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Final f1 test day 3: Perez shows midfielders’ improvement
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Final f1 test day 3: Perez shows midfielders’ improvement
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Mar 2011   |  5:48 pm GMT  |  70 comments

Today was the third day of the test at Barcelona; with just two more days of running before the new season starts and the testing ban kicks in the pressure is mounting for teams to find set-ups, incorporate new updates and get their cars sorted.

Track temperatures of over 30 were welcomed by Pirelli and the teams today. Meanwhile rain forecast for Saturday will not help the teams much, although it will be useful to Pirelli in learning more about the intermediate and wet tyres.

Photo: Sauber


Sergio Perez set a very quick time of 1m 21.761 on a qualifying simulation, the fastest time we have seen so far in Barcelona this winter, a shade quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s 1m 21.865 yesterday on a five lap run. Although we do not know exactly how much fuel each car was carrying, if neither had fuel as ballast this puts the Sauber around 3/10ths slower than the Red Bull, albeit using the super soft tyre, which is probably less than the real number, but we’re into the fine details here. It shows how some of the midfield teams have improved over the winter. We should see some more proof of that on the stopwatch in the next two days.

“This was the first time for Sergio to go through all those procedures from Q1 to Q3,” said Sauber technical director James Key. “He did a good and controlled set of laps, setting a time of 1:22.042 minutes on soft tyres and 1:21.761 on the super soft compound.”

Perez was also quick on the soft tyre, only a couple of tenths slower. Ironically Perez had set a lap on Tuesday in the 1m21s, but it was achieved by cutting the chicane and so was deleted by official timing! Today there was no mistake and it’s a quick time, even if it was a full low fuel qualifying simulation.

Today saw Ferrari again notching up a high mileage, 132 laps in total; Massa had done 100 laps by 3pm. So far this winter almost every day of testing has resulted in over 100 laps, with very few exceptions. He set the second fastest time of the day with a 1m 22.092 on a quali run, but it’s doubtful that the fuel load was comparable, judging from the relative pace we’ve seen from the Sauber and Ferrari in the tests to date.

The Ferrari long run times again look comparable with the Red Bull’s. It was Massa’s last day of testing before the season starts.

For Mercedes, Michael Schumacher’s time of 1m22.892 was set while he was doing a series of short runs, but he did a couple of ten lap runs with very consistent lap times, in the 1m26s and 1m27s, which will have encouraged Mercedes’ engineers. The teams are working hard to make the tyres last a little longer each time they test. Reports suggest that two stops would still be tricky at Barcelona – Massa did four today in a race simulation – but by the time F1 goes back there in a couple of months it might be possible.

Vitaly Petrov was again at the wheel of the Renault. He had a KERS problem in the morning. A similar problem spoiled the race distance run of Perez in the Sauber. It’s interesting that there have been quite a few reliability niggles with KERS for teams this week, as they get more use.

Meanwhile Toro Rosso claim to have carried out over 60 live pit stops in the last two days!

For Lotus, Jarno Trulli drove just six laps in the morning, with a gearbox problem and then a water leak Heikki Kovalainen taking over in the afternoon and he will drive again tomorrow. Lotus hasn’t got a great deal of updates to test this week, there is a new front wing for tomorrow.

McLaren did not run today. They chose to split their four days across the five of the test by taking a day off track in the middle. Yesterday the car was troubled by hydraulic and exhaust issues.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh told the official F1 site, F1.com today that, despite (and perhaps also because of) the reliability issues, the decision to start testing the new car late has proved the right one as the tyre data gathered on the old car was beneficial,
“That first test proved extremely beneficial in providing us with rich, raw tyre data that we’ve been analyzing ever since,” he said. “So, while I admit that the introduction of the MP4-26 has been affected by a few reliability issues, we still stand by our decision to defer its introduction by one test.”

McLaren scheduled the day off in order to allow delivery time for the final update kit to be tested Friday and Saturday. Every hour on track counts for McLaren at the moment.

Meanwhile Felipe Massa has spoken about the meeting the FIA’s Charlie Whiting last night, “We spoke about the tyres and other new rules for this year, such as the moveable rear wing,” he said on Ferrari.com. “More or less all of us drivers are agreed that there is a need to improve the rain tyres so that they give more grip: if we were to have another race like the one last year in Korea, it would be tough to get to the finish.”

They also spoke about the use of the adjustable rear wing, with some drivers concerned at indiscriminate use in corners during practice and qualifying potentially leading to accidents.

BARCELONA TEST, Day 3
1. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m21.761s 95 laps
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m22.092s + 0.331s 132 laps
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m22.466s + 0.705s 97 laps
4. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m22.637s + 0.876s 105
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.892s + 1.131s 89 laps
6. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m23.541s + 1.780s 32 laps
7. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m23.990s + 2.229s 40 laps
8. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m24.233s + 2.472s 24 laps
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m24.334s + 2.573s 108 laps
10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m24.779s + 3.018s 107 laps
11. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m27.336s + 5.575s 96 laps
12. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m34.485s + 12.724s 6 laps

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70 Comments
  1. Will says:

    Any word on the tyre degradation with higher track temperatures? I know pirelli are expecting to see a marked improvement once we get to the warmer tracks.

  2. cjf says:

    Maybe Sauber are on to something with the pitstop practice, with 3-4 pitstops in the course of a race being a possibility a well drilled pit crew could be a big advantage.

  3. D. says:

    So James, is your bottom-line analysis at the moment, like this: RBR is 2-3 tenths faster in quali trim than the Ferrari, then the two are about equal in race trim, and it will come down to Q-position and especially tire management and strategy as to which car will win more races. Is that pretty much how you see it at the moment ?

    1. James Allen says:

      More or less. Still not sure exactly where Ferrari and RBR stand in quali trim – remember the RBR found a few tenths in Q3 last year that it didn’t have in Q2. Race pace wise, it looks close.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        I feel like RBR is clearly faster than Ferrari. There’s so much confidence in their statements, I don’t see Ferrari close to them at the start of the season.

  4. Russel says:

    KK in the Sauber set a 1.21.7 in Q2 last year and the RBR was almost 2 seconds faster.

    If the Sauber is as fast as last years car then I would expect a lot more pace from RBR than what they have shown.

    1. James says:

      Maybe. But I think this is more about the effect the new design regulations have had on bunching up a few teams.

  5. seven says:

    I understand McLarens reasoning behind missing testing today, but with the rain expected on Sat. are they really missing out on a day to test. Today was the highest temp. so far right, any way Im excited to see the final update.

    1. Aaron95 says:

      I doubt anyone knew it would rain on Saturday when the decision to skip the Thursday was taken.

  6. andrew says:

    Any insight into pirelli tyre wear predictions at the higher temps?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not a great deal of difference, apparently

  7. Lagavulin says:

    SuperSoft Compound?? I knew pirelli provided only Soft and Hard compounds for this last test. Very strange.

    And only 0.3 secs between soft and supersoft is more strange too

  8. I think McLaren repeatedly saying their decision to test the old car at the first test is simply trying to save face at this point.

    Fact is, the team have problems with the car and an extra test would have given them more time to deal with them and get some mileage. Yes, they may have a good understanding of the tires themselves but their knowledge of the combination of the tires working with their 2011 car is far less than Red Bull and Ferrari.

    1. John says:

      The only “fact” is that this is all just testing and NO ONE really knows which car is quickest over a race distance (remember the winner of a Grand Prix is the first car to cross the line after the disignated race distance – I don’t remember there ever being a 1-lap GP).

  9. Chins says:

    James do you think McLaren can become competitive this season and fight for the Championship???

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s looking like a long road to winning races. Maybe not as bad as 2009, but RBR and Ferrari both have a great platform to build on. Lots of late nights in Woking

  10. Franko says:

    Mr Allen,top marks for the input you contributed to the current stage
    who is who of F1 carnival,keep it up as the reast of the sites are just ordinary.
    I feel the Ferrari are benchmark for others to match,todays 132 laps by Massa and
    almost at the top of time sheets without hic’cup and Alonso yet to come who I
    consinder a numero uno in today F1.
    Please your thoughts is my bow just about right or ?.

    1. James Allen says:

      Red Bull fastest, Ferrari close, a gap to the rest

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        How come Sauber is able to perform such laptimes, are they removing ballast ? If not is it possible that McLaren & Mercedes find themselves battling behind Sauber, ToroRosso & Williams.

      2. Dave C says:

        I don’t think mclaren will be behind torro rosso or Williams but they might be behind sauber, last week I done a pecking order with sauber ahead of these guys but hardly anyone agreed but it looks like they’re showing their teeth now! Mercedes will be fighting with Williams, torro rosso, and force India.

      3. garyp says:

        How much empty sponsor space is on the sauber? Not being cynical but remember last year…

  11. Eric says:

    Hi James,
    Interesting that you mention Schumacher did ten consistent lap times. Was the tire degradation better for all the other teams as well due to higher track temperature? Thank you for the great blogg.

  12. Sabatha says:

    Norbert Haug’s comment today is very intriguing. He says the Mercedes has been running with half a tank of fuel during this final test. That would make the lap times in the 25s & 26s very impressive. They might even be comparable with the Red Bull & Ferrari, assuming they are running similar fuel loads. But, was he telling the truth? Time will tell.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Not really because Redbull and Ferrari was also running with significant fuel in their car!

      1. Sabatha says:

        I know they were running with a sgnificant fuel load. The point is on long runs, Mercedes was able to do similar lap times, also with a significant fuel load.

  13. Nick H says:

    Hey James. Any idea what sort of long run pace Perez was doing today? I did catch on the tweets that during a 6-lap stint his times weren’t that far away off Webber’s.

  14. Tommy boy says:

    Sutil did exactly the same time today as DiResta yesterday

  15. efBir says:

    Pirelli told that they brought only hard and soft tyres to Barcelona as they will be the tyres to be used in the next three races, but James Key said Perez made his lap times on super soft. How could that be, James?

      1. Chapor says:

        Any comment on this yet? As I am still quite intrigued by it. Unless I missed it some were?

  16. AlexD says:

    As the testing season approaching it’s climax, it is fair to say that red Bull is the quickest and they will again take most of pole positions. Ferrari is a close second – maybe 0.3 off the pace and maybe equal in the race trip. Both teams enjoyed great reliability. Red Bulls look very confident…Ferrari understand that they are behind and will need to simply perform better to be able to win.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think your last line sums it up – Ferrari want to race smarter and better than RBR, they think they are better operationally. The two cars look a step ahead of the rest so it’s Alonso/Massa vs Vettel/Webber at the start of the season

      1. Tealeaf says:

        The only thing is, it’s more like Alonso the old guard trying to hold off Vettel who is now probably pound for pound the best driver in F1, definitely the new Schumacher.
        Massa and Webber will play second fiddle no doubt about it.

      2. Aaron95 says:

        I’m not yet convinced Vettel is as good an all round driver as either Alonso or Schumacher. He is fast, possibly faster, but he has yet to prove he has the full package. I’m not dismissing Vettel – Schumacher at that age wasn’t the all-round driver he became.

      3. Ross Dixon says:

        Ehhhh Vettel can’t overtake!!!! He is no where near the complete package. If Schumacher was in that red bull he would have won the title. Despite being a Hamilton fan, Alonso has Vettel every day of the week

    2. Lilla My says:

      Ferrari seem quite content with themselves, but then they always are ;-).
      I hope they will fing some way to close that gap to RBR in qualifying or that Red Bull will not be that reliable. Not that I wish anybody bad luck and want one team to break down more often than the rest, but (preferences aside) I simply don’t want one team to be way in front of the rest. That would mean a boring season…

  17. Sebee says:

    So is anyone sandbagging? And if you think so, who?

    I have a tingly feeling Mercedes is likely hiding their hand.

    1. Conrad M. Sathirweth says:

      You don’t sandbag in tests, that would be like shooting yourself in the foot so you don’t run as fast.

      1. Sebee says:

        Sure they can.

        If you know you’ve got a rocket why show your 1s advantage when .2 is enough.

        We could make more sense out of it if we saw the top sectors for each car to string some numbers together.

      2. Conrad M. Sathirweth says:

        They can run high fuel, but they will still need data on how the car and tyres perform with low fuel so would have to show their hand at some point. If they did not they would be not collecting valuable data just to try and hide their pace, you can do calculations to see what your lap times would roughly be on low fuel from high fuel runs but that car and tyres will behave differently with less fuel in the car so at some point you have to acutally run with low fuel.

  18. Vinoo says:

    so the merc update seems to be working…tommorow with the definitive spec on the car ..cant wait!!
    whats the word on it james?

  19. Ross says:

    Lotus and Virgin have both stated they aimed to catch up with Sauber and Torro Rosso this year but it seems these teams have improved to a level that the newcomers can only dream off.

    Red Bull are not showing there true pace as yet and I would be concerned if I was one of the new teams about making the 107% time.

  20. Bill Day says:

    Between the midfield pulling up, and lots of stops for tires, hoping for lots of racing and no one dominating in 2011.

  21. F1_Dave says:

    the warmer temperature today didnt seem to change the ridiculously high amount of marbles been thrown off these pirellis.

    off the racing line was comletely littered with massive chunks of rubber, ive been to many races and test sessions over the years and have never seen so much build up off the racing line.

    1. F1_Dave says:

      btw this is from today, have read it just failed towards the end of a long run on the str.

      http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/5639/cb1d0314.jpg

  22. Ahmed says:

    Isnt it a bit of a coincidence Sauber goes the fastest on the same day it was revealed Carlos Slims fortunes have increased by 38% to 74 Billion Dollars.

    1. Jorge Pegna says:

      Money talks… On track now.

  23. Toby Bushby says:

    Any news on Williams, James? Barrichello said he felt their long-run pace was better, so I’m interested to see if you’ve had a look at any data.

    Cheers.

  24. Fausto Cunha says:

    I think RBR and Ferrari weren´t even close to show their quali pace, they are keeping their cards close to the chest and they will not show it before Australia.
    It´s starting to appear that they can go to the 1:20 in this Barcelona track.
    RBR looks very confortable in the shorter runs and Ferrari on the long runs looks very good also.
    The others seems to be a litle bit of this two, but i hope that Mercedes, Mclaren and Renault can get there.

  25. Jo Torrent says:

    Where’s Williams James ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Just outside Wantage…they are in the improved midfield pack, very hard to tell where exactly. I still think that there will be quite a spread in midfield with the weaker drivers in stronger cars beaten by the stronger drivers in weaker cars.

  26. Andy Carr says:

    James you said:

    “McLaren scheduled the day off in order to allow delivery time for the final update kit to be tested Friday and Saturday.”

    Autosport Said:

    “Lots of you are asking via live@autosport.com if McLaren is sitting out today’s test because it has a massive upgrade arriving for tomorrow.

    Sorry to disappoint McLaren fans, but we don’t believe this is the case. Our understanding is that the team just decided this would give the test a better flow – a clear day’s break to work through problems and fit whatever updates are available (we don’t expect a major new package). It gives the team some breathing space – which is better when things aren’t going well.”

    Whitmarsh said:

    “Late delivery of new components is always critical in the run-up to the first race, and we felt that Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday was the optimal way to ensure we could stretch that window as much as we could.”

    So I guess the next 2 days will show McLaren’s true hand… I can only hope that they have an F-Duct 2.0 to stick on the car :-)

    1. James Allen says:

      Well Martin Whitmarsh was saying this week that they planned it to have time for last minute delivery of new kit, which is the way they do things generally, so I was just going by what he said

      1. Stevie P says:

        That’s the automatic royal-wave function that’s been added to the F150th Italia (or whatever it’s called these days!?!) ;-) Or it’s the way Ferrari activate their rear wing flap? Or, seeing as Massa did soooo many laps, perhaps it’s an extra bottle and he’s reaching for some refreshment?

        Actually, it looks as though the sensor has fallen over (it’s normally vertical) and Massa, with his recent experience of foreign objects entering the cockpit, is wisely holding it up\away from him…

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Why is everything trying to hit Massa ?

  27. JohnBt says:

    Will be interesting to see what Kobayashi’s fastest time will be for the last 2 days.

    Last year Sauber did pretty well during testing too but when races began they slipped quite a bit.

    When Melbourne and Sepang races begin we’ll know the answer, especially Sepang, hot and humid and a proper race track too.

  28. For Sure says:

    As much as a pessimistic Mercedes/Schumacher fan, when Ross Brawn says “the car will be respectable” you better watch out because he said the same thing before the start of 2009, no one took him seriously and we all know what happened.

    1. akuma says:

      Yes but when they tested the car during winter tests, although they arrived late, when they did, the blew everyone away.

  29. Peter Freeman says:

    James a thought occurs to me; are we not looking at the times through pre Pirelli glasses?

    Should we not be looking at the average lap time a car can get through the life of set of tyre? is it possible that a single lap time is misleading and what we are should be looking for how long a car can get performance from a set of tyres in comparison to the competition?

    If for example through design, set up and driving style, a team do not have nearly the fastest car over a single lap, but after say 10 laps their car is suddenly 1sec a lap faster than the others, this may prove to be over all a vastly superior approach and in fact the key. I am wondering if the very high fall off tyres may have opened up some unforeseen twists as to how to go F1 racing in 2011.

    just a thought, what do you think?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think we still need to look at both – there are two competitions; being fastest over a lap in quali and then making the tyres during the race. You can now afford to give a bit up in quali to have better race pace, as you say, like in the 1980s.

    2. Stevie P says:

      I sooooo, hope so.

  30. akuma says:

    I dont think quali will be as important this season although of course its almost always best to start on pole. Remember we have the “stalling the rear wing” device this year and kers which will prevent any “Trulli Trains” forming :-)

  31. Pierre says:

    James,
    How far from RB and Ferrari the Sauber really is? About 1s? More? If the car is reliable, does it mean we have a chance to see a great Kobayashi this year? Can’t wait for that!

    1. James Allen says:

      Less, I think. Hard to say because we’ve not seen them all stick it on the line.

  32. Donald, Edinburgh. says:

    I am very keen to learn how McLarens performance deficit breaks down:

    i) lack of correlation between the simulator and the track (concerning if they haven’t addressed this since 2010).

    ii) lack of track time affecting their setup/development to-do list (obviously, but to what extent?)

    iii) fundamental pace. Would a sorted RB7 outpace a tested, ready to race MP4-26?

  33. Jack says:

    i think that this season the actual pace of the cars is going to be less important than before in terms of deciding race results, compared with strategy choices. On different tyre compounds theres such a huge difference in speed, and with having to make so many pitstops it could be that strategy is far more important? Hopefully could be a glimmer of hope for McLaren and Mercedes

    1. James Allen says:

      You could be right. Would make for great racing, reminiscent of the 1980s

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