F1 Winter Break
Renault and McLaren on the up
Renault and McLaren on the up
Posted By:   |  16 Mar 2009   |  8:22 pm GMT  |  16 comments

Fernando Alonso set the fastest time on the second day at Jerez today.

His lap of 1 min 18.343 was 5/100th faster than Rubens Barrichello’s best in the Brawn. This compares with the time of 1min 19.945, he set on the final day of the last Jerez test a fortnight ago. This does not mean that Renault has suddenly vaulted ahead of Brawn, as they were some way behind in Barcelona – a second and a bit. Jerez arguably suits their car better than Barcelona at the moment, Alonso was quick there earlier this month.

Renault had a slow start to their testing programme, but they seem to be motoring now, the new front wing they added in Barcelona, among other things, helping them find more performance.

“I’m happy with the day, ” said Alonso, “As we did more than a 100 laps which was our target for my final day of winter testing. This has been the first time we have run on a really hot track and the information we have from today will be very useful for the first few races, which are usually very hot.

There was also some encouragement for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton did a lap of 1m 19.513, using aero updates and measuring devices to check the pressure of air going through the diffuser. This indicates an improvement, although again Barcelona is the track where good aero shines more.

Tomorrow is the final day of pre-season group testing, so we will see what the final reckoning is, but this has been an astonishing pre-season ‘testing world championship” already.

On another note, it’s been a eerily quiet build up to tomorrow’s FIA world council. Given that the FIA put out a statement a few weeks ago about how a drastic cut in costs was needed and veiled suggestions of budget caps rearing their heads, the €50 million budget and so on, it’s amazing that there hasn’t been much said ahead of tomorrow’s meeting. But there has been a lot going on behind the scenes as the FIA seeks to get the balance right.

The teams’ association put its ‘road map’ to the FIA last week and we will find out tomorrow how much of it is to be adopted. Remember FOTA suggested overhauling the points system this season and making the fuel strategies transparent, among other things.

The FIA wants to go further than FOTA in cutting budgets. Tomorrow promises to be a very interesting day, which is why it’s odd that the build up has been so quiet.

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Good to see Renault/Fonzo up there:

Gives us hope that Brawn aren't a million miles ahead of everyone else ... because it would be dull in terms of racing spectacle/competition if they were.

We'll have to wait until Oz to see how real the Renault pace is and how all the teams stack up.


At last someone recognises that tomorrow could be a key date in the future of F1...I was beginning to doubt that FOTA's proposals were actually going to be taken seriously!

I do hope the points system is approved for this season as it does make sense to me.


The one thing I'm hoping for from tomorrow's WMSC meeting is for them to firmly reject FOTA's call for shorter races.


What is the purpose of fuel transparency? Sometimes the only suspense in the first part of a Grand Prix is waiting to see what fuel loads the drivers are running, and how this will impact the way the race plays out. If we know that, then there is less intrigue and suspense for a good portion of the race. I'd much rather have to speculate after qualifying.

as regards shorter races - there is absolutely no logic to that "idea"


With Fernando outpacing brawn today, its not clear what kind of fuel load they both were carrying..., as both set their times at different parts of the day. If we could get some info on which lap they set their times, it'll be easier to workout the kind of fuel load they would have been carrying and the tyre degradation. othewise comparing these times are pointless.


I'm wondering where abouts is Piquet, when did he last tested? Does any really remember? Both Brawns' drivers are up there whereas Renault's, well, it's just Alonso, isn't it? I think it's going to be another hard season for Piquet...

As for tomorrow's meeting, I also hope that they change the points system for this year. Let' see what the WMSC comes up with at the end.


It was interesting to see Alonso on top of the time sheets. I was amazed earlier when I saw Barichello had knocked around 8 tenths off his time from the previous day. I certainly didn't expect Alonso to find a better time. Do you have any information on the times which would suggest how consistently the Renault can hold this sort of pace compared to the Brawn? Also, what happened to Jenson to cut his time in the car short?


JA writes: Tomorrow I will post a detailed analysis of the Jerez testing so far, and the results will surprise you. Icarus is not quite right in what he says in his comment here.

Later tomorrow I'll take a look at the FIA world council decisions.


Alonso did his best lap with 2 laps of fuel on board, while Barrichello did his in lap4 of 7 laps, so I guess Brawn are around 0.5 sec ahead of Renault. I think Renault cut the performance gap to BMW and Ferrari, I believe they are equal now behind Brawn. McLaren is still way back despite today's improvement.


I largely support FOTA in what they are trying to achive with their proposals for this year and beyond. Everything from a technical point of view makes excellent economical sense (e.g. KERS standardisation and the banning of many exotic materials)

From a sporting point of view the restrictions on testing seem very excessive and there are no allowances made for young drivers to get experience.

At each of the proposed four sets of four days winter testing the teams should be allowed run two cars but one could only be used by young drivers or test/reserve drivers.


WOW can't wait for the analysis of the testing. There should be something new.


The €50 million budget for 2010 already is I think impossible at least for some teams.

I do not see how they can agree to that.

Some driver budgets would take probably about half of the €50 million, well at least not far from it.

So the team would have let's say €25-30 million to design and build the car and run it the whole season, plus pay for the entire team their salaries and pay all the rest of the expenses related to running a F1 team.

They have existing driver contracts which cover 2010, and they would lose a lot of money if they break those contracts to make it possible to use the €50 million budget cap in 2010.

I don't think it will happen. The teams can't agree to it, at least not for 2010. It would have to happen *after* all existing contracts have expired.


James, is Mclaren really on the up?

Hamilton was simulating a 28 lap stint and was always on the 20's....

Is that the surprise you are talking about?


Who's is Icarus and what did he say? Cannot find the name anywhere in these comments. Maybe I'm going blind.

Looking forward to the surprise anyway!


Could the purpose of fuel transparency be to cut out the high-tech money burning means that teams currently go about finding this information out anyway? Another cost cut just happens to be more informative for the fans whether you miss the suspense or not.

Shorter race also cuts costs (fuel etc). Obviously this is not Flavio Briatore's argument as he called for shorter races to make a better spectacle ages ago. Not a great idea but you can't say it doesn't have its logic!


I don't think it is even possible to make races shorter this year, there must be at least some sort of obligations between commercial rights holder and tv companies for 2009 (not too mention how it will affect car and tyre designs) and it's too late to change that on week before the season starts. if it is to be considered (but i hope they wont approve it, it will kill the different race strategy options completely), then it's only for 2010 and beyond - too complex to act now in my opinion.

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