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Barcelona Test 2: Day 3: Hamilton Shows Mercedes’ True Pace On Soft Tyres
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  02 Mar 2013   |  5:32 pm GMT  |  240 comments

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes made a firm statement of intent today as they finally ran the Pirelli soft tyre and dominated the penultimate day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Having been the only team to not yet run the yellow banded soft tyre, the F1 paddock would not have anticipated that Hamilton would shave over a second off the fastest time that we have seen in Barcelona so far this year. Mercedes themselves believed their gain to be closer to half a second, so their improvement will be thought provoking for their rival teams.

Mercedes’ tyre difficulties have always appeared during warm weekends, hence the team’s only win coming at a cold Shanghai, in 2012. This being the case these issues may still exist, but they are not showing up in early March. Hamilton set three times in the 1m20s, all on the soft tyre and at the beginning of a five-lap stint. Of course we cannot read too much into the numbers since we don’t have the respective fuel loads, but Mercedes are certainly significantly closer than how they ended last season.

“There is no reason to be impressed,” said Hamilton. “We came through all the tests and all the programmes we wanted to do and obviously our upgrade has been a positive, it was a small step forward for us.

“This is a good track to test on and give you a rough idea; if your car is good here then it should be good anywhere. If you look at the (Mercedes) car last year it was quick in Monaco so it should be competitive on the street circuits. When it comes to the downforce circuits it could be quite tough there. The most important thing is that single lap pace can be easily achieved, it’s long run pace that is the tough one.”

There were few improvements this afternoon as teams took the chance to perform a race simulation whilst the weather was on their side. The only driver to improve was Felipe Massa on a set of soft tyres, pulling himself within a second of Hamilton. Ferrari dedicated Massa’s final morning of pre-season testing to mid-length runs on the medium tyre, before a series of short stints in the afternoon. During these Massa adopted the on-off-on approach to his tyres, evaluating qualifying strategy for when the season begins.

There was a moment of concern for Ferrari however, when Massa lost his front-left wheel along the back straight late in the day. It looked as though the car suffered a wheel-nut explosion and the team will need to look deep in to how the problem occurred.

Nevertheless, reliability looks generally pretty good for most of the teams as testing comes towards an end.


Ferrari have had a much improved Winter testing programme compared to last year and they should provide a challenge. New sidepods and exhausts mounted yesterday performed as expected, according to Fernando Alonso, who will have one more day’s running tomorrow.

The Spaniard also noted some very positive longer runs where the car managed to keep degradation under control over 14 laps. He thinks success in Melbourne will come down to teams being at the top of their game operationally and strategically, dealing with the uncertainty over the degradation of the new Pirelli tyres. For Ferrari, qualifying close to the front will be vital as this was something they struggled to do last season.

Mark Webber was in the Red Bull seat today and had another typically understated day, frustrating fans and the media alike who are keen to see what the RB9 can produce.

Adrian Sutil in third place went through much of the morning without setting a time, instead focusing on pit stop practice and installation laps. Following the lunch break the returnee and his Force India squad turned their attention to some qualifying simulation runs using the super soft tyre. After three one-lap stints his lap of 1:21.627 put him in second place at that time, albeit over a second off Hamilton’s pace and he used the rest of the afternoon to conduct a race simulation.

Williams maintained their programme of sharing the car between both drivers with Pastor Maldonado handing the reigns over to Valtteri Bottas this afternoon. The team’s plans for today were delayed due a late delivery of new parts, most notably the Red Bull-style sidepods that they are looking to understand and exploit over the final days of testing. Maldonado used a set of the super soft compound to end the day in fourth place.

Having topped yesterday Romain Grosjean had made his way back to Paris with Kimi Raikkonen set to take over the Lotus E21 for the final two days of testing. However, Raikkonen fell sick overnight and Grosjean was ushered back to Barcelona. In the meantime Lotus gave last year’s GP2 Champion, and reserve driver, Davide Valsecchi an opportunity drive during the morning session until Grosjean arrived.

And Valsecchi seemed to enjoy his morning in the latest Formula One machinery, “It was a really good surprise this morning because Kimi had some problem and his physical trainer said he was not fit enough to drive, so the team decided to use me,” he said. “I use everything from Raikkonen,” he added. “Seat, overalls, shoes, pants, socks. Only the underwear was missing!”

At Marussia, new boy Jules Bianchi was quickly up to speed, fitting in with his new team and getting into the groove. He completed 65 laps and seemed happy with his new surroundings.

Tomorrow is the 12th and final day of pre-season testing before the teams pack the cars and set off for Melbourne.

Barcelona Test Day 3

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes  1m20.558 97 Laps (S)

2. Felipe Massa Ferrari  1m21.457 +0.899 85 Laps (SS)

3. Adrian Sutil Force India  1m21.627 +1.069 109 Laps (S)

4. Pastor Maldonado Williams  1m22.305 +1.747 34 Laps (S)

5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.468 +1.1.910

6. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber  1m22.553 +1.995 86 Laps (S)

7. Sergio Perez McLaren  1m22.694 +2.136 81 Laps (S)

8. Mark Webber Red Bull  1m23.116 +2.558 50 Laps (S)

9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso  1m23.223 +2.665 105 Laps (S)

10. Davide Valsecchi Lotus  1m23.448 +2.890 16 Laps (S)

11. Romain Grosjean Lotus  1m23.482 +2.924 30 Laps (M)

12. Jules Bianchi Marussia  1m24.028 +3.470 65 Laps (S)

13. Giedo van der Garde Caterham  1m24.520 +3.962 119 Laps (M)

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  1. Sebee says:

    To: Ross
    From: Schumi

    Dear Ross,

    What the …..?

    Not so best Regards.
    The Schumster.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Nice one :)

      After three unproductive years Schumacher would have to be scratching his head a bit.

      1. Carl Craven says:

        errr……. did Mercedes just win something?

      2. Wayne says:

        Yes, yes they won the ‘it’s probably not as bad as it could have been and everyone has beeen saying it will be’ award.

        It looks like they have improved, that’s a good thing, right?

      3. Random 79 says:

        No, but Mercedes do look to be in a better position than last year – at least so far…not that that’s saying much.

      4. Wheels says:

        Hey, Carl!

        Mercedes GP is just “throwin’ down” and lettin’ everyone know that they mean business.

        Definitely a force to be reckoned with by the time the Grand Prix circus reaches the European races (Monaco or Spain).

        They, no doubt, have the fastest development pace so far this preseason and that’s probably the most important aspect, in terms of preparation, at this stage before Melbourne.

        Yep, the Team’s new signings Hamilton, Wolff and Lauda are proving the real deal in a big hurry, and things are just getting started!

      5. Carl Craven says:

        Yes, they are letting everyone know, just like they did last year. Confidence in testing, check, qualify near the front, check, go backwards during the race, check check check check etc.

        This year will be between Ferrari and RBR. As a Button fan I can only hope Mclaren are not as dire as everyone at BBC F1 is suggesting :(

        But then again, Mercedes did buy up plenty of everyone’s including Mclaren’s talent because they couldn’t develop it in house.

      6. Sebee says:

        Hey Wayne,

        Didn’t BAR always win the winter season? What was the result?

      7. Wheels says:

        Hey, Carl!

        If I remember correctly, Mercedes started last years’ preseason testing with a bang, only to fad fast by the last sessions before Melbourne due to the front end chewing up and spitting out tires.

        No, my man, the -vibe force spirit- is telling me this is a new day for that Merc…. Since Mercedes F1′s inception they have never come on this strong preseason by any means.

        I’m looking for them to be a royal pain in the arse for the front runners Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren (not necessarily in that order) by the European season. (Spain or Monaco

        But. don’t be surprised if they are qualifying on the first three rows before then…. Hamilton and Rosberg are too strong a driver paring to be left far behind. Lotus is looking like, maybe, having reliability and development problems, at least at the season’s start.

        Anyway, Craven, get out of this past season business and ease into the Mercedes F1 here and now!

      8. Wheels says:

        I hear you CoefficientF1!

        Hey sorry, but Lauda and Wolff did not just waltz in from anywhere. I believe they were hired by Mercedes for good reason and with ,probably, rather large retainers. I don’t know, perhaps, you have more expertise at your disposal than the Board of Execs at Brackley (or wherever they’re based).

        Personally, I think Team Mercedes F1 have been lost in the Grand Prix forest the past three years. Ross Brawn had nothing in the way of carte blanch to do what he felt needed at Mercedes F1. Not right off, anyway…. I always had the feeling things were a big struggle for Ross when dealing with the Execs calling the budget shots.

        That’s where Lauda and Wolff come in to the picture…. Convincing the money men that Brawn needs more of a free hand running things on the pit wall, and the factory. F1 is about large euros. Now, immediate impact! Hey, F1 is a very fast sport on all fronts. Race track, chassis development, aero, Team management, fast money…. Gotta have it!

        Costa, Bell & Co. are benefiting from the “winning front runners” attitude brought on board by Wolff and Lauda. Wolff a winner at Williams (of course, they had hit bottom before his renaissance). Lauda a multiple World Champ and successful Airline Exec.

        The Design Team hasn’t IMO distinguished itself, the past three seasons, up until this point. Costa, if I recall correctly, was somewhat unsuccessful in his stint at Ferrari. Willis, although, very highly experienced, hasn’t always set the F1 World on fire at Bar, Honda etc….

        Other than trying to get a jump on fellow F1 Teams, by going about researching and building this year’s car earlier then their competitors–I think the Design Team received a bit of a real shock with Hamilton’s critique at Jerez.

        And it seems to me that Lewis hit things square on…. It’s been all up and away since that downforce feedback Hamilton voiced, the first couple of test sessions.

        Nope, no magic wand for Mercedes F1, Coefficient. Just very competent motor racing folks in the right places, at the right time!

      9. grat says:

        Not necessarily. It’s easy to say that the W04 wouldn’t be the car it is without Schumacher and Rosberg’s input.

        Essentially, Mercedes has been off-balance since they took over a seriously understaffed and disorganized team– even though Brawn GP won WDC and WCC, they were completely unable to develop the car during 2009, and since then, Ross Brawn has been rebuilding the team.

        Hamilton’s benefiting from all that work over the past few years, and it should have been a factor in his decision to go to Mercedes.

        The impressive bit about this time to me is that it’s significantly better than Hamilton’s Q3 times from Barcelona last year.

      10. coefficientf1 says:

        “Yep, the Team’s new signings Hamilton, Wolff and Lauda are proving the real deal in a big hurry, and things are just getting started!”

        Yeah, they just waved a magic wand and fixed everything.

        This apparent renaissance has been 3 years in the making and can be credited in the main to Ross Brawn. It was he who decided after 2009 that the factory and technical staff needed much improvement so he’s been quietly organising the factory upgrades and recruiting big names like Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis, Bob Bell etc. Each of those names have had to restructure their departments all whilst absorbing the factory upgrades and keeping the team ticking over during the season. This year will be the first year that the Brawn assembled super team will have the opportunity to show what they have built together. Lauda and Wolff have just waltzed in to basque in the success created by the hard work of those that were there before them. I’m sure they’re very good managers etc but W04 was signed off in the middle of last year in design terms and I seriously doubt The Rat and The Wolff could make nail between them! If

      11. Wheels says:

        Coefficient, my man!

        Got a lengthy response for you. (above) Seems I stuck it in the wrong spot! (Done that before, Ha!) I dig where you’re coming from…. Just don’t quite agree.

    2. Dan says:

      To: Schumi
      From: Ross

      Thanks for keeping the seat warm for a fast driver.

      Regards.
      Ross

      1. Sebee says:

        To: Ross
        From: Schumi

        Dear Ross,

        Maybe you’re right. 7 is enough. It would be hard to make 8 stars pattern look good on my helmets too.

        Regards.
        The one and only.

        P.S. Good luck to Lewis. My helmet painting kumpel tells me it is not possible to make patterns with only one star. Or even with two.

    3. Anne says:

      To: Schumi
      From: Ross

      Dear Schumi. Remember the DDRS from last season?
      Well I just made it even better for this one. Passive DRS and yet more effective.

      Love, hugs and kisses

      Ross

      1. Sebee says:

        To: Ross
        From: Schumi

        Ross,

        I told you last year that was the way to go. Glad you adopted the idea. Tell Lauda to talk to Pirelli about using their tires and all MB if they build tires that suit your design. But I am sure being the Top Exec he figured that out already.

        Cheeri-o
        MS 7/91

      2. smith says:

        Dear Michael
        You know how I was first to have the double diffuser, well it appears that im the first to have the treble traction in 2013. Once all the teams have realised what we have, it ill take them 6 months to redesign their back end and manufacture the triple traction device. Thank you for all you time and effort in the development stages. Ps we now have a driver capable of utilising its full potential.
        Love
        Ross

      3. Anne says:

        Well something tells me that Newey will figure it out within a month, redesign the RB and will win at the end. Sorry to bring the bad news

      4. F1racer says:

        To : Schumi
        From: Ross

        Dear Mike,
        Keep an extra chair in the beach for me. If i screw up this year, i would have to start my second retirement like you.

        Cheers
        Ross

      5. coefficientf1 says:

        “Well something tells me that Newey will figure it out within a month, redesign the RB and will win at the end. Sorry to bring the bad news”

        Adrian is an Aero guy in the main, he would have to rely on one if his Generals to figure out any fancy mechanical trickery.

    4. Val from montreal says:

      Buttom line in 2013 MB will stay remain mid-field at best with zero wins , zero poles and MAYBE 2 podium finishes coming from Rosberg and / or Hollywood …. The team will not out perform Lotus …. My crytal ball with the eye of Horus sees all …

      1. Wayne says:

        Your ball must be faulty, mine clearly says Merc will lie third in the constructors championship at the end of 2013 with two race wins to their name. I’d get a refund on it were I you. How do I know your ball is the faulty one? Well mine’s an iBall and so clearly better than all the rest because it looks way prettier (although I will have to upgrade it for no discernable reason every 12 months at enormous, unjustifiable expense).

      2. coefficientf1 says:

        LMAO! (THUD: Hits floor)

      3. Anne says:

        Zero wins and poles? Sorry but Rosberg won in China last season. Mercedes had 2 poles, China and Monaco. You don´t need a crystal ball to see that Lewis can do at least the same or maybe more.

      4. Yona says:

        Yep! You right

      5. Dave C says:

        Maybe more? Is that why Rosberg’s been faster than Hamilton in testing by about 0.5sec, look at all the test times so far and look at the final days running at Barcelona, Hamilton’s got his hands full and could be a make or break year as a top F1 driver.

      6. not me says:

        tracks are about 1 sec/day faster during testing

      7. Tim says:

        Buttom line in 2013 MB will stay remain mid-field at best with zero wins, zero poles…

        What were you watching in 2012, MB had a pole and a win?
        Please try and keep up:-)

      8. Jake says:

        I see the Merc. qualifying high up the grid, second row perhaps with the occasional pole on tracks and conditions that suit it.
        However I also see it dropping back a few places during the race at most tracks. There will be a few occassion, in suitable conditions, where it will be able to hold on to the leaders (Red Bull) and even challenge for the win. Third or fourth in the WCC and two or three wins would be a great result.

      9. Wheels says:

        Hey, Val!

        Who is Hollywood? Oh, you mean Hamilton Hater! Listen, if you honestly think that Mercedes F1 are headed for the same mediocrity of years past, giving the pace at which they are developing that car, then you just don’t get the sport.

        I think you need to listen and learn from the likes of Fernando Alonso and, recently, Jenson Button so that you can ascertain some reason and perspective on Grand Prix racing in it’s current state….

    5. Wayne says:

      Everything crossed………. It would just like RBR to pull clear of the field by half a second come Austrial GP though.

      Dear Gods of F1, I’m not asking much – I don’t want Hamilton (or anyone else) in a super car…Just enough to compete with the best that’s all!

      Had I to put cash on it now, I’d say that Merc will the fourth best car come Australia Chequered flag – and I’d be bloody happy with that (for now). Anything more than that would be an incredible bonus after all the stick the kid got for leaving McLaren (who win races not championships, and what good is that to a driver looking for a legacy?) for ‘fourth rate’ Merc.

      1. Andy says:

        Whether Mercedes is quickest is yet to be seen, but that time Hamilton set today is still 2.5s quicker than what Rosberg set in Q3 last year.

        At least this is a step in the right direction!

      2. Cliff says:

        I think that top four could be right. As much as I want to see McLaren at the front, F1 needs a competitive Lewis Hamilton. However, I still can’t get my head around the Management Structure at Mercedes,will it be the the off-track activity that proves to be the Achilles heel?

      3. Wayne says:

        I agree, it seems like such a mess – it’s like whoever has the budget for last season had to spend it all beofre this season starts and they went mad and bought everybody. Additionally I have no time for pretty much anything Lauda says, he has spent the last three years criticising HAM, so we know he is about as two faced as they come. And every time the guy opens his mouth it seems as though its just to provide an antagonistic soundbit to get in the press.

        As I said below, Ross looses either way. If Merc are much improved and win a couple of races Lauda can say ‘see, look what I and my team changes are achieved!’ and if they dont deliver he can say ‘see, that’s why I needed to make all these changes!’

      4. Sebee says:

        RBR will. But why do YOU want this?

        Everyone is forgetting Nico again. I wonder how that team mate war will work out. 100% fair treatment on Mercedes Team. Not even a flake of doubt in my mind about that.

      5. Tim says:

        I am not so sure there will 100% equal treatment for the drivers at Mercedes. Why would you pay all that money to lure Hamilton away from McLaren and effectively waste it by not giving him priority over updates and race strategy. I am not suggesting it will be a clear number 1 and 2 driver line up such as Ferrari, more of a subtle arrangement like that of RBR.
        Unless your car is massively superior like, for instance, McLaren were in the Prost/Senna days, there is no doubt placing the main emphasis on one of the drivers is the most successful way to go racing. If a team allows their own drivers to take points off each other that just feeds the opposition.

      6. Wayne says:

        I dont, I missed out a ‘be’ after ‘would’!

      7. KRB says:

        Not forgetting Nico at all. As of this writing, Nico has done a 1:20.130, and another lap just 5-hundredths slower than that. Lewis’ best time yesterday was on a 5-lap run, so a 1:20.2 was possible.

        Nico is a very good qualifier, much better than Button on that score. It will be interesting to watch that battle this year. They just have to make sure that they set themselves up best for the race, rather than qualifying. But if your car is fast, you have more leeway in that setup balancing.

      8. KRB says:

        I think there will be 100% fair treatment for both of them at Mercedes, at least in the beginning. If one was further ahead by the mid-point of the season, then Brawn I’m sure would favour that driver.

        The one thing I’m certain will happen is that the drivers will have to share all telemetry, etc., with the other. I know Lewis would always share his with Button, but not sure that Button always returned the favour. I think that played a big part behind the whole Twittergate saga coming out of Spa last year. I’m sure Lewis would’ve stated clearly to Brawn that that had to be guaranteed.

      9. Sebee says:

        German Team.
        German Nico.
        Fair treatment 100%.

        If Nico beats Lewis
        Demand for big salary coming up.
        Extra motivation?

        Was that a haiku?

      10. Wheels says:

        What up, Wayne?

        I recall reading quotes by Jenson Button where he said the thing that, absolutely, stunned him the most about Lewis Hamilton was the speed at which his Teammate drove qualifying laps. He also stated that Nico Rosberg will find that factor very unsettling in the same way. However Nico will be up for the challenge much like Button showed, at times….

        I predict that the Grand Prix circus will reel with unease at the qualifying and race pace of Hamilton/Rosberg by mid-season. The paring will have a heavy influence on the 2013 F1 World Championship by season’s end.

    6. Quade says:

      To: Schumi
      From: Ross

      The letter writing button was one of those we removed from the steering wheel.

      Regards.
      Ross

      1. Sebee says:

        To: Ross
        From: Lewis

        Ross,

        Is this true? I though the BB10 let us have personal and business profiles in one device and I requested in my development update it be put into my steering wheel so I can tweet during a GP and post comments on JAonF1. Please clarify.

        Concerned,
        Lewis

      2. F1racer says:

        To : Lewis
        From : Ross

        Lewis,
        we have integrated the twitter/fb button along with pit radio button. Symbol L!

        better drive fast,
        Ross

    7. Dan says:

      Indeed! Although it’s not the race that time is pretty frickin’ quick.

  2. dean cassady says:

    I admit it here, that when Lewis Hamilton decided to make the move to Mercedes, to elevate the team like his idol, a German with the initials MS, I thought it was laughable. Lewis is just not that kind of guy!

    Well, I’m not backing off that thought, though I thought he move was bad for Lewis, and good for Mercedes. Now, there has been quite a bit of s#|+ happening at Mercedes F1 these days, and it looked like they were ‘in the weeds’; but now I’m not so sure.

    Besides by differentiating itself as the ugliest car on the grid, second year running (though I think the Caterham is challenging this year), I thought they had gone down a dead end route. I thought, incredulously, Ross Brawn had finally lost the Midas touch.

    Since Lewis is the racing pride of most among the POM, we, the Formula One fans, have been inundated with the most minute reports of how Lewis and Mercedes are doing, one minute, very poorly, then the next, inspiring. Well, we’re at a inspired moment, in the long stream of uni-directional time flow. Could it be that the old limey has one more sandbag up his sleeves.

    Obviously, I’m a big believer. Mercedes have gone to the bank to ‘get serious’ about improving their standing in F1, hiring a raft of top F1 cronies, in an attempt to redress the unbalance Adrian Newey makes to all other teams. I have thought this approach inefficient, if not ineffective, and with the seemingly almost self-appointment of the perpetually criticizing Austrian, non-executive chairman (I wonder how much money they spent on the consultants coming up with that title – lol?), I really thought Mercedes was completely losing their marbles.

    But as the great Murray Walker is reportedly to have said, “I’m applying intelligence and observation to the situation…”, and I am realizing the truth in his saying, “Anything happens in Grand Prix racing and it usually does”.

    It will be interesting if one or more of the Mercedes drivers can haul it up on to the podium.

    I still think that Red Bull are quietly, and assuredly constructing a right bower, left bower, (they definitely have an) Ace (up their sleeve), king and queen (the personages of which I leave to your discretion; though one might keep in mind a board game, in which the queen is the most powerful player).

    In other words, though I hope for a very interesting season, with closely fought battles, butteri with proper mounts, fast and crashing flowers, winning Spanish-speaking silver arrows, and coloured three point stars, the bulls will gore.

    1. Random 79 says:

      I was right with you up until the last two paragraphs…Whitmarsh Todt Fernando?

      1. dean cassady says:

        2nd last paragraph: We have this game, euchre, ever heard of it? I describe the ‘construction’ of the strongest hand that you can have in that card game.
        I’ve been following F1 for a while, and paying attention for well over ten years, there is something extremely potent at Red Bull, this year. This is in the context of Red Bull having had the best car since 2009, (Brawn won it, only because the double-diffuser, which should have been illegal, if not for the gold dust of the aforementioned RB, was difficult to replicate due to the requirement to really build an entire car around the concept.)
        Red Bull have never exuded this level of quiet, but profound, confidence.
        My prediction: he’s done it again; he’s found concept, nobody else will have found, within the technical regulations (or for him, the only that really matters, because it’s measurable, and thus comparatively easy to include as a requirement in the development of the concept, the tests used to determine if the rule has been breached!
        Last paragraph: Somewhat contradicting this assertion, above, that the season might also how a large close clustering of capability across teams, from McLaren, Lotus, Ferrari, and now, I believe, Mercedes, I think it’s going to be EXTREMELY tight, and edges based not only on differing track layout, but even comparatively minor variations in the climat.
        thanks for the comment.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Ta for the (partial) explanation.

        Eucre: Heard of it, never played it.

        Okay, so I’m assuming the ‘bulls will gore’ is a RBR racing reference but…

        Butteri with proper mounts?
        Fast and crashing flowers?
        Winning Spanish-speaking silver arrows?
        Coloured three point stars?

        I repeat: Whitmarsh Todt Fernando?

      3. Quade says:

        @dean cassady
        At one point, Red Bull (Newey and all) were beaten by their junior team, Torro Rosso.
        We’ve heard all the dark prophecies from pundits of all shades; some expressing gut belief, others going with the fad and yet others hawking unfortunate stereotypes.

        These things count for nothing, which is why Brawn whipped the field (including Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Renault, Toyota etc) in its single year of existence. It is the same weakness of far away pundits predictions that see’s Red Bull (a drinks company) doing well today against automotive giants, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren.

        History proves that discussing F1′s past is safe, while predicting F1′s future is unwise and the thorny path to victimhood of realities very own Sicilian Gambit.

      4. dean cassady says:

        Quade, great, interesting, comment.
        The prediction game is… a game. I suffer no arrhythmias from the Formula One game, but there is an undisputed champion of the long-game, and his name is Newey.
        I got a feeling about Red Bull.

      5. Tim says:

        You did much better than me, I lost i(nteres)t about half way:-)

      6. Random 79 says:

        Thanks Tim, for a while there I didn’t think I was going to make it :)

      7. Brace says:

        Haha good one. I was kinda wondering what it is he’s trying to say from the start. :)

      8. dean cassady says:

        butteri is an italian word for cowboy; they ride… horses.
        a lotus is… a flower, there’s a champion there, and a fast crasher.
        Perez is gong to win a race this year; I’d be surprised if he doesn’t beat Jenson, at the end.
        Three pointed star is a traditional reference to Mercedes-Benz.
        Lewis Hamilton has been quoted extensively, saying that he wanted to do what Schumacher, his idol, did when he went to Ferrari.
        Anyone who has really been paying attention, all F1 racers must realize the Senna thing; that he wasn’t… normal. He was something really out there, really at extreme reach of the bell curve; of course Lewis knows of this.

      9. Random 79 says:

        Ta for the explanation again. Sort of makes sense now…in a roundabout way :)

    2. Dan says:

      Lewis’ idol.. Is not Schumi.

    3. Michael says:

      Lewis Hamilton’s “idol” is Ayrton Senna. Sorry, to burst your bubble. lol

      1. Yona says:

        True! Lewis always like senna, and looking at driver alive he always pointed at alonso as someone he been looking up to. He never express much love about schumi but respect at time. So when that guy writing long comment which we tired of reading calling schu an hamilton idol im wondering where he is getting that from

      2. For Sure says:

        Actually there are a lot of times where he expressed his respect more than he needed to be politically correct.
        It’s like next generation boxers may be a fan of Floyd, they would surely admire Manny. It’s probably same in every sport I believe.
        With Alonso, it’s basically saying Sab is not on the same level, could be a political statement, not that anything wrong with it.

    4. alastair emmerson says:

      Why can’t hammy do the same as schumi did at Ferrari, I mean who would gave thought schumi could turn around Ferrari like he did. People underestimate hammy. Watch this space.

      1. dean cassady says:

        Lewy is the most exciting driver; look at the 2011 year; he provided 75% of the spectacle; but for focusing and managing a team, around himself, Schumacher has no equal in the sport. Only Alonso exhibits he same maniacal control; and it has NOT produced results at Ferrari, so far.
        But for racing, in the same machinery, even if you could somehow put an equivalent age Schumacher against him, I’d pick Lewis every time!
        But maybe I got it wrong. Maybe he is that guy, that can raise the game of the entire team around him, and take it all home! If he does achieve that this year, then he will establish himself as better than Schumacher, at this.
        From here, for me, it would surprise me.
        I’m still expecting him to be a challenge for every race, and I expect that he shall be on the top step, at least once this 2013 season.
        Go Lewy, go!

      2. For Sure says:

        Lewis being faster than Schumacher. Hmm
        it’s kinda hard to convince despite all the great things he had done.
        May be you are right, because I think there is a good chance that this generation drivers are better than previous.
        But it’s all relative, I have yet to see the stuff that makes you feel like “wow” how is that possible. Again, it’s relative.
        But the gap he has to others isn’t as big, in my opinion.

    5. ArJay says:

      LoL! *

      * Lack-of-Laconicism

    6. KRB says:

      Lewis has great respect for what Schumi achieved at Ferrari (as should any sane F1 observer), but his idol is most definitely Ayrton Senna.

      1. For Sure says:

        Totally

    7. Danny Almonte says:

      Mercedes were one of the only teams sticking to the resource restriction agreement. It’s about time they started to flex their muscles and make a serious push. They have a short history of winning. Honda, Brawn GP and Mercedes GP have all won a race. They’ve come a long way since Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda.

  3. Anne says:

    The Lotus story looks like it came from some a t.v. comedy show. Valsecchi driving the car and Grossjean rushing from Paris to Barcelona to rescue the team.

    BTW Is Kimi ok? Any official statement from the team on Kimi´s condition?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Last I heard he’s fine.

      I never knew you could get food poisoning from ice-cream.

      1. Methusalem says:

        You should be a Ice-Man to get it!

      2. Quercus says:

        You’ve obviously never bought it in India.

    2. F*ckYeah says:

      Exhaust related issues mate, a bit of a loose Haagen Daas by all accounts.

      1. chris green says:

        did kimi have a blown exhaust? – sounds messy

  4. goferet says:

    Pretty impressive times by Mercedes today, so impressive that whilst Lewis set his time on the softs, the drivers that finished P2-P4 used the super softs and yet they still didn’t get close.

    Obviously after today, Rosberg will be the Mercedes driver to believe for the car looks strong (as confirmed by Hulkenburg, Di Resta, Grosjean and Jenson) as when Lewis says the long runs will be the problem, me, I will believe Rosberg who said, their tyre degradation problems from 2012 had been solved.

    Also was impressed by Sutil’s performance plus the William drivers and by the looks of it, Bottas will be a bigger challenge for Maldonado compared to Senna for he appears to have the pace.

    Last but not least, super impressed by Grosjean for hoping on a plane on short notice >>> that’s something only a hungry/future champion would do.

    1. Horno says:

      Like Grosjean could decline…

      1. KRB says:

        Exactly … he’s in no way assured of his place in F1 long term, so when Lotus say “jump”, his only response can be “how high?”

      2. Random 79 says:

        Well, that explains Spa at least…

        JK :)

      3. KRB says:

        Looking at that start again now, it is absolutely crazy the move that Grosjean laid down there. So drastic.

      4. bob says:

        @KRB

        Suggest you look at the start again. His move was not drastic at all, just ill measured. It was the slightest of touches with, unfortunately, rather large consequences.

        Stop dramatising the action because of the result.

      5. KRB says:

        @bob, I looked at it again before posting above, and now again. It is a drastic move, there’s no other word for it. Well, maybe another word … drastic and UNNECESSARY.

        I’m not dramatising the move b/c of the result. I think Vettel’s move on Button at the start of the 2011 Japanese GP was bad as well, and deserved a penalty. I also think that the shudder moves (back ‘n’ forth with 3+ direction changes) that some drivers have employed in unsporting attempts to get a car behind to abort an overtake, are very dangerous, and should be penalized harshly.

      6. goferet says:

        @ Horno

        My understanding is since it was Grosjean that wanted extra time in the car after his two rain affected days, it was his call whether he wanted to jet back or not.

        I think it would have been in Lotus’ best interests to give their reserve driver time in the car and so I don’t think the team demanded Grosjean to get back.

    2. Fernando Cruz says:

      In testing last year Senna was as fast as Maldonado at Barcelona, only 0,1 slower. Let’s see how it goes when it matters. After 3 races Senna had 14 points to Maldonado’s 4. After that he had the same sort of tyre trouble Button also had.

      Bottas won’t lose any FP1 (unlike Senna) and has a different driving style, so he won’t suffer the kind of trouble Button and Senna suffered last year. As this year’s tyres will have a wider performance range in qualifying, I think Senna would be much faster in a second season with Williams. Lets’s see how Button goes this year with the tyres, as he has the same smooth driving style Bruno had…

    3. moxlox says:

      More interesting is that Hamilton apparently set a 1:20.8 on Mediums (Autosport). 2nd fastest of the day was Massa on 1.21.266 on Supersofts…. Last years pole time by Lewis in warmer though probably slower conditions was 1.21.7. Sure we don’t know the fuel of anyone, though expect Red Bull had a lot, but no wonder these times have got the paddock to sit up and take notice.

      So as James said, I wonder if Mercedes have fixed their high tyre wear in hot conditions?

  5. goferet says:

    As for those Red Bulls, no need to wreck your brain, for it has been confirmed by Martin Brundle that the car is mighty and stuck on rails.

    According to Brundle (who incidentally was track side and having talked to engineers in the paddock) he rates Red Bull as the car to beat followed by Ferrari, Mercedes and then Lotus.

    The only top team Brundle and the paddock insiders aren’t sure about is the Mclaren.

    So there you have it.

    1. Grant says:

      @Val
      You mean your heart….

      1. Tim says:

        I thought wrack or rack, not wreck, was the correct term :-)

  6. Random 79 says:

    “There is no reason to be impressed,” says Hamilton.

    No idea how they’ll go once they actually go racing, but still – I’m impressed.

    1. oz says:

      He will win more races than Whitmarshs Mob and that will be a start…..

      1. Dave Deacon says:

        I wish I could predict the future like you.

      2. KRB says:

        Hmm … I’m a big Lewis fan, and I would never make such a prediction. This is ONLY testing … nothing has been won. The car looks fast. It’s the long run pace that will tell the real tale though. Maybe the extra pit stops everyone’s predicting will be good for Mercedes if they still have their rear tire wear problem. Three pit stops to others’ two is 50% more, but 4/3 = 33% more, or 5/4 = 25% more. The higher that base number of pit stops, the better for Mercedes. If anyone does 5 pit stops though, that’s nuts … that would be every set of tires being used.

      3. Andrew Woodruff says:

        This maths doesn’t work. It is the actual time lost, rather than any percentage you could calculate, that matters.

        I think Merc are stronger than Hamilton seems to suggest, but still behind at least a couple of teams. Difficult to say who has ‘the best’ package, as all likely to excel in different conditions and at different tracks. If Brundle’s money is on Red Bull, I’d take that as a strong indication of the balance of power.

      4. KRB says:

        If Merc can be faster in the stints than others in between stops, which is more likely if there are more stops, then they have a better chance of making up that extra-pit-stop difference, than if there are only 1 or 2 stops.

      5. Quade says:

        Lol!
        I never thought I would find such a joke about McLaren funny.

        …That said, can we have a “discussion” round the back?

    2. Jonathan Andre says:

      Ditto

      1. I will says:

        Ditto

  7. Irish con says:

    I think Lewis’s time is a good time for merc but I still think a low fuelled Red bull or mclaren will do a 19 something. A mclaren that was pretty much struggling in may last year did a 21.7 and with softer tyres and 10 months of development I think a 19 is possible and in may at the Grand Prix I will predict a 19 as pole.

    1. alastair emmerson says:

      McLaren had the best time in Barcelona set by Perez on the soft tyre which this year are softer than last year and now lewis blitzed it today. You may be right come may the time might be set in the 19s but it’ll take a hell of a driver other than hammy to do that, and it certainly won’t be a McLaren driver.

    2. Richard says:

      Well they had the chance and didn’t do it, and Lewis’s time was set in the mornings cooler temperatures so had he done it again in the afternoon the higher temperatures would have made him go faster still.

    3. KRB says:

      McLaren struggled in Bahrain, but Lewis was right on it in Spain … his “pole” lap was five-tenths better than anyone else, and he even had decent race pace (McLaren weren’t the best on that score, but decent).

      Fastest quali time (Spanish GP):

      2011 – Webber 1:20.981 (with DRS and EBD)
      2010 – Webber 1:19.995 (RB6 was a beast)
      2009 – Button 1:20.527
      2008 – Massa (Q2) 1:20.584
      2007 – Massa (Q2) 1:20.597

      From this, I don’t think we’ll see any team get into the 1:19′s this May in Spain. Maybe tomorrow, if the car is set up solely for doing one flying lap.

      The Pirelli’s this year are faster than last year, but they’re not as fast as the 2010 Bridgestones were, and there’s no DRS-free-for-all in quali now. Plus no quali-specific engine maps.

      Note, I only did those years as those were all with V8′s and only one tire supplier. In 2006 and prior, the fastest times were in the 14′s (1:14.xxx).

      1. Irish con says:

        I get what you are saying but McLaren in may was a very poor car compared to the car they finished the season with. If they took the brazil car to Barcelona last year they would of easily of done a 21.7. The lap times would of been in the low 1 minute 20s. And also with development over the winter the red bull and McLaren should be in the 19s I think though I agree that over 1 lap no one is better than Lewis. But in 2006 the last chicane wasnt there and that’s why it was so much faster back then. The chicane was added in 2007.

      2. KRB says:

        Dammit, forgot about that … of course that (the chicane) would explain the huge gap.

        Nico is close to getting into the 19′s. And Alonso’s at 1:20.494, both better than Lewis’ time on Saturday.

        It will be close, but I think the quali/race setup balancing for the GP will mean it doesn’t happen.

    4. Quade says:

      Depends on who is driving the McLaren.
      Given what we have this year, we are unlikely to know the true speed of the car.

  8. Jake says:

    I guess Lewis just answered the question we all wanted to ask.
    Ferrari were really trying and didn’t get close. If the Merc can repeat this in the warmer weather without the tyre deg. they had last year some of the top teams should be a tad concerned.

    1. Testing testing 1, 2 says:

      You do know it’s only testing, plus how do we know the other teams were really trying to get close to Lewis. I repeat “it’s only testing” don’t run to the bookmakers just yet, based on a 1 lap.

      1. Jake says:

        We can never really know for sure in testing, agreed.
        I didn’t say anything about other teams trying only Ferrari. I watched the live timings on Autosport. Felipe was setting fastest sectors on super softs only to be let down by one bad sector. He did this quite a number of times. I think he was trying hard.
        Please note the use of the word if and some.
        No chickens were counted in the expression of my pleasure at the one lap pace of the Merc.

      2. Nathan says:

        It’s only testing brigade out in full force.

  9. Grant says:

    Pleased merc look quick in qually trim, not sure how they will go in a race. So far lotus / red bull look much better on long run. If merc can learn to look after tyres they maybe able to compete, this was the main problem with the 2012 car.

  10. goferet says:

    Now regards Massa’s tyre failure, obviously the lad doesn’t have too much luck when it comes to shunts.

    Now, if Rory didn’t work on the 2013 car, I would think Ferrari would suffer more reliability woes this year in addition to the failure suffered by De La Rosa and now Massa.

    As Rory said, the 2013 Ferrari has nothing on the 2014 master piece that he’s working on.

  11. Kevin says:

    You mean the same test MS was fastest at last year also correct? I’d read little to nothing into the times. Mercedes has not likely found Red Bull pace in a couple month’s time, nope not buying it.

    Australia, like they all say, is the first time we will have an idea of pace. But it’s fun to watch and pontificate.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      It’s a very good point – I’m pretty sure I remember the talk being of merc turning it all around and likely to be winning races and giving Schumacher a final chance at a championship – and to be fair, other than its collapsing gears and wheels, the merc did well for a few races – then it all went wrong.

      Generally the championship is won by the team that has consistent development packages.

      It’d be great to see Mercedes finally make good on these years of promises but getting a headline time at barcelona testing clearly isn’t historic data in favour.

    2. Dan says:

      It’s all quess work I know, but if you look at the qualifying times at Barcalona in 2012, it’s almighty impressive pace.

      I can’t remember the exact times, but he is quite abit faster than pole (Lewis in the McLaren) and it is absolutely streets ahead of Nicos quali time.

      We all know Lewis has the pace, lets just hope Nico is correct when saying the tyre deg problems have gone.

  12. Mike from Colombia says:

    James, have Mercedes not run the super soft?

    How much is it worth over the soft?

    1. Colombia Concalvez says:

      Mercedes-Benz was the only team that had not run on the Softs and Super Softs so far until Hamilton drove the Sofst while Massa and Sutal where on Super Softs they could not come near Hamilton’s time on Softs

    2. Dan says:

      I think that it’s only a select few that have managed to get the super sorts to last the lap (Massa being one)

  13. Jonathan Andre says:

    Also no one mentioned that Lewis Hamilton with his lap time of 1.20.558 has beaten the all time lap record at Circuit de Catalunya.

    The record was set by 1:21.670 Raikkonen in 2008. Granted its not in a race weekend so it doesn’t count but its still a strong indicator.

    I am a Mclaren fan but I can’t help but being drawn to what might be another Cinderella story in F1. With the exact same team again no less!

    1. Dan says:

      Wiki will only state competitive times set.

      Red Bull were down in the 1m19s in the days of the blown diffuser and naught engine mapping.

    2. KRB says:

      That is false … I checked the Wiki page, I think someone’s having a laugh. Quali times in 2006 and prior were in the 1:14′s!

      Plus times in qualifying do not count for lap records, only race laps.

      1. AENG says:

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2009/05/06/lap-times-at-the-circuit-de-catalunya/

        in 2006 layout was changed hence increasing lap timing by few sec.

      2. KRB says:

        Yeah, already blew it on that one earlier. But in 2010 Webber qualified on pole, getting into the 19′s.

        Lap records are only for race laps.

      3. Jonathan Andre says:

        Apologies. The information I got was from the official Formula 1 page.

        The Formula 1 official site needs to get the facts right.

      4. Spinodontosaurus says:

        The official site is probably correct; lap records refer to laps set during the race, not in qualifying. Given the circuit change for 2007, the official site probably excludes pre-2006 times too.

      5. Dutch johnny says:

        Because there weren’t chicanes in the third sector….

  14. luqa says:

    LH time-Low fuel one lap wonder, maybe even underweight to impress the Mercedes Benz Board who want to scrap their F1 program?
    The real proof will be in two weeks time around lap 5 when the tires unfortunately might fall off the cliff compared to the other cars and the MB boys have to make a very early pit stop to put on harder compounds that slow them down considerably.

    I “HATE” these fast wearing tires. They are so far removed from reality. I’d like to know which commuter has the luxury to change tires a couple of times on their daily trip to and from work? Not me for sure!

    1. Andrew M says:

      “Hamilton set three times in the 1m20s, all on the soft tyre and at the beginning of a five-lap stint.”

      1. luqa says:

        3 sets of tires at the beginning of a 5 lap stint. What were the times like at the end of those stints? How will they hold up with a couple of qualifying runs on them and full tanks?
        Even LH alluded to the fact things are not as rosy as those times suggest.
        While the one lap pace is good, “to finish first- first you have to finish”. Let’s see how things shake out at the end of the first race- providing the weather is dry in 2 weeks time to get any real perspective.

      2. KRB says:

        3 sets of tires, what? It was a 5-lap stint on one set of soft tires. So a 1:20.2 was possible with only 2 laps of fuel on board. He also set a 1:20.8 on mediums on an 8-lap run.

        From what Gary Anderson’s been saying, he says their long-run pace looks good as well. He says the car is not as planted as the RB9, but that it looks the same at the start of a long-run as it does at the tail end of it, and that the times look decent and consistent.

    2. Richard says:

      Actually not a one lap wonder, but a five lap low fuel stint which they all do on the soft tyre. While we will not know until Melbourne the actual pecking order this is very encouraging for Mercedes.

    3. VanD says:

      Hey luqa, do you work at Mercedes? How do you know so much about Mercedes? Let’s all wait few races then comment on facts, instead of making uninformed speculations.

      1. luqa says:

        VanD, No I do not work for Mercedes, but if you followed more than just F1, you would have noticed articles in the press where the benefits and costs of F1 racing to Mercedes was put into doubt by many members of the Board of Directors of the company. You would also know that Dieter Zetsche’s (a strong supporter of F1) contract was not renewed for the full term.
        The “uninformed speculation” as you put it is based on public knowledge. MB HAS to show results, especially in light of the huge investment committed to the F1 program this year.
        I wish Nico and Lewis all the success this year since they are my second favourite team. My point was- as that of many other commentators, its much to early to speculate on how the MB’s will finish races based on 5 lap Quali runs..

      2. Vandhloms says:

        I get you…

    4. Doohan says:

      I’d like to know which commuter is driving a 500hp v8 at over 200kmph on their way to work

      1. luqa says:

        LOL Doohan!
        OK, I only have a 420HP Supercharged V6 and only rarely make it much over 200km/h, but the point still stands, tires that only last 20km are soooo far removed from reality, even in the fantasy world of F1.
        There should be a set of “Qualis” and a set for the race with a couple of spares for punctures. Just my opinion though.. It would also bring the horrendous cost and waste down considerably.

      2. Jake says:

        I would if I could! :-)

      3. Random 79 says:

        Brundle. He’s the man.

      4. Cos says:

        …perhaps someone who uses an Ariel Atom V8 as their daily drive?!

    5. aveli says:

      I think Hamilton recorded his fatest lap time on the first of a 5 lap stint indicating that he had a significant amount of fuel on broad.
      The racing will start in two weeks, in the meantime Hamilton and his fans can enjoy his success.
      I think I read somewhere that he recently got himself a £20m red bombardier c600 private jet, a puppy and his arm tattooed. leaving mclaren must have been a relieve for him. All that politics. At least he can relax and be himself. Oh, plus he’s ask Ecclestone for a pit pass for his dog, Roscoe.
      Looks like he’s done a lot more in this short winter break than he has in his entire career.
      I can’t wait for the racing to begin.

    6. Wanja says:

      “I’d like to know which commuter has the luxury to change tires a couple of times on their daily trip to and from work? ”

      Chuck Norris has, and he does every stop in under three seconds, on his own, including getting in and out of the vehicle.

  15. Richard says:

    Yes impressive driving from Lewis and Mercedes today, and it is all the more impressive because he set the time when temperatures were cooler in the morning whereas when the rest closed the gap in the afternoon they would have been helped by the warmer afternoon temperatures. It will be interesting to see what Nico does tomorrow because he’s no slouch.
    Whilst this is very incouraging for Mercedes they really do now have to keep the pressure on as we will not know the actual pecking order until Q3 Melbourne.

    1. Dan says:

      That’s my only worry, ‘cooler condition’ we don’t really get them that often.

      Lets hope Mercedes have improved that from last year.

      1. Richard says:

        In Barcelona we are only talking modest changes, but Lewis did his low fuel runs in the morning, and the rest tried to catch him in the afternoon when it was easier. There’s no doubt that Mercedes will have been aware of the issue and will have worked the problem from last year. Gary Anderson noticed that the Mercedes car was good in all conditions as compared to other cars so that’s encouraging.

  16. Cliffkj7 says:

    James i too im wondering about the Mercedes’ tyre difficulties that have always appeared during warm weekends,this being the case, i cant help but wonder if this is still the case on the heavy fuel long run’s which Hamilton eluded to in his interview after testing, how do u read the long run mercedes pace and degradation compared to others during the warmer track temps??

    1. Grant says:

      Agree, reading JA merc car review seems they put a lot of effort into tyre thermal management lets hope it works

  17. Does anyone if NBC was here at Barcelona covering the race for anyone in the USA ? We are not hearing or seeing any coverage of anything here at all in the USA .

    1. Random 79 says:

      We don’t get any testing here in Australia either – I just check out JA and F1.com for the news.

      So far as I know Sky covers the first and last
      test, but that’s it. Still doesn’t make me want to rush out and subscribe to it though.

    2. James Clayton says:

      There’s no race; this is just testing. Making sure they get all the bits on the car.

      There’s no coverage of it in the mainstream media in any country. You need to go to dedicated websites or TV channels. We’re lucky to have at least some live coverage of the final test from SKY in the UK this year. It’s the first time that’s ever happened and, judging by how pleased the commentators seem to be with the amount of viewers, we may well see them all covered live next year.

      As for the USA…. I think he chances of you getting live coverage of tests anytime in the near future are close to zero, I’m afraid.

      First race is in Australia, 15-17 of March.

    3. KRB says:

      Dunno what NBC is doing with F1 at all, which is concerning! I hope they’re showing free practice sessions (Speed would show FP2 on TV, and FP1 & FP3 on web stream), as my ‘home’ broadcaster TSN only shows quali and the race.

      If they don’t do free practices, it would be a waste of the talents of Hobbs, Matchett, Diffey and Buxton.

      1. Jeff Cranmer says:

        Free practice 1 and 2 are on the NBC schedule according to my DVR.

      2. Jeff , Is that NBC or I think they might have is a sports network and it is NBCSN . Either way here in the USA their is no one covering it like SPEED.COM did in the past . Why build a track in the USA if no one is going to talk about it here in the USA . It seems Not right or good for the sport of Formula 1 here in the USA .

  18. Onko says:

    Mr Allen please,the tyres that Hamilton used
    and done quick time on,with no markings on
    called (Prototype Soft-Compound )tyres do they
    differ from ( super soft /soft tyres in use
    currently,or use for qualifying in the future.
    Any thoughts.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Apparently they’re not supposed to be different at all. They’re just built at a different factory in case of supply issues at the main factory.

    2. KRB says:

      His fastest time wasn’t set on the prototype softs, but marked softs.

  19. Philippe H. says:

    James, is it true that Hamilton did a 1min20.8 on a 5-lap run using the medium tyre?

    1. Random 79 says:

      From the article a little bit to the north:

      ‘Hamilton set three times in the 1m20s, all on the soft tyre and at the beginning of a five-lap stint.’

      Dude, really. If you’re going to ask the man a question at least read what he wrote.

      1. Philippe H. says:

        “Dude”, please don’t respond to my question if you’re not informed :

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/105809

        The article mentions that Lewis did a 1min20.8 on the medium. I was just asking James for confirmation (I did read the article).

      2. Random 79 says:

        James talked about a 1.20 lap on a five lap run on softs. You asked about a 1.20 lap on a five lap run on mediums.

        I only check a couple of sites I trust for facts – neither of which mentioned anything about mediums.

        I’m not really sure why you’d bother going to another site if you’re not going to trust what they say – you might as well spend all day on Wikipedia.

    2. Grant says:

      Yeh that’s correct the soft was only 0.3 quicker so perhaps there is more to find

      1. Philippe H. says:

        Very encouraging.

    3. KRB says:

      He did do a 1:20.8 on the medium, and I think it was on an 8-lap run.

  20. Dave Deacon says:

    Danger is to jump the other way – from ‘what a silly move’ to ‘what an amazing move’ for LH… There’s a season ahead and many races. Let’s wait and see.

    Good luck to him if Mercedes can pull it off. If it does you can bet it’s Brawn’s doing not the other lot’s.

  21. graham says:

    Great time from Lewis but like Lewis’s says one lap time was not the problem last year for Mercedes, race pace and tyre degradation are what counts and tyre deg still looks quite bad. That said, only Mr. Hamilton could have pulled that time out of the bag.
    I found it very interesting today listening to Mr. Neale talking about McLaren’s decision to redesign parts of their car to be able to update this car longer into the season, Is that a realisation that last year’s car went down the wrong road with these parts?
    I think Martin Whitmarsh has to stamp his mark on McLaren this year, he is a good guy but unless he can get big Ron to give him full control and powers to recreate McLaren racing team in his own way, well lets just say I fear for his future in F1…..

  22. Malcolm says:

    Encouraging times from Lewis today. Hamilton and Rosberg maybe, let’s hope that they will be challenging the front runners, and not being regulated to the high end of the mid-fielders.

  23. Sossoliso says:

    Oh dear!!!!. I can’t imagine Ross Brawn being impressed with that display from Hamilton. He may have been sent out to get a feel for the softs since they have not tried them before and he does that.. Terrible giveaway.
    The Others have now been prewarned and may now know what to expect from Mercedes. Terrible. Talk aboutshowing your hand at Poker. We are here discussing the relative strengths of the Teams yet have not got a clue about where Red Bull stands.. that is what you call Poker.
    Ross may regret having allowed his drivers to run the Softs.

    1. aveli says:

      are you serious? do you think the racing results will change if hamilton didn’t show their hand?
      is f1 anything like poker?

    2. James Clayton says:

      So what do you think people are going to do?

      They’ve realized that Mercedes are quick so they better make their own cars go faster? If Mercedes (or whoever) hadn’t done a fast lap all the others would have sat back happy with their work and not worried about improving their cars?

    3. Random 79 says:

      Yep he’ll be kicking himself:

      ‘Okay Lewis, go slow, ‘kay mate?’ ;)
      ‘Okay boss.’ :)

      Thee minutes later…

      ‘Dammit Lewis, I said go SLOW!’ :(

    4. . says:

      You think when other teams saw the Merc times, they went “OK, enough sitting around doing nothing, let’s work on the cars”?

      They are already working at their maximum, trying to get the most out of their car, no matter what times other teams set.

    5. Tim says:

      I don’t understand your poker analogy – in F1 your ‘hand’ is always called. No team folds when faced with a large bet and possible bluff.
      So what if the opposition now know the capabilities of Mercedes?

    6. Jake says:

      There is only one way to know how fast your car actually is and that is to drive it fast! We do not know how fast the Red Bull is, but also Red Bull do not know how fast the Red Bull is, they can make an educated guess but can’t be sure until they try it. Gamesmanship is a double edged sword.
      Have you also considered that Hamilton was holding back and the Merc? is actually faster!

  24. Peter says:

    I feel sorry for Schumi.
    Mercedes started the development of this year’s car really early in 12, now its paying off.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Yeah, Sebee uncovered some confidential correspondence between Michael and Ross.

      Worth reading :)

  25. F12012 says:

    After the first two days mercedes have put some amount of laps on that car, another 117 today

  26. Kevin Irwin says:

    A few issues need adressing:

    1, It was a damn fast lap, consider that the 1.19′s were only done in the double diffuser and blown diffuser with wild mapping days I think 1.19 is going to be a hard time to hit.

    2, Mike Elliot, last years Lotus aero guru is now Mercs aero guru.

    3, Long runs on the mediums and hard tyres continuously to get reliable degradation data for Australia.

    4, If you look at last year pole time it is 1.21.7 even if Red Bull gained a second and a half over last years performance that is 1.20.2, Lewis wasnt far off.

    1. Grant says:

      Ham’s lap is even better we u consider Drs is limited during qually mode so lap times should be slower

      1. Grant says:

        *when

    2. Wanja says:

      5. Merc, for the first time, could utilize a Wind tunnel scaled to 60%, they were one of only two teams to still use a 50% tunnel, AFAIK.

  27. aveli says:

    this is a good testing result for hamilton and mercedes. we will find out race results when the racing starts in 2 weeks.

  28. Steve Zodiac says:

    I’ve been a bit of a Caterham follower right from day one(lotus racing). What have done? last in every session so far. Certainly hope they find something before Melbourne. Bring back Heiki or Petrov maybe?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Not going to happen.

      Someone was asking a couple weeks back about the cola bottle shape of the cars. Methinks the Caterham has gone for a pear shape instead.

      Hate to say it but I think – at least for this year – we’re looking at the new HRT.

      1. Steve Zodiac says:

        I know it isn’t going to happen, I was just wondering if they regret not keeping at least one of their experienced drivers as they can’t now tell how much is crap car and how much is crap drivers although I suspect that they’ve just made a crap car. Very sad

      2. Random 79 says:

        All I know is that if I was in their position right now I’d be regretting it for sure, but it’s possible that in 2014 (when the costs go up because of the new engine) if they had kept Heiki or Petrov they might have ended up regretting that even more.

        But definitely agreed – very sad.

    2. Grant says:

      Car looks a handful apparently, pay drivers now, wondering if they are struggling

    3. Wanja says:

      Caterham are the disappointment of the test season so far. They really seem to struggle. Promoting Gascoyne and going for two young bloods that seem to be half a second slower that the average formula 1 driver was probably not their brightest idea.

  29. AlexD says:

    I honestly think that nothing changed since last year.
    Red Bull will be 0,5 sec faster, Ferrari will be the second fasters car along with McLaren, but the later will loose the ground because of inconsistency. Merc will fight with Lotus and Ferrari and Red Bull will dominate just like in 2011. Ferrari will switch to 2014 after 4 races and Mercedes will follow them.

    1. Jake says:

      If Merc are close to the top three in the WCC the development will continue late into the season.
      If it looks like they have no chance to get into the top three it will drop off.
      I thought the 2014 car was being developed seperately, so there is no problem continuing with the 2013 car if it’s in the running.

    2. James Clayton says:

      I like the way you say that “nothing’s changed since last year” then go on to predict a load of things happening that didn’t happen at all last year!

    3. . says:

      Last year McLaren had the fastest car though and Ferrari was on par with RBR on race day (so not qualifying, but definitely on race day).

  30. Jenny says:

    Great driving from Lewis. Just hope he can shake off all that bad luck that he seems to carry around with him.

    Winners need luck. Without it they just end up being bad losers.

  31. jph2812 says:

    last year merc did win a race then went on to have a bad year. But the year before they were in a race of there own always just behind the big 3 teams. So its not to big a jump to think merc have caught up to the big 3. Just as lotus have and maybe pushed right into the fight

  32. Methusalem says:

    I saw this Q & A on “Autosport”:

    Lewis Hamilton set a time this morning using “unmarked” tyres. What exactly are these tyres?

    “The unmarked tyres Hamilton run were prototype soft-compound tyres”

    I still don’t get!

    Besides, according to the same site, LH set 1m20.817s on “Mediums”

    1. Grant says:

      Apparently the prototype soft was exactly the same as marked soft just made in different location

  33. TBP says:

    See what happens when the sticker is on straight.

  34. Snowy says:

    Lewis set 5 times in the 1m20s at least one of which was on the Medium tyre.
    Lap 18 1:21.534 S
    Lap 32 1:20.817 M
    Lap 38 1:20.558 S
    Lap 43 1:20.908
    Lap 50 1:20.610

    Also they were all seven lap stints besides one (interrupted by red flag)they consisted of an out lap 5 timed laps and an in lap. Which is not typical low fuel stint.

    Typically they looked like this stint on the Medium compound:
    31 out
    32 1:20.817 -5.964
    33 1:30.308 +9.491
    34 1:24.716 -5.592
    35 1:25.737 +1.021
    36 1:26.457 +0.72
    37 in

    1. Snowy says:

      My bad. :/ Apologies for the 1m21s it was still the sixth quickest time of the day.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      That’s some spectacular drop off after the headline 1’20.

  35. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    “Don’t get excited” said Hamilto.

    OK, we are not excited, no, no, noooooooooo, ha-ha-ha, yeah, iupi, go-go, iuuuuuupiiiiiiiii!!!!

    1. Tim says:

      You Sir, have just made me laugh out loud -:)

  36. Goob says:

    Almost as impressive as his Top Gear time…

    Hamilton is driving and completeing the critical feedback loop to his engineers with instant results.

    I really look forward to contrasting Button and Hamilton in 2013, and Hamilton and Nico…

    Current F1 racing may not be great, but at least we have a few elements of interest this season.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Hamilton and Button have been compared against each other for the last the years – we all know the result, we all drew our own conclusions, let it go :)

      Besides, I don’t think it’s really productive to compare drivers in different cars. The best comparison for any driver is his team mate.

      Hamilton and Rosberg will be compared this year for sure.

  37. Riz says:

    Forums are awash with all sorts of chatter re Lewis’s time. I am not pundit so can’t give an analysis, but have copied some comparable times for reference and to help people make their mind!

    1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.558

    2012 Qualifying – i am sure some will remember Lewis’s Mclaren stopping for v low fuel, hence disqualification. This was their absolute limit then!

    Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
    DSQ 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.583 1:22.465 1:21.707 17
    2 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.380 1:22.105 1:22.285 14
    3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.276 1:22.862 1:22.302 15
    4 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.248 1:22.667 1:22.424 14
    5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:23.406 1:22.856 1:22.487 13
    6 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.261 1:22.773 1:22.533 14
    7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.370 1:22.882 1:23.005 17
    8 1 Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.850 1:22.884 no time 14
    9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.757 1:22.904 no time 15
    10 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.386 1:22.897 no time 14
    11 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.510 1:22.944 13

    Last year lad day of pre-season testing!
    Unofficial Sunday test times from Barcelona:
    1. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:22.030, 121 Laps
    2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:22.250, 115 Laps
    3. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:22.296, 53 Laps
    4. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:22.312, 101 Laps
    5. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:22.386, 72 Laps
    6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.430, 115 Laps
    7. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:22.795, 101 Laps
    8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:22.939, 100 Laps
    9. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:23.347, 48 Laps
    10. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.393, 100 Laps
    11. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.608, 23 Laps

    Someone said above, other teams are not shaking in their boots.. if you can see their legs, check if they have not wet themselves!

    Someone else said, MB are cheating to show result to Board, hmmm pretty smart strategy to keep jobs for 15 days! unless unless you tell me MB dashes our bonus on the basis of testing results?

    1. Riz says:

      some amendments,
      1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.558 on a 5 lap run! i.e. on the first lap there is more fuel, and tyres were not fresh after that!
      it should be read, Last year last day of pre-season testing!

    2. Grant says:

      And Drs is limited they should b slower very impressive lap by ham

  38. KRB says:

    Wow, just read Gary Anderson on BBC’s F1 page saying that he thinks Mercedes have a car and drivers that can win races and even the championship! I rate Gary very highly, he’s a straight shooter, and he’s been trackside watching all the cars for each test (maybe not the first test, can’t remember).

    Still seems a bridge too far to me, to go from where they were last year, to championship contender, in a season with little regulation changes. Of course I hope he’s right, for both Lewis and Nico, Mercedes and F1 in general.

    The proof will be in the hotter weather, and on the long-run race pace. Hamilton’s not convinced on that score yet. Still, a very impressive time from him today. Even without Lewis’s four-tenths, it still would be a handy time.

    1. James Clayton says:

      This is the same Gary Anderson that claimed that last year’s McLaren looked like nothing special.

      I hope he’s right on this occasion, though!

      To be honest I think it’s ridiculous that people have been writing of Mercedes anyway. They started last year really strongly. It was well documented that they’d build the chassis around the DDRS and were locked into a dead-end of a tyre chewing car. They started work on this year’s car pretty early. So there’s really no reason it can’t be up the front end of the grid fighting for wins, and perhaps the championship.

      1. Wanja says:

        It’s also the same Gary Anderson that, when this year’s Marc was launched, said its design was underwhelming, uninspired, nothing special and the raised sidepod shoulders were even creating lift.

      2. Jake says:

        As it turned out it wasn’t. OK it was fast sometimes, actually very fast but it was also fragile so he was right, sort of.

    2. Danny Almonte says:

      Remember Brawn GP?……

      But seriously…..how can anyone give Hamilton credit for the seemingly good Mercedes form? He’s only just arrived after all the hard work was done. People need to get real.

      1. KRB says:

        For sure. Even Hamilton states that “they” (Mercedes) have made a big step up from last year’s car. All that Hamilton can do is drive the car as fast as it can go (which he does well), and help his side of the garage find the best set-up for him to do well in it.

        People at McLaren would talk of Hamilton’s four-tenths (sounds too high to me, but say a good 25-hundredths) … that’s what he gives a team. In a season with a tightly-bunched grid, that can make a big, big difference.

  39. Andy Mac says:

    How many points do you get for winning the testing days? None? Oh. You’d think it was a round of the championship. It will always be hard to determine what the teams are up to during testing. All that counts is the results during the races.

    1. aveli says:

      no one mentioned points until you did. everyone here understands the difference between racing and testing so why dictate to others what they should or should not enjoy?

      1. Andy Mac says:

        Er, I never said anything about enjoyment. What I did say was that all the pace in the world means nothing if you cannot do it in a race. All I am saying is that unless you know what they are testing, what fuel they have, it cannot be compared that well to anyone else’s time.

        Still, if you want to get yourself all excited over it go ahead. I’ll be waiting until the season is underway before determining which car is doing well, and which is not.

      2. aveli says:

        everyone who is posting on this page understands what testing is. why can they not be happy about what they see?
        why do you think the fia bother to publish the testing times if it’s useless? why do so many reporters set up their expensive technical equipment in order to obtain and broadcast information on testing?
        and finally if testing times meant nothing to you why do you bother to check on it?
        allow others to enjoy what they want to unless you have special powers to decide who enjoys what.

    2. Random 79 says:

      No points, but it does impress the people who pay the bills ;)

      1. Andy Mac says:

        Indeed it does. Whether the pace will transfer to the season is another issue, which was my point.

  40. Theoddkiwi says:

    An interesting piece if information regarding the weather here in Melbourne. The long range forecast for Autumn. Is Dry and cooler than normal.

    That alludes to a 5pm race start with track temps in around 18-19 degrees on a dry track. Make of that what you will, but if the Merc looks to shine in cooler weather, look out!
    Its certainly getting quite cool here already after a very hot and dry summer.

    What i don’t get is how some people always look to performance in the past season as some kind of solid indicator of performance for the new season. Merc tyre wear was a big problem last year, but there is no reason to insists that is going to be the same this year, new car, new designs and new tyres. There is no way to predict that, only the teams will know that

    1. KRB says:

      I remember that first weekend last year, and remember thinking that the Merc looked great in free practice. But yeah, in the race they had tire wear problems, and were done. Also didn’t have good race pace, I remember Vettel disposing of Rosberg fairly easy in the early laps.

  41. Erik says:

    Let’s not get carried away. One banzai quali run by Hamilton does not make a good Mercedes. Remember it’s cold, Mercedes have trouble with LONG runs in HEAT. I think Lewis is right, this time is nothing to get carried away over. Remember most teams were concentrating on mid to long runs today too so no real yardstick to compare the time to either.

    1. Jake says:

      Were not getting carried away, we are pleasantly surprised.
      It was more than one run and it points to a big improvement in performance.
      It is cold.
      Last years Merc. did have trouble in the heat, this is not last years Merc. we do not know how it will perform in the heat.
      See line 1.
      I disagree, quite a few of the teams did a several flying laps.

      1. Erik says:

        I guess we’ll find out in Melbourne, I remain skeptical.

  42. . says:

    Anyone observing the other seasons knows Merc always did fast times in winter testing and then fight Force India when the real racing starts. They go as light as can be while the others drive around with tanks half full.

  43. JohnBt says:

    Anything Lewis does will be news, in and out of the paddocks. But I know he will be performing much better than Schumi as the car has improved. A gentle reminder, Lewis and Alonso do not need the best car to win, a second or third best will do. Looks like 2013 will be better than 2012.

    Don’t waste too much time trying to figure out the testing times as there’s too much variables. Even teams are guessing what their opponents are doing.

    What if Lewis or Alonso win the Melbourne race? It won’t be a surprise IMHO.

    Alonso was last on day 2.

  44. JohnBt says:

    oooops I forgot KIMI!

  45. Tim says:

    This is what Gary Anderson says on the BBC:

    “When Eddie Jordan broke the news last September that Lewis Hamilton was moving to Mercedes this year, everyone thought it was a joke, but I tell you, the joke might be on them now. Lewis joined McLaren as a boy and he never really grew out of that. But he has joined Mercedes as a man and I have to say his body language is fantastic. He really is up for it. Can Mercedes make a car that is worthy of his talents? I think they’ve done it this year. Some of the lap times we’ve seen have already been pretty good, but today he has done a 1:20.5 on soft tyres on a low fuel run. That is a pretty impressive lap time. I think they have the talents to win races and win the championship this year.”

    Normally I don’t have much time for GA but now he has said something I would like to be true, he is, of course, one of the wisest voices in the F1 paddock!

    1. Thompson says:

      lol…… good one.

  46. Hal says:

    I think the fact that Red Bull are not setting any competitive times is a warning sign for all other teams. They are confident and it seems not that worried by Lewis’ time. Either that or they really are struggling which I find hard to believe.

    Fingers crossed that Red Bull don’t dominate again. The 2011 championship was so one sided it was barely worth watching.

    1. Philippe H. says:

      Agree,

      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/105827

      They’re just trying too hard to make people believe they don’t have a beast of a car.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Red Bull will be fast, but I don’t think we’ll see another 2011 again – more likely it will be similar to 2012, which is a good thing :)

  47. Richard says:

    Well the Mercedes is genuinely fast as Nico Rosberg is already within 0.2 sec. of Hamilton’s pace however Alonso is snapping at their heels just 0.086 behind Rosberg. I think all we can conclude is that it’s going to be a very close five horse race this year. – Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, and possibly Lotus if they get their reliability issues sorted.

  48. Richard says:

    Well Rosberg has slashed Hamilton’s time yesterday with another attempt on soft tyres bringing the fastest time down to 1 minute 20.1 seconds. – Didn’t I say Rosberg is no slouch! That certainly does prove that the Mercedes is in the mix at the front this year, and the long run pace looks decent too. The only question outstanding is have they optimised the tyre degradation issue because I think that may be the ultimate decider at the start of the season. – Again rather pathetic to have tyre issues sorting the order.

    1. Philippe H. says:

      Off course Nico is no slouch! However, he did it on a single-lap run, Lewis set his time on the first lap of a 5-lap run (more fuel than Nico). I don’t know what the gain is over a lap ( James mentioned it in 1 of his articles), but Lewis could have gone quite faster than the 1min20.5.

      1. Richard says:

        Yes was well aware of that, but we can see from this that the pair will be fairly evenly matched as to their ultimate relative speed that remains to be seen. The gain for lighter fuel load of course varies according to track, but qualifying in Melbourne is going to be interesting.

  49. Richard says:

    One of the topics discussed recently was driver pairing, and I’m beginning to think that Mercedes have the fastest with Lewis and Nico. – Both incredibly fast qualifiers! I think they will push each other to the limit.

    1. Jake says:

      Nico has woken up and he now has a bit of self-belief back that he lost last year running around in the lower mid order. This should be a good driver pairing. Merc will do much better in the constructors championship this year.

      1. Richard says:

        Ultimately it’s the car that decides how fast, but chugging around in the midfield is doen’t do much for ones’s ego. Nico will of course realised that Lewis was going to be faster than Michael so if the car is a good as it looks, and providing Mercedes can deliver in terms of the development race then both championship appear to be within reach.

    2. Philippe H. says:

      Great prospectives so far!

  50. aveli says:

    rosberg is even faster with alonso also trying to stay second 0.3s behind.
    does that mean during the final testing the mercedes was faster than the ferrari?
    can’t wait for the racing to start.
    roscoe got his pit pass by the way.

  51. Hendo says:

    The photo of the Ferrari seems to show a white “baffle” or piece of bodywork over the Crandall tunnel – I thought such items were illegal – as on the Williams & Caterham?

    1. Random 79 says:

      It’s only testing.

      My understanding is that it’s only when they go racing that they have to meet all the regulations – during testing they could have stuck a pink flamingo on it if they felt the need to.

  52. Yos says:

    Just read Gary Anderson’s Melbourne grid prediction, he claims that rosberg will be on pole from button, from vettel and Hamilton all with in a tenth of a second, but what i can’t accept is that the predicted pole time is in 1:19:7 wich is 5 seconds faster than last year’s Lewis pole. Do you agree James?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Pole should be faster than last year, but I think that maybe Gary’s forgetting the fact they’ll they’ll have a full tank of fuel on board.

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