required to pass side impact tests and to re-house electronics to accommodate it must mean that the gain is significant, as they wouldn’t do it otherwise.
Mercedes boss Ross Brawn said today that, with what was learned last year, he expects teams to experiment with blowing exhaust gases in various areas to gain extra downforce before the season starts in Bahrain. Everyone is working hard to recapture downforce, particularly that lost from the banning of the double diffuser.
Karun Chandhok was sighted in the Valencia paddock wearing a Team Lotus jacket and there appears to be a connection with the team, it looks like he may be taking the third driver role.
* In other news today, it was announced that Virgin Racing have had a management reshuffle, which brings the boss of main sponsor and shareholder Marussia into the senior management of the race team. Nikolay Fomenko becomes engineering director, while F1 veteran Ian Philips returns after being laid off by Force India last year. He takes up the role of chief operating officer. Grahame Lowdon is still the point man for the team in team principal meetings and with FOTA while John Booth is still in charge of the race team.
Additional reporting: Tom Clarkson
VALENCIA F1 TEST, Day 2
1. Alonso Ferrari 1m13.307s 108 laps
2. Vettel Red Bull 1m13.614s +0.307 43 laps
3. Di Resta Force India 1m13.844s +0.537 111 laps (2010 car)
4. Hamilton McLaren 1m14.353s +1.046 83 laps (2010 car)
5. Kubica Renault 1m14.412s +1.105 104 laps
6. Karthikeyan HRT 1m14.472s +1.165 80 laps (2010 car)
7. Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.645s +1.338 69 laps
8. Glock Virgin 1m15.408s +2.101 34 laps (2010 car)
9. Barrichello Williams 1m16.023s +2.716 51 laps
10. Perez Sauber 1m16.198s +2.891 42 laps
11. Maldonado Williams 1m16.266s +2.959 29 laps
12. Buemi Toro Rosso 1m16.359s +3.052 46 laps
13. Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m16.474s +3.167 64 laps
14. Webber Red Bull 1m17.365s +4.058 17 laps
15. Kovalainen Lotus 1m20.649s +7.342 15 laps