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Barcelona Test Day 3: Mercedes completes race distance
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Feb 2012   |  7:57 pm GMT  |  110 comments

The penultimate day of the Barcelona test saw the Mercedes team complete a race distance on the new W03 car, which is quite impressive for a car which only began serious testing this week.

Michael Schumacher was at the wheel in the afternoon to complete a simulation, featuring live pit stops. Mercedes say the car has now done a total of 1700 kilometres, with a few niggles, but on the whole it’s been pretty reliable. “We have definitely improved our game which is what we wanted to achieve,” said Schumacher. “To what extent, we can only see later, but I am finishing with a positive feeling.”

The lap times looked good.

The feeling was less positive from Fernando Alonso as he signed off from testing the Ferrari at Barcelona. The Spaniard never managed more than short bursts of laps at a time. “I don’t know if we are competitive or not,” he said.” We’ve tested lots of things and the strengths and weaknesses we saw in Jerez are the same. It’s a complex car and we need to understand it,” he said. The body language of the Ferrari crew in Barcelona tells its own story. We’ve all known each other long enough that you can tell what kind of car a team has by watching the mechanics and engineers, without needing to look at a stopwatch or lap time clusters.

Speaking to Italian media Alonso said that the car has problems on corner exits in particular. “It’s an area where we are struggling,” he admitted. “We don’t know if it will be a season or triumph or disappointment. Our plan is ambitious; we want to win from the first race, but I don’t know where we are.” Today Felipe Massa drove the car and managed 84 laps, almost exclusively on the hard Pirelli tyres.

Jenson Button took over the McLaren and did over 100 laps, with a race simulation in the afternoon. “We’ve been really working hard to understand this year’s Pirelli tyres and getting the car to work efficiently around them. That’s a key part of the programme this winter,” said Button.

The signs are that the new Pirellis offer more rear grip relative to the front tyres than was the case in 2011. This is good news for Button and for his driving style. He got on very well with the Pirellis last year in terms of tyre management because of his smooth easy style. Although the 2012 tyres are designed to last a little longer, it looks like the characteristics of the 2012 tyres will suit him even better. One small note of caution is that because of the wider contact patch of the new tyres, the warm up isn’t quite as good. So we will see if that has any effect on Button’s qualifying performance. It’ll be one of the things McLaren will be working to engineer around in the tests before Melbourne.


Caterham had a difficult day with Vitaly Petrov struggling to find a balance in the car and a set up on which to start pushing forward. Sauber had Kamui Kobayashi in the car (above) for the first time in Barcelona and he covered almost 100 laps. Front tyre warm up was a reported issue for the team.

Pastor Maldonado set the fastest time of the day in the Williams, but like Hulkenberg’s time yesterday it cannot be compared to the front running teams as fuel loads and tyres were different.

BARCELONA TEST, Day 3
1. Maldonado Williams 1m22.391s 106 Laps
2. Schumacher Mercedes 1m23.384s +0.993 127
3. Kobayashi Sauber 1m23.582s +1.191 99
4. Button McLaren 1m23.918s +1.527 114
5. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m24.433s +2.042 78
6. Webber Red Bull 1m24.771s +2.380 97
7. Massa Ferrari 1m24.771s +2.380 84
8. Di Resta Force India 1m25.646s +3.255 83
9. Glock Marussia 1m26.173s +3.782 108
10. Petrov Caterham 1m26.448s +4.057 70

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110 Comments
  1. Irish con says:

    James what about Andrew Benson’s statement on the bbc that if u look through the long run times alonso set on the first 2 days that ferrari actually is quite competitive even though the still havnt found a proper direction yet ? Any thoughts…..

    1. Brad says:

      Andrew Benson, very pro-Alonso that guy

  2. Walter says:

    So James, are you saying that the Ferrari crew looked worried and dejected? Please expand a bit.

    1. James Allen says:

      That would be too strong. They know it’s a long road and they aren’t starting out on it where they thought they’d be

  3. Zed says:

    James,
    You mention the extra grip from the rear tyres. Won’t this be negated by the lack of rear downforce this year? i.e the cars will feel loose compared to last year?

  4. Vinoo says:

    Hi James,

    How was Schumacher’s race simulation in comparision to Vettels/Hamiltons/Buttons? Any idea?

      1. CM says:

        IIRC his average time was just 3-4 tenths down, which bodes well

  5. Anup Kadam says:

    Hi James,
    Very nice article..As i am a big Fernando Alonso and Ferrari fan i would like to see the Ferrari F2012 at front right from the season opener at Australia…
    But i would like to hear more from you James what Ferrari needs to do be get all the issues sorted out…

    1. Kay says:

      Er……. no disrepect to James but you’d think James knows more than the Ferrari guys?! James writes reports on what he sees on track; Ferrari designed their own car with their own thinking. If anyone Ferrari have their own staff to ask on how to improve.

      1. Peter says:

        Yes, but Ferrari are never going to tell you what’s really going on. Can you imagine them saying ” yes it’s true, we have serious problems, the car is slow, and we it will take most of the sason to fix it.”
        James would have a more objective opinion.

      2. Krisie says:

        Yup true. But Anup thought James could give Ferrari directions on what need to be done?!
        Come on lol…. the Ferrari guys know better than anyone else on their job (bar A.Newey probably).

    2. Kevin Green says:

      Is that question not obvious?? if there is issues lure Newey! i am sure it will happen within a few yrs despite what he said (translated offer more caching) next time. Despite that im not so sure there is issues at Ferrari.

  6. FerrariFan says:

    Hi James,
    Interesting observations, specially about the body language of the ferrari pit crew. I read Andrew Benson’s update today and he mentions that the ferrari’s lap times are pretty competitive. I hope everyone at ferrari are good at acting. However, I will be happy if the McLaren beats RBR. But to beat RBR a team must focus on one driver as RBR themselves will favor Vettel.

    1. Rob Newman says:

      As someone else has mentioned earlier, Andrew Benson is pro-Alonso. Take it cool …

  7. goferet says:

    You know what, I never thought I would feel this way but am beginning to feel sorry for Alonso, you can feel his anguish through his words that he would so dearly want to join the slugfest up front & put the Wunderkid firmly back in his place but the car just won’t work like he would like it too besides it’s a loooooooong time now since we last won a title.

    Apart from the Ferrari personnel’s body language, the fact that we haven’t even got any words from Massa after his run today is rather telling that all isn’t well.

    My advice to Alonso is to get out of Ferrari ASAP & try his luck else where —> Where that would be is the big question mark for there aren’t too many Red Bulls/Mclarens on the grid.

    Anyway good work by the Mercedes & Schumi today and as was predicted by the experts, this season is going to be mighty close especially in the mid field for lots of cars are showing good pace at various phases of testing.

    Meanwhile, it appears we just might have got the old Newey back this season for that Red Bull isn’t looking as reliable as it did this time last year.

    Now the 2012 Pirellis will suit Jenson’s style even more —> OMG!!!

    I will keep my fingers crossed that we have more cold temperatures this year plus Jens gets shoved down the grid more in qualifying, please, we most definitely DO NOT need a spoiler this year i.e. A driver throwing a spanner in the works for we need to see this season, the best taking on the best = Season to remember.

    All in all after today’s running, it looks to me like Williams & Sauber were on glory runs as shown by the fact Kobayshi run out of fuel on track, as for Petrov, he is most definitely wet behind the ears and so needs some more hours behind the simulator to get up to speed.

    1. MISTER says:

      Your advice is wrong. You don’t just leave the ship when it takes water. Those who do that are quiters. Fernando is not a quiter.

      And I am even more surprised of you suggesting this now when they have a new car. You should understand that they need time. Ideally you would want to understand everything quick and be fast, but most of the time, that’s not the case.
      You’ve got to work your way out, and that’s what Ferrari and Alonso are doing.

      Just like James said, is to be seen if they do that sooner rather than later.

      And I for one would like to see Jenson at its best this season. Just as I wish this to Lewis too.

  8. PaulL says:

    So, Ferrari are gone for 2012 sadly.

    1. Jeff says:

      I don’t think it’s time to give them the 10-count yet. Remember how bad the McLaren looked in the ‘Winter World Championship’ last year?

      We won’t really know what’s going on until the cars go out for Q1 in Australia.

  9. Seán Craddock says:

    Do people feel the tyre changes will affect Vettel’s performance this season? Some people said he had the upper hand last season because he visited Pirelli and wanted to know exactly how to get the most out of them. Will he need to change his style again?

    Also I’ll say again thst the Williams looks like a serious step forward for the team from last year. James said yesterday that it was the most reliable in terms of laps done, but that it lacked pace. Well it topped the sheets today? I know we’re not supposed to be comparing times, but it must have good pace with a time like that! Fastest of the week so far

    1. CM says:

      The Williams times would have qualified them in 6th place in the race last year.

      It was also faster than Massa’s quality run in last year’s test.

    2. Martin says:

      While Vettel might need to adapt, there hasn’t been a time when he has been slow or shown tyre management problems. History suggests that Alonso will also be fine, Hamilton at most races with a couple of “Valencias” or “Sepangs” in the year.

      It will more be a case of whether Webber, Massa, Button, Schumacher and Raikkonen get on with the tyres and are closer to their team mates (Grosjean excepted as unproven on any tyres).

  10. Anup Kadam says:

    Hi James one more article i read at Magazine.com is it true…

    they say that…

    Red Bull and Ferrari beat the final test in Barcelona during the first week of March end up its own way. How Motorsport Magazin.com of RBR team boss Christian Horner told, Ferrari hired the Circuit de Catalunya on the Monday after the official end of the final test.

    Means while the other F1 teams test as scheduled from Thursday to Sunday, go Ferrari and Red Bull from Friday through Monday at the track. “Logistically, it makes more sense. We asked Ferrari if we can join them and they said yes. We are acting within the rules and test limits,” said Horner.

    Lotus, meanwhile, examines various options to prevent the Zusatztesttag, the team will get due to the early departure from Barcelona. No date yet, it was said to motor sports Magazin.com. “Lotus does his own thing, but it also has its reasons,” said Horner.

  11. Rang says:

    James,

    I know its quite early, but whom do you think are in top 3 at the moment. Do you think Ferrari can turn it around before Australian GP?

    Rang

    1. James Allen says:

      Not before then, no. Looks like Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes at the moment

  12. schumilewis says:

    James, What do you think a top team qualifying lap would be time-wise? If Williams are in the 1 minute 22′s, surely Red Bull et al must keeping their powder dry!

  13. Darren says:

    Thank you for your report James.

    I have been wondering about all the high fuel load running the leading teams do. Don’t they want to do low fuel runs at some stage to simulate qualifying? This is an area Red Bull had an advantage last year so I would have thought other teams would really want to look at that. How do they work on quali perofrmance without showing their full pace?

    1. James Allen says:

      Run a bit of fuel. Even 10kg masks your pace by 0.3secs, which is enough to keep everyone guessing

  14. HUGO says:

    HELLO JAMES,
    AS ALWAYS VERY GOOD INSIGHT INFORMATION YOU ARE GIVING US..!
    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW YOUR OPINION ON SCHUMACHER CURRENT FORM; IT IS WIDELY SAID THAT HE HAS IMPROVE ALOT FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR (NOT TO COMPARE IT TO HIS FIRST SPELL IN THE SPORT)BUT FROM WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN YESTERDAY AND TODAY; IS HE NOW ON ROSBERG LEVEL??? OR BETTER….
    THANK YOU,
    HUGO

    1. James Allen says:

      The car has improved. I think he had some very strong weekends in the second half of 2012.

  15. dubdub says:

    I worried for Caterham.
    I was hoping they might have taken a step forward so they could battle with the back half of the mid-field, like they were at the end of last year.
    However, so far it seems they might not have progressed as much as the other teams.

    It looks like a lot of team this year have really got on top of reliability!

    1. iceman says:

      I think what might have happened is that the other midfield teams have progressed as much as them. They could be closer to the front but just as far from 9th place if Williams, Torro Rosso etc. have produced decent cars this year.

    2. Jean-Christophe says:

      We should take into account the fact that Barcelona is an unusual circuit that punishes cars with aerodynamic flaws. Meaning that a car that’s 2s down at Barcelona could be well reduce the gap to a few tenth at Monaco for instance.
      IIRC the 2009 McLaren was pretty awful everywhere (in the first part of the season at least) but could have won Monaco if everything went well.

      1. Ryan Eckford says:

        We saw that last year where Red Bull had a one second advantage over McLaren in Barcelona, yet at Monaco, McLaren were challenging for pole position and should have had pole position.

  16. Abhijeet says:

    Any thoughts so far on where the Mercedes is? Hard to believe this is the same team from 2 years ago that blew everyone away.

    1. anonymous says:

      That’s because it isn’t.
      Three years ago they stopped the development of their current car in the very beginning of the season, when they realized it was a lemon that was FUBAR. They had one full year of development with a massive Honda-Budget and a big team that lead to a car which Brawn believed was “very good” even before Honda bailed out, which was an exceptionally bold statement, because it was made so early.
      After Honda had been throwing the towel they were rather lucky to find the Mercedes engine would fit their car quite well. And remarkably, Honda continued to pay remaining obligations and a good part of the wages (BMW have been less gracious in their retreat, as I have heard).

      So what Brawn GP inherited was a car with an exceptionally long and intense development program from a big team with a massive budget.

      The season of course brought a massive restructuring of the team, staff had to be reduced, programs had to be cut and we all know that they had a hard time keeping up with the development pace of other title contenders late in the season.

      When Mercedes tried the same trick 2010, mid season, they’ve had a much smaller team and a much lower budget and they were still in the process of restructuring the team. As 2011 started out worse than expected, they thought it over once again, raised the budget and hired new people among them some experienced lead guys like Costa, Willis, etc. So this year’s car is probably also compromised by some team-restructuring-process, but I think you can expect the team becoming ever stronger this season.
      I suspect they will start the season slightly better than where they left off last season and by the end of the year this team will become as good as the best team in the paddock, without any doubt.

      1. Abhijeet says:

        Yes, I know the history here too. They have also had 2 years of Mercedes big money, if not Honda anymore. They have also been slipping backwards those two years. The car was capable of podiums in 2010, despite being hampered by team restructuring and the lack of money through the season. In 2011, it didn’t even look close to a podium. So yeah, it is hard to believe that this is the same team from 2 yrs ago.

      2. anonymous says:

        the misconception might be that Mercedes brought in “big money”. Actually Mercedes tried to operate on a bargain budget just until the middle of last year where the Mercedes bosses changed their mind. Back then Haug and alike have been quoted that running their own Mercedes was cheaper than their previous McLaren involvement.

    2. MISTER says:

      James has just rated them couple of comments above your..as Mercedes being 3rd after RBR and McLaren at this stage.

  17. AlexD says:

    Some people understand F1 well enough to be able to read from the body language of mechanics and engineers that Ferrari is not so strong. Other people are even better – before the car was launched they were able to tell that 2012 will be a “Red Year”…I think this person forgot one word from this sentence…”bull”

    1. Kay says:

      I’d prefer using the word “Cow”

  18. miguel says:

    And what about engine mapping? how much time will the teams blowing loose?

    1. Aussie Fan says:

      If they are all ‘blowing’ & not racing I’m sure there will be alot of time lost LOL!!

  19. For the sake of the world, I hope Ferrari can get on top of their problems and win the first race.

  20. dufus says:

    No mention of the team to beat here ?

  21. S.J.M says:

    James, have you heard or know anything about why Red Bull have changed their test dates for the 3rd test next week?

  22. Godfather says:

    I can’t see anything on RBR here. I was curious because Weber was spending quite a lot of time in the garage today.

    Very happy for Mercedes and Schumi. They are doing well.

  23. FerrariFan says:

    Hi James,
    Did you hear anything about this issue of engine mapping? It seems like one engine manufacturer (most likely ferrari) brought the up the issue with FIA.

  24. cjf says:

    James, can you please elaborate a little on how better tyre wear on the rears suits Buttons driving style, I had thought with a smoother style he would’ve capitalised on his ability to make them last better relative to some other drivers with more agressive styles, e.g. Hamilton.

    Also, any news on which teams are suspected to be still using off throttle engine mapping?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I said more grip on the rears suits his style better

    2. kenny5 says:

      the notion that jason button is easy on his tyres is a myth…. has been disprooven may times, most notiably wearing out wet tyres on a drying track – where on many occasions he is forced to change to slicks earlier than others….

      Also note monaco last year…. Vettel made soft tyre last most of the race – while button pussyfooted around behind him on fresher rubber…

      1. Aussie Fan says:

        Maybe he’s switching to dry tyres on a wet track before everyone else because he can handle the situation better than other drivers?? On a drying track if you can keep the car from spinning it is always faster to use slicks, the trick is whether the driver can handle the car in these circumstances.

        Your post merely proves than JB is VERY GOOD in this situation, & thus more likely to try out the better tyres (at greater risk to himslef) than other drivers around him…

    3. Martin says:

      Jenson prefers an understeering bias in car underbraking. He doesn’t like the rear moving around in the way that Lewis is happy with.

      This comes from the nature of their driving styles. Lewis’ lines are more V shaped, so he has a shorter distance to drive, but his apex speeds are lower. He will use oversteer on entry to help rotate the car if required. This can lead to increased tyre wear.

      With Jenson, he is trying to driver close to the limit on a more mathematical line, more of a U shape. This leads to a greater average speed over a longer distance, so this is where he can wear his tyres out.

      In general terms, if you have understeer, you’ll turn in a bit earlier and oversteer later. So for Jenson, oversteer then to lead to a case of a late turn-in and highly loaded rear tyres at the point he wants to get back on the throttle. The lateral load means that traction is reduced as the maximum total force a tyre can generate is the sum of the lateral and longitudinal forces and is essentially constant. For Lewis, his type of style tends to result in point where the front tyres do a lot of work rotating the car. The back is less loaded at that point, aiding traction out of the corner.

      Cheers,

      Martin

  25. Antonis Papadakis says:

    James,Mercedes looks a lot closer this year to RB and Macca or am i wrong

  26. zombie says:

    Impressive time set by Schumi. Hope Mercedes gives us something to cheer about for the old man!

  27. Moog says:

    If both Merc and McLaren did race simulations with live pitstops (albeit at different times in the afternoon), do you know which car would have won the ‘race’?

  28. Ledio says:

    Hi James, Im very worried about the ferrari. Is this going to be a repet of 2011? What are the atvantages of having a front pull rod suspension? Thank you.

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t know. Neither do they.

    2. anonymous says:

      A front pullrod suspension will slightly lower the center of gravity.

      A lower center of gravity is desirable, because it lessens the forces that try to make the car roll and pitch, which also is of aerodynamic benefit (less roll and pitch means more constant distance to the ground), also Ferrari think that the angle of the pullrod disturbs the airflow in a less negative way than a push rod would.

      But with a nose as high as that, a front pullrod suspension comes with some drawbacks, which is a very tight angle, that will hardly move the dampers and that requires a much stronger rod, compared to a front push rod. This is no problem in the back of the car, because the rod can be mounted very low, which gives a much better angle, but in the front this is a bit of a problem.
      Ferrari think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

      In the back everyone is going for pull rod suspension this season (2011 Ferrari did not, so pullrods is all new for them this year). Pullrods in the back compromise accessibility for the team, but they come with a good angle, low center of gravity and a much slimmer top of the gearbox (while is grows a bit wider at the bottom). See Craig Scarborough’s blog for more details on rear pullrod suspension:
      http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/red-bull-pull-rod-suspension-what-is-looks-like-how-it-benefits-aerodynamics/

      1. Ledio says:

        Thanks so much for explaining. If the car is going to be stiffer at the front does that mean the car would have a hard time handling the kerbs.

  29. Jake says:

    James, when you say Button did a “race simulation” in the afternoon, do you mean like Mclaren say, a “race-distance simulation”. This is actually a key difference, as in their reace-distance simulation, they appeared to refuel between stints, meaning comparisons between RB are pointless over the whole simulation.

    However, looking at specific stints can provide some insight. For example, on Mark’s 2nd stint, after a first stint of 11 laps and on the hard tyres, he put in a 16 lap stint with an average of 1:29.353 (excluding the oddly slow last lap). Jenson put in a very similar stint on the 3rd of his simulation, but the first 2 were almost identical, so I assume Mclaren had re-fueled him between those two. The 2nd of those to was also 11 laps, like Mark’s, so assuming no fuel was taken out, Jenson would have been on very similar fuel to that of Mark on his 2nd stint. He was also on the hard tyres and did a similar 16 lap stint with an average time of 1:29.277 (again excluding the last lap for fairness).

    Now obviously there may have been a small difference in fuel, but I would have thought no more than a 10th or 2 per lap, meaning they were very close. What do you make of this?

    Cheers

  30. Luke Clements says:

    C’mon James, your reports a bit light on for someone at the trackside! There’s a blue car there somewhere you failed to mention. Can’t remember their name…something about double world championns I think.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m back in UK now, was at the Bernie conference this morning.. keep up!

  31. my tuppence says:

    Hi James, I have a question regarding tyres.

    Last year we’ve seen huge build up of marbles and it didn’t really affect the racing yet in previous years- tyres wars especially – the racing could be mundane.

    Is it because of the ‘race within a race’ effect which you get from tyre wars?

    Or could it be ‘the cliff’ effect of the Pirellis?

    BTW, do the new Pirellis reach ‘the cliff’?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not as much no, they don’t drop off suddenly like last year

  32. Alan says:

    Would I be wrong in suggesting Jenson isn’t so happy with the McLaren’s balance? Seems to be a consistent thread in his comments. Not that this relates to actual performance.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I’m a massive Button fan but apart from the first six or seven races of 2009 has he ever not complained about the balance? I think it’s just buttons thing now.

      Alonso will say ‘for sure – we must maximize our potencial’ in an Italian inflected Spanish accent.

      Button will say ‘the balance just wasn’t quite right…’

      It’s like brundle saying ‘an extreme rate of knots’ at least 29 times per GP. There are some things you can always rely on!

      1. MISTER says:

        Haha, or Vettel in his interviews with “obviously”.
        I used to count how many times he says that word in post race interviews. I know it’s a bad habit, but it makes us look like we are stupid or something, because it seems everything is obvious to him.

      2. Chapor says:

        Kimi Raikonnen. “we will just have to wait and see”

      3. tim clarke says:

        i used to like Kimi’s “pretty ok”.

  33. kenny5 says:

    James,

    the lap times are meaningless without some context of the tyres used and stint lenght….

    Last year you had some graphs of laptimes, overlaid for different run lengths…
    (last year you were showing the high wear of the new perilli tyres…)

    Do you plan to publish similar plots this year??

    Are there any sites were we can get full laptimes from the tests??

    thanks,
    Kenny5

  34. Paul J says:

    I think the Williams pace shouldn’t be downplayed too much. I’m obviously not suggesting that they are the car to beat for 2012 or anything, but the fact that they have done more laps than anyone so far, and have good reliability, bodes very well for their car. If they were going to do low-fuel, flying laps just to entice sponsors then they probably would have done it much earlier in the test. They’re not the first team to take some fuel out, slap on a set of super-softs and go for glory, and so far they have the fastest time of all. Positive signs from the new technical team at Williams.

  35. Soubert says:

    Hi James,

    This is a little off topic and I apologise, but I stumbled across this video this evening and thought it was fantastic:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8933869810642490334&hl=en

    I think an event like this would be a great way to end the season and allow the drivers to let their hair down a little, not to mention letting us see some wheel to wheel action in equal machinery!

    I could picture somewhere like Abu Dhabi building an indoor karting arena. We could have F1 drivers leading teams with perhaps a GP2 driver team mate taking part over a weekend, lets say a series of heats on Friday evening and Saturday leading to a final on Sunday?

    Have a word and pull some strings James!

    1. James Allen says:

      Fantastic! I remember that event.

      They still do it today, organised by Philippe Streiff with electric karts at Bercy with some F1 drivers, but the Race of Champions has come along and taken the top F1 guys at that time of year

  36. Peter BC says:

    Mercedes look like they might stick it to McLaren and red bull, although i think its between them and lotus to fight for left-overs, mclaren and redbull look too good so far.
    Ferrari look like they’re lost, the car just doesn’t look good. Ugly cars seldom win championships.

    1. Kay says:

      If you say ugly, they are all fugly bar McLaren. So how does ugly come into it to rate performance / winning chances?

      1. Peter BC says:

        Tell me how many of the last few years title winning cars were ugly? The Ferrari just looks awkward, and doesn’t sit well on the road…

      2. Krisie says:

        All the cars from last few years were ugly if you ask me, these fat front wings and narrow rears. I don’t appreciate the RBR nose much either from 2009-10.

  37. Luke Gilpin says:

    Good to see Williams have the confidence to go for a time, and Maldonado looks more comfortable in the car than Senna. May have been a light run but the time is good for this stage of the game. I was getting worried that they were quite a bit behind Sauber, Force India, and Torro Rosso but perhaps they are all closer than was first apparant.

  38. Ross Dixon says:

    James Hamilton commented that the fronts are more grippy than the rears this year relative to lasts? Thoughts??? Given the lack of Blown diffuser adding lots of rear downforce, would this not suggest Hamilton is right???

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      Here is the quote

      “I think we’ve got a little bit more front end in the tyres this year,” Hamilton added. “I don’t really feel the rears have improved in terms of grip but the fronts have. So then you’ve got more front and perhaps need less front wing maybe than you did last year. Plus we’ve lost the blow diffuser so we’ve lost quite a lot at the rear and we’re trying to offload any at the front to the rear.”

  39. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    James, there is no mention of Webber’s first outing here in the RB. I heard he had car issues in the morning. Can you add anything?
    Thanks.
    P.S. I can’t trust any other reports!

    1. Kay says:

      I think everyone else can add to this: biased management from RBR.

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        That would not surprise me. However, I’ve not known James to be bias, and he usually gets the info either way! There a quite a few posts here asking about RB and Webber, but no replies from James. A bit strange, eh?

      2. James Allen says:

        Not really. Not much to say. It’s going well, car is fast, occasional reliability glitch, It will win races.

  40. pete says:

    So James,

    After your initial impressions: can Merc fight for wins against McLaren?

    Does the Merc have the potential to be a race winner?

    Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure if it’s that good. But it’ll put drivers on podium, certainly. Winning may come down to a bit of luck and certainly to development

      1. pete says:

        Great,

        Much appreciated James.

      2. Aussie Fan says:

        after the last 2 years they have had, i’ll take that, thanks!

  41. Liam in Sydney says:

    Hi James,

    Excellent info there, thanks.

    Do you think Massa drove 80-odd laps on the hard tyres because Ferrari are scared they will end up repeating the last two seasons where: 1) their chassis just does not warm up the fronts; 2) the hard tyre particularly kills their speed?

    Thanks.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I think they are trying to evaluate things so staying with same programme for short runs on same tyre to measure changes in other variables

  42. F1Fan4Life says:

    What can I say about Ferrari? I’m disappointed to see that a double world champion can’t get into a competitive car again… At best these years Ferrari has been 3rd fastest. James, has a double world champion ever had this sort of drought of a car capable of actually winning races? i know Schumacher waited awhile but he had the second fastest car a number of times. Alonso should make his way over to Mercedes as I said last year. Would love to see him and Brawn team up. In my opinion in his significantly fewer years Vettel has spent more races with a faster car.

  43. JohnO says:

    That Merc looks fast, first week of testing for them and already close to RB. Exciting times, we could have 3 closely matched teams going into the first race in Melbourne although I still expect RB to have a small advantage. Even with that it should not allow Vettel to storm off into the distance like last year….if Schumacher can get his car on the first 3 rows of the grid then we will see fireworks.

    1. Jeff says:

      He’s got to regularly beat his teammate first.
      It would be great to see a McLaren / Red bull / Merc 3-way battle for the title though.

      I still suspect Ferrari are sandbagging and not as bad as some people are thinking, so it may even be a 4-way battle.

      1. Aussie Fan says:

        You mean MS needs to beat NR at qualifying. He’s out raced him quite alot last season & the trend seemed to be getting stronger & stronger as the races wore on.

        NR seems to focus ALOT on qualifying performance, but seems to go backwards compared to his teammate on raceday (where the points are given). Its well documented thaty MS likes a strong front end in his car (something that the short wheelbase Merc & the pirelli front tyres didn’t give last year).

        Here’s hoping the “more front end grip” from the tyres that drivers are talking about this year, + a much improved & useable longer wheelbase Mercedes (with a new front wing after 2 years at last, yay!) will play more into MS’s hands this year.

        Aft

  44. Jeff says:

    James.

    With a number of teams doing race simulations this week, does this mean that we have a better yardstick with which to judge the teams’ relative performance?

    Presumably they don’t have as much leeway to mess with fuel loads when they have to load the cars tanks to the brim at the start?

    Any chance of seeing some comparative plots?

    1. James Allen says:

      A bit, but they aren’t all fuelling it up at the start and running to empty, they are coming in for a few mins then going out again, so hard to judge the fuel. Also some fun and games going on with DRS (using it or not using it?) etc. So not showing their hand yet. Merc times looked competitive

  45. Dmitry says:

    Don’t want to spoil all of the fun, but after seeing Williams on the top, I can’t stop thinking the times are irrelevant still.

    Sorry everyone, but what catches my eyes the most is Petrov… in the far back, behind last year’s Virgin\Marussia after 2 days of tests…
    Good choice, Caterham! Well done =)

    1. Yup. A single day of testing should be enough to totally adapt from the relative luxuries of a high-mid field running car to a back-marker. Good call.

      The big disappointment about Caterham is their general lack of pace, Petrov or no Petorv

  46. panagiotis says:

    It is a fact by now, and very well documented all over the net Ferrari still hasn’t figure out what is best for them; nevertheless it seems from their times, tires, and possible fuel loads that present is good. I also think they do more sand bagging than the others, which in tern is also portrayed by a rather unusual for the Italian way, kind of gloomy media commutation approach. I ‘ve got the impression that during next test they will stop playing catenachio, in order to leave barcelona on a high, looking winners towards the first race, and leave others with questionmarks. By the way James,what about the engine mappings, any solid news yet?

  47. Govind says:

    Dear James,
    Schumi had a problem last year of warming his tyres in qualifying. Do you think that this wider contact patch of the new tyres is going to affect him more this year.

  48. Stuart Moore says:

    Looking at that picture, Kobayashi’s changed quite a lot during the break ;)

  49. Anup Kadam says:

    Hi James,
    Day 4 four at barcelona Ferrari are running pretty good…lap times are also consistent..what`s your take on this?

  50. James,

    So do you reckon current pecking order is Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes followed by Ferrari ?

    I just hope Ferrari can deliver a car 1-3 tenths down on front runners. Fernando will do the rest.His performance last year impressed me more than his 2005 & 2006 Championship winning years. Although I do detect some frustration in his media comments.

    How do you think the rest of the grid is shaping up ?

    I think Torro Rosso will continue to bulid on strong finish to last year. The traditionalist in me would love to see Williams come back strong this year. Our sport needs names like that to be successful.

    Cannot wait for pitlane to open in Melbourne !

    1. James Allen says:

      Maybe, but there is some gamesmanship going on with DRS etc, Ferrari had a better day today. It will change a lot still before Melbourne. Next week the definitive kits go on so until then it doesn’t mean a lot

  51. XR6Monster says:

    Ok my first comment on this site. First a lot of ppl think that Ferrari is sandbaging which I hope they do but them being Italians means that more likely they are lost for direction, as for RBR and Merc I don’t know I think both of those teams are hiding something thats my opinion, their times are somewhat too close all 3 teams are there within 0.8se but they not diping bellow 1.23 so the real picture will be revealed next week.

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