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Check out F1 testing – starting next week
Check out F1 testing – starting next week
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jan 2010   |  8:05 pm GMT  |  113 comments

The Formula 1 test season starts next week in Valencia, the first of four official F1 tests before the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain on 14 March.

The action is about to start again (Photo:Darren Heath)

The action is about to start again (Photo:Darren Heath)

We will be analysing the testing performances here on JA on F1, looking at how the cars are developing. And on Monday of next week, to co-incide with the first day of testing, we will be launching an exciting new service which will help to cover the action and bring the fans and the sport a little closer together.

The tests are open to the public and it’s a very good value way of seeing plenty of F1 action.

The Valencia test runs from February 1-3 at the Riccardo Tormo circuit, which is not the same as the street circuit used for the F1 Grand Prix. A one day pass for the grandstands is only €10.

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg will drive the new Mercedes car and there will also be the new car from McLaren, with Gary Paffett driving on the first day, Lewis Hamilton the second day and Jenson Button on Day 3. Ferrari will be there with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, as will BMW Sauber with Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi.

Williams will be there from the start of the test with Rubens Barrichello, who will drive days one and two and Nico Hulkenberg, who will drive on day three. This will be a return to the track for Cosworth engines after a three year absence.

The new Renault car will be launched on Sunday and should be out on track next week, with Robert Kubica at the wheel and it looks increasingly likely that Vitaly Petrov will be the other driver. Kubica is likely to be given the lion’s share of the testing time, to maximise performance development. Meanwhile Toro Rosso launch their car on 1 February and will have Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari on track in Valencia.

However the Red Bull team will not be in Valencia, they are taking the extra time in the wind-tunnel and will launch their car on 10 February in Jerez. The second official test at Jerez runs from 10-13 February. Entry is a mere €5 per person.

Also making their debut in the second test are Force India. This is planned, the team has confidence in the reliability of the car, thanks to the engine and gearbox package from McLaren and Mercedes, so they too are going for the extra time in the wind tunnel and restricting themselves to 12 days of testing. Along with Red Bull, Force India are one of the teams with the greatest continuity from last year to this in terms of management, drivers and technical package. Having come good in the second half of 2009, they could be worth keeping an eye on this season.

This test should see the debut of Virgin Racing, with Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi.

A week later the cars will be running in the third test, again at Jerez and this time Lotus will join in with Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen. At present the Campos team has yet to confirm its presence at any tests. It has been reported by AP that the team may miss the tests altogether and run for the first time in Bahrain. A shortage of funding appears to be the problem here and it seems that until more funding is found, progress is going to be difficult. “Bahrain is a test for us, ” a team official is quoted as saying.

The fourth and final official test takes place at Barcelona on 25-28 February, making a maximum available total of 15 days testing before the season starts. This very limited programme is the reason why most of the top teams have worked hard to ensure that their car is out on day one in Valencia.

USF1 will carry out its testing at Barber Motorsport park in Alabama, on dates to be confirmed in February. Argentine Jose Maria Lopez will drive the car; he was announced today as the team’s first driver.

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Ahaa, its nice dialogue concerning this piece of writing here at this webpage, I have read all that,

so at this time me also commenting at this place.


Getting closer! Come on! Can’t wait!


I admire all the efforts from the new teams and I certainly do hope they make it. But safety comes first. I do not want to see Schumi/Alonso/Hamilton in hospital for several months.

I really do hope the press is going to be more imaginative with their questions. YES, I know Schumi is 41 and YES, he has done nasty things to Hill and Villeneuve. But come on, get over it! The past may be imperfect, but the future is looking bright … and tense!

Gentlemen, start your engines! Thank you so far James for the great insights & original journalism. Here’s to a great 2010 🙂



I’d be interested to hear how you think the banning of tyre blankets will affect this season. Will drivers have an edgy first two or three laps while their tyres get upto temperature, leaving the opportunity for more audacious drivers to make overtaking manoeuvers?


I’d forgotten about that rule, that also means if they dont agree on starting the race on the same tyres as they qualified on, then everyone will know anyway what tyre teams are starting the race with, Superb…..

nice one chap…


It’s a glorious revolving door of rule-changes, revisions and reversals, but I’m reasonably sure tyre warmers stay for 2010.

(And yes, and Montoya on restarts in CART was always magical to watch)


Well it won’t make it any easier. Some drivers are better on cold tyres than others. I remember Chip Ganassi saying that Montoya was unbelievable on cold tyres. There will be a second or two to be gained by the ones who deal with it best, so yes, in a tight race, it could be decisive.


Hi James,

Do you agree with Bernie’s recent comments that F1 is in good health? Surely F1 would be healthier with 10 or 11 Manufacturer backed teams able to recruit the best drivers in the world rather than 13 teams of which 3-5 have to rely on drivers with financial backing. Everyone wants to see the seats filled by talent not money. It seems bizarre that at the pinnacle of motorsport teams cannot even afford an essential element such as a fast experienced driver. Its the equivalent of a premiership football team having to take pay to play footballers.


I do think it’s in pretty good health, yes. It’s not perfect but the Resource Restriction Agreement has probably saved it and it’s not necessary to have loads of manufacturers as they have interests which are not always aligned with the best way to run the sport


Is it socially acceptable to go to an F1 test on your own? I am thinking I may do just that if I get some time off from work, but I don’t want all the Ferrari fan neanderthals to mock me for standing all alone in my McLaren gear.


I shall be there with three other McLaren fans so we won’t be totally outnumbered.


Really looking forward to this test, even if it is not being televised 🙁

I have to say that I feel the FIA failed in it’s selection of the new teams. If Campos cannot even get to a test before the start of the year, how can they be sure of qualifying for the first race? To be honest I thought that the point was to get have a full grid to improve the spectacle. I feel that possibly some of the other teams who applied may have been better from an engineering and financial point of view.

I know that the budget will be more the 40million euros this year, but surely in their budget for 2010 they had at least one test session planned.

What disappoints me the most is that this gives ammunition to the likes of Luca DiM who see these teams as unworthy of racing in F1.


He was right.


It is looking that way. Although Lotus do seem to be steaming ahead quite well.


Lotus may be the only decent outfit among the new comers.

When Monty was complaining, he was probably referring, not only to the teams that did enter F1, but also others that were bidding for it.

I can make you an example of a joke of a team, that hopefully did not make it: iSport. whose was pretty arrogant too.


the selection and due dilligence process of the FIA was completely opaque and dodgy from the very start. it appeared that anyone could join up as long as they ticked the ‘cosworth’ box for their engine supplier. we still don’t know on what grounds these teams were chosen over those options considered more reliable such as Lola and Prodrive, except that it is well know they were not keen to use cosworth.

this farce just demonstrates the complete incompetence of mosely.


I wouldn’t normally join in the Moseley bashing, as I think he actually did a lot for the sport.

However in this cas I am forced to concur.


I clearly remember testing last year, when Brawn heralded a revolution in F1 by being blisteringly quick out of the box. If Merc
pull off something like that this year, with Schumacher behind the wheel, it’ll be *mental*.


What, having a runaway Championship leader when we are all looking forward to a very closely contested season between Button/Hamilton/Schumacher/Vettel ?

I hope not, the real question is if Brawn got overtaken, or merely took a risk midseason and put all their work into 2010, believing 2009 was sown up. If they did, it could give MS a decisive advantage, then again, Rosberg might just confound us all and pip him, he did very well in the 2009 Fastest lap charts….


I’m referring to the testing, not the championship, dude.


Hi James, do you think Schumacher will now talk to Martin on the grid!!?


“USF1 will carry out its testing at Barber Motorsport park in Alabama, on dates to be confirmed in February.” – Hi James, is this legal in modern day F1? Can a team test wherever it suits them?



They got special permission from testing committee


‘we will be launching an exciting new service’

– iPhone live commentary action app?

– iPhone/iSlate (the device Apple should announce tonight) sized?

Sure you already have connections James, but if necessary one of my friend is an Apple developper…

Have you ever had a look at and how they cover practices and races with their “live leaderboard”? This is very interesting. And after each race, they built a video “Race Rewind” with the highlights. F1 and Todt should look at few things in nascar which are great for fans.


Dont forget there are people out there (like me on windows mobile) that dont have an iphone and would still like to use features of this site!


Hear, hear!


you’re right, of course! But the iPhone (+ Ipod Touch and soon “iSlate” device) users base is so important and increasing so fast (77% of all the mobiles sold in France during december by Orange (France Telecom) are iPhones! Nearly the same for SFR (Vodaphone)… unbelievable), the developpments and possibilities that the OS allows, the popularity of the iPhone brand, what Apple will bring in the close future, the developpers community are all so important, that it is and will remain for a while the platform to target first.


I don’t feel there’s a need to specify one platform only. Sure it’ll be neat to have a dedicated ‘app’ for the iPhone but I think rather than doing that, a more universal service based on the web is better so other users on Symbian, Windows, Blackberry and of course Apple devices can all access it. Once that’s in place, sure a dedicated app for certain platforms could then commence.

Oh by the way, the largest share in the smartphone market is not the iPhone! And it certainly does not have the largest software engineer community! (Although Apple would really much like their customers to think so :p)


Cheers Pierre


I was wondering, is there any way to gauge USF1’s performance relative to the other teams? I’m curious if there are any benchmarks that they can use to see if they are close to the other teams even though they are running on different tracks.


I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on what’s going on with Campos, James. There are ruminations in the press about them not having the finances to pursue the season at all, that Tony Texiera (sp?) might bail them out, that they need to secure a pay driver bringing 5-10 million to be viable, and that Ecclestone is hopeful Stefangp might purchase them. Is there any info on what’s really going on?


Lots of rumour as you say. Also lots of misinformation. I’m looking into it


Hi James. A little off topic here..have you got any info on the newly changed Bahrain circuit? An on-board shot would be great but can’t seem to find it anywhere!



• Agree about the web service.

• I did not say the largest share in the smartphone market is the iPhone neither did about the engineer community. I talked about “large” or “so large” and “increasing so fast”.

• I’m a Mac user since 28 years, but not an iPhone one!


Vodafone in UK tell me that since they started selling the Iphone at the beginning of this month, it now accounts for about 75% of their handset sales.


It’s a loop at the top of the circuit and it looks like it’s ruined the “sweeper”, which follows it – turns 5, 6 and 7 (where Button clobbered Coulthard 2 years ago – ha ha).

Also looks to have reduced the over-taking opportunity at the wide turn 4, as they swing left after the turn – meaning one line only. Whereas with the original turn 4 you could go in wide and keep tight on exit… or vice versa.

The loop also looks to be made up of slow corners 🙁 And forgive me if I’m wrong, but those parts of the track have always been there… just never utilised in F1 before.

But we shall see I guess…


Didn’t know they’d changed it… Hopefully they won’t be the last. Would be wonderful if they’d hired Tilke to make it less ‘Tilke’…


fraid not, looks more tilke, with an extra pointless fiddly infield bit ensuring that overtaking will be further reduced…


Not seen an onboard yet. Seen the track maps, as you have


Would anyone bet against Lotus producing a cracking car from the off. I believe at least a couple of cheeky podiums.

Fancy a bet James 😉


I think they could get some points, for sure but it will take time to settle as they are running a bit late


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Do you know if there’s any truth to some speculation I came across recently about Robert Kubica been against Nick Heidfeld been signed by Renault?

Would certainly be a shame if this is the case as I’ve always felt that Heidfeld was one of the most underrated guys on the grid.


My opinion is that Nick and Bob have significantly different driving styles. I thought last year that BMW was able to adjust the car to Nick’s style and at the expense of Bob’s (the latter perhaps unintentionally) in order to improve the home driver’s performance.

I thought it was similar to the way Toyota developed the car around Ralph’s style and seemed to ignore Jarno. Both Toyota and BMW spent a year at the back of the grid because of this design philosophy.


IMHO in this moment Heidfeld is one of the most overrated drivers on the grid. Come on! If he is that good why nobody wants him?


Because he doesn’t have significant backing behind him.

If you look back he beat Raikkonen when they were team mate’s at Sauber, He beat Massa when they were team mate’s at Sauber, He surprised Webber at Williams & was ahead of him untill he suffered the injury & then went & beat Kubica 2 of the 3 years they were together at BMW.

When Nick was given a consistently front running car (The 2005 Williams) he scored a pole & 3 podium’s early in the year & was consistently faster than Mark Webber.

I have always believed that had Heidfeld been given a car capable of winning races he’d have won some.

Also worthy of note that Heidfeld was faster than Kubica at Montreal in 2008 but Kubica won the race because he was on the better strategy, Had Heidfeld also been on a 2-stop strategy he more than likely would have got the win instead of Kubica.


I agree F1 Dave. Nick has an equal amount of talent to alot of the ‘better’ drivers out there. Most podiums, most 2nd places, most starts, most c’ship points – without a win. That says ‘bad luck’ rather than ‘bad driver’.

Robert beat him in 2008. He beat Robert in 2009. In my opinion people rate Robert as he is more memorable , albeit due to his mistakes than his racing ability. He might have more aggresion than Nick, but Nick is more consistent.

Personally, I think they are an ideal team mate combination.


But you forget that Raikkonen only ended up at Mclaren because Hakkinen pushed them to sign him, Mika pushed them to replace him with Kimi. Had Mika not done that then as a Mercedes backed driver the seat would likely have gone to Heidfeld.

Massa only ended up at Ferrari because he was managed by Jean Todt’s son. Massa had a terrible year at Sauber in 2002, was dropped & written off, his tied to the Todt family landed him a Ferrari test seat for 2003 & his ties with Ferrari saw him back at Sauber in 2005 & then back at Ferrari from 2006. Had Massa not been managed by Nicholas Todt I doubt he’d have ben given the s**t he was at Ferrari because after 2002 there was very little intrest in him from any team.

Regardless of all that, Nick has bettered Webber, Massa & Kimi while they were team mate’s & those 3 have all since won races. If Nick is at the very least as good as those 3 as he showed while they were team mates then logic dictates that Nick too is capable of winning races if given a race winning car.


If, if, if … if my aunt had been a man, she’d have been my uncle. All what he can say about his career in F1 is “If this, if that”? I’m sorry, but this is pathetic. IMHO if he is that good as he think he is there wasn’t be Massa in Ferrari and Raikkonen in McLaren and no problem with seat for next season.


I think Kubica wants an experienced team mate to help develop the car. Not heard he’s against Heidfeld, but he did suggest other names to Renault


Bernie take note. This is what f1 fans want


Sounds like an interesting year, although some short-tempered front runners are going to find the going tough. I believe there will be an unprecedented disparity in machinery, talent, and experience on the grid, which will at the very least influence the championship.


Personally, I wish they’d do away with the blue flags… I know why they’re there, but in the past, watching certain drivers (Senna immediately springs to mind) “bull-dozing” past back-markers was always a joy to behold… it also added in another random variable. Now they just leap out of the way like a scalded cat!


Senna was intimidating and brilliant, but occasionally the back markers didn’t get the memo.( Jean-Louis Schlesser comes to mind.) I don’t see Kobayashi moving over like a scalded cat though.


Re: Mr Schlesser – hence why I said “random variable” 😉 And as for Koba… one episode where he ignores the blues, he’ll be hauled up in front of the stewards and rapped across the knuckles (metaphorically speaking). His defence from Button in Brazil was magic, but he wasn’t being lapped, so he was completely right to defend his position. I thought his defence from Nakajima was a little rough though!


I can’t wait for the testing season and seeing how the new cars perform. Will be closely following Mercedes and of course the McLaren ‘dream team’. Fingers crossed both finish top of the timesheets!


As other people have already mentioned it doesnt bode well for Campos if they are are struggling to even fund any testing.


Nor USF1. I can’t believe how on the brink of disaster Peter Windsor’s effort appears to be just now.


James will we have access to the all important fuel consumption figures at these tests?


Isn’t this extremely sensitive information at this point?

I’m hoping for fuel to provide substantial intrigue this year.


As it goes along I’m hoping so.


James, do you know if the testing will be televised in the UK or online anywhere, either live or in a ‘highlights’ edition?

Just finished your book by the way! It was great to relive the year in print 🙂


No, I don’t think there is much of a market for it


I’ll be honest when ITV had the practice sessions on their wedsite and now the BBC show them on the red button, I cant help but want to watch. Sure not as many folke will watch compared to qualy and certainly the race but the true fans love it.

Maybe I’m just sad like that! ha


They could however, make a Channel on YouTube and put 1hour highlights from every day, but I guess that’s probably science fiction for FOM.


we are ready.


– I’ve driven around that circuit (Riccardo etc.) hundreds of times…virtually. I wish they held F1 there; it appears to have many overtaking opportunities.


I think it’s too tight.


I agree. It works for bikes, Touring Cars and small single seaters, but it’s too tight for F1. A lot of teams run a Monaco simulation there, I hear?


Yes it’s too tight, MotoGP can be fairly processional.

There’s a pit straight but the circuit length is only 4 kilometres. With all the twists and turns, and short straights between them, the pit straight can’t be very long.

Mugello might be better.

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