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Perez says McLaren have made a “huge leap” forward from Jerez to Barcelona
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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Feb 2013   |  12:05 am GMT  |  70 comments

Sergio Perez says his new McLaren team have made a “huge leap” forward with their performance from the first test in Jerez to the second in Barcelona.

The Mexican, who is about to start his first season with the team after joining from Sauber, topped the timesheets on day two of running at the Circuit de Catalunya, finishing 0.349 seconds quicker than reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.

Though he refused to get excited about the headline time, Perez was pleased with the car’s progress and how he was getting used to the feel of his new machine.

“It is nothing more than testing,” Perez said in an interview on the official F1.com site. “Tomorrow everybody will have already forgotten about it. It has no significance. Sure it is nice to see your name up there, but you don’t get anything for it.

“What really meant a lot is that we obviously made a huge leap forward from Jerez to Barcelona. The car is now coming my way much more naturally. It’s a good sign.

“It’s been a good day. I am very happy with our programme. So far my first four days with the team and in the car have been great and hopefully on the last two days we will be able to again do very productive work.”

However, Perez did raise concerns about the “extreme” level of degradation of this year’s Pirelli tyres. The Mexican made a name for himself in 2012 as one of the drivers who was very good at making his tyres last in race conditions, but he said the big drop-off in performance in cold conditions was a bit of a concern.

Perez said: “It’s extreme. The degradation is very difficult. It’s a big surprise. Normally in winter testing we see a lot of degradation, but never this much.

“We are going to have a race here so it’s a bit of a worry. But we are still learning about the tyres and I think once we go racing I hope things will change. I definitely hope it changes, because if we are in this situation in Melbourne we are going to see something like seven or 10 stops.

“I’m sure we always see a lot of degradation in winter testing and all the teams are learning, and especially us, we need to learn a bit more about the tyres.”

Vettel said that he felt all the teams are struggling with high degradation. “It’s been very difficult,” he said. “Similar to all the other people struggling with the tyres! Struggling to make them last, I think you see fairly rapidly lap times go off. Arguably it’s a little bit too cold for the tyres.”

However, Force India’s Paul di Resta played down concerns. “They certainly look like they are wearing out quite quick,” he said. “But the temperatures are not [as high as they will be] where we are going to be racing them, so we should probably give them a bit of a break.”

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70 Comments
  1. Sebee says:

    Imagine if there is a tire fiasco like Indianapolis again? No way to make that look good if it happens at a GP. And with degradation come marbles, and end to passing perhaps?

    1. Araqiel says:

      Probably not too likely with only one supplier.

      1. Sebee says:

        Actually, quite a risk I think.

        I have seen this in NASCAR where a single supplier messed up by not being ready for a resurfaced track bringing tires thay fell apart. Huge negative publicity as everyone in the press pounded on Goodyear.

        Now with single supplier and this “agressive” tire that Segio says is delicate even in cooler conditions and all it will take is a super soft & medium venue to turn exceptionally hot one weekend and there you go. 7 stops like Sergio says and guess what everyone writes? I think “ruining F1″ will be in a few articles.

        Every product has weakness. Pirelli sure are putting more risk on their brand by trying to make the tires more agressive. Tough to be a tire supplier if you think about it. A thankless job.

  2. Fco. Javier Sànchez says:

    Hes right, the truth is on the racing track..

    1. Gudien says:

      Jenson says the car is not performing well, while Sergio is happy. What is going on here?

      1. Random 79 says:

        Jensen knows how to play the game, while I have yet to hear one negative word from Perez about anything.

        Maybe he’s just a perpetual optimist, more likely he’s still just a touch naive.

      2. The Racer says:

        Who is Jensen? Sergio Perez is not an optimist nor a naive, he is very mature for his age. By the way, he is a fantastic driver.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Jensen is Jensen Button – he’s been driving for a little while, thought you might have heard of him with you being a fellow racer and all.

        I never said Sergio was immature, but someone can be mature and still be an optimist or naive at the same time. I only said that *maybe* that was the case, and even if it is the case it’s not a bad thing – personally I’ll take an optimist over a pessimist any day of the week.

        In any case I agree he’s a good driver – now it’s up to him to prove whether or not he’s a great one.

      4. The Racer says:

        The only Button I know who drives F-1 goes by the first name of “Jenson”. Anyway, that is not important, Random 79.

        I agree with you, I would rather have someone who says he wants the world title since the first year he drives a car that can do it and not the one who says “well, maybe next year or the year after”.
        What I meant by saying that Perez is not an optimist or naive is that I think he sees things as they are and does not talk more than necessary.

        I wish you an exciting season.
        Let the greatest show on earth begin!

  3. Quade says:

    I don’t expect much from Perez. Not from a guy who ran his much faster Sauber off the road unaided when closing in for an easy pass on a much slower Alonso for his first ever win.

    All that drama occurred in the first half of last season that was an unfortunate lottery, because the teams had not yet understood the tyres.

    Thank you Pirelli and Mexican money, for giving us Perez. Talents luck ran out long ago.

    1. Joe says:

      Your memory is faulty. Perez was leading, with Alonso closing.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Your memory is faulty. Alonso was leading, with Perez closing.

    2. Tim says:

      I think that’s a bit of a harsh assessment – there is no such thing as an easy pass on Alonso:-)

    3. Random 79 says:

      Give the guy a break. He might be fast, he might not – we’ll see in time.

      But as for last year he was a relatively new driver in a midfield car chasing down a highly experienced double world champion in a Ferrari.

      He would have been excited, his blood would have been boiling, and he made a simple mistake (a mistake some much more experienced drivers sometimes make all on their own).

      I agree though that he probably would not have been in that position if not for the tyres, but this year he’s in a McLaren – which means that this year, win or lose, they’ll be no excuses and nowhere to hide…

      1. Random 79 says:

        Unfortunately there’s no excuses for my spelling either; that’s supposed to be ‘there’ll be no excuses’…

    4. hero_was_senna says:

      That doesn’t explain the teams performance in qualifying for Belgium, or the way he surged through the field to finish second at Monza..

    5. Curt says:

      The speeds in Malaysia were equalizing and he had one shot at Alonso on a greasy track. 22 other cars would have gladly traded for his second place. Podiums in Canada and Monza suggest Perez is more than a flash in the pan.

      He can definitely drive around the tires which are looking to be an issue again this year. Button has had success doing the same thing. There is every chance he’ll be in it come fall.

    6. Rich B says:

      you mean like the mistake worldchamp vettel made when leading jenson in canada 2011 throwing an easy win away?

      mclaren should’ve picked hulk though

      1. Quade says:

        Simple truth.

        Hulkenburg is the real deal, he’s one of the top guys out there, while Perez is Pirelli enhanced and all money. There’s nothing worse than an artificial construct in a top team.

        It is hard to understand why McLaren didn’t buy him.

      2. The Racer says:

        I would really like to have a lot of money so I could drive an F-1 car. Do you think that is possible, Quade?

  4. goferet says:

    Hmm… The fact that Perez says the team have made a big leap forward makes me suspicious the team were struggling for speed and thus the need for Jenson to put in that low fuel fast lap on the first day of testing.

    Now here’s the problem, if Mclaren have improved since Jerez, this in turn means their competition has improved too and thus leaving the team at just about the same place they were at Jerez and that being possibly the 4th fastest car.

    As regards the fast degrading tyres, well, just as long as all the teams are facing the same amount of degradation, I think that will be fine because then we will have a level playing field.

    And no, Di Resta isn’t right on this one for when lots of drivers are concerned about high degradation, that’s exactly what we will have during the season just like what happened at winter testing of 2011.

    Of course the thing with high degrading tyres doesn’t only mean more pit stops but also no venturing off the racing line least you slide off the track entirely.

    And the fact Red Bull are practicing their pit stops this early lets me know teams aren’t sleeping easy, and for sure, the strategists will be those people seen about in the paddock with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

    However, all this plays nicely into the midfield runners’ hands such as Sauber for it will in effect render Q3 qualifying irrelevant.

    P.s.

    If only Pirelli could produce fast degrading tyres that do not spit pieces of rubber onto the track, that would have been great.

    I mean, this fact is what made Canada 2010 such a classic for the Brigdestones wore out fast without totally disintegrating and thus enabling overtakes e.g. When Jenson overtook Alonso on the outside.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      The fact that Jenson put that fast lap on hard tyres on the midst of a multi-lap run suggests your suspicion is wrong.

      It’s more likely the teams were all very carefully sand-bagging hard and jenson accidentally gave away a bit too much by pushing. Mclaren immediately went into slower runs. It’s a fairly common tactic on F1 testing now – the desperation not to push headline times too far.

      I personally think Perez is most likely referring to the car being adapted to him more. To be realistic the car would be built to Jenson (and to some extent hamiltons) input over last year. The fact that the team will have a tiny bit of feedback from Perez now means the car will be getting more to his set up range.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Thank God the stewards didn’t penalise him for causing an avoidable accident..

    3. KGBVD says:

      di Resta is the only one making sense about the tires. It’s too cold for them. Plain and simple. Try running your winter tires through the summer here in Canada (or your summers in January) and you’ll know all about how temperature affects your tires.

      Pirelli changed the tires so that the teams wouldn’t understand them so readily. Job accomplished.

      Yes, it would be ideal for the teams understand the tires right away so that they can test their parts. But understanding the tires (in addition to their new parts) is part of their job, and testing is how they do it.

      Teams are testing pit stops because they all have the new hyper-fast lug nuts with aggressive thread patterns a la Ferrari and McLaren last year. That explains Vettel’s loose wheel.

      Lastly, Montreal is ALWAYS a classic, Bridgestone had nothing to do with it. Pirelli has turned every track into tracks capable of producing Circuit Gilles Villeneuve level excitement. I love it.

      1. Dren says:

        Yes, great post.

      2. Sebee says:

        You think that hotter temperature will make the tires hold better?

        You think that graining is happening because the rubber is harder and they are not able to bring them up to ideal temp?

        I ask because I’m wondering if it is at all possible to have a tire product which wears out more easily in cold vs. hot conditions.

        Your example of winter tires in summer is not really ideal, because that rubber is made to not get as hard in the winter cold, but gets way too soft in the summer heat thus making the tires wear out and deteriorate quicker, not maintain tracktion and feel unstable. Also the additional tracks in winter tires create more friction without cooling and this also makes the tires get hotter quickly.

        I think that if there are tire degredation concerns in 10C, there are going to be huge issues in 30C and much higher track temps. I don’t see how anything else but that is possible. It’s always been the hotter the tire gets, the quicker it wears out. And if Perez says they are degrading now and it turns into a mess at a surprisingly hot OZ, then they will run out of rubber and we’ll have hard and medium as only choices for the season.

      3. Martin says:

        Yes it is true that tyres can work better when hotter. Tyres work by keying themselves to the road surface or by gluing themselves to rubber in the road. The latter mechanism is where Bridgestone and Michelin got to in the tyre war. I understand the Pirelli tyres more use the former mechanism as it works better for degradation characteristics. At lower temperatures the tyres become stiffer and grip less. You get lower level damage when the tyres do slip or slide as the smaller pieces are torn from the tyres. So you get more of the so called graining effect. Raise the temperature and the tyre get into their operating range. I remember an article based on a test of a Ferrari road car, I think the 456M and because Fiorano had only a track temperature of 5 degrees, the F1 cars couldn’t go out as the Bridgestone tyres needed at least 7 to be safe. Since the tyres come out of the blankets at 85 degrees or so, there are a few factors at play.

        Winter road tyres run compounds that are designed for lower temperatures. Rubber has what is known as a glass transition temperature where it changes into plastic. Change different parameters and you’ll get a tyre that works in a different temperature range. As has been commented, drivers such as Jenson, who are less aggressive with their steering into have struggle to get tyres into their operating range and that has equally worn out tyres last year as having them overheat.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      4. Sebee says:

        Very interesting Martin.

        I was under the impression that below a certain temperature the tires were simply too hard and slippery, not that they wear out. But it makes sense that having them on the lower end of their operating range in this test would mean perhaps chunks are ripped off, vs. layer worn off if they are at higher track temps.

        I guess we will answer those questions soon. I just hope it’s not a scenario where the tires are too delicate. If that is the case, we will have a a messy GP weekend with a lottery result. Perhaps that is a way Bernie can get his wish of rain excitement without making everyone wet or introducing artificial sprinklers.

      5. The Racer says:

        Well said, Sebee. Except for 1986 (I went to Mexico for de soccer World Cup), I have not missed a G.P. of Canada since held in Montreal.

    4. mr sneff says:

      Funny, just read that JB says McLaren are struggling to understand the car http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/105661

      1. Steven says:

        Already making excuses…

    5. Is it not normal for teams to practice their pit stops? Seems like this should be a year round thing

  5. . says:

    Everything seems to be indicating that 2013 will be McLaren doing a RB 2011. I think Button will get it in the end.

    RBR seems to be losing their mojo after years and years of the FIA trying to slow them down by changing the rules worded mainly against RBR innovations.

    Ferrari will just do their usual almost but not quite thing.

    Mercedes seems to be doing the exact same things like the years before (lots of talk how they started earlier than everyone else with this year’s car, followed by fast testing times and then nothing but fight with Sauber and Force India and then mid season start focussing on next year’s car, broken record).

    Lotus will do their 2012 thing.

    1. JEZ Playense says:

      Something of a Macca fan?

      You have decided the 3 times World champions are losing their mojo after a few days of testing?

      The other two teams who finished ahead of Macca last season are doing their thing?

      Early days!

      1. . says:

        No fan of any team, why even mention that.

        It is easy to see for anyone McLaren is way ahead.

      2. JEZ Playense says:

        “It is easy to see for anyone McLaren is way ahead.” Really?

        How far ahead is way ahead?

      3. SaScha says:

        If anything , than testing shows so far , NO team is way ahead. Neither McLaren nor RBR, or Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes

      4. Jeff Cranmer says:

        I am a McLaren fan, and I fail to see how you can claim any team has a big advantage. The differences in fuel loads are masking any firm conclusions.

        Let’s face it. We won’t really know which team is ahead until q3 in Melbourne.

    2. KGBVD says:

      Agreed on most points, McLaren is doing a really really poor job sandbagging. They are quick and everyone knows it.

      RBR is very much running under the radar, you’d think they’d be more concerned if they weren’t holding back. McLaren can learn from them about how not to show your hand.

      Ferrari doesn’t look the part. Reports were that it looked a handle in Jerez, with the team harping on about their coming developing toward OZ. McLaren and RBR will have updates too, but none of their drivers spend Jerez sawing away half a dozen times at the wheel to make a corner (or on fire for that matter).

      I agree that Merc and Sauber are on par, but I think both are respectively faster than last year. I think the Hulk is a good dark-horse bet for a win this year (he would have won last year in Perez’s situations).

      Lotus I peg with Ferrari. They are positive in the same way that Ferrari is skeptical, which I think considering their respective starting points, leaves them even steven.

    3. Tim says:

      Everything seems to be indicating that 2013 will be McLaren doing a RB 2011…..

      What signs/evidence have you spotted from the testing so far to lead you to conclude that McLaren will leapfrog the 2 teams that beat them last year?
      I hope you’re correct by the way.It’s just that I don’t see RBR (unfortunately) falling so far behind in such a short time, especially since the regulations are relatively stable.

      1. KGBVD says:

        Button’s day 1 time in Jerez was astronomical. He shouldn’t have been able to post that time but did. Macca may have a world beater this year.

      2. Tim says:

        I wouldn’t get too excited about the times in Jerez, remember the track is not typical of the circuits where the actual races take place.
        In particular the surface is entirely different – FA didn’t even bother to turn up for Jerez.
        Early days…….

      3. Cos says:

        As much as I like and follow McLaren as a team I have say as suggested elsewhere I think Button may have made a boo-boo by posting such a quick time. Leaving aside fuel loads/set-ups etc…RBR is well known for holding their cards close to their chest. I wouldn’t place a bet on McLaren just yet.

    4. Quade says:

      I like how these great and wondrous prophesies get made up on the skinniest information.
      Anyone with a Mayan calendar for 2013? :)

      1. Cos says:

        yes it will mostly be wet, appart from in the summer when it will be dry (for 2 days at least in the UK!!)

      2. Quade says:

        Lol! Thats a good one!
        I’ll add that a driver for a team will win the WDC and their name will start with one of the 26 alphabets. :)

    5. JEZ Playense says:

      James doesn’t appear to have your confidence in Macca either

      http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2013/02/analysis-what-we-have-learned-from-barcelona-test/

  6. TheLollipopMan says:

    Why would the COLD temps be causing heavy degradation? It’s generally hot temps that cause that. Look at Mercedes’ win in Shanghai last year – cold temps that weekend were an advantage for a car that chewed up its tyres quicker than the frontrunners in normal conditions.

    The whole point of this year’s Pirellis was to make them come up to operating temperature quicker. I can only assume that in doing so, they also wear quicker.

    What’s the deal, JA?

    1. KGBVD says:

      There are different types of thermal degradation, e.g. graining vs blistering. It depends on if there are hot spots, tread separation, etc.

      Summer tires can delaminate spectacularly with a puncture on a freezing cold day. So it really all depends. In this case, I imagine we’d have to ask Paul H.

      I think this is a matter of the teams being bothered because the tires didn’t come with an instruction manual. They should suck it up and spend some time trying to set their cars up to suit the tires. It only took them 6 months last year…

  7. Tim says:

    Everything seems to be indicating that 2013 will be McLaren doing a RB 2011. I think Button will get it in the end….

    Leaving aside the complete lack of evidence, isn’t your prediction contradictory?
    If McLaren replicate the form of RBR from 2011 then surely Button would win (WDC) easily with several races to go rather than “get it in the end”, which suggests a closely fought contest?

  8. Paul Watson says:

    Can it not just be that he’s getting used to the car?

    1. oakrichardson says:

      +1

  9. Anne says:

    I´m concerned about his comments on tyre degradation. If he is right it could mean that both Pirelli and F1 are crossing the line.I don´t want drivers and teams to have a headache over tyres

  10. Stringers says:

    Clever strategy from McLaren taking on Perez when you compare to the Buton/Hamilton line up – they had opposing driving styles, Button preferring understeer & Hamilton oversteer – this must have made setups complicated with a diluting of the 2 sides of the garage – Perez & Button having more similar smooth styles should allow the whole team to focus on similar setups for both drivers, concentrating their efforts more. Could be McLarens year, though you can never count out Magico!!!

  11. Richard says:

    [mod] James thanks for the insights! They are always excellent!

  12. Chromatic says:

    Test times don’t mean a thing.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Silly comment. If testing times really meant nothing there would be no point in testing!

      Test times can be hard to compare – teams do sandbag. But quality has a way of shining through. Read the analysis by Mark Gillan or Gary Anderson and it shows they can see significant trends.

      Just like a championship is not won by a driver or a car but by a subtle combination of car, driver and team so too a test needs to be read as a combination of time, tyre, unknown fuel load and the smile on a driver’s face… or the lack of.

      1. Tim says:

        I remember last year Gary Anderson said he didn’t see anything special about the McLarens (pre season) and they were 1 & 2 in qualifying for Australia:-)

      2. Chromatic says:

        No.
        It’s only in Melbourne in 23 days time that we will find out the relative speed of the teams to each other. Not before. It may be nice to top the time sheets during testing, but you don’t know what part of their program the driver and team were testing at any point.

      3. Jonathan says:

        As I said it is all about a combination of driver, car, team and of course development. 2 years ago the McLaren was woefully slow in testing. They must have believed they were relatively competitive when arriving at the tests. The test times meant one hell of a lot to them – as they had to make some fundamental changes… which they did before arriving at Melbourne.

        3 weeks is a very long time in F1 development terms for a top team. Without testing they wouldn’t know how much they needed to do. Last year it would seem they were sandbagging very successfully. This year some are suggesting that Button forgot his sandbags on day one.

        In other words times do mean everything … to a team. Reading the times is all about trying to unravel the background to the setup and the number of sandbags carried. Without the full data this is an art form.

        The general feeling teams have about their competitors rarely create many surprises.

        Test times only mean nothing to those who lack the background data. That is why the teams watch each other like hawks to count sandbags, assess the amount of refuelling time between runs and anything else they can understand.

        When we see the relative times at Melbourne that will only be relevant to the cars at that stage of development at that type of circuit. Some of the times set in testing relate to what teams can expect when they get to later races – and again we do not know when and which type of circuit they are trying.

  13. zombie says:

    OT : Did ForceIndia finally get around to announcing their second driver ? Or will Mr.Mallya himself be driving it ?

  14. Justin Bieber says:

    Seems like a few LH fan are hoping Perez fails at McLaren somehow thinking it will prove that LH is indispensable.. Time will tell.

    But as Charles de Gaulle once said: The cemeteries are full of indispensable men.

    1. Cos says:

      Not wanting to re-ignite the Button/Hamilton debate ….but based on what you say then surely the same would apply to Jenson fans wanting Hamilton to fail at Mercedes?

      1. Random 79 says:

        I’m 100% sure that Hamilton won’t fail at Mercedes, but the Mercedes might well fail him.

        It doesn’t matter if Jensen or even Perez beat Hamilton this year. The people who are already completely polarised are not going to change their mind at this late stage – they’ll just say it was because they were in a faster car and give them no credit at all, which is a shame.

  15. Graham Passmore says:

    Picture this. Track temperature here in Montreal in early June not dissimilar to Barcelona this week, and there is no rain. At leat 1 major contender (Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus) is forced to retire a car before the end because the dry tyre supply has been exhausted.

    1. KGBVD says:

      Track temp in Montreal in JUNE is ambient (25-35 degrees C) plus at least 15 degrees, so we are looking at 40 degrees Celsius.

      The highs in Barcelona this week have been in the mid-teens. What Montreal are you living in?

    2. Random 79 says:

      S’okay, in that case Bernie jump out on track with the garden hose and everyone will switch to inters.

  16. Lachlan Mackinnon says:

    It sounds like ground hog day! I seem to recall teams at the commencement of last years season struggling to come to terms with the new Pirelli tyres. Good teams/drivers will understand and get these tyres working before you know it – 2 to 3 stops per race. Those who get it wrong will exceed this and pay the price. In my opinion this is the complete picture of racing…..not having the tyres last for 50 plus laps. I have no doubt many will disagree with this perspective but I certainly value the different opinions thrown up on this forum. Looking forward to the first race :-))

  17. Goob says:

    Whitmarsh, Button and Perez… why does that make me laugh?

    1. JC says:

      I agree, the odd trio.

      Whitmarsh is a bit of an awkward fellow especially when he was out on the podium with Lewis on the odd occasion in last few years. i recall at one stage i felt awkward just watching him.

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