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Alonso pulls crowd as Ferrari dominates first test in Valencia
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Alonso pulls crowd as Ferrari dominates first test in Valencia
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Feb 2010   |  8:53 pm GMT  |  163 comments

In front of a crowd of 40,000 fans at Valencia, Fernando Alonso had his first drive in a Ferrari today and set the fastest time of the week.

On a historic final day of this first test, there were three world champions on track with Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button also getting a feel for the Mercedes and McLaren respectively.

“It was an important day for me, first time in a Ferrari,” said Alonso. “A very emotional day this morning and also last night. I think I maximised the day in terms of laps and time on the track and I feel good.

A historic day for Alonso and Ferrari

A historic day for Alonso and Ferrari


“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix.”

The Ferrari has tended to focus this week on shorter runs of 10-20 laps on the whole. Alonso and Massa both did plenty of laps in the 1m 11s range, unlike their rivals, but there was no sign of anyone going for outright lap times on low fuel. Most people seem to have been working on reliability this week. In the refueling era tests like this would be conducted on a two stop fuel load, say 50-60 kilos. Now with no refueling it makes sense to test at a mid level load, based on a one stop plan, so 80-100 kilos and that is what has been happening.

Perhaps next week at Jerez we will start to see some teams pushing the performance envelope a little and we will see the outright pace of some cars on low fuel. We will also see the new cars from Force India, which shook down at Silverstone today as well as the new Virgin car and the one we all want to see, the Red Bull.

“I think at the next test we might have more of an understanding when people are running very different fuel loads, ” said Jenson Button. “And you can get an understanding of the difference of those loads and how much time per 10 kilos it is. Then you can work out who is quick and who isn’t.”

Button admitted that the Ferrari is “quick,” but added the caveat, “we don’t know how quick”.

It’s been an encouarging week for Ferrari and the stories about poor downforce figures seem to have gone quiet for the moment. Alonso’s time today was set on the fourth lap of a 12 lap run.

The Ferrari’s long run times look very consistent; Alonso did a 16 lap run in the late afternoon, which started out in the low 1m 13s and gradually came down smoothly and consistently to the high 1m 11s, which is roughly the difference in fuel weight, so the car seems to be well balanced and looks after its tyres pretty well.

The tyres being used in Valencia were the new soft and supersoft Bridgestones.

The BMW Sauber has been very consistent all week, with both Kobayashi and De la Rosa setting times in the low 1m 12s on largely short runs of 8-10 laps at a time. The car managed 1,000 km of running and it seems to respond well to changes, which is positive.

We have quite a variation in the length of cars this season with the McLaren, BMW Sauber and Ferrari at the longer end of the scale and the Renault and Williams shorter. It appears that the longer cars are working better, but it’s early days yet and hard to draw conclusions.

The old firm; back and meaning business

The old firm; back and meaning business


Schumacher did 82 laps today and is clearly in pretty good shape physically. The car seemed fairly consistent on the long runs of 23 laps or so, the same length runs Rosberg was doing yesterday. He ended with a super consistent 16 lap run in which all but one lap was in the 1m 14s. But the times were not coming down as demonstrably as the Ferrari’s as the fuel burned off. He said afterwards that he doesn’t expect to be winning races at the start of the season.

This time last year Jenson Button could barely wipe the smile off his face; on his first day in the Brawn he already knew he had a car he could fight for the championship with. Clearly the shift to a new team and the lack of reference points is making him more guarded this time, but he didn’t have a great start today, by all accounts spending quite a bit of time in the morning getting comfortable in the car.

And he certainly wasn’t raving when he said, “From Lewis’s comments yesterday he is happy, we all want more. That’s the way we are, but we have a good base to work with.” He set his fastest time, a 1m 12.9 on the final lap of a nine lap run. With more fuel on board later on he was lapping in the high 1m 13s and low 1m 14s.

McLaren have been on a different programme from Ferrari and Sauber. McLaren have been doing runs of 20-25 laps at a time, which means that they have had at least 60-80 kilos on board. There has been no sign of a push to find the pace of the car.

Last year’s GP2 front runners, Nico Hulkenberg and Vitaly Petrov were out today for Williams and Renault respectively. Williams continued their conservative progress with the new Cosworth engine, while Petrov got used to the car.

HEADLINE LAP TIMES, VALENCIA, DAY 3

1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:11.470 127 Laps
2. Pedro De La Rosa BMW Sauber 1:12.094 80
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:12.438 82
4. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:12.576 97
5. Jenson Button Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1:12.951 82
6. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:13.097 75
7. Nico Hulkenberg Williams 1:13.669 126

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163comments

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1
Jonathan Schutte

I must say, I’m a HUGE Ferrari fan but I’m definitely no Alonso fan (don’t get me wrong, I respect his accolades as a driver and think he’s 1 of the best in terms of skill – I just don’t think he’s a great guy out of the car). However, seeing that photo and reading / listening to all the hype… Even I’m starting to get a little excited about the prospect of him racing for Ferrari. Still – GO MASSA! 🙂

2

That still doesn’t explain or solidify the pace of one and not the other. The reality is we can’t make anything out of these numbers.

3

Alonso is one of those guys that everything goes right for… in ’05 the McLaren’s fell apart and he won the title at Renault. McLaren stopped work on the ’06 early for the ’07 and it was a rocket for him. Last year Ferrari stopped working on their car early and it looks like he will get the best car at Ferrari as well now….

4

wow!.. i’m new in this site and I must say… this is great!…. Congrats James!….. 😀

5

Thanks

6

It always make me laugh at the start of the season when people say ‘its too early to tell’ and ‘testing times mean nothing’ and then go on to make wild predictions about teams relative pace.

Its too early to tell!

Anyhoo…

James, do you know what is going on with the masts that are springing up off the top of the camera pods on the Ferrari and I think I saw one on the Mclaren too?

7

just looked at YouTube today and saw alonso making a speech at the FIA gala to receive his trophy, at that moment, the camera pointed to Michael and his face told a different picture, it told the whole story, he had been dethroned,Alonso came in to stamp his authority, I doubt Michael would have retired had it not been for Alonso stopping him.

I know for sure that Michael would not be making eye contact to whoever beats him and will more likely spend more time looking at the rear of the Ferrari, the team he has worked so hard to be where it is.

8

hi can anyone share the link on his sppech plz …. i coudnt get it 🙁 … any i agree that Alonso is worthy champ … he might say hes lucky n all out of generosity …. that doesnt mean hes is not gud to beat schumi….. i really cant understand ppl writing him off so easily … how can ppl not remember him defending at imola 2005…awesome drive ….. n that suzuka overtakes..he overtook schumi twice ..n successfully defending the WDC … n many more…. wen u talk abt alonso’s car n tyres u shld not forget schumi won WDC’s 5 times in row coz hes got best car.. now wen some wen else gets worthy car n wins..its only coz of car?? bullshit ..now can some one share the link plz ..:D

9

Delusional.

10

If stupidality is a crime, you would be totured by FBI agents.

He made that speech in 2005 and MS wasn’t in the championship.

Jenson Button beat him last year, does that mean that Alonso have to be scared of him and retire?

MS had Prost,Senna,Mika,Kimi, a broken leg and a team that had no gear box department in 96.

He had gone through all those challenges and never gave up.

One (arguably) “tyre champion” won’t slow down a man like him.

Check out Alonso’s press conference in 2006 Brazil, he actually said he was very lucky to beat him. He does speak his mind, always.

11

Sam, I think you have responded to the wrong post here. Having read your post, I gather you wanted to respond to Dieter 53. I am pretty much against what Mr. Dieter 53 in professing through his post.

12

Yeah I found that Video on yutube you are talking about – funny but I bet Schumi had that expression when JV and Hakkinen received their trophies,not just for alosno ..only alonso fans like yourselves make believe in your minds that Scumacher got ‘dethroned’ ….

so then can we say that alosno got dethroned the following year by Hamilton …Plaese stop with Alosno beat Schumi debate cause we all know that it was’nt FA that beat MS but it was Michelin and Renault …

13

which video is that on youtube ??

14

alonso fans in their fantasy world, writing scores. lol.

15

Damn Alonso’s helmet is ugly against the Ferrari red… talk about a sore thumb.

16

I wonder whether this racetrack can appreciate the engine strength. I mean that maybe slow corners aren’t letting the superior engines to gain time. As such Mercedes engine is on top, I doubt this fact has changed overnight.

Maybe ferrari fans should not celebrate winning the championship so quick as this dominance could turn to be due to circumstances.

17

Ferrari quick, Mercedes slow, McLaren half way, Sauber looking for sponsor …….

Just remember what has been said at the Ferrari, McLaren and mercedes presentation.

The cars racing at the first GP will be different from the original ones, a B spec as someone called it.

I think all the front runner teams are gathering data to be used to come up with the best B spec possible. Only Red Bull might have already the B spec ready.

So, all the speculations are exciting but not very usefull.

Let’s see what Barcelona tests will bring before coming to conclusions

18

James, just as a fun question, not really topic related.

You have done AutoBios for Schumacher and Mansell. Who if you had the chance now would be the most intriguing do you think to do a book with?

Personally I can’t wait to read Rubens Barrichello’s autobio, but only because of his ‘interesting’ relationship with Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. I would also like to know what Juan Pablo Montoyas story on F1 would be like, and what exactly makes Alonso tick…

But who would you like to pen a book for more than any other?

19

Hi James,

Have you been able to glean any thoughts on how Kobayashi will go against De La Rosa?

He certainly seems to be continuing in the positive manner that he displayed in the last two races last year.

20

Got 2 tips.

Ferrari recently hired an Ex-Toyota guy who has an idea for a new diffuser. Initial figures indicate this new diffuser design could give Ferrari 2-3 tenths more. I understand they will test it at the final Barcelona test & could run it at bahrain.

Mclaren were also running there aero paint on the car during the final day & a half. They only pulled the aero paint out last year when the drivers felt there was an aero imbalance with the car & wanted to verify the driver feedback relating to it.

For now it looks like Ferrari are looking strong & that McLaren ‘may’ be on the back foot a little bit although obviously time will tell if this is correct or not.

21

You do not have to think what the others say of Alonso… creates what you see and hear directly of Alonso, he never lies, before lying prefers not to speak… for that reason it seems arrogant but in fact is timid.

The press UK needed an idol, to push Lewis Carl Davidson “local” Hamilton and to discredit the “Latin” was really easy.

Much people I form its opinion on Alonso in that period and is an error. In fact neither the Hamilton pair Ron Dennis was so angelical nor Alonso so demonic… but you draw his own conclusions.

Mr. James Allen, you have one of the Web but serious and interesting of the world of the F1, thank you very much by your work.

Greetings from Valencia

Translation with Google…sorrys.

22

Ta for the invaluable updates from Valencia.

Now for conspiracy theory no. 42;

Red Bull aren’t just waiting for more time in the wind tunnel, but because Mr Newey has come up with such a cunning plan that he doesn’t want to give his rivals too much time to copy it. Behold, the sextuple diffuser (or something).

23

James, I hear RBR had engine cavitation problems during their bench tests, due to odd positioning of the large fuel tank. That caused the absence from this test as it looks. How much do you read into those reports?

24

James, do you know which layout of Valencia they ran on? If it’s the full layout, then it’s a decent mix of medium to low speed corners, and a crazy fast one. The team performances would be a decent indication of how balanced their cars are.

25

Hi James… one thing has been bothering me since I saw the car launches… Ferrari seems to have Redbull 09 like nose… doesn’t it transpire as unfair? as in copying a design which RBR designers would have spent lot of work/resources on developing? isn’t there something like copyrights or similar for car concepts in F1.

( apologies if this was a stupid question )

26

Copyrights on design in f1 don’t seem to exist. Just because you can copy it doesn’t mean that you understand it.

Remember those wheel covers, they were a ferrari idea that everyone copied including redbull. There are countless examples of teams copying each other in years gone past.

So all is fair in love and war.

27
Petition2DChicaneTamburello

Besides, the Merc looks even more like the RB5; everything from the nose to the side pods and the area around the pilot cabin is very Red Bull-esque.

28

Not at all they all try and copy each other as much as possible – just think back to the start of last year and the double diffuser row. What is illegal would be actively stealing design or technology – i.e. the spygate scandal. After all there’s a limit to what they can make from just looking at the cars.

29

James, do the cagey comments made by Button that play down the excited comments of Hamilton strike you as someone who has stepped into a car that is slower than the one he got out of, or at least not significantly different enough?

Assuming they are comparing it to the car they were driving at Abu Dhabi does that reveal the relative performance of 09 McLaren and the Brawn at the final race? Or is he just disappointed after having such a dominating testing session last year? I can’t believe anyone would think they would start off like that two years in a row!

Also – do you think Ferrari opted for shorter stints to make sure they were constantly at the top of the timing sheets in order to put to bed the rumours about their aero figures? I’m not suggesting this doesn’t mean their car is fast, because they have dominated this test so convincingly – but as the rumours were escalating it would be a natural reaction to go aggressive and top the headlines.

It’s worked too – The bookies have promoted Alonso ahead of Hamilton as favourite for the title. I think it will be an Alonso Hamilton battle for the title, but Ferrari will have the upper hand.

I think Vettel will win in Bahrain though, but once we hit Europe he will cease to feature in the title race.

30

i must say that so much i have read on various forums on internet that i think Alonso is the most hatred guy in F1 but i must admit that whatever I have seen of him thus far… he seems to be a nice guy… he gave credit to Massa as well as to the team on a number of occasions…

anyways.. i m happy for sauber… they are doing well.. hopefully they have a good car in the races too…

i wonder if redbull is about to surprise the grid 😀

31

Alonso has learnt to play his politic better since he cocked up at McLaren ad we all know how politicians cannot be trusted ❗

32

The only surprise from RedBull would them building a dud of a car. They are expected to be building an absolute rocket. BUT with Newey distratced by the 2009 season will the RBR 2010 be as revolutionary… hmm…

33

Firstly I’d like to say: Great site Mr Allen, and I always liked your commentary during the races!

I’m a die-hard Ferrari fan and as such it pleases me no end to see the results that testing has brought thus far. Of course, it’s too early to say how close, or perhaps how far the relative performance of each car is.

Despite also being a die-hard McLaren ‘anti-fan’, I still believe they’ve got a lot more up their sleeve and as there’s a very long, historical rivalry between the two teams, I’m hoping they’ll be front runners.

As others have said, I think that Red Bull is the unknown quantity at this stage. As you said James, they had the fastest (and in my opinion most beautiful) car of 2009. Adrian Newey is a design genius and I hope he doesn’t disappoint this year. Let’s just hope the Renault engine doesn’t let them down.

Forza Ferrari!!!

34

Thank you for that.

35

Would it be fair to say that Valencia is not really a pointer towards the result in Bahrain, a short track with mid-low speed corners?

I suppose what I saying is, please don’t let the Ferrari be half a second quicker than everyone else…

36

It would. Barcelona is a much better indication of a good car for the season

37

James, any honest feedback from the Williams camp about the Cosworth engine? Weight, fuel, power, reliability?

I am wondering how far behind it is after being out of F1 for so long. Especially after the other engine manufacturers made “reliability” tweeks to their, ahem, frozen engines.

38

I’m going up to Cosworth next week

39

So will they tell you ❓

40

Amazing updates James!! This week has been all the better for your insights!!

As a big Alonso fan i’m glad Ferrari, on the face of it, seem to have produced a good car this year to give Alonso a chance to fight for the WDC.

Until the 3rd and 4th tests we wont get the full picture of who is really in the hunt but i’m liking BMW Sauber being up the front. Kobiyashi, for me, is quite an exciting racer.

41

I’ve always said that Alonso is an amazing talent. We are truly gearing up for an epic F1 season in 2010. I can’t wait any longer… bring it on.

42

So many people jumping to conclusions after only three days of running!

Signifies the interest this particular season has been generating. And 40000 people at a test, race promoters the world over will surely be licking their lips.

Whoever is fastest, we are in for a treat surely.

43

It’s inevitable and shows how much interest there is in F1 2010

44

Especially when you don’t have to fork out 3 months pay to attend. 🙂

Nod to certain Mr. E.

45

And how much lack of understanding there is in F1 fans….soryy….

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