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Barcelona Day 1 – It’s all about the wings
Barcelona Day 1 – It’s all about the wings
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Feb 2010   |  10:49 pm GMT  |  122 comments

Today the 11 teams who have got their cars ready for the start of the new season were on track for the first day of the final official test at Barcelona.

Picture 12
Mark Webber set the fastest time, but the headline lap times are not really important at this stage, that will come in the later stages of the test when we start to get the low fuel qualifying specials.

What was interesting today was that the teams were working hard on the adjustable front wings which have become a crucial device on the long runs with heavy fuel loads.

Since last season, the rules have permitted an adjustable front wing flap. Last year people didn’t really use them much, except perhaps when following another car closely so as not to lose downforce.

But this year they are a useful weapon to prolong tyre life as the driver can trim the car during the course of the long 45 to 50 lap stints we are seeing. Ferrari has this really worked out well already, as we saw in Jerez last week. McLaren was working on it today as were Renault and others.

In these colder conditions the tyres are graining more than one would expect them to in Bahrain, so it’s hard for the teams to know exactly where they stand, but they can only work with what’s in front of them.

Today the rear tyres were going off and drivers were trying to minimise that with the front wing flaps. When the rears started to go, I’m told it was very noticeable in the high speed corners, like Turn 3, that the cars were very twitchy, the Sauber being the most extreme example.

Most drivers worked on the soft Bridgestone tyre today, with only Webber and Hulkenberg trying the super soft. Webber did not go any faster on his short run on super soft than he had on the soft. He stopped at one point for a precautionary gearbox change.

“Obviously we put some new parts on the car which helped a lot – and of course the car wasn’t in its heaviest form in terms of fuel,” Webber said. “Ok, we used a lot of performance today to get the lap time, but we’re still looking to improve before Bahrain. “We still have problems, so we are not going on holiday tonight. We have more work to do, and we’re still improving this car.”

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg did 107 laps and afterwards said that the team would not make a leap in performance this week, but more likely in Bahrain where it will have a significant upgrade,
“It’s difficult to say exactly where we are,” Rosberg said. “I think it’s very close at the front, but that could all change again for Bahrain because the update we have is such a big step.”

Teams practiced pit stops and it looks like we will see stops of around 3 seconds this year, now that there is no refuelling. Pit crews have been doing a lot of fitness training in preparation for the season and now the serious drills start. It will be crucial as there is an advantage to be gained by pitting first in a straight race this year and every second will count.

There are plenty of new aerodynamic parts being bolted onto the cars. I’m told Williams took delivery of a new floor this evening which they will try tomorrow.

Ferrari has a new chassis, the third, on duty this week.

Be sure to follow all the action tomorrow, with Tweets, photos and insights on our Twitter aggregator JA on F1 Tweets Live from Barcelona

Headline Lap Times – Barcelona Day 1

1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:21.487 109
2. Nico Hulkenberg Williams 1:22.407 82
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:22.514 107
4. Pedro De La Rosa BMW Sauber 1:23.144 73
5. Jenson Button Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1:23.452 101
6. Tonio Liuzzi Force India 1:24.064 65
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:24.170 74
8. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:24.173 74
9. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:24.869 111
10. Lucas Di Grassi Virgin Racing 1:27.057 31
11. Fairuz Fauzy Lotus 1:28.002 76

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Several drivers said they were using the adjustable front wing last year on every lap. I remember Alonso, Hamilton and Kovalainen talking about it. They used it to adjust the car for corners or a long straight. They’d change the setting on the same two spots of the track every lap.


Alonso said he never touched it, after a few first races.


Q: Alonso said he never used the adjustable frontwing in the qualiying sessions…

Bell: ”But he did use it during the race. When the balance of the car changes because the tyres change then the drivers definately use it.”

Come to think of it, it was Button who I was thinking off. Looking through the quotes, also Fisichella, Barrichello and nakajima commented on it’s uselefulness as a setup changing device.

Fact is, several drivers were using it mostly as a setup change during a lap. Not for the overtaking purposes that it was meant for.


Off topic I know, but I saw this blog entry about the new safety car today ( and got curious as to why a Mercedes is the safety car and not a Ferrari or a McLaren, or any other car? A 458 Italia Ferrari would look lovely as a safety car!


James, just to help out your possible comparisons after today’s testing (Day 2): I guess the long runs are easier to compare, but I read some insight from Antonio Lobato in which he said that Alonso did his short stints today with 30Kg of fuel. Do not know for sure if that means he could have improved his time in 8 tenths though.


Was wondering if anyone can shed any light on the differences in the aerodynamic styles (the principles) of the cars, The Mercedes, Redbull, Torro Rosso, Ferrari, Virgin, all have quite exaggerated curves on the top of the nose cone where as McLaren and BMW Sauber has none, the Williams, Lotus, Force India very small curves, the Renault Im not sure what they’ve gone for in comparison to the other teams!


I am getting increasingly worried about McLaren’s pace, I get the impression they are trailing both Redbull and Ferrari – I really do hope I’m wrong.


You aint seen nuffin yet sunshine!

Unless someone has worked out the fuel load on each test run and noted the corrected times, tyre type, laps on each tyre start and finish etc, then we just don’t know and wont until the first quali.

Of course if someone has, then please tabulate and post. I guess the teams have had spies looking in each garage and making notes on all this so they probably know a lot morem than we do.


I think you may be. McLaren are quick


James can you tell us about tyre wear please?

will a tyre wear more if unloaded and maybe not warm enough, or when fully loaded and pushed hard?

What is the correlation between graining, wear and marbles. Can they wear without creating marbles?

I am sure we did not have marbles 20 years ago and we had tyres to last the whole race.


Definitely there were marbles 20 years ago. Have a look at some of the old footage from places like Detroit, Monaco and Adelaide and you will see it.

I went to Adelaide ’92 and remember running on the track after the race to grab a pocketful as a momento!


Ah well maybe I meant 30 years ago then, 92 was like yesterday!


Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll do something on that shortly



I was quite interested to see Fernando coming out the pits with a Shark fin engine cover…..

Could this be the huge aero new package they have been giving the big hot air about 😉

Or is it just, well everyone else has one.


James just how finely can the drivers adjust the flaps from the cockpit?

Obviously they must work on push rods since the nose cone is removable. I suppose an entirely self contained closed circuit hydraulic system could exist in the nose and itself be operated by push rods/actuators on the main car hydraulics. However this would give two changes of energy type and be inefficient.


Here’s a link to a pic of Trulli’s broken front wing from Barca last year. Undoubtedly hydraulic, but I think (I stand to be corrected) a lot of teams run pure electric actuators with worm-type gearing.

It’s interesting that hydraulic actuators are used at all; these are generally difficult to control precisely.


Certainly looks hydraulic, plus an elect connector.

“It’s interesting that hydraulic actuators are used at all; these are generally difficult to control precisely.” My old customer JCB, would probably disagree with that, they had very precise controls even on large sized rams.

But then I guess a stepper motor and a worm drive would be accurate and would remain set with power off.


Off topic,

But the how can you put lights on top of the new Safety Car Mercedes Benz Gullwing? Surely you won’t be able to open the doors? Won’t the lights get in the way….?


Have you seen post 40 yet? There is a link to some good pictures of how the car will look.



Any thoughts on those discs that have appeared on the ferrari wheel rims – Is this another area subject to a loophole and are other teams going to follow or is this more protests to come. As if my memory serves me correctly ferrari used these 2006 before they went full hog and invented the frisbees.

Another thing is should the shark fins be banned as they just make some sexy looking cars damn ugly…



I completely disagree about the shark fins. I love their look!


Not really. I’ve asked about them, but they seem to be a talking point


Also intersting to note that MS was testing the new aero parts today and not nico yesterday?


I’m trying to understand what mercedez are doing, they certainly don’t seem to be chasing times… are they hiding their true potential?


Any body know what’s happened to Jorg Zander the aerodynamacist who left Brawn GP in June last year ?


Jorg Zander is now as hard to find as a special forces ghost.

However, having done some research i can say with a degree of accuracy, that he isnt the new adrian newey.

Alot of the BGP001’s design credit should go to Loic Bigois, and as far as im aware the aero team reamins largely unchanged bar the demise of Mr Zander.


Oi get back to CRASH ! LOL


That would be great



Not sure if you have already answered this one but why have some of the cars got green lights at the back of them and some red?


That’s brake bias, wing angle is from the steering wheel


James is the lotus a dog of a car, it looks so slow ;-(


Other teams say they cannot understand why Lotus did their own gearbox, rather than buy one in. It doesn’t sound right apparently.


do teams have an option to buy new gearboxes from different suppliers during a season or do we now expect Lotus to have a bad gearbox all season??


I think they could do that. I’m not saying it’s bad, but other engineers question the wisdom of it, that’s all.


Is it too late to buy one? If it adds a second a lap it could be the single biggest improvement leap of the season!



could you ellaborate on it doesnt sound right?

Assuming they can hear it change gear and it sounds different to all the others?

Who else buys in gearboxes (I know Force India have the McLaren box)?

Thanks, Andy


James, it was interesting to hear Rosbergs comments which also echo some of Brawns before, which means Mercedes will probably make a bih step in Bahrain. I wanted to know though, if there are any news of the rumored Ferrary super-duper-diffuser ?



Can you explain how the pitstops are so much faster than pre-1994? 6 seconds was an exceptional stop back in those days, and there is now an additional step in the process (fastening the retaining pins).

Any ideas?


DTM have been managing 4-5 second pit stops with fewer people, so I’m sure F1 will be faster than that. But I too would be interested to know where the improvements have been made since ’94. Fitter, better-drilled pit crews perhaps? Better designed wheels? Souped-up rattle guns?


3 seconds looks about right assuming the driver stops dead on the mark and the guy with the air nut driver hits it dead on. Nowadays there is no risk of the nut falling out of the gun, the guy operating it needs only make three body/arm movements and three finger movements ans a last in and flick/pull the lock mechanism on the nut. Nuts coming off are a rarity now. I suppose we may see some accidents in the pits where one of the tyre crew falls over or the driver is released too soon. Hopefully Ferrari have abandoned their traffic light system.


I believe McLaren had it down to about 4 seconds in 1993.


We’ll look into it, but this is what I’m being told by teams


I remember some record attempt decades ago on record breakers or something and im sure they did it in around 4s


James, given the significance of pit-stops this year, when you do your piece about their strategic importance, could you add a paragraph about the basic ‘tools and rules’ of a pit-stop?

For example, is it prescribed how many pit crew they can use? Are wheel guns/pins/nuts etc. the same for all teams? What can/can’t they work on within the rules? (traffic light systems vs hydraulic lifts etc).

Unless I’m missing something the pit-stop is the one area that ANY team can be the best at if they work on it and even USF1 should have as much chance as Ferrari at being the pit-stop King if I’ve understood the rules right.


the first time i saw the headline … i thought the article was about redbull …

now i see u dont seem too impressed .


James, is there a rule to prevent the cars running out of fuel on the Q3 in-lap? Car is qualified lightest, yellow flags once its done the flyer…

Also, any talk of adjustable rear wings in the near future? Would do lots for fuel consumption.


The rules specify that there must be at least 1 litre of fuel left in a car at any time in order for a fuel sample to be taken to check its legality. Any car running out on the in lap would break that rule, though what penalty would be applied I do not know.


Great question, I’m sure it’s covered but I’ll check



any news on the new ferrari diffuser or are they still using the old one?

Is Mclaren using a new diffuser as well?



I agree pitstops are more important this year than last. But i disagree that pitting first is an advantage, it depends on what compound your running etc or change to.

Even if you swap to a softer / faster compound the tyres will be relatively cold vs your opponents tyres which are at race temps. So its going to take awhile to get gains. And your oppenent has ample time to cover.

I think ferrari have it right you want to start on the hard compounds and go as long as you can.

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