Some unfinished business
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Barcelona Test 2: Day 4: Rosberg Keeps Mercedes On Top As Testing Ends
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  03 Mar 2013   |  6:04 pm GMT  |  300 comments

Pre-season testing is over – in two weeks time the first Grand Prix of 2013 will take place in Melbourne and Nico Rosberg signed off today with the fastest time recorded this year in Barcelona, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

As with Lewis Hamilton yesterday, Rosberg used a set of the soft Pirelli tyres to set the fastest time we have seen in the eight days of testing at Barcelona as well as going 4/10ths of a second faster than Hamilton managed yesterday and 1.5 seconds faster than the 2012 pole time. He set the time in the middle of the morning session.

However, Rosberg’s fastest lap came on a single lap run, compared to at the beginning of a five lap run that we saw for Hamilton on a higher fuel load.

With the afternoon spent on longer runs and race simulations, the excitement at the front came early in the day as Rosberg and Alonso took it in turns to better each others time.  They each set out on a number of soft tyre runs and continuously lowered the bench mark, with Rosberg coming out on top with a 1m20.130. Later in the morning he set a near identical time to ensure he took the two fastest times of pre-season testing on to Melbourne.

Alonso was 3/10ths shy of the German, meaning his time was quicker than that of Hamilton yesterday. It was another promising day for Ferrari, who have showed very good race pace over the more lengthy runs and are now at the sharp end when it comes to qualifying simulations.

Interestingly the Ferrari was faster in Sectors 1 and 3, with Rosberg’s Sector 2 four tenths faster than Alonso’s.

During this final week of testing the majority of teams have fitted the remaining upgrades to their 2013 cars ahead of the first race. However, Alonso has stated that Ferrari are slightly behind in their upgrade plans and we will not see their final configuration until the car arrives in Melbourne. Whether they will find a significant amount of time is unknown, but either way the Scuderia are certainly in a more competitive position than they were twelve months ago.

Both Button and Sebastian Vettel set their fastest times of the day on unmarked tyres, but it is presumed that Button used the soft tyre, whilst Vettel, in seventh today, was more likely on a harder compound.

After a series of short runs on the unmarked tyre Button and McLaren turned their attentions to more lengthy runs on the medium tyre in the afternoon.

There was some excitement sparked by Red Bull when they sent the triple World Champion out on a set of super softs before lunch, but it was just a constant speed aero test with no competitive times being set. They then spent the majority of their final afternoon running the unmarked compound, as usual keeping their cards close to their chests.

Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, recovering from his illness yesterday, was looking to make up for lost time and gain some further information about the E21 before the climax of the pre-season. But he was left frustrated by another reliability issue regarding the gearbox and did not set a competitive time until after the lunch break. When he did get out on a set of soft tyres he quickly made his way up the time sheets and ended the day in fifth place.

It has been a mixed twelve days of testing for the Enstone squad with a mixture of impressive pace and plenty of time lost due to technical issues. If they can iron out their reliability problems then they too are looking at a good rate of progression from last year.

Analysis of the tests, the times and the car updates will follow over the coming days.

Barcelona Test Day 4

(Tyre on which best lap time was set in brackets)

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.130 131 Laps (S)

2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.494 +0.364 120 Laps (S)

3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m21.444 +1.314 122 Laps (UM)

4. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m21.541 +1.411 118 Laps (S)

5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m21.658 +1.528 50 Laps (S)

6. Paul Di Resta Force India 1m21.664 +1.534 112 Laps (S)

7. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.415 +2.285 42 Laps (S)

8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m22.514 +2.384 100 Laps (UM)

9. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.524 +2.394 31 Laps (S)

10. Charles Pic Caterham 1m23.115 +2.985 116 Laps

11. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m23.167 +3.037 62 Laps

12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.628 +3.498 91 Laps

13. Max Chilton Marussia 1m24.103 +3.973 49 Laps

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  1. LuvinF1 says:

    Hi, James. How many tenths better would you estimate that Sunday’s rubbered-in track was worth over yesterday’s rain-washed track?

    1. Wayne says:

      I’ll tell you what – it’s not until you actually try and draw up a prediction on paper for the Australia Grid that you see just how difficult an exercise it really is. Go on, have a go right now…… See, much harder than you thought isn’t it? All those potentially ‘top’ drivers and teams and so little space in the top ten grid places. It’s not until you actually have a go that it becomes so clear just how tight this year could be – and how painful it will be for some…..

      Here’s my Australia grid (considering that Australia is a quirky street circuit):

      1)ALO (Combination of a quick car and fierce determination)

      2)WEB (He’ll be desperate to beat VET this year, and I do not think it’s impossible)

      3) MAS (His best year for a long time in 2013 – will push ALO all the way?)

      4) VET (With a fast car he’ll walk it again, with an average car he’ll get swallowed up by the tides of talent around him having already won three will be as motivated?)

      5) GRO (He’ll blitz qualy consistently this year)

      6) BUT (This will be one of the races where they struggle to set the McLaren up to BUT’s exacting margins)

      7) HAM (He’s good for two tenths over almost anyone else over one lap)

      8) ROS (But Ros is a qualy specialist as well, it will be close – although Ros always goes backward in the race)

      9) RAI (He’s perform much better in the race than in qualy)

      10) MAL (this will be one of the races where MAL pop’s it up there)

      11) PER (First race Jitters and pressure)

      Podium:

      1) ALO
      2) MAS
      3) VET

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        hope you’re right

      2. Random 79 says:

        Ouch…I’m hoping that Mark iss missing from the podium only because he had another KERS failure?

      3. Wayne says:

        Yep, it’s just his luck!

      4. KRB says:

        I hear Gary Anderson’s gonna predict the grid in Australia. It’s supposed to be up on BBC’s site by the end of the week.

        It might not be a representative grid. As in, I think any team could make their car fast for quali, but it will hurt them for the race.

        I suspect we won’t really have an idea of how teams will/should approach quali and the races, until after the first race.

      5. Wayne says:

        By Spain I reckon realistically, we should know a fairly established grid order, not much before…..

      6. Chris says:

        4) VET (With a fast car he’ll walk it again, with an average car he’ll get swallowed up by the tides of talent around him having already won three will be as motivated?)

        I like your predictions, but I don’t agree with your analysis of will Vettel be motivated, he’s motivated by records, and he’ll of thought about nothing else other than championship number 4 and beyond.

        You don’t win 25% of your races if your not a talented driver either nevermind three world championships in a row.

      7. Wayne says:

        I agree with you about VET’s love of stats – I forgot about that! And have to agree he’ll be motivated!

      8. Random 79 says:

        I’m not exactly a huge fan of Vettel or anything, but he would have to be at least one the favourites again this year, and you’re right – He’ll gunning for WDC #4

      9. Sebee says:

        Did you see the McLaren Honda noise?
        Now thay would be huge if McLaren bring a manufacturer in. Another contribution.

        But with MDX V6 hybrid, would Jenson still drive his McLaren to the drive thru? Problems. …problems.

      10. Sebee says:

        ….I meant NSX V6 Hybrid.

    2. Jenny says:

      It really is a rather frightening prospect if Nico turns out to be faster than Lewis this season. I’ve always thought he might be a bit of a dark horse. And especially so after his win last season.

      Interesting times. And may the best team/driver combination win.

    3. Heil says:

      I wonder what’s the truth surrounding Adrian Sutil. It’s almost impossible to find real information on this guy everywhere says his real name is is Adrian Sutil but his father’s name is Jorge Sutil and in the court case Adrian Sutil is called Sutil Jr. Also who’s paying this guy’s F1 seat and why? You don’t get your investment back sponsoring a convicted criminal unless there’s some special money laundry taking place. His an average driver and we all know he will never beat guys like Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Hulk and others. So what’s the real truth surrounding this guy??? F1 is a business we all know so there must be a reason Sutil is in F1 and we all know it isn’t because of talent or charisma. I personally think it has to do with his mother side she’s from Munich.

      1. Random 79 says:

        It’s possible that Jorge is his first name and Adrian is his second. Maybe he just uses Adrian as his preferred name to avoid confusion, but that’s just me guessing.

        Doesn’t really matter: In the end we all know him as Adrian Sutil.

        So far as I know he’s back in a race seat because Mercedes backed him – that’s a big deal for a team like Force India, as well as the fact that he’s a known quantity.

      2. Kimi4WDC says:

        Unlike some of drivers on the grid, Sutil had some impressive results during his road to F1. I hope that FI is decent this year so he get to show his qualities.

        At very least he will destroy Di Resta.

  2. Sebee says:

    Looks like 2 more weeks for the real answers.

    Anyone have feedback on the 3D F1 experience?

    1. AuraF1 says:

      It was very good quality and a lot less of the lensing ‘flip’ or blurring you get with football in 3D. As a technical exercise it was very impressive but – and this might just be me, but I had to take the glasses off and give it a rest frequently as the strain was a lot worse than a film or even football in 3D. I can only speculate it was the high contrast between camera locations and depth of field changing so much.

      That is probably a personal thing though. I don’t think I’d watch a full race in 3D tbh. I tend to look at the net and read timing screens etc so I don’t focus solely on the tv ( yeah attention deficit I know) – so 3D would get irritating for me.

    2. Wayne says:

      Nothing here suggests that (fuel corrected) Mercedes has anything more than the fourth fastest car. However there is nothing to say for sure that they don’t have the best either (however unlikely) – as you say no answers until Australia. Even that, though, is not really true – Australia is a quirky circuit and usually does not give a true picture of the average grid.

      One thing about the commentary of RBR which suprises me is that no is considering the possibility that RBR have not shown any dazzling pace because they don’t have any??? Last year in testing they did not show anything dramatic and this held true for the first GP. They were never slow but they were not dominent either. Everyone keeps saying with some certainty that RBR are sandbagging – well, they weren’t last year…… They’ll be there or thereabouts of course…. But maybe they have nothing more to show than McLaren, Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes?

      1. SaScha says:

        How do you come to that conclusions as you don’t know the fuel loads?
        We Have Kimi who says they (Lotus) would have come close to Mercedes if they did a low fuel run. He did not say they would have been faster.
        We have Sam Michaels who says Mercedes looks really fast & it will be incredibly close at Melbourne.
        We have Marko who say Mercedes has come closer than ever before.
        I don’t think anyone can make a pecking order right now, not even the teams themselves.

      2. Wayne says:

        Hey! I havn’t come to any conclusions – I was just asking a ‘what if’….. They did not impress straight away last year and their early GP performance was representative of testing or there abouts. They didn’t seem to be sandbagging last year so why is everyone so sure they are this year was my question…..

      3. Kidza says:

        I agree with you. Red Bull have either gone extreme on sandbagging or they had an an issue, at least in the last 2 days.

        Like most teams, they brought a major upgrade on Saturday and yet they did not complete a qualifying or race simulation with it, why? I can understand them not doing a qualifying sim on low fuel but why would they not want to do a race sim? Why would they not want to know how their upgrades are handling over a race distance? Would they rather sandbag rather than test during winter testing?

        Last year they brought a whole new chassis to the last test and everyone was talking them up, impressed by how Newey had apparently “pulled the rug from underneath everyone yet again”. Turns out things ain’t always what they appear to be.

        And it’s not as if they had by far the fastest car at the end of last season is it? In fact, it wasn’t just Mclaren who were faster than them in Brazil last year.

      4. Tim says:

        I hope you are right. :-)

      5. Wayne says:

        So do I – I don’t want WEB and VET in a slow car (it’s not good for the sport) I just don’t want them (or anyone else) in a car that is outright fastest either….

      6. Sebee says:

        I think it’s entirely possible that the tires would have impacted them. But this much? And only RBR and not others? I don’t buy it. They may not be the fastests, but the certainly aren’t far back from second. I wonder if their approach may have changed too. With delicate tires, perhaps pole is no longer as important as race pace.

        Surprising that Mercedes suddenly solved their tire problems. But I have a feeling that the cold weather means we didn’t get the whole picture.

        Australia may not tell us definately the sitaution, but at least they will not be playing games anymore. I believe there is plenty of sandbagging going on in tests. And it may even be a scenario of not going balls out a the start to apply a huge “trick” update at a time when others are not able to respond as quickly. Gaps in the schedule this year don’t exactly help in this regard. Being selective about when and where to introduce big upgrades this year may be the game changer with such an evenly matched field.

      7. Wayne says:

        Absolutely, just wondering out loud if they are not in fact sandbagging as much as people think they are. Agree that if they are not the fastest they’ll be in the top three in qualy trim and probably top two in race trim.

        I don’t doubt their speed and competitiveness – it’s just that last year everyone was convinced they were sandbagging and it turns out that they weren’t really come Australia.

      8. Sebee says:

        Hey,

        These 1 lap lasting super-softs…the rule about starting on the qualifying tires still applies?

        What does that mean to strategy this year? Would you want to get pole and then have to pit on lap 2? Or would it be better to squeeze the second compund somewhere into the race?

        Sure, if you’re fastest, you’re fastest. But to be fastest on the harder and longer lasting rubber will be key. Perhaps this is what we should have been looking at Wayne. Who did the fastest laps on the hardest rubber?

      9. Tim says:

        One thing about the commentary of RBR which suprises me is that no is considering the possibility that RBR have not shown any dazzling pace because they don’t have any???

        That’s a valid point – all the mechanics hurrying to cover the rear wing as the RB pulls into the pit. Smoke and mirrors and bluff in my opinion!
        What’s the big secret anyway, all of the teams are perfectly able to get high resolution images of the cars when they are on the track. It’s not as if the opposition will, or can, try any harder than they already are.

      10. Sebee says:

        Did you see this?

        http://m.gpupdate.net/en/f1-news/291254/combined-times-barcelona-pre-season-test/

        Red Bull not even in the “poins”? Yeah….right….
        I can’t wait for Oz.

      11. KRB says:

        Just flying lap times. RBR still the best on long runs. Don’t think anyone in the know thinks differently.

  3. Robert says:

    Very interesting as usual James! But I have one question from this – what is this with the “unmarked tyres”?!? Does Pirelli make them that way, or do the teams remove or cover the markings themselves? And why are they allowed – and if they are, why doesn’t every team use them for all of their testing?

    1. James Clayton says:

      The unmarked tyres are made in a different factory (in Rumania, I believe) to the marked tyres. They are Pireli’s ‘Disaster Recovery’ option, this is the factory that would supply the tyres if the Turkish factory was unable to for any reason.

      They are, in theory, identical to the standard tyres.

      Each team is given an allocation of these (15 sets I think), on top of their standard winter testing allocation (100 sets, I believe).

      1. [MISTER] says:

        Maybe Romania. I don’t think there’s any country called Rumania… :)

      2. James Clayton says:

        ! Feel better now??

    2. Dino says:

      The unmarked tyres come from the Pirelli factory in Romaina. The marked ones come from the regular plant in Turkey. The back-up production has been tested just to compare them with the regulars. Are made just to have a back-up in case of any shortage or problem of availability.

    3. Chapor says:

      The unmarked tyres are from a different manufacturing plant. They are just testing them to see if they have the same quality and perform the same.

  4. Chromatic says:

    Lotus reliability issues only hit Kimi, never Grosjean. That’s bizarre.

    1. Sebastian says:

      Other way around during last season, so I guess it is just how things turn out sometimes.

      1. Sri says:

        If I remember correctly, Grosjean had one alternator failure in race (19 days, if you think 3 FPs + 3 Quali + 1 race = 1 test day). Did he also have a gearbox change? But nothing more I think. Kimi had data issue and two gearbox changes in 5 days of this year’s testing (ignoring his day of illness)! That is truly bizzare.

      2. Sebastian says:

        Doesn’t sound so bizzare to me. Lotus had a major issue in testing last year, albeit that was due to a design problem. From Kimi’s comments it sounds like the gear box issue is (low) temperature related.

    2. Patrick says:

      Lotus took most of one day to fix a faulty gearbox. I can’t find the rule that says teams are not allowed to take spares to tests. ?!

      1. [MISTER] says:

        It’s not that Patrick. I think they didn’t had a new gearbox. They had to fix that one. I guess they didn’t expect a gearbox -which is supposed to last thousands of miles- to break so early in the day.

  5. Rob says:

    Amazing what engineers can do when they are motivated…

    Merc engineers know the extra hours are going to pay off with the talents of Hamilton.

    McLaren engineers know there efforts are a lost cause on drivers like Button…

    Let the games begin…

    1. JB says:

      Whereas the 7 times champion Schumacher just didn’t interest them…?

      1. Grant says:

        They knew most of those were achieved with a highly dominant car.

      2. madmax says:

        3 out of 7 where won with probably the best car. What about the other 4?

        How well did his teammates do in these supposedly dominant cars?

        Well at least we will get a direct comparison between a forty something Schumacher and Hamilton now that he is Rosberg’s team mate.

      3. zombie says:

        yep..compared to the other F1 champs who won driving inferior cars throughout.

      4. Grant says:

        Alonso beat Schumi in a Renault. Now that’s definitely great talent.

      5. zombie says:

        A Renault that was nearly a 1.5s a lap faster than the Ferrari in 2005 and almost a second faster than Ferrari up until mid-2006 ? You mean the same Renault that supplies engines to Vettel’s RBR ? Whats inferior about them ?

      6. madmax says:

        haha

      7. CALVIN HAYES says:

        HOW HAS MARK WEBBER GONE IN TESTING

      8. LuvinF1 says:

        Well, as I understand it, it did interest them. But Herr Schu didn’t do much with it while at the same time the changes were contra Rosberg’s driving style.

      9. [MISTER] says:

        And where did you get this information? Must be a reliable source!

    2. Quade says:

      It is just possible that Red Bull aren’t sandbagging. All that hiding could equally be because they’ve lost their way and are trying desperate magic bullets. You never know.

      Truth is, we can only guess until Melbourne.

      1. Grant says:

        They needed more time for testing. Still struggling with passive DRS, which Merc and Lotus have now sorted.

    3. Martin says:

      Or it could be that Aldo Costa is better than Ferrari (without Ross Brawn) realised… His last car was the 2011 Ferrari, so he wouldn’t have had much of a role with last year’s Mercedes.

    4. Trout says:

      Tempting to take the bait. Better not to bite.

  6. Sudha S says:

    Mercedes and Lotus look set to take the fight to the Top 3 – RBR, Ferrari and McLaren. This season could be more competitive than 2012.
    Mercedes have the pace. The question mark about Mercedes is their performance at the hotter tracks and tyre degradation over the longer runs.
    Really curious about what Red Bull are hiding. Looked like they were sandbagging all the way through testing. Also not letting photographers take pics etc. What is it they are hiding? Will they surprise everybody in Melbourne?

  7. lol says:

    Well, the times say absolutely #$%@ all.

  8. Richard says:

    Well all we can really conclude is that it’s going to be very close with five teams in the mix at the front, but I’m really encouraged by Mercedes improvement, and I suspect it will be one in the eye for all the doubters.

  9. Darren W says:

    The Mercedes times do look impressive, within 2 tenths of a second of any Spanish Grand Prix qualifying sessions since the tire wars ended in 2006.

    I understand that comparisons like this don’t mean much as the only thing that matters is form against their competitors during the current racing season…but the times are still fast. I can’t wait to see what things look like in Australia.

    1. Philippe H. says:

      The car is definitely fast, but 2 major questions:

      -Race pace (so much more important than qualifying speed)
      -Tyre degradation

      So far it’s looking good, hope Melbourne doesn’t bring bad surprises.

      1. KRB says:

        Mercedes have had a good winter. The first two days in Jerez (“Rosberg’s on fire!”, “Hamilton’s unstoppable!”) seem a very long time ago now.

        Even with that inauspicious start, Rosberg and Hamilton ended up 1-2 in the amount of testing laps and kms completed. Hopefully Mercedes have used that extra mileage (kilometerage?) to focus on their race pace and tire deg.

      2. Jake says:

        And reliability

    2. ZF1 says:

      Within two seconds of the fastest time set in any qualifying session after revisions were made to the trace (i.e. last chicane added)

      1. ZF1 says:

        *track

  10. Mocho_Pikuain says:

    James, I have read that while Alonso did his lap in a 4 laps stint only opening drs once Rosberg did only one flying lap with full drs. Is that true? If it is, what would be the time gain/loss? Thank you.

    1. Hjc says:

      Don’t think you are allowed to run drs like that anymore as fia changed that rule for testing practice and qualy.

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        You can use drs full lap on tests, new rule only aplies to race weekends. At least that’s what i understood…

      2. Anne says:

        This was a winter test not a race so there was room for flexibility. However I don´t know if drivers used DRS all over the track. But it makes sense. Teams need to test DRS as well to see if it works the way they expect.

      3. Kay says:

        I think teams are free to use DRS anywhere as far as testing’s concern.

      4. SaScha says:

        but to use DRS anywhere but the straights would be impossible for any driver ( without hot blowing EBDs)

      5. SteveH says:

        I believe the teams agreed amongst themselves to use DRS only on the two straights.

    2. Vinola says:

      Assuming 2.2kg fuel/lap and 0.38second time deficit/10kg fuel weight, time deficit/lap is 0.0836. therefore 3 more laps is roughly 0.250 seconds. Caveat; my assumptions and math could be wrong:)

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Something like that is what i thought, plus the drs difference (which i think is quite big) i think alonso could have clocked a 1’19.

    3. Joel says:

      Wow… Rosberg also drove but* nak** to save some weight so he could go a tad faster. Common, do you need to go to this level to understand who stands a little ahead? Well, the news is – all these times are not really representative of the real pace.
      So, relax and watch the drama unfold :)

    4. yugin says:

      ‘Alonso … only opening drs once’

      But was that on the same lap which gave him his best time?

      If it wasn’t, I’d imagine the use of DRS down the designated DRS straight should give you something like 0.250 of a second, judging by the speed difference between cars during DRS overtakes in races.

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        I mean he used it only in one straight, while rosberg used it the whole lap.

    5. Enzo says:

      The difference between Rosberg and Alonso was 0.364 sec. this corresponds to approx. 10kg. of fuel, and with Alonso doing 5 laps, this could also be the reason for the time difference.

  11. Kusti says:

    Well, the Merc seems strong but are the others sandbagging? My guess is that they are somewhat. And also, the last two teams seem to be closer to the pack or is it just me?

    1. Hjc says:

      Yes. Every single team is sandbagging but merc. I agree!

  12. sergiu says:

    Nice! So Alonso may have a better chance to fight for the WDC!!! It would be hilarious if it is Alonso vs Hamilton! And hopefully Fernando wins!!!

    1. sergiu says:

      P.S Sorry for my english!!!!:)

      1. Random 79 says:

        Don’t be, it’s actually pretty good :)

    2. James Clayton says:

      Why would it be hilarious?

      I think a showdown between Hamilton and Alonso is what a lot of people would love to see.

      Only problem for me, is I think they *both* deserve another championship. So if it was between the two of them at the final race, I’d be slightly disappointed regardless of the outcome ;)

      1. Søren Kühle says:

        I agree.. :)
        Although I automaticly tend to lean towards the red car. It’s a childhood thing I guess :)

      2. sergiu says:

        Sorry!!! I’ve made a mistake, i meant that it would be an epic battle between them!!!
        P.S I said that i’m sorry for my english!!! So I was a little bit “lost in translation!!!”:)

      3. James Clayton says:

        Ah no worries. That makes much more sense now! To be fair we always get epic battles between Hamilton and Alonso. I remember some of their best scraps being for 13th and 14th place in the Renault and McLaren in 2009!

        But yes, a title showdown between the pair is an exciting prospect and could do nothing but good for F1!

    3. Grant says:

      We’ve seen that battle before and we know who wins.

      1. Pierce89 says:

        I’m pretty sure they tied.

      2. KRB says:

        Tied on points, but Lewis finished higher on countback. That remains the closest championship, from P1-P3, in F1 history.

  13. DB says:

    Were those unmarked tyres provided by Pirelli like that or did the teams erase the markings?

    1. [MISTER] says:

      They are Pirelli tyres. The only difference is that they were produced on another Pirelli site and they didn’t put markings on them.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      The unmarked tyres are just the same compounds from Pirellis backup factory aren’t they? They have a second location in case production can’t reach the Grand Prix in time. There is no compound difference – it’s just these don’t have the official colour markings on so it’s harder to see what the teams were running from trackside.

  14. Anne says:

    James do you know if the unmark tyres will eventually become marked tyres and used this season? I´m asking because it seems to be so much complaning and controversy over the tyres and the amount of pit stops. And the fact that those unmark were used yesterday and today by the teams.

    1. [MISTER] says:

      Hi Anne. The unmarked tyres will not be available during the season. The only reason we had them in testing was because they were made on another Pirelli site and they didn’t put markings on them. They are no different from the regular tyres. Only diference is that they don’t have the white/red/orange/yellow markings.

      I wonder if Pirelli didn’t make enough tyres and had to make some quick. Maybe because of the graining that was happening due to low temperature.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        I believe Pirelli announced the unmarked tyres are given to the teams for quality control to ensure they are up to the regular spec. It’s just more tyres for the teams.

  15. goferet says:

    According to Domencalli, Ferrari will bring upgrades for Melbourne, Malaysia and then a big upgrade for China.

    Hmm… Why would a good car need a big upgrade so early in the season unless the team aren’t as near the front as they would like the fans to believe.

    Perhaps Massa’s times (on the super soft tyres yesterday) is really the true indicator of Ferrari’s qualifying performance >>> I don’t know maybe!!!

    1. [MISTER] says:

      That’s just wrong. Alonso on Softs was faster than Massa on Super Softs.

      And the upgrade thing happens every year. Teams constantly upgrade their cars. Small bits every race and once in a while a big upgrade.

      Looks to me that you’re trying to find flaws on the Ferrari :)

      1. Onko says:

        Hi MISTER,at times it seems you have red the
        mail,becouse you are spot on.
        I am great believer in Alonso,to the extend
        to say second to none on the grid, be it in
        car development or overall performance.
        The same to Pat Fry a top shelf Engineer who
        does not shoot from the hip says it as he see it,last year he wasn’t afraid say the car
        was a dog,He was at the final day testing on
        the end of a day his quote I am happy!
        You know if Pat Fry said that,take it to the
        bank becouse is good, and all Ferraristy will
        have a Mona Liza smile in the coming F1.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Every team brings constant updates to the car, no matter what baseline they start from.
      In Ferrari’s case, I believe that problems with their wind tunnel, and the fight to the end of the season has delayed introduction of the updates.
      Last year, if you remember, every team brought updates to their car when they returned to Europe.
      Reading between the lines, I would say Ferrari going to the expense of big updates in the fly aways means they are taking Red Bull on with no budget restrictions.
      Who knows?

      1. Kevin Green says:

        +1

      2. W Johnson says:

        Ferrari Problems with the wind tunel is becoming a well worn excuse. Everyone it seems is using the Toyota wind tunnel….so why does Ferrai get a special mention for wind tunnel problems??

      3. [MISTER] says:

        Johnson, I believe Alonso or Massa just said in one of their interviews on Sunday or Monday that all the parts work as they expect (more or less). Therefore, no more corelation excuse.
        Let’s hope Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus and even Mercedes will take the fight to RedBull.

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Because Ferrari have only recently commited to the Toyota wind tunnel. Theirs is being updated/ repaired now and won’t be operational till August.
        Late 2012, updates they fitted to the car did not work as anticipated.
        There are no more excuses

    3. tom in adelaide says:

      Big upgrades are what keep you near the front.

    4. Riccardo Consulini says:

      Domenicalli stated MANY times before, that this season is gonna be won by whoever brings a competitive car from the beginning, as the teams will be putting their efforts into the 2014 car sooner. With the big rule change and all. Capisce????

    5. Anne says:

      They want to win the biggest possible amount of points early to make it harder for RB to catch up later in the season. They don´t want to be caught off guard.

  16. EzPez says:

    Nico really begins to look like his father once he’s squeezed into his helmet!

  17. RapidRick says:

    Mercedes instructed to get headline times to silence the office politicians in their multi-headed hierachy? That’s my guess.

    1. Dave Deacon says:

      +1

    2. Timmay says:

      Yup. They certainly have more cause to do this than any other team. Meanwhile Red Bull & even McLaren have good reason to perform under the radar. Only Melbourne Friday will give us any true guide for Sat, Sun, and the rest of the season. I will be there!

      1. Jake says:

        What is that reason? I don’t understand why you would go to so much effort to hide the cars true speed. We are two weeks, (yahoo), from the first race so it’s not like other teams have a chance to do anything about it.

    3. blackmamba says:

      Really? Even though the times a faster than pole time at the same track last year? Surely they didn’t just magic those times out of nowhere on the say so of management?

      1. Dave C says:

        You’re obviously a Hamilton fan but look at it like this, Hamilton seems slower than Rosberg in testing and everyone doesn’t see him as a threat, big mistake, and the reason the car’s quicker than last year is because the tyres are softer and more grip, Merc tried to bait other teams to show their true pace and only Ferrari took the bait.

      2. KRB says:

        They were obviously sandbagging at the Spanish GP last year, to not give anything away about their 2013 car. ;-)

    4. Hjc says:

      Because they’ve done that in the past and merc corporate aren’t in it for the long haul based on spending tons of money on ham paddy and the rest of the tech staff.

      1. Quade says:

        As blackmamba asked, do you guys think they actually managed to go almost 4 seconds quicker than their quali time at the same track last year, cos they wanted to look good to management? Hilarious!
        Maybe Merc management will do well to seat at every race, then by the same miracle, they’d win by a mile!

    5. grat says:

      Or, alternatively, since the Mercedes is known for having a tire-shredding factor, maybe they handed both drivers a set of soft and said “Burn through them” to see how bad the degradation is.

      Given that both drivers have expressed caution about the car’s long-run pace, it seems like a reasonable test.

      So far, I think Mercedes has improved their speed, and reliability– now if they can translate that into 70 laps of reliable speed, this will be a very good year for Mercedes.

      1. blackmamba says:

        Then it stands to reason that if you are testing tire degradation you run heavy fuel loads! Rosberg was doing 1 lap flyers for those times.

      2. KRB says:

        For those times. But he did 251 laps in total over his two days at the final test! You think those were all one-lap flyers?!?!

    6. aveli says:

      do you believe that you are smarter than those in the mercedes offices? are they employed in those offices because they are so galable? or is it because they are not smart enough to understand motor sport or is that why they chose careers in the motor industry?
      i thought employers try to select the smartest of the applicants.

      1. Doobs says:

        Well looking at some of the people in F1 (no names, no pack drill) you have to wonder…

    7. SaScha says:

      I doubt Hamilton run less than 20 kg of fuel on Saturday. Does not look like Show-boating for me.

  18. Seán Craddock says:

    Just out of interest how many laps did Alonso do in the run when he set his fastest time?

    Also, were the unmarked tyres unmarked purely to distinguish them from the tyres made in the regular Pirelli factory or was it also so the teams could keep their cards close to their chest?

  19. blackmamba says:

    What I was most impressed by today was Rosberg’s consistency over the longer runs, certainly an area they are desperate to improve from last year!

  20. Pranav says:

    James, was Rosberg using the DRS at every opportunity unlike the rest of the drivers? Somebody on another blog stated this.

  21. madmax says:

    Hamilton had 4 laps after his run so 1.20.558 at 0.10 a lap burn off is 1.20.158 which is around Rosberg’s 1.20.130.

    Anyone know were can get lap by lap data of the the tests?? Used this excellent website http://f1tests.info/2013.php?rev=on but stopped working yesterday.

    1. Becken says:

      Rumour was that teams asked someone to take it down.

      I doubt that teams, busy with their preparations, would bother with that.

      Just a guess from me, but I suspect it was FOM, aware that we, fans, with times in hand, could do our own assumptions about who is fast or not.

      1. madmax says:

        The teams asking it to be taken down doesn’t make much sense so suspect it was FOM as they always seem to do everything possible to stop the sport being promoted.

        James, were do you get your lap by lap data for these tests that FIA don’t seem to show on their website and is it available to the public?

  22. Grant says:

    Just made a SkyBET for a HAM victory in Australia.

    1. tom in adelaide says:

      They thank you for your donation.

    2. Kevin Green says:

      -1

    3. Random 79 says:

      Best of luck

    4. KRB says:

      And you don’t include the odds you got? What were they?

      1. Grant says:

        The odds were heavily skewed in my favour of course. I’m going to make a killing from this one, as RB struggles with their passive DRS.

  23. Lance Manion says:

    It’s looking like its going to be between Red Bull and Ferrari in Melbourne. Maybe the Mercedes can qualify well but it’s just too much to think that they’ve closed the gaps over the winter. McLaren need more time learning how to get the max out of the pull rod front suspension. Lotus also might have a say but reliability has to be concerning them.

    1. Søren Kühle says:

      I would’nt write out McLaren. The car is clearly fast. And it only takes one bright engineer to see the light, and they wil be consistenly fast.. :)

      1. Ninetto says:

        And that takes a lot of wishful thinking!

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Do they have any bright engineers left though. Reading the press recently, they are bleeding them out of the organisation

      3. duc says:

        Button is an Astralian Gp specialist,3wins out of last 4 gp there.If mclaren do not win there in 2 weeks you may as well say goodbye to their chances in 2013.and by the way I am not a Button fan,but you must recognise he delivers the goods more than some other drivers.

      4. Doobs says:

        He does seem to go well at Melbourne..

  24. AENG says:

    James,
    Not in topic but, is there any concern for Renault clients that last year’s generator problems not inherited and are finally solved?

  25. rafa says:

    gary anderson reckons that RBR could yet again smash the field come Australia. he says that that “apparently inocuous” run from Webber in the rain more than a second and a half ahead of the rest could be an indication of just how powerful that car is. They haven’t looked in a hurry to post great times either, so some are seeing this as a pretty ominous sign. this baffles me a bit, as surely even allowing for time corrections (fuel, type of tyre and rubbered surface on the track) the behaviour of a car can’t be extrapolated just playing with the variables: the car’s reaction to different fuel loads isn’t stable I would’ve thought. Are RBR so astonishingly confident in their car that they need not try hot laps or am i completely wrong in my assumptions?

    1. Andrew Woodruff says:

      I agree, I was puzzled by the same thing last year. It was also the case last year that Red Bull didn’t hit their qualifying stride until much later in the season. Surely more qualifying setup runs in winter testing would prepare all teams for that very specific performance requirement in Q3 on Saturdays. I find it very strange.

    2. Harsha says:

      They are evaluating new parts and doing consistently Long runs in short intervals. They are the only team i think haven’t gone for Long runs this test. So probably they know how much quick they can go and chooses to use time for testing as they clearly won’t be 2 sec off the pace.
      Some can say look they are Off the pace at the start but we need to remember the RB8 was one of the Best cars of the grid at the end of season. Rb9 was evolution of RB8. So probably they will continue their pace. and they may be good for first 2 rows this time. But if they are clearly confident about their pace and if that was true then it was 2011 only.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        RB8 may have been the best car at the end of the season, but your thinking that the 9 is an evolution so therefore the pace will follow is countered by the fact that the RB8 was an evolution of the dominant RB7..

    3. Harsha says:

      Pardon my mistake
      Haven’t gone for Qualifying runs this test

    4. Quade says:

      I totally agree with you.
      The caveat might be that teams can do straight line speed tests away from the cameras.

      1. Adelaide says:

        I believe that they are fast, but too hard on the tires.

  26. Dave C says:

    Well the Hamilton lovers joy of the pace from the Mercedes in winter testing has been dealt with a bitter taste as Rosberg seems to be faster at every test, now the nervous fans must find more excuses if Nico is faster than Hamilton, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of excuses like oh its a new car or Lewis needs to settle into his new environment, all I can say is the pressure is on Hamilton to be clearly much faster than Nico or his time as a top rated F1 driver comes to an end this season.

    1. [MISTER] says:

      Hamilton did his time on a 4 or 5 lap stint, on a track that was just dry after being washed by the rain.
      Nico did his time on a 1 lap stint, on a arguably more rubbered track.
      You do the math!

      1. Dave C says:

        Ive done the maths, Nico’s time fuel corrected is 0.120 faster than Hamilton, also the track was already rubbered in from the afternoon before Hamilton’s lap, also it seems from every test Nico was slightly faster, you are underestimating him.

      2. Doobs says:

        I’m just thinking that Merc better get on top of their tyre management. Lewis is reputedly hard on his tyres and would seem an odd driver choice for a car that’s also hard on it’s tyres…

    2. Hal says:

      Read the full article (Hamilton did his best time on a 5 lap run where as Nico’s was for one timed lap). Anyway comparing times on different days where the conditions are not the same is a bit pointless.

      If Nico beats hums over the course of the season I think a lot of people would be surprised (including me) but it could be possible. It’ll be interesting to find out.

    3. Hjc says:

      Or nicos time as underrated will come to an end.

      1. madmax says:

        About time too.

    4. tom in adelaide says:

      I detect a generally lack of understanding.

    5. Vinola says:

      Using the last test data, Hamilton did his best time on the first lap of a 5 lap run versus Rosberg’s single lap run accounting for roughly 0.4 seconds, plus additional rubber laid down after 2 days of rain, perhaps worth 3 tenths to 0.5second- those 2 factors at the very least wipe that deficit. Regardless, I agree that Hamilton/Rosberg qualifying runs will be one of the highlights of this season

    6. Quade says:

      Get a life, sir! Lol!
      We will know where the drivers stand in a few short days. Speculation and casting the evil eye won’t help the blood pressure or slow down either Rosberg or Lewis.

      1. KRB says:

        There’s more than a few Wally’s on these threads. I think those that are do great work at exposing themselves as such.

        I really, really, really hope they are not older than 14. Otherwise that’d just be sad.

    7. James Clayton says:

      Or a substantially lighter fuel load, as alluded to in the article. Or a green track vs one that’s had a whole day of rubbering in…

      Clearly, we won’t be able to see who’s the faster of the two until we’ve had a few races.

      What’s your agenda?

    8. Steven says:

      You’re probably the kind that makes this statement, then turns around and says ” its only testing” lol

    9. Paul says:

      On that basis, Schumacher wasn’t a top driver for the last three years, getting soundly beat by Rosberg in each year. I’m betting Hamilton is a bit better than that though. This is a guy who beat Alonso in the same car, so I’m pretty sure he’ll cope fine at Merc.

      1. madmax says:

        Schumacher was soundly beaten by Rosberg the first year only if you look beyond points scored as that logic would also suggest Button beat Hamilton over 3 years!

      2. Doobs says:

        They were equal on points as I recall.

    10. SaScha says:

      Hamilton did on every stint with the softs 5 timed laps while, Nico did just one. Also the track improved from Saturday to Sunday quite a bit. All teams times have been better on Sunday.

  27. Hal says:

    As I said in previous post the fact that Red Bull don’t feel the need to post some fast times to me shows their confidence. I hope I’m wrong.

    Anyway, really looking forward to Melbourne…

  28. Quade says:

    I’m beginning to feel that McLaren is NOT sandbagging.

  29. shane says:

    the time set by Button on those unmarked tires were confirmed by Pirelli to be the medium compound. So the time is even more impressive.

    1. Robert says:

      Do you nave a source for this? Huge news (and happy news) if that is so! that puts him well up into the guys running softs…probably not enough of a difference to catch Nico’s time, but Alonso’s certainly.

    2. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Impossible as the unmarked tyres can only be hard or soft.

      1. shane says:

        Crofty interviewed Pirelli represetative on sky whilst Jenson was out on track. The tires were unmarked purely as they had been made in a new Pirelli factory and they were testing them for clarity. To make sure they were the same as from their main factory.

  30. Methusalem says:

    I think RB is not sandbagging this time. They might have some tyre issue.

  31. Dan says:

    Can anybody tell me what the long runs on the Mercedes were like?

    What was their drop off like compared to others?

  32. Nick Lynn says:

    I think Mercedes are set to surprise everyone this season. I so hope they do.

  33. Val from montreal says:

    To Nico from Michael : Is that all you got kid ?

    To Lewis from Michael : You thought Button was a pain …

    1. Elie says:

      To Michael from Nico It was enough to beat you. Now I can use the other 50% on Lewis
      To Michael from Lewis:- Jenson was nothing on track but a cunning snake off track. Nico is my mate- but by Malaysia he won’t be- he too will become like Jenson.

      1. madmax says:

        To Nico from Michael

        That explains how a 43 year old beat you at the most driver dependent track in Monaco but what about the other 22 drivers including Lewis?

    2. Steven says:

      From Lewis & Nico to Michael:
      We found your walking cane in the factory this morning, where should we mail it?
      Lol

      1. madmax says:

        To Lewis & Nico:

        Just mail it to my mega-mansion in Switzerland which was actually built by the funds from my 91 wins and 7 world titles.

        With a combined total of 23 wins a 1 world title can yous afford the postage?

      2. Elie says:

        To Michael
        From Lewis & Nico

        At least we got our success when F1 was more even on tyres that weren’t made especially for you and your $billions Ferrari. Just how many wins would you have in an even category where you couldn’t just crash into someone to win a title or use your squillions to win people over. Oh that’s right that’s what you came back to do- but it didn’t work did it. Just enjoy retirement this time and leave us poor driver alone unlike the last time left.

      3. madmax says:

        To Lewis & Nico
        From Michael

        Do you truly believe that my friends Fernando, Kimi and Montoya didn’t test the Michelens a combined total of much greater miles?

        Was not all my greatest wins in the nineties in lesser machinery than my competitors?

        I’ll leave you to ponder on this – I’m old, blind and will soon need a zimmer frame but I still beat all you kids around the one ultimate driver’s track. What do you think would have happened if I was in my prime?

      4. Val from montreal says:

        Hey Elie , see that movie with Cameron Diaz called ” Bad Teacher ” ??

        That scene with the black kid and his gym teacher and the kid tells him Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan ?

        Coach : Call me when Lebron wins 6 championships .

        Black kid : Is that your only argument ?

        Coach : That’s the only argument I need SHAWN !!!

  34. Quade says:

    Off point, but the McLaren is just sooooooooo beautiful!
    The same can’t be said for the Lotus (which has a strange looking undercarriage) or the Mercedes which looks like a Walrus.
    Caterham? Bad paint job!

    1. alexdhq says:

      I think most drivers wouldn’t mind being seen in an pink walrus if it was good enough to win the championship.

      1. Quade says:

        True! The Red Bull has maintained the ugliness of Satans spurn for 3 years in a row, and 3 years in a row have nailed both the WDC and constructors.

        Maybe ugly is the new sexy.

    2. Elie says:

      I think the Lotus is the best looking car on the grid

    3. Random 79 says:

      For my money nothing will ever beat the original 2010 HRT – the very definition of ugly.

  35. Dave says:

    Why are there unmarked tyres at F1 testing?

    1. [MISTER] says:

      My guess is that Pirelli didn’t make enough tyres or that they didn’t expect the teams to use that many. Maybe the unexpected graining due to low temperatures made the teams to use more tyres. They brought some tyres from a different site, and the tyres were just not marked, but are exactly the same compound as the regular ones.

      1. Doohan says:

        According to twitter they are test samples of a back up factory if anything were to happen to their f1
        Factory in turkey.

  36. Søren Kühle says:

    Looks like it’s gonna be a closely fought affair this year.. Can’t wait :)

  37. AlexD says:

    Sorry for OT, is it worth purchasing F1 app for 2013?
    Thank you:-)

    1. Mike from Colombia says:

      Yes. You can catch things before the commentators do.

      It is absolutely essential when Legard is commentating. Surely, his severance package must be over by now ?

      1. James Clayton says:

        Catching things before the commentators is one thing, but before the you actually get to see it is another.

        For those of us who stream the races online, is there an option (I highly doubt it but worth asking) to delay the incoming data for x seconds so you don’t get informed of a vital change of position before getting to see the action on screen?

    2. Simple says:

      I’ve used it the last two years, and love it.

      1. AlexD says:

        Would you know, is there any improvement this year or the app is identical?

      2. Simple says:

        Not sure mate. It was pretty comprehensive last year. The addition of tyre type was really handy. Helps keep the commentators on their toes to!

    3. Gate 21 says:

      Absolutely worth it.

      Even if you miss a session, you can still download that session’s data and use the app while watching the replay.

      Can’t watch F1 without it now.

  38. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Few people believed in Mercedes form. Now is close to the top 4 teams.

    Good job in the testing session and we are ready to start the championship.

    With 5 top teams, it will be harder this year to the midfield teams to get points, there are just 10 spots with points per race.

    1. Steven says:

      As a Lewis fan I will say this… We dont really know how close Merc is to the supposed top teams. My guess is that nobody has shown their true pace, not even Merc.

      1. grat says:

        True, although seeing better times during testing this week than we saw during the Spanish GP in 2012 is encouraging. I think Mercedes has a more reliable car now, and a faster car. Ferrari also has a faster car, or at least an easier-to-drive car.

        I also think the teams are finding the limit of the current design restrictions, unless the RBR shows up insanely faster– My guess is that they’ll have to drop the rake back down now that they’ve been told they can’t write completely new engine maps this year.

      2. Quade says:

        Rather than Red Bull dropping the rake, they’ll likely copy the mercs coanda like they copied off Sauber the other time.

        RBR seem somewhat lost at the mo without the flexible nose, EBD, DDRS and other toys. They seem to be genuinely in trouble as evidenced by Vettels unhappiness with the way the final test days went:
        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/105827

        But who knows? Maybe they’ve got container loads of sandbags to chuck out the RB9 come Melbourne.

    2. Robert says:

      It’s not about believing if Merc can produce a good start-of-season car. They have had single lap pace before. It’s not even the tyre degradation. It is about Merc’s DEVELOPMENT over the course of the year that is a huge questionmark. The team has had this problem since they were Honda, if not before. It nearly killed JB’s title drive in 2009, as the Brawn started 2.0 seconds a lap faster than many cars on the grid, bur was rapidly out-developed by mid-season. They have spent a lot of money on Hamilton and others recently – the question should be if they should have spent that money on development engineers and facilities, rather than headlines.

      1. Chris says:

        I read once that Newey designs cars to be developed, wheres other designers don’t so much, but I do agree with what you say!!!

      2. Tim says:

        The reason the Brawn fell back in 2009 was due to the actual development and design of the car being done by Honda, the year before. Honda spent a fortune on that car and then withdrew from f1 leaving the glory and credit go to Brawn.

      3. KRB says:

        100% right … Mercedes need to show this year (not next) that they can keep up with the development battle through a whole season. Even if they don’t win that battle, they have to be in the game. They can’t hope to not compete on that field of battle, and then somehow be able to flick a switch and be able to do it in 2014. As you’ve said they have never been good on that score. So there will be mistakes made. But they have to do well on that score this year, or they will fall back again this year, and be without that necessary arrow in the quiver for next season.

  39. Ben says:

    Why have the teams been given unmarked tyres? Are they a new spec tyre pirelli are trialling?

  40. Wes says:

    Hey James, why there are unmarked tires in testing?

  41. Michael Powell says:

    No mistaking the decent performance over one lap for Lewis and Nico. Concentrating on qualification speed seems sensible as the top cars are likely to be matched closely in the races so overtaking will be tricky.

  42. Msta says:

    What’s the go with unmarked tyres? Are they provided that way by Pirelli or do the teams scrub off or paint over the markings?

  43. dean cassady says:

    Go Kimi.
    Well, I can hardly wait. To see where they all stand.
    The two most under achieving drivers are Webber and Rosberg; I’d love to see either of them winning Melbourne, but you got to love the Aussie for that one.
    It’s just that Vettel and Hamilton are SO GOOD!
    Red Bull till look the strongest to me. Then it looks really, really close amongst Lotus, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren.
    On McLaren: they seem the most inconsistent of the group.
    On Mercedes and tire chow: if they didn’t make tire management their first design consideration for 2013, then Ross Brawn was taken over by an alien entity, with (not surprisingly) lesser smarts in winning a Formula One title.
    Go Ross, go! Show them.
    I don’t think Ferrari are there yet, but the Alonso factor is there, therefore Alonso-Ferrari is a win threat, certainly!
    If Massa continues the arc established in the last three races of 2012; he is a threat to win any race.
    Bottom line: there is only one way to know, what the race in Melbourne; such uncertainty gives us, the fans, a great uncertainty going into he first race.

  44. joshua says:

    Is it too much to dream that redbull will struggle to make Q3?

    I can see Mclaren and redbull head and shoulders above the rest in Melbourne….I hope I’m wrong.

    1. Philippe H. says:

      Red Bull: probably , Mclaren: unlikely (really don’t think their sandbagging, but they still have some time to sort it out.

  45. Colin says:

    I really hope McLaren have some rather hefty sand bags in that car during testing. Seem off the pace and eating tyres at the moment.

  46. Oddz says:

    OK i know you can’t read too much into what testing times say but i truly have a feeling SOME people will eat their words
    The amount criticism and abuse Lewis got for moving teams I just knew people were going to end up with egg on their faces
    Anyways here is to hope the Mercedes is as good as it looks on testing when it comes crunch time :)

    1. KRB says:

      They seem to have impressed Gary Anderson, who was critical of the W04 at launch, and is certainly no “homer” pining for their success.

      Just read his article on the BBC site, and he predicts the grid top 10 in Melbourne as such: ROS, BUT, VET, HAM, RAI, ALO, WEB, PER, GRO, MAS.

  47. Scott says:

    Red Bull seem so very confident. They see no reason to reveal anything about their form at all. I would be very surprised if come Melbourne they were not leading the pack.

  48. Rodrigo Lamas says:

    James, do we have the top speeds of the cars?

  49. iiro says:

    The unmarked tires come from the Pirelli back-up production line. The one that is not in Turkey. So in a way the ‘unmark’ is a mark in its own :-)

  50. Dave Deacon says:

    Sandbags back to the desert in Australia. I have for years argued for evenly matched cars since they offer the most entertainment by far. I now might have to pay the devil and go for full coverage. Looks like it’ll be fun fun fun this year.

    BTW, my money’s on McLaren for this year. Don’t dismiss JB. If they centre on giving him a car he likes, he’ll be unstoppable. Now he does not have to kow tow to Hamilton, there’ll be some good dices. A la Brazil 2012.

    1. Quade says:

      All drivers would win the WDC over and over if given a car they like.

      You’ve got to be pretty special to make something out of a car you don’t like.
      There are only two drivers who can do that; Lewis and Alonso. Those guys can make any old lump of metal jump through hoops.

    2. Robert says:

      Dave, totally agree that JB is being sold waaay too short. Apparently his time, third fastest of the day, was on unmarked MEDIUM tyres. To which everyone should say “yikes” if that is the case. We really, really need the sector times over a series of runs to figure how badly people are sandbagging (in RB’s case just assume it anyway), but McLaren (JB especially) certainly have been able to post numbers on the harder compounds it would seem. And the new suspension should give them a lot of potential for upgrades over the year. I wouldn’t bet my retirement fund on it, but it also would not surprise me if JB was the dark horse WDC this year.

  51. Theoddkiwi says:

    Could it be shock horror that the times are what they are? Teams DO go backwards.
    Its easy to hold on to previous trends, But why does everyone think Redbull have some secret weapon and they are going to suddenly appear a second faster than anyone else? They didn’t last year and never really dominated the season, they won yes but not as convincingly as before and in many ways due to the ineptitude of Mclaren.
    There were still swapping parts back and forth and still using flow vis, that to me indicates they are not sure of their package and still trying to analyse the car, while Merc are pounding around doing lap after lap with no major headlines on difficulties setting good times with what seems to be a very solid and reliable base to start the season.
    I really don’t think any team is going to turn up in Melbourne and smash the rest, the lack of rules changes and new tyres pretty much rule out any team making massive progress on last year, except the teams who were behind in the first place.

    1. Quade says:

      Aside the Flow Viz, the RB9 has already sprouted so many winglets and attachments like its mid season already. It almost seems they have taken a wrong turn at this time.

    2. Rocky1 says:

      I agree 200%! Red Bull may have the genius of Newey at their disposal but are by no means magicians. Given their misunderstanding of their car and constant closely guarded secerecy meandering durng testing, leaves me with a notion that they are not going to press on some magical performance button and simply trounce everyone away! On the other hand, as much as most of us may not want to admit it, testing does give a glimpse of current form of the pecking order. Henceforth, one can safely deduce that:

      Out of the top 5, Mercedes seems to have made considerable improvements on their chassis and may have leaped frogged some few leading contenders. Much like Red Bull, Mclaren seems to be very inconsistent and they too not understanding the characteristics of their car. Ferrari seems to have made progress and have seemed to be consistent on their long-run pace. Lotus seem to thereabouts and having been hampered by reliability woes, they too could have been a bit further up the order than they would like. Predictions:

      1.Mercedes
      2.Ferrari
      3.Red Bull
      4.Lotus
      5.Mclaren

      1. Grant says:

        Now that’s a realistic assessment based on FACTS we have so far (not the wishful thinking we’ve hearing from many).

  52. Andrew Woodruff says:

    Time for the talking to stop. The endless guessing and double guessing about fuel and tyres and sand bagging is exhausting!

    I would expect the pecking order to be largely the same as last year to be honest. The quick Merc times of the last two days mean very little, if anything. I’m inclined to agree with the idea floated by someone above, that the unstable leadership team there is looking for some positive headlines to buy some time with Mercedes corporate.

    It seems that the smart money, Brundle and Anderson, is swinging behind Red Bull. My sense is that Ferrari have made a marginal gain on McLaren, but that McLaren still have 3 or 4 tenths over Lotus and Merc.

  53. Elie says:

    James it would be good to know more how the RB9 passive DRS. Red Bull will surprise a few people Im sure,

    Disappointed the Lotus kept having gearbox issues because I would love to see what he can do on softs after a full day-now they are a little behind with their updates testing.Any news on what the issue with gearbox is. It must be chasis related cause no problems with Grosjean.

    Really impressed with Hulkenburg at Sauber seems very consistent but may not have the speed of the top few. Same with Bianci – the kids adaptability has been impressive.

    Anyone expected real answers is kidding themselves as Red Bull and Mclaren can’t be showing their true pace just yet. Either way the Mercedes times are very encouraging and must surely put them in the mix from the first race.

    1. Robert N says:

      Agreed about passive DRS. I would be great if James could do an article on that.

      For instance, how will race control differentiate between passive DRS activation and misuse/malfunctioning of the DRS button during the race?

      I assume I am right in assuming that with passive DRS we will see the DRS wide open even outside the DRS zones.

      1. Elie says:

        No -passive DRS works independently of the rear wing DRS. It’s another way of blowing air onto the rear floor or wing to reduce the downforce on the back of the car.

        For eg the Lotus system uses a fluid switch that opens air intakes at a certain speed on the engine cover and blows to the beam wing & floor .The Red Bull system looks to be different

      2. MelB says:

        Passive DRD (Drag Reduction Device) does not have any movable parts as it uses air flow to switch the “device” on and off. When it is ON it stalls the rear wing to reduce drag and thus enhancing top speed. More about this can be found here: http://scarbsf1.com/blog1/2012/09/13/mercedes-drag-reduction-device/#more-2982.

      3. Pat M says:

        A passive DRS has to be some system that will stall the wing at high speeds to reduce drag without openning the DRS wing element. Usually it involves ducting air through the bodywork to the back edge of a wing – the trick is to get it do this only above a certain speed.

  54. Terminal Velocity says:

    Rosberg will wipe the floor with Hamilton this season.

    Cant wait for the excuses from team Hamilton.

    Hope Ross Brawn has included very strict telemetry data confidentiality clauses in Hamiltons contract.

    1. matthew says:

      why do you think that?from what ive seen,considering lewis is new to the team,and car and steering wheel,he is already very quick in the car.he set his fastest lap on a green track with atleast 5 laps of fuel onboard.
      rosberg set his on a rubbered in track on a 1 lap run.

      1. Dave C says:

        Irrelevant, the steering wheel is the same shape, the cars are new to both, he’s use to the steering wheel and its buttons by now, peddles are where they like it to be and the engines are identical to the 1′s he’s been using since he started in F1.

    2. Random 79 says:

      ‘Welcome to Mercedes Lewis, here’s a tonne of cash, we’re not too sure about the car…and by the way we’re going to leave you completely in the dark.’

      Why on earth would Ross want to restrict telemetry data between his drivers?

      1. KRB says:

        I think the OP was saying that a Twittergate II wouldn’t be allowed.

        But as for telemetry between the drivers, I think that was a prime reason for Hamilton moving, getting a guarantee from Brawn that all telemetry will be shared at all times.

        I think Rosberg will put up a stiffer test for Lewis in qualifying than Button ever did. But I’ll be surprised if Lewis doesn’t come out on top on that score. I would predict an 11-8 or 12-7 for Lewis over the course of the season.

        Vettel-Webber was 11-9 last season, correct? I think Vettel will get at least a 12-7 this year, b/c the car is more to SV’s liking than last year, plus Webber’s advancing age.

        As for Alonso-Massa, I’d be surprised if Massa is as bad on the head-to-head as he was last year.

      2. Random 79 says:

        It’s just how I interpreted it (he seemed very pro Rosberg / anti Hamilton), but I’m sure you’re right – they would have discussed his previous actions and at the very least reached a gentleman’s agreement.

        Agree that Rosberg is arguably a better qualifier than Button – I the numbers are going to be close to what you predict, but maybe a little more in favour of Hamilton.

        I think Webber will keep Vettel honest this year. Vettel has already hinted that the car is not 100% yet. Last year when the car was bad (read not as good as 2011) Webber had a stronger start to the season, racking up two wins to Vettel’s one…and don’t knock us old farts ;)

        I’m not sure how Massa will go this year, but I would love to see him take the fight to Alonso and the others and have his first good crack at the WDC since 2008 :)

      3. Grant says:

        There’s a reason why HAM twitted that data at Macc (and I’m glad he did to expose how Macc was treating him), he’ll have no reason to do so here.

      4. KRB says:

        Oh yeah, no doubt he/she/it is anti-HAM (the pro-ROS is more a marriage of convenience methinks).

        Reasonable people can discuss and debate who the best drivers and teams are, without descending into the silly or vile stuff.

        Thanks @Random79 for being one of the reasonable ones.

      5. KRB says:

        @Grant, you work for AMG Mercedes F1?

    3. Tim says:

      When NR and LH were in the same karting team LH came out on top – not sure why you expect the result of their pairing again to be any different.
      Oh wait, I know, are you trying to wind up the LH fans?
      Good job I spotted that before I took the bait :-)

  55. eric weinraub says:

    My anger at Mercedes only continues to grow. The rubbish they put under Schuey’s bum race in and race out, all the while he was testing for them for this year’s car, is really maddening. Am reminded of Kimi driving Michael’s car to the WC in ’07. I will be wishing for DNF’s and wrecks at every race. Go Kimi/Fernando Go

    1. AlexD says:

      They for sure produced a super bad car just for Michale the last 3 years…

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Who said Schumacher had a devine right to drive in 07 othis ye.ar . That is a tad disrepectful to kimi

    3. Elie says:

      Yeah I suppose the team is to blame for Michael crashing into the back a few cars every year also.. Get a grip Eric..

    4. zombie says:

      Engineering is mostly evolutionary. Michael joined the team when BrawnF1 had stopped development due to lack of funds in the later part of 2009. They progressively got better but could not develop as fast as the top 3 teams. Add to that woeful reliability issues ( which usually found Schumi and smacked on his head ), and Mercedes concentrating on 2013 after half-season in 2012, they simply could not have provided Schumacher/Rosberg with good cars.

      Michael made his comeback at 41. He knew that he would not just be racing against others half his age, but also racing against time.Time got the better of him and he called it quits before Mercedes could get their act together. Going by the headline times atleast, LH and NR have a good car under them for this season, and should be able to mix it up with the top 3.

    5. KRB says:

      You’ll be wishing for wrecks?!?!!

      Wow.

      Stay classy!

    6. Quade says:

      Michael turned out to be bad at simulator work, while Lewis is a skilled natural. Thats part of his lure. Michael is from another era, even if highly skilled.

  56. goferet says:

    After the tremendous fight between
    Ferrari and Mercedes as Rosberg and Alonso battled for the top time, it got me thinking >>> this battle for supremacy between the two car giants may turn out to be personal and bitter as the season progresses i.e. bragging rights and market shares are up for grabs.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Not sure the market share for Ferrari buyers coincides with Mercedes buyers to be honest. Though Ferrari ditching Aldo and him turning up with the new Mercedes should be interesting.

      1. Grant says:

        At the Mercedes SLS Level, it does.

  57. goferet says:

    Meanwhile according to Vettel, this has been the team’s worst and inconclusive winter season ever due to the fact that the tyres do not last long enough.

    It seems Red Bull are heading into this thing not 100% and seeing as it’s tight at the top >>> well, it could get very interesting indeed.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Interesting is good :)

  58. Tim says:

    I was listening to an interview on Sky, with Pat Fry, yesterday. One of his comments which I found interesting was about the amount of secrecy in F1. Basically, he says it’s all a waste of time and effort and all the teams should be more open with the fans. He said the teams all know what each other are doing anyway, and it’s not as if they can/will try any harder than they are already – so why have the unmarked tyres, screens and not publish the fuel loads in testing etc.That way the fans would have a better understanding of what is going on and feel more connected – better for the sport in the long run.

    1. Random 79 says:

      +1, in an ideal world…

    2. SaScha says:

      Well said from Pat Fry!

    3. Anne says:

      Not only during winter season. We see mecanics all the time forming a barrier like football players during a free kick at the garage entrance on Saturdays during qually. I find all that very silly from their part.

    4. Steven says:

      HAHAHA!! Sounds self serving to me, it would make it easier for him to know how far behind they are. Maybe he should cast the first stone…

      1. Tim says:

        He did ! !

    5. Peter says:

      Polite correction: It was Pat Symonds.

      Talking about how you can’t keep a secret in F1, even if you try.

      He should know, I guess.

      1. Tim says:

        You are right, I got my ‘Pats’ mixed up. At least I didn’t say it was Postman Pat :-)

  59. Steven Pritchard says:

    I must say this has been the most frustrating winter testing season to date. No one has a ****** clue who’s doing what.

    RBR are obviously sandbagging (although long run pace seems good, we’ve not seen quali run pace really), Mclaren claim inconsistency, yet I don’t get that same feeling watching the car on track (add in some excellent time on harder compounds). Lotus setting some eye-catching times (as have Mercedes) that look great. Ferrari? Same, not sure what is happening there.

    Only one way to find out….

    1. Random 79 says:

      I’m with you. You get the Mercedes and the Ferrari, I’ll get the Red Bull and the McLaren.

      Meet you out at the old airstrip in 15 minutes :D

      1. Steven Pritchard says:

        Cue James Bond music….

  60. Paul Mc says:

    I seem to remember Mercedes being up the top in testing last season too and then look what happened come race day. It means absolutely nothing come Melbourne. F1 hierachy is still in tact, Red Bull then Ferrari & McLaren and the others.

    1. Quade says:

      If only history could be frozen.

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Yes but they were not top at the final test and were only top on one day. This year looks more promising . The pecking order can not stay the same forever. Its not like the end of the era on the grooved tyres (07-08 seasons)where mclaren and ferrari steamrollered everyone.

      1. KRB says:

        And running their 2011 car on that day to boot!

        They were over a second off the best time in the second pre-season test at Barcelona.

        They were nine-tenth’s off the best time in the final pre-season test at Barcelona (P16 and P17).

        The lesson here is that people don’t often remember things correctly.

      2. Dan says:

        Yes, they were a second off in testing.

        Then they (Michael) qualified 4th at Melbourne. Then 3rd in Malaysia.

    3. Danny Almonte says:

      Funny that. They qualified a car in the top five in each of the first away races and bagged their first win at China. I remember that happening.

      1. Paul Mc says:

        Funny you dont mention the remainder of the season.

        I remember that happening.

      2. Peter says:

        Shush man, Hamilton fans are trying to be optimistic. Leave them be.

      3. Danny Almonte says:

        You made the point of ‘what happened come race day’. Mercedes performed pretty well ‘come race day’. Strange that now you want to change your tack and talk about the whole season. Stranger still that you include Red Bull in the mythical F1 hierarchy; incidentally, a team that has only been good since 2009. I seem to remember Brawn GP winning the titles in 2009. Looks like the F1 hierarchy changes randomly.

  61. cantankOsaurus says:

    ‘Sandbagging’ : F1 Definition

    Where a team has so much confidence in off-track verification procedures (CFD, wind-tunnel, track-simulator and so forth) that it has no real need to push anywhere near the limit in the three pre-season tests, thereby underplaying its hand. It turns up at those events solely to satisfy its sponsors and bemuse rivals, analysts and journalists and to inspire the public to entertain a raft of conspiracy theories.

    Given the closeness of the competition in this sport it should be obvious that any form of such ‘sandbagging’ is a myth.

    1. Krashan Birne says:

      I think you have missed the plot, so to speak.
      Caterham is definitely sandbagging. As for RB, well, we all know how they operate, don’t we?

      1. Random 79 says:

        Red Bull have a history of it. Caterham I seriously doubt…but if they get their first points in the first few races you will definitely be getting an apology from me.

    2. Grant says:

      :D
      Well said…

  62. Grant says:

    Both RB and Macc have already indicated they have problems.

  63. Ken says:

    I hate biased comments and opinions. Please keep this site clean.

  64. Louis says:

    It could be a 19 to 0 for Bianchi over Chilton in qualy

    1. Random 79 says:

      Could be? Should be :)

  65. Red Rider says:

    Well the pre-season is over. There will be some interesting match ups.
    1. Hamilton vs Rosburg: We all expect Lewis to win this one, but what if? What’s Rosburg thinking these days?
    2. Alonso & Massa: Will Massa make Alonso a bit nervous?
    3. Grosjean & Kimi: The pinball wizaerd had more raw speed than Kimi. Can Grosjean maintain that speed while trying to avoid being a wrecking ball?
    4. DiResta & Sutil: one of them’s going to be in trouble.
    5. Maldonado: Will he be challenged by Bottas?
    6. Is there any hope for Webber beyond cashing cheques?
    7. Button & Perez: Is this the end of the road for Perez or will he push Button into retirement?
    8. Finally Chilton & Bianchi. Who will win?

    1. Candice says:

      more raw speed than Kimi? the facts that kimi often show more speed on race suggest to me he just rusty in qualification.

      when kimi trash him despite starting 12th, no1 mention kimi is faster.

  66. Elie says:

    Crazy for people to guess a pecking order now. The biggest single factor is who has the best read on the tyres come melb & also who’s updates have found the most time late next week. My best guess is that no one will be on top of the tyres for several races just like last year- and that anyone of the top 5 teams can do really well in Aus. The one thing I know is that Hamilton will be as quick as Nico from the get go- whether that’s 1st or 10th is irrelevant. I really hope Mercedes beat Mclaren this year that would really make my year- I want Lewis and Kimi at the front in every race and from what Im seeing its a strong possibility.

    The one observation from Barcelona that impressed me was how quickly the Lotus got up to speed and the fact that it only dropped 3/10 in the following lap. Especially given the limited track running it had.

    For those who don’t understand why lap times are faster than last year- the tyres are softer all round and come up to temperature faster than 2012 compounds, the flip side is they loose performance quicker though – which is what Pirelli was told to do.

  67. Richard says:

    Judging by Vettel’s face and body language I think Red Bull are struggling a bit. I suspect they haven’t yet made the gains they were hoping for, but the trouble is most other top teams have. Of course armed with the data they collected in Barcelona that may change before Melbourne. One of the problems that face Red Bull is less power than the Mercedes and Ferrari powered cars such that when those teams improve their aerodynamics it puts Red Bull at a disadvantage. If this has happened this year it could be the end of the Red Bull reign given that their advantage is downforce around medium to high speed corners the law of diminishing returns applies.

    1. Random 79 says:

      I not going to say you’re wrong, but remember how they they started 2012?

      It seemed to me that they’d struggle to win a race that year, but they turned it around.

      The Red Bull reign will end – sooner or later – but I’m not sure it will be this year.

    2. KRB says:

      But the Renault runs cooler (still hot of course!) than the Mercedes engine, so in warmer weather the Mercedes-powered cars have to open up the car more, to allow more air cooling, which negatively affects the aerodynamics. Plus it’s a more fuel-efficient engine.

      I would never write off RBR. They turned it around in Singapore last year, and then rattled off four straight wins. Since the advent of the new regulations in 2009, only 3x has a team won 4 races in a row. Brawn GP in early 2009, and then RBR twice (Bra’10-Mal’11 and Sin’12-Ind’12). Any team capable of that can always recover from situations that other teams wouldn’t be able to.

  68. Steven says:

    A lot of fans are saying that RB seems off the mark, I personally dont think believe this, I just think that they are playing things close to their chest. But..

    Something to take note of: We havent heard from the “admirable” Dr. Helmet(lol) Marko yet. Could this actually be a sign that RB ARE perhaps strugling? Hmmm… He’s usually very bullish(no pun intended) when thing are going good for his boy… Food for thought.

    Anyways, we’ll know where things stand with all the teams in 2 weeks, I cant hardly wait!!

    1. Peter says:

      Helmut is in on the sandbagging, obviously! :D

  69. d377mc says:

    James,

    Amus is suggesting that RedBull will be seriously hindered by the engine-map clarification issued by the FIA.

    In fact, it is suggested that the difficulties experienced by all renault cars in sector 3 of barcelona 2 may have been due to them running without the new maps. Since the clarification, redbull have been having set-up problems all of a sudden and now it seems they are requesting a change of maps for reliability issues, again…

    Do you have anything on this for us please?

    1. Random 79 says:

      I read that the performance gain from the engine maps is small – but it is there.

      So here’s a theory:

      Red Ball lose a small bit of performance, nothing to write home about, but significant in a field this close.

      So all of a sudden they start developing set up problems as a reason to revert to the engine maps that they were using previously.

      If they succeed, great, but what do they have to lose by trying?

      Again, this is only a theory.

    2. KRB says:

      For reliability issues?! Like how stopping on track in Abu Dhabi was to protect the engine from overheating? Sounds like RBR.

    3. Jake says:

      It’s not just engine mapping, they have also lost a little from the front wing fex rule change and they will suffer more than the other top teams in qualifying from the restricted use of the DRS.
      In order to be at the front Red Bull have to find even more performance gains than the othere teams have found. They may struggle in the first few races.

  70. JohnBt says:

    THE HEAT IS ON! The passion of F1 fans is truly amazing.

    PRACTICE 1
    09 Days23 H58 M49 S

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