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McLaren find some speed
McLaren find some speed
Posted By:   |  18 Mar 2009   |  5:46 pm GMT  |  22 comments

Heikki Kovalainen turned the wick up today on the McLaren as the Jerez test continued for a fourth day with just McLaren and Williams present.

It was very hot again in Jerez, the track temperature was 37 degrees and the McLaren pulled a lap of 1m18.202, which is four tenths slower than Jenson Button’s fastest yesterday. By recent standards this is quite an improvement for McLaren. Even yesterday their fastest run with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel was


The team has been bringing new aero parts to the car in an effort to solve the problems which have dogged their testing so far; lack of grip and rear end aero instability, largely caused by the diffuser.

It looks like McLaren may be moving closer to the front. It’s been a superhuman effort by the team in Woking and there will no doubt be plenty more to come throughout the season.

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A second in a day!! Wow So much of Lewis is the faster driver. Lol (Oh we'll see the true pace of the Macca with Lewis at the rally) Any chance we can get info on the run, how many laps??, quali simulation??


James, are you able to say whether Heikki's time was set on a long run or a low-fuel qualifying simulation? I'd certainly be interested to know.

It's definitely good for them to be able to set that time, but that doesn't mean they'll be right up at the front - Williams, Renault and Brawn have all set times similar to that (and faster, in the case of Brawn) so it would still be a tight battle. Still, isn't that what we all want to see? 🙂


Great news. Not sure where this will leave them in terms of performance, but it's a pretty quick time by any standard. Pity they had to do this on a day when only one other team was running, and not going particularly fast.


I wonder to what extent is this lap time related to track/air temperature. Do you have any clue about when Heikki recorded that time: during one-lap quali run or much longer stint?


I hope this isn't a false dawn..was mclaren consistently quick today James? Or was it just a bit of showboating?


James, any chance they are going to spring a massive surprise in Q2 or even Q3 in Oz? I find it hard to believe that they got it so wrong!


Found some speed? Not so sure about that. Looking at Hamilton on some videos the speed has been there all week. He hardly pushed the car at all. It's very visible as I said in previous replies! 😉


James, we can´t say one week a car is last and the next week it´s on top. Today Kovalainen´s time was on a qualifying simulation of 2 laps stint. The same did Rosberg yesterday with a time of 1:18:0.

I never believed that McLaren was 2 seconds behind like it seemed in Barcelona. But are you suggesting that it´s close to the top now?


Superb team for season development, if they arnt towards the front at Melbourne I am sure they will near it come the season end.


Good news!

As long as they can fight with the likes of BMW and Ferrari it should make for a better start to the season than they were hoping for after the recent tests.


I don't really like Mclaren so this is bad for me...

Although we can never be sure of anyones pace until oz...


As I said before, Kova´s time was on a qualifying sim
The other cars this week made:
Rosberg (Williams) 1:18:0
Alonso and Piquet (Renault) 1:18:3

The Brawn drivers didn't make any quali sim, but Button made a 1:17:8 on a 5 lap stint.

I think the real leader is the Brawn now,with McLaren in the same field as many others.


I still think they are behind the top teams. We all knew they would improve. I wouldn't bet on it, but McLaren wont win in Australia or win the WDC or the WCC. I'm sure BMW are not showing true pace and Ferrari and Toyota have a bit more too.


Please let us know more info on the Heikki lap times

Long runs, short runs - what were the time differences?

And how does the track temp compare to previous days, was it hotter than the days the other front runners did similar times?


Not a chance in hell they've gained nearly a second per lap in terms of objective car speed overnight - that would roughly be the equivalent of a 15% increase in downforce. As far as I can tell all they did was put an even larger packer in the central diffuser to reduce the expansion - they are clearly having trouble with an unstable diffuser stall.

The only new component I could see was a revised lower rear wing which now goes over the rear crash structure.

The difference in speed is just down to the track being different - it was much less windy today compared to Monday and Tuesday.

Piquet for example set a 1:18.3 yesterday - let's not pretend like he could set a time within even a half a second of Alonso!


Do you have any information on the FIA's http://www.fia.com/en-GB/sport/regulations/Pages/FIAFormulaOneWorldChampionship.aspx" rel="nofollow">new revised regulations released on 18.03.2009.

It's potentially huge news if the diffusers of Brawn, Williams, Toyota have been banned so close to the seasons start.

But it's all so technical and involved that no one can understand what's been changed or not. No news websites are talking about it at all, only certain message boards.



One of the purposes of the regulations under Article 3 below is to minimize the detrimental effect that the wake of
a car may have on a following car.

Furthermore, infinite precision can be assumed on certain dimensions provided it is clear that such an assumption
is not being made in order to circumvent or subvert the intention of the relevant regulation."

Interesting addition to the regs ... and vague enough to be interpreted in many different ways.....


I have just read through the new and the last issues of the tech regs expecting to see some changes in the area behind the rear wheel axis but there are none for this year, however there is a bit at the end showing a change for 2010 which will impose a minimum projected surface area in parts of the back end.

The are a couple of short lines added but of no "change imposing" relevance that I could see. The new summary from the FIA site has a lot of chunks highlighted in pink, but on reading them they are not changes from the last published summary. Unfortunately they do not seem to have the FULL regs available for download that I could see.

The sporting regs (FULL) have quite a few changes, as expected, but clarify the "Nr of wins" only decides the drivers championship winner; all other places in both the championships are still on the same points system.

One fact I gleaned from re-reading the sporting regs (Park Ferme section, if I read it right) is that it will be legal to charge the KERS in the garage before the race. However it is then not allowed to be charged in the pits during the race. Thus the start could be influenced by KERS.


I go on what I see and all I have seen in videos is a car not being pushed. The optimum speed of the car? I don't know! It could still rubbish. All I can say is I am not surprised that they've suddenly gone quicker because extra speed has been in the car.


I think it's most probably a low-fuel qualifying simulation since his fastest lap time came in a 4 laps stint and here are his hot laps from that stint;


Avarage: 1:18,4


Jon, I'm not sure about this either, but the wording of the diffuser rules appears to be the same as was quoted in an Autosport article the week before these were published.

The fact that the year (e.g. in the document footer) is highlighted as being revised since the last issue, along with all of the new-for-2009 rule changes, suggests to me that the revised regulations were only officially published yesterday for the first time, because they had to be voted on at the WMSC meeting in Monaco on Tuesday. Certainly the sporting regulations incorporate the new points system but have also marked the 2009 changes announced back in October/November as "new".


McLaren don't agree with you given recent statements from Dennis, Haug and Whitmarsh. Who are we more likely to believe?

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