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Mugello Test Day 1: A bit of a washout
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 May 2012   |  5:43 pm GMT  |  71 comments

The first day on in season testing since 2008 was a bit of an anti-climax today as heavy rain especially in the afternoon, spoiled the chance of much meaningful running or evaluation of development parts. Most of the running was done on either full wet or intermediate tyres.

In the morning on a drying track the teams managed to cover some mileage, but in the afternoon the teams and drivers at Mugello in Tuscany competed only to see who could tweet the most graphic photographs of rain.

At one point the cloud base was so low that the medical helicopter would not have been able to take off so running was stopped.


“We feel sorry for the great audience of Mugello: they deserved much better show today in the best track in Italy,” said Ferrari in one official tweet this afternoon.

For the record, Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in the Ferrari, which had some interesting updates on it, including a new exhaust position and some evolution on the front wing. A more definitive exhausts configuration is planned for Thursday, according to Italian colleagues.

Alonso spoke yesterday of his ambitions for the F2012 over the next few weeks, refuting suggestions that if the car doesn’t make a significant gain in the Spanish Grand Prix next week the season is over for Ferrari,

“No that’s a wrong message. This is just the first step, we have to climb back up steadily, race by race. If it goes badly at Montmelo (Barcelona) that doesn’t mean our season is over.”
He added that the first step is to “get into the top five in qualifying (where he qualified for most of last season) and have both cars in the points.”

Due to his own consistency – and the win in Malaysia – as well as the openness of the first four races, with no-one running away with it, Alonso lies only 10 points behind the championship leader after four races.

Interestingly Alonso admitted that he isn’t the fastest driver out there, but talked up his own ability to drive in damage limitation mode,

“I think that’s my strongest quality,” he said. “I’m not the fastest driver in qualifying, on street circuits, in the rain or in pit stops, but I’m a 9.5 (out of 10) in all those areas and I know how to get the best from the materials at my disposal.”

There were a number of new ideas being tested by teams, including several new front wings, such as on the Sauber and Force India car.

Nico Rosberg covered almost 50 laps in the morning, more than any other driver, while team mate Michael Schumacher didn’t set a lap time at all in the afternoon. Rosberg put a brave face on his day, saying that he and Mercedes had learned something, especially as they haven’t been all that strong in wet conditions this season so far.

“It was good and we learned some valuable things this morning in the wet,” he said. “Lately in the wet we weren’t that strong in Malaysia, but we got some dry running in the end and some useful tests there. So we learned something there, which was great and is a good start.”

Webber will get half a day tomorrow before handing over the Red Bull to Sebastian Vettel, while Felipe Massa will get his day in the Ferrari, before Alonso takes over again on Thursday to test new parts.


Ironically Jenson Button managed to run in the dry, but he was doing a demonstration on the streets of Budapest for Vodafone, so there wasn’t much to be learned there either!

McLaren, incidentally, are celebrating getting an Edison award for implementing green technology and methods at their Woking factory. They were awarded a silver medal at the 2012 Edison Awards in New York.

The Edison awards are named after the great American inventor Thomas Edison, who founded invented the light bulb, the record player and many other things as well as founding GE. The awards celebrate “innovation and excellence as well as “groundbreaking scientific achievement”.

McLaren won for its efforts to improve carbon efficiency. The company says it has “achieved annual savings of over 1500 tonnes of CO2 emmissons and earned official carbon-neutral status,” something which all F1 teams are taking incredibly seriously these days.


1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.444s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m23.648s + 1.204s
3. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.891s + 1.447s
4. Jerome d’Ambrosio Lotus 1m24.048s + 1.604s
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.100s + 1.656s
6. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m24.736s + 2.292s
7. Oliver Turvey McLaren 1m25.303s + 2.859s
8. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m25.475s + 3.031s
9. Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham 1m27.197s + 4.753s
10. Charles Pic Marussia 1m27.359s + 4.915s
11. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m29.179s + 6.735s
12. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m50.898s + 28.454s
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes Did not set time

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71 Comments
  1. Seán Craddock says:

    Fairly quick time from Alonso, was that Ferrari fueling light and going for the time? It is their home, so they probably have to make headlines.

    Any idea when the lap was set James? Short stint I’d assume

    1. PK says:

      I guess we will know only tomorrow since Massa’s times are going to be crappy irrespective of whether the new upgraade is effective or not

    2. Wayne says:

      I would be utterly astonished if Ferrari were fuelling light and going for lap times – there is no motivation for them to do this is there? Plus, what is a ‘fast’ time around this circuit for current F1 cars…. only Ferrari know that.

  2. Kevin McCaughey says:

    Has there been any TV coverage?

    1. Matthew says:

      Wondering the same thing.

  3. Thalasa says:

    There was a Spanish writer named Francisco de Quevedo. Someone said referring to him: “another one was the best novelist; someone else was the best poet; but Quevedo was the best writer”.

    We could probably say something similar about Alonso: “Someone else is the best qualifier; someone else is the most spectacular one; Alonso is the best driver”. Don’t you think?

    1. Quasparides says:

      One thing Alonso cannot claim is being a ferrari champion.
      there are two on the grid at present, he is not one of them

    2. JF says:

      That is certainly my opinion of Alonso, and M Schumacher in his prime for that matter. Senna was before my time (rather before my access to F1 broadcasting) so no real opinion there. Neither of those former two are/were that absolute best in any single “category” but very strong everywhere coupled with a high degree of intelligence, huge work ethic, and the ability to mold a team around them.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        That’s what made Senna so great.
        He was the greatest qualifier. He was the greatest racer. He was the best I have ever seen in the rain.
        And he was the most spectacular.

        Alonso may be 9.5, I’d put Schumacher (in his prime)at 9.0.
        No doubt some people will claim he was equal to Senna in the rain, but they forget races like Brazil 1996 or Monaco 1996 where he was invisible in the wet.
        In 1997 at the Monaco GP, he had the luxury of a wet setup on one car and a dry setup on his spare.
        Prost had some great races against Senna, but was nowhere near him in qualifying, wet or spectacle.

      2. Dutch Johnny says:

        Really? The greatest racer? 65 poles and 41 wins doesnt seem that ‘great racing’. I rather have 41 poles and 65 wins dont you? I do admire senna and he is one of the best f1 driver of all time but come on his death made him greater then he was.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        You are comparing statistics gained during the 80′s against the statistics possible now.
        Senna raced for 10 seasons, and he was in a front running car for maybe 4 years. ie 1988 to 1991.
        He set many pole positions in a Lotus in 1985, 86and 1987, seasons that highlighted just how quick he really was, but in cars that had no true championship or race winning potential.
        In 1992 and 1993 we had a Williams which was so dominant that even Senna couldn’t get close in qualifying, just in races, especially when wet.
        Trust me, the only racer that was anywhere near him was Prost, and Prost ran from Mclaren when he realised he couldn’t compete.

      4. Dutch Johnny says:

        Yeah i agree about your point on qualifying but i was more stating that wins count more then poles. I respect you opinion but i read that prost was mostly quicker in the races… but i can be wrong so maybe someone with some insight can comment on that. Anyway i think we both agree that senna and prost where great drivers:)

      5. JF says:

        The thing is with Senna these days is the myth has overtaken the man. No doubt a great in his time, maybe the greatest ever maybe not, no one can really say how drivers compare between eras since so much changes. Who knows if Senna were to magically reincarnate and teleport through time, he may arrive in todays F1 and completely suck, or vice versa, put Massa back in time he may have destroyed all comers.

      6. Phil H says:

        Agree with hero_was_senna.

        Senna’s brilliance came in feeling every millimetre of grip available and understanding exactly how the car worked at any one point.

        Check out Senna’s start in Donington ’93. See how he goes around the outside, the inside and basically off the racing line into places where he should not have had any grip.

        Add into that how fragile the cars were back in those days. I remember Senna in a Lotus sputtering to a stop with a mechanical failure. It wasn’t like it is today. Sometimes as few as 8 or 9 cars actually finished a race.

        88-91 was the dominant time for McLaren, but Senna had to beat Prost who was driving for the same team and no team orders. It wasn’t a case of “Senna is faster than you”

        The fact that Senna died is immaterial to his skill. In 1994, he would have won another championship. The Williams was a very good car by the end of the season as demonstrated by Damon Hill.

        I’m sorry, but Schumacher had almost twice as many years in much more competitive cars in teams built around him. There is no comparison in my mind.

  4. Andrew Carter says:

    They might aas well have held the test at Silverstone, most of them wouldn’t have had to go as far and they would have got the same weather.

    1. Kay says:

      FIA wanted a venue that isn’t currently on the calendar. Mugello fits that perfectly.

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Actually no, the FIA werent involved. Before half the teasm left FOTA, their sporting working group had decided to hold the test at Barcelona after the GP, but when it came down to the bosses rubber stamping the decision, Ferrari threw its weight arround to get the test moved to Mugello, despite it not holding much relevance to most tracks on the calander.

      2. Kay says:

        Source?

      3. Andrew Carter says:

        To Kay: Autosport last week.

  5. Horno says:

    Unfortunately these times doensn’t say much.. Lets see what tomorrow will bring.

  6. Such a shame as its first test in season for a while. Imagine Ferrari are praying for the sun to come out and the hose pipe ban to end!

  7. curlyputz says:

    So all the top boys took the smart option and run the race drivers while mclaren opt run the test guys dispite lewis asking to be involved in the test, Interesting choice.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      If mclaren stay ahead at the start of the European campaign they’ll look pretty smart using their development drivers…

      Of course it does seem like a big risk but then mclaren do employ dedicated test drivers for a reason. They don’t seem as keen on the young up and comers for these roles anymore

      1. pallys says:

        Do you realise Oliver Turvey of McLaren is a rookie?

        I still think McLaren made a strategic mistake. They are lucky it’s been a washout thus Alonso/Vettel haven’t been able to learn as much as would have been if it was dry.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        Yes I do realise Oliver is a rookie. He’s also 26 and a fair bit more experienced than most of the ‘young drivers’ who are attached to most teams. And Gary is not kept on as a rising star of the future, he’s a reliable and dedicated driver who develops the car in the simulator for both race drivers, testing set ups day in and day out.

        What I was suggesting is that with Pedro as their former test driver, mclaren have always had a history of employing slightly more mature and dedicated test drivers – they clearly think establishing this baseline for comparison is useful. I didn’t say it was a guaranteed success – just trying to articulate against some of the mindless ‘oh Lewis is being snubbed at testing’ jibes mclaren get lumbered with.

        Maybe it will turn out to be a disaster. I was simply pointing out that mclaren are big on test drivers and the decision not to use jenson or Lewis may make a lot of sense to them.

        If nothing else it gives their two race drivers a break which as they have unusually high sponsor commitments compared to much of the paddock they might benefit from a rest. Lewis certainly suggested his workload was too high last year. And Schumacher suggested he wouldn’t have been able to dedicate his life to unlimited testing at his age.

      3. James Clayton says:

        *stay* ahead??

      4. Kay says:

        Well they ARE having the fastest car at the moment, it’s just dumb thinking from the pitwall cost them wins so far.

      5. AuraF1 says:

        Fair enough they have lost the constructor lead to red bull after Bahrain. But they didn’t exactly come slouching out of the box this year.

      6. James Clayton says:

        No, they aren’t slouching like the past couple of seasons, but I would hardly go as far as to say they have the fastest car. When it works, it works well, it would seem. But it hasn’t had the outright pace to win a race since the season opener.

    2. HFEVO2 says:

      The reason McLaren are using their test drivers is that both are eligible for the young driver test later in the season.

      That means that these highly skilled and experienced testers can give direct feedback on where the car has changed over the period between the two tests.

      It’s also a fact that the demands on McLaren drivers for promotional events are higher than in other teams so this reduces the demand on their time.

      ( Although if I were Lewis or Jenson, I would rather be testing ).

      1. James Clayton says:

        Lewis said he wanted to test.

        Then it all went very quiet at McLaren. This story, as far as I’m concerned, is much more interesting than “xyz to Ferrari rumour no 24″ – as if there is substance to the story, in that Hamilton approached McLaren and they declined him. it surely indicates friction within the team

      2. CurlyPutz says:

        +1 That’s what I was getting at, as I understand it, Lewis wanted to test, Jenson didn’t and neither did! Surely if a driver asks/wants run in the test you let them, as a team boss I know I would, for sure!

        It seems Webber agrees that’s it is a “no brainer” given the limited testing available these days. Time will tell if this is a good or bad call but I just find it a little strange.

      3. Nathan Jones says:

        +1. It was very clear that Lewis wanted to drive at the test. He certainly made some strong statements about desiring to do so. Jenson made some strong statements to the contrary. And guess what happened.

        Call me a conspiracy theorist, if you will, but I think that, plain and simple, because Button had a sponsorship commitment in Hungary he didn’t want to see Hamilton gain any kind of advantage from the extra time in the car at the test. I’m hearing a lot of Button fans talking about the strategic logic of using the test drivers and the ‘mindless’ anti-Hamilton chatter, but, when it comes down to it, EVERY OTHER TEAM fielded their front line drivers for at least one day. Mark Webber called it a no-brainer and said there was never a question that he and Vettel would drive at the tests … what’s so great about Mclaren’s test drivers?

        Just come out and say it, don’t try to dress it up as strategic thinking. Every other team had their main men there.

  8. John Z says:

    Alonso is really a 9.6 out of 10 in all categories. He was forgetting the 6 tenths that he brings to a team.

    1. Doobs says:

      10.1 out of 10 ;)

    2. Kay says:

      Also he forgot about dragging the car to places where it doesn’t belong lol =)

  9. Sebee says:

    18 years without Senna today.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Wonder what he would be doing today??

      1. Sebee says:

        Curious what the numbers would have said once he hung up his helmet. Championships, wins. Wonder how long he would have raced and if F1 would be different today in any way.

        You know…one of those back to the future, changing timeline kind of thoughts one may have over morning coffee.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        ironically it prob would not be near as safe as it is today (example Kubica crash) titles he would certainly hold the record surpassing and at the same time shrinking Schumi’s .

      3. Sebee says:

        You know Kevin, I’m thinking that Hill, Villeneuve, and Hakkinen would have paid the price more than Schumi.

        I think Schumi was going to win 94 and 95 anyway. And then he didn’t start dominating until 2000 for that long stretch. Senna would have been in that Williams and would have surely cashed in 96 and 97. I don’t think he would have continued much past 2000.

        I think you’re right in that Schumi would probably not be alone in the 7 club, perhaps even second to Senna’s 8. But I don’t think Schumi’s timeline would have changed much.

        Indeed, on the safety issue you are spot on. It seems like safety improves only when someone dies. It’s as if we stop thinking of solutions to possible problems until we have to. I still can’t believe a spring could come off from an F1 car.

      4. Kevin Green says:

        Quite a correction it seemed to be not so much an upgrade on safety after the death of Senna but more like a complete overhaul not sure as to whether to class that as either a good or bad thing for obv various reasons. At the same time i feel the safety is generally in overkill the risk certainly brings entertainment and fan appeal at the same time as its horrible the thought of peoples lives being in danger it now appears more dangerous to walk down the road??

        I guess what Im saying is if it was not the ones concerned of there own personal safety in the race seat somebody else would happily be there and even if they were paying for it! i for one certainly would be there even with an against the odds knowledge going into the 2st race of the season.

    2. Jez says:

      The sun is still shining, the earth is still rotating and F1 has moved on…….

    3. Ace says:

      Yes the 1st May always brings back the loss of a great man.

      Senna brought so much character and pure emotion to everything he did which is truly inspirational. It’s feels like yesterday when I was watching him race in Adelaide (Australia).

      As a driver he was unbelievable with a very distinctive style in the manual turbo cars of the 80′s. I can remember watching several drivers in Adelaide but when Senna came round the use of the throttle was very different thru corners,he seemed to pulsate the throttle go kart style.

      RIP Senna you are sadly missed.

      1. Doobs says:

        As is Roland “Ratti” Ratzenberger

      2. Sebee says:

        What a sickening weekend that was.

      3. Ace says:

        Very true I can remember Senna being extremely upset after seeing Roland’s crash.

        Definately F1′s blackest weekend with the tragic loss of two great sportsman.

  10. mario says:

    will Ferrari have any advantage being that the test is held at their own testing grounds?

    I’m thinking about the historical data they have from their private testing back in the day. i’m tending to think they wont because the cars have evolved too much to compare, but its still in the back of my mind.

    1. Doug says:

      Data is data…track abrasion, gear ratios etc. Ferrari will have an advantage…whether they’ll be able to make a big stride forwards because of it is the big question IMO.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      They last ran there in 2006.
      A team run by different people, different engineers and designers.
      They used Bridgestone tyres and had unlimited testing available.
      If anyone should have an advantage, it would be Schumacher as he completed thousands of miles round there.

  11. Robert Gunning says:

    Nice to see the Ferrari is still good in wet; hopefully it goes as well in the dry. Pat Fry’s future rests on this!

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Certainly i would think

  12. Moog says:

    Any signs of any teams experimenting with a Merc-esque blown front wing?

  13. Quercus says:

    Interestingly, Edison did not invent the light bulb, as everyone thinks, but he certainly improved and made a commercial success of it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incandescent_light_bulb

    Many people think Edison’s greatest skill was as a businessman.

    1. Steven Pritchard says:

      Glad someone else pointed that out! :)

    2. the_rh1no says:

      Great point – He may not have invented the light bulb, but he did make it a success… basically designing the fundamental components of an entire electric grid just so the lightbulb could actually be used in houses. He definitely was a good business man, but he was still a good inventor.

      The story reminds me somewhat of the fact that the aptly named Alexander Graham Bell didn’t actually invent the telephone, but he made it a success.

      1. Doobs says:

        They photocopied the blueprints right?

      2. Gatsby says:

        I think the phone was invented by Meucci, that on a typical Italian shamble did not try to patent it for at least 1 year.

      3. iceman says:

        Edison designed a DC electric distribution grid, which was a dead end. His company famously electrocuted an elephant in an attempt to discredit Nikola Tesla’s rival AC system. Despite this, the practical advantages of the AC system made it ultimately successful.

      4. Doug says:

        Tesla was a genuis..Edison was a very bright businessman. You can guess who made the most money/fame!

    3. HFEVO2 says:

      Bit like Ron Dennis then !

  14. Anand R says:

    Macca pioneer in many areas, alas championship results in last decade+ don’t show the true picture.

  15. falonso says:

    Missing Ayrton Senna on the 18th anniversary of his death.
    Your spirit lives on among us who love you!

  16. Auski says:

    Off topic James the webber to Ferrari rumor is going around again in main stream Aussie and spanish media. With ferrari wanting to have Sergio 2 years at sauber and red bull wanting the young drivers to step up. 1 year deal for webber
    Is this old news?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I’ve written about this before saying it is the logical next step. It’s still a bit early but it is a realistic idea

  17. AuraF1 says:

    Interesting to see Lotus have dropped kimi for the tests and sticking with grosjean only ‘to establish and retain a baseline’… Makes you wonder if mclaren got it right sticking with their test drivers who they know are very exacting and they have their simulator baselines.

    Doubt it will stop the ‘Lewis was banned to favor Jenson’ conspiracy theorists though :)

  18. SNB says:

    James

    All , Australian media is awash with Webber news today May 2 – radio tv and press.

    Speculation and inuendo continue and Webber is not discounting the re-fuelled Ferrari move in 13′.

    Massa is a shot duck .

    Cards on the table JA …. what’s happening to MW in 13′ and will they have a decent car in 13′ ???

    Come on James we in Aus want to know

    SNB

    1. James Allen says:

      Story is live now

  19. Phil says:

    Well at least McLaren are winning something; pity it’s not Formula 1 races.

    1. Anand R says:

      That too a Silverware. Miss the winning culture set by Ron Dennis. Martin Whitmarsh doesn’t make the cut.

  20. Graham says:

    All this Edison.Webber/Alonso/Mclaren talk is interesting, but the seious question remains unanswered….

    Who DID tweet the most graphic photographs of rain? :-)
    Exmples?

    G

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