F1 Winter Break
Decoding Jerez – Button tops times, but it’s all to play for
Decoding Jerez – Button tops times, but it’s all to play for
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Feb 2010   |  4:48 pm GMT  |  205 comments

After a rainy first couple of days, the second Jerez test actually turned out to be quite revealing and a picture has emerged of how the teams line up with the new season now less than a month away.

So far most of the testing has been reliability based, with some performance work this week by the more advanced teams. Next week’s final test in Barcelona will be more about performance and many teams will bring major updates to their cars in preparation for the first race. From what we saw this week, the field is close enough for this to change the order, if someone finds a significant aerodynamic step. It is all to play for.

Ready for Ferrari (Photo: McLaren)

Ready for Ferrari (Photo: McLaren)

Jenson Button set the fastest time of the test on Saturday morning, a 1m18.871 on the first lap of a two lap run. The second lap was almost a second slower, most of the time being lost in the final sector of the second lap, presumably as the tyres started to go off.

“It’s gone very well here, a great result for me and McLaren,” said Button. At the moment the MP4-25 is good on the single lap, but we are also getting there on the long runs. We still have a lot to learn about the car on full tanks.”

Fernando Alonso did not go for a low fuel short run in the Ferrari and set a time half a second slower than Button on the second lap of a 13 lap run. Once again the Ferrari’s characteristic of suffering a long period of drop off on the tyres was evident.

However Alonso did a run starting in the 1m 21s on which he must have had 80 kilos to cover the laps he did. Fuel corrected this means he was lapping at around 1m18.9, so very close to Button’s time.

At the end of the day Alonso did a 48 lap partial race simulation, with a pit stop on lap 13. The 35 lap run which then followed was very fast and consistent, laps in the 1m 22s moving into the 1m21s as the fuel burned off.

Engineers tell me that the established teams are covered by no more than 7/10ths of a second. Ferrari and McLaren are close but Ferrari has so far been more reliable. Red Bull follow. They don’t seem to have the advantage I expected them to have, given where they finished last season and it will be interesting to see what new parts they bring next week and where they end up. Mercedes are in pursuit as well, as are Force India.

Renault looked more competitive on Saturday, with a 24 lap run in the low 1m 21s and high 1m 20s and a fastest time set on the second lap of a seven lap run.

Williams are more difficult to judge as they have done predominantly long runs with heavy fuel and have been putting the new Cosworth engine through exhaustive reliability runs, which make it hard to judge their true pace. But presuming that they have been quite conservative so far, they look like they could be in reasonable shape come the first race weekend.

Alonso gave some very bullish quotes about the Ferrari car to the media yesterday, which have raised the stakes quite a bit.

“This is the best car I’ve ever had,” he said. “Red Bull, McLaren and Renault have been very quick and have shown their cards, while we are still hiding ours. We will analyse the data, but we are very optimistic. If I were in a different team I would be looking at Ferrari because everything is going really well.

“Maybe where Ferrari has to improve is the short runs with little fuel onboard.”

He’s being a little disingenuous here as the Ferrari looks pretty impressive on the first lap, it’s just that they haven’t been doing short low-fuel runs.

As it looks increasingly likely that teams are looking to run predominantly one stop strategies with one very long stint, Bridgestone are likely to err on the side of caution – they have always been a very conservative company and this is their final year in the sport – and bring tyres to races which are not marginal to allow for this kind of strategy.

Being able to qualify on the harder of the two tyres will be an advantage and it looks like the Ferrari and the McLaren can switch the tyres on over a single lap.

Alonso is being quoted at 4-1 for the championship and that looks like a very good bet to me at this stage of the game.

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Hamilton will be champion again.



you didn't say anything about the mercedes team. How have their lapt times been at jerez?

Thanks for all your analysis in F1.



Everyone is scratching their heads about Mercedes. Feeling is they may be chasing it a bit


James, i´ve seen some pictures of the McLaren with the tyres pretty damaged (i think the correct word is grained). Have you any information about McLaren having problems making the tyres to last over a long stint? It´s curious that McLaren haven´t done a race simulation yet, like Ferrari or Mercedes.

Thank you and sorry about my english.


Thats scary news;

I would find it quite hard to believe that McLaren wouldn't have sorted out tyre wear issues with their state-of-the-art tyre profiling software.

Presumably they will focus on long run race simulations at the next test at Barcelona.


Thanks for all the insight James. I like your analysis - non bias and straight to the point.

What a relief to hear - I can't wait to see what Alonso can do with this Ferrari. Look like an Alonso-Ferrari era is coming...


...and if there is an Alonso-Ferrari era coming, then this time in two years everyone will be saying "the points system doesn't work, we need to tighten up the points". Lol


Though I am a huge Alonso fan, I don't think we will be seeing any Alonso-Ferrari era. I remember people saying the same thing at the end of 2006 and then we had a season like 2007.

The big-spending days of the manufacturers are over and we have a hugely competitive grid in terms of drivers and teams. We have the traditional big names in Ferrari and McLaren, the new power houses of F1 in Red Bull and Mercedes, and ex-world champs in Williams and Renault.

Hamilton, Massa, Button, Vettel, and Kubica are top drawer drivers to compete with ALonso and Schumacher.

What we will see are hugely competitive championships and team-mate rivalries.


If McLaren has treated Alonso with respect of the 2 times world champion, he would not have changed team and he could have won the 2007 title and maybe more....


They respectd him by giving him a car to fight for the championship. Things, however, didn't work out between him and the team, and they went their separate ways.

Just to highlight what I mean: IF the McLaren was reliable enough in 2005 and Schumi didn't blow his engine in Suzuka, then there was possibility that FA wouldn't have been champion at all.

Life is the way it is. Ifs and buts are good for story telling. We should be interested what the final outcome is.


Hopefully we will have a better idea by this time next week. Can't believe it is nearly March and time for another season to start already.


On the long run the Mclaren was consistently doing 1.23/24 whilst the Ferrari was doing 1.21/2, I think the Mclaren certainly in the hands of Button is slower on a long run than Ferrari. Although perhaps the Mclaren had more fuel but to have two seconds more fuel per lap seems unlikely.

I'm just wondering what Hamilton's times would have been compared to Buttons. We already know Alonso and Massa are very closely matched! We'll have to wait until Barcelona...

James how well do you think Button will cope vs Hamilton? We've already heard Irvine and Jackie Stewart's comments favouring Hammy.


I think he will cope very well mentally. There will be good days and bad days, but I still expect Hamilton to come out on top in qualifying especially and over a season


Ouch! Someone's feeling a bit hormonal today.


What on earth makes you think Ham will come out on top? Everyone knows Jense is easy on his tyres and so smooth. Ham destroys his tyres and so far he's only lucked into a good car with below average teamate. Do you even watch the races James? Seriously, get real. Jense will smash the Ham and double his points over the season.


"Do you even watch the races James?" classic line Jason - Asking one of the best F1 analysts this question is an insult. You may be entitled to your opinion but i suggest you remove your anti Hamilton glasses and review the facts. As moses said Alonso below par team mate? i think not. Hamilton is a rare class of driver. Even the people that do not like him still appreciate how good he is. May i suggest you watch the races then come back to us with a sensible opinion!


Time well tell Jason... You are entiltled to your opinions.


Ham Vs Alonso, 2007. Ham came out on top. If Alonso is a "below average teamate", then you have pretty high standards mate.


Espically with felipe having missed out on dry running James when he just back. Think mclaren and red bull ahead over one lap but Ferrari have best race car thus far. Though everybodys updates for barcalona and Bahrain could change everything


James...given that a large amount of the testing has been about long runs plus one of your earlier posts suggested Friday practice will also be about long runs would the extra running on Friday's impact on engine reliability given the reluctance in past years to run much on Fridays?


No, but they will have to do the mileage in practice


I agree. Alonso looks a fair bet for the championship.

I do think Hamilton will push him very close. To be honest I don't think I can choose between the two. My heart say Hamilton, the head says Alonso!

These two look like they will be followed by their team mates in third and fourth.

At this time I dont think Schumacher will even be in the top four, even with the MS /RB combo in the mercs.

MY TOP 5 FOR THE TITLE (at this point!)

1. Alonso

2. Hamilton

3. Massa

4. Button

5. Schumacher

What do you think?


Do you agree the best Scumacher can hope for is fifth in the championship. Or am I wrong to discount the 7 time champ so quickly?


Lol showing Schumacher a list with him in 5th will be like a red sheet to a bull!!


in 13 years from 1994-2006 Schumacher was not challenging for the title only in the years 96 (move to ferrari) , 99 (due to broken legs) and 2005 (tyres to last whole race). So of the 13 years he was fighting for the championship in 10 of those years winning 7 times. I think ruling Schumacher out is silly at this stage.

I know there are people that are not too keen on him, but that doesnt take anything away from his ability.


excellent point


Perhaps this is wishful thinking, I dunno, but if there was ever a pair of chancers who have the cojones to sandbag during winter testing, its Brawn and Schumacher. Lets see what they do in the final test.


That's a good point; Ferrari used to sandbag a lot in pre-season testing in the Schumacher / Brawn era.


I think February is one thing, but November is another. Look how Red Bull overhauled Brawn over 2009 in performance if not in points, look how McLaren turned a dog into a winner.


I just can't wait for the season to start...

Just to see what happens. TOP, F1 ROCKS!!!


All of a sudden McLaren went from the best car in 07 to a "dog" by 09!!??? Why such a dramatic downhill slide??? Could it be not having access to Ferrari Technical Data?? Or maybe McLaren are missing Alonsos technical input now they have to rely on their "rookie" of 3 years to develop their car!? McLaren and Mercedes are now direct competitors, so will Mercedes be supplying McL with the latest update engines this season? I think not, and McL could find themselves blighted by performance "issues" sometime in the near future! Mercedes dumping McL, no matter how harmonious Whitmarsh wants us to believe it was, will surely have an adverse effect. #:)


Look at the 60's right through to the 80's. the coventry climax and the cosworth DFV. they supplied everyone with engines (mind you they didn't have a team of their own). But look at Renault as well. they've been supplying red bull's cars in previous years and who's come out on top there? the only team i can think of that have any shadows over their engiune supplies are ferrari. after years of supplying enigines only one race (Vettel, Torro Rosso, Monza, 08) has been won out of a non-ferrari ferrari engined car. but they're Latins, Merc are germans. It'd be suicide if they hindered other teams after getting involved in the sport so heavily.


I find your points have no foundation. Mclaren had a disadvantage with spygate as they had to take a lot of development out of the car.

The reason they had a bad season last year is because they were caught out by the rule changes, ferrari were in exactly the same position.

Lastly, the rules state that engine suppliers will have to supply the same engines as the works teams. also I don't think that merc will be too dissapointed if Mclaren won anything this year as its got the merc engine in it.

am I wrong??


Sounds like wishful thinking to me. 164 race wins, 8 Constructors and 12 Drivers Championships probably weren’t all a direct result of Stepney, Coughlan and Alonso. 😉

Writing off Mclaren at this stage is pretty daft.


I think schumacher and brawn really have their work cut out, its a shame we wont be seeing them at the front muscling out with hamilton.

I dont they can turn it around in a week!


There is no Brawn any more. It's Mercedes, which means they have far greater resources than Brawn could ever have had to develop their car throughout the year.

Plus it'll be Alonso at the front, not Hamilton 😉


I saw on one betting site 40/1 for both Kobayashi and Kubica! I mean, how do they figure that? Also, a good price for Button of around 11/1 at the moment.


Jason, i've already dived in earlier and got Button at 16/1


And once again very shortly about Renault 🙂 I would really appreciate the expert opinion on their potential.


The fact there's not much said might be the clue you need as to their potential......


I beg to disagree, at least according to the facts/times:

"Renault looked more competitive on Saturday, with a 24 lap run in the low 1m 21s and high 1m 20s and a fastest time set on the second lap of a seven lap run."

That fastest time was just 3 tenths of Buttons time which might have been set on vapors.

I think that means today Kubica was at least as fast as Button. I think that Renault has the potential to emerge as a dark horse surprise, not winning championship but some potential they sure seem to have.

I must agree though that going by the results, Alonso's comments, and the rummors of super diffuser on the way, there is a risk of this season evolving like the last one with the more logical Ferrari/Alonso combo playing the part of Button/Brawn.


I suspect that most analysts do not believe that any car has gone out for a run on fumes in quali spec yet. Therefore Button had more fuel than for a two lap run.


Gil Dogon, I agree on your Renault comments.

However, realistically, even if Reno have a quick car now, they're not going to develop it as quickly as McLaren or Ferrari over the course of a season.

On the plus side, they reputedly have better fuel consumption over their rivals which will benefit both tyres and weight, and Kubica won't have to forego points that Lewis' & Alonso's team mates will inevitably take off them over the course of the campaign.

If Button did a 2 lap run for a 1.18.8 best, whilst Kubica did a 7 lap run with a 1.19.1 best then theroetically (assuming both were carry no more fuel - big assumption!) Kubica could have done a 1.18.6 with the appropriate fuel for a 2 lap run.

Why is this being overlooked by all of the analysts?

Yes Renault, might not win the title, but vistory in Bahrain and Australia is surely a possibility?

Zami from Melbourne, Australia

Hopefully the testing results will live up to the expectation of a most exciting season ever. Alonso’s comments do sound a bit bullish. On the other hand, he made his point very clear about the long runs and reliability of that Ferrari. So far it seems like Mercedes and Ferrari are the most consistent cars around. Ferrari is obviously the car on top at this stage. However, nothing can be said firmly about the best car until the race goes to Malaysia in my opinion. That’s because there are some significant changes made this season. Therefore, the pit stops, choice of tyres and the fuel load will play a big part. I wonder if the harder tyre will also suffer some graining over 50/60 laps. Barcelona test will give us some clearer picture I guess.

James, what do you think about taking the testing offshore? Of course it will be expensive for some teams. But I don’t think either fans or the teams enjoyed the continuous rain over the last 3 tests. I put Massa in the championship mix alongside Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher and Button. You agree James?


Don't agree about the testing. As for the contenders, possibly Massa but also don't rule out Vettel yet


I cant wait for the final test. I think a few teams will finally show their cards again.

I think Ferrari and McLaren will be evenly matched, dependant on any aero updates for the test.

For Alonso to be so confident he obviously rates his chances. I think McLaren are playing it down, but I think they will have pace to burn come race 1.

I also hope as a long term follower of Williams, that they have some genuine pace. Nico looks like a decent prospect and Rubens is a good development driver too.


yeah i think that both ferrari and mclaren are sandbagging


James, do you agree that the mandatory pitstop should be removed, so that drivers could try and get through the race on one set of tyres?

It seems it can't be done on Bridgestone's current deal, but maybe with a new tyre deal in 2011 it could be possible.

It would be a nice extra challenge, and I think much more interesting than forcing the drivers to do 2 pit stops.


Ed I totally agree with you. Give them the option of no stops. It's more pure and would lead to more variability in a non-artificial way.


No, we need some room for decision making.


Wouldn't giving them an extra option of zero stops give them more room for decision making rather than less?

Given the option and under normal circumstances I can't believe many would go the whole race without pitting. But for example imagine if Schumacher makes a mistake in qualifying and unexpectedly starts down in 15th. Because of this he decides to take a gamble of zero stops. It would be so exciting with him at the front in the dying laps with a much faster (due to better tyres) Hamilton chasing him down. Wouldn't it?


I actually think that removing the mandatory tyre change and prescriped use of two compounds will open up the stratergy up more. Teams will be able to try different things. For example. A midfield runner trying to do a whole race on set of hard compounds would be similar to the previous few years when the midfield runners fueled heavy.

I think the current rules are too prescriptive and don't allow enough room for innovation.


I think he meant stop making the pit stop Mandatory - remove the "must use both tyres" rule. That would make more room for decision making.



I would have loved to know how Merc and MS r doing?


go to News Now F1........all Micheals and Mercedes reports are there......#:)


Isn't that drop-off in tyre performance likely to loose Ferraris a lot of ground whenever they don't manage to start at the front of the grid?


I would like to ask another question to Curro's one which regards the drop off.

Please somebody explain me this drop off theory in terms of smartness of Ferrari?

From what I understand what JA wrote, Scuderia seems to be almost genious as they are alleged to have designed all car i.a. around the tyres - with this drop off.

But I also understand that this drop off is based mainly on the fact that the tyres from the Q3 must be used at the start of the race.

And my question is: am I wrong or was this rule introduced only recently?

In other words, how F10 could have been designed with the drop off in mind while the rule that is supposed to let them make use of it was introduced a f t e r they designed the car?


It hasn't been designed with drop off in mind. The point is that Ferrari appears to have gone for a design which works the tyre hard for a good qualifying performance and this means that they may be able to qualify on the harder tyre at many races and although this means drop off it also means that they have a better chance in the race, if they start at the front and cars cannot pass them.


Ok, now I get it. Thanks


I know it's a big ask, but is it possible to assess which car you think suits each of the races best? For example, even with my simplistic knowledge I'd now be betting on a Ferrari win in Monaco based on what you've said above. I'd be fascinated to see what the theory says on paper at the start of the year.


Hard to say especially as we've not had any running with hot track temperatures yet.


James, Alonso said that Ferrari still have 'cards' to show, do you think this will be the 'hole' in the diffuser that has been rumored?


Lol when Alonso was at McLaren I used to get annoyed by his little digs (or more specifically anything to do with McLaren). But now it just makes me laugh. He's such a pantomime villain. He just says these things to rile people.

Where's Alonso? "He's behind you!!!"


Alonso proves my point again today!!

See: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/81650

The guy is hilarious


Sorry I meant "100 million dollars voice." McLaren know very well I was wrong. 🙂


I don't see anything wrong with what he says, TM. If I was cheated or mistreated by my employer, I would do everything (legal) in my hand to hit back. In fact I've done it at least once.

I think it was P. de la Rosa who said that getting "stolen" info from other teams in one way or another is something happening all the time around the paddock. They were given access to the data, they didn't stole it themselves.

Alonso was given the opportunity to hit back to "we running Alonso" Dennis by declaring to the FIA, and he sang his song. And he had a 100 dollars voice.

Well done Alonso! I would do the same. Now McLaren is really going to feel having lost you.


The day people started been annoyed by what Alonso says, that was the day I realised he had become important. If he was no one, nobody would be annoyed for what he said.

Alonso is simply the best. No more no less.


Excellent article James and perfect food for thought prior to next week's 'reality test'. As most seasoned observers think that raw qualifying pace will have the most influence on the outcome of races this season, the Barcelona test, will give the clearest indication yet as to the pecking order of the teams and the intra team battles so anticipated this year.

Next week we will see low fuel, new tyre qualifying simulations from all the top teams and drivers. At the end of next week I suspect that Alonso, Hamilton and Schumacher will find the Edge over their respective team mates, but not by very much.

The limited pre-season testing schedule, has by necessity, created this crescendo and is almost as exciting as the racing itself.

Roll on next week...


Hi James

Just wondered if you had any info on what sort of job the Maclaren team think Button is doing, especially his raw speed compared to hamiltons?



excellent, my first customer of the 2010 season, just for you Jamie ...




He was pretty close, so far so good after a tricky start


didn't the mclaren press release say "his engineers have been extremely pleased with the extent to which he has been able to establish himself within the team, and the depth and scope of his feedback"... meaning they have no issues with JB as he has brought a new insight into the team. Do you think he out race hamilton?


Or bring 3 points of downforce ....LOL


I'm not disagreeing with you (i.e. I agree that Button seems to be fitting in well), but can you imagine the McLaren PR machine saying anything different at this stage?


I think last week's test was a bit of a breakthrough for JB. He's in the groove with McLaren now


maybe he can bring 0.6 of a second to the team 😉


James, I wonder if you agree with me on the quotes made by Alonso about his Ferrari. My opinions on it are as follows:

With regards to all this talk of Alonso saying he has the best car he's ever driven, I think there are a few evaluations to make from this. Firstly, this story has come from Spanish media who only a week or two ago made up this story of how Alonso and Massa were at each other, which was complete bull. They're renowned for making up rubbish. Sure Alonso said something along those lines, but it has probably been taken out of context. What I think he actually said (which I saw in one translation) was: "For now, for sure this is the best car I've driven", or something along those lines. The important two words are "for now", I think what he was actually saying is, at this stage in the season (pre-season testing), he has never been so happy with a car in terms of performance and consistency. In other words, they have a good out-the-box package, just as Brawn did last year. For him to be comparing the car to the others he's driven, such as his two WDC's and at Macca, is just stupid as he has only driven this new Ferrari a handful of times and not at any official GP circuits.

Of course the fact that he does feel confident about the car is ominous for the other teams, but I wouldn't rule out Mclaren, Red bull and possibly even Renault being close. Mclaren is definitely a quick car, as long as they have no major design flaws and can improve its consistency on the tires, then I think they will be a force to be reckoned with seeming as they can upgrade the car in a way second to none.


Let's not forget that it's been two seasons since Alonso last drove a competitive car, so his comparisons may be faulty.


He's just very happy with this car. Maybe it really feels like the best car. The best car isn't always the fastest and the best driver isn't always winning the championship. But a strong driver feeling good in a pretty fast car is at least very interesting!


I am an FA fan but that commentary was just funny lol


he said the best car ever. He was also asked if he thought the car capable to do a 1.17, and he said just make yourselfs the math.

It looks like they think, they have a clear advantage.


James, another question I have is regarding tyre management / strategy.

I think I heard you say that you expect teams to attempt 1 stop strategies generally. I guess this will firstly depend on the weather and track (with regard to degradation). However, assuming this is the case - I have a slight worry as a Hamilton fan.

I think if you look back at his time in F1 he has always had problems with his tyres degrading more than others and has rarely carried out a 1 stop race. Although, if he does thrash away every lap (quali-style) while others are having to be slightly more cautious, then whips on a second set of new tyres (increasing speed) then do you think if the Mclaren is competitive then this may be a viable strategy on some circuits to overcome the 1 stoppers?

I still think the idea of enforcing a mandatory minimum of 2 stops per race, would have made it more interesting. I also still think - bring back refueling!


Hamilton had a one stopper in Turkey 2008 and Brazil 2009 - do you not think he has improved in conserving his tyres? The McLaren engineers have always said Heikki chewed his tyres much more than Hamilton, but you rarely hear about this.


Ok yeah I see, but surely you must see where im coming from.

I've had a few replies to the question regarding Hamiltons tyre management, but could I have some peoples' thoughts on what I said about a battle between those who choose to 2 stop, being aggresive all race and getting the advantage of 2 new sets of tyres, Vs those who go for the long haul 1 stop.


he did learn a lot of things from that time as well. He is a better driver now.


in turkey 2008 hamilton was forced to do a 3 stopper because he was ruining his tyres so much bridgstone thought he couldnt make them last for a 2 stop stint.


This is true but it is not because he necessarily destroys his tyres. The problem was with turn 8 as his loadings through that corner added to the way Mclarens suspension was set up caused the problems. I still think Hamilton will prove this year to be very adaptable when he needs to be


Adaptability is the key, that's for sure


Didn't Hamilton stop 3 times in Turkey 2008, passing Massa for the lead at one stage before pitting? I'm almost certain that Hamilton even had to change strategies once or twice during a race due to high tyre wear. I expect Hamilton to be faster on raw pace than Button, but their differing styles should be interesting come race day.


Great Story James , good info.Any news about Ferrari introducing the so called "A3-diffusor" in the Barcelona test next week ?


We will see. Alonso said they had some 'important new things' for Barcelona


I thinm everybody will have important new things at Barcelona.


he sure looks pretty confident. Scary...


james, do you have any idea if ferrari are using the updated defuissor that the toyota engineer brought to the table? and whos holding something back in pace or what your seeing is the pecking order. i will be putting some cash on alonso, like you said 4/1 a great bet


Where are you finding 4/1 on Alonso? I'm struggling to find much better than 3/1, which I'm not quite so convinced is good value given the uncertainties over a full season.


Yeah, don't think there is anything like as big as 4/1. I would definitely be a player at 4/1, but cant find longer than 3/1 myself, which puts me off.

06 all over again?

beware you alonso haters, he is back.


and there will be no hideing place for media and Alonso's haters.


He does look good.



He IS the best! #:)


Not an Alonso fan, in fact rather the opposite, but It looks like Ferrari have got it sorted tactically and will be the team to beat. i would like to be wrong. Still they have every chance since Eddie Jordan has not yet given them the kiss of death.


You dont like Renault ?

Kubica made more than 22 lap in his long run; he made, at last, 37 lap. He started with 1:23 laps and ended with 1:20 laps...


Cube, Where can I get info regarding runs' length during tests? Thanks in advance. Regards.


go to JA Tweets during the testing and you will find losts of info


I am really surprised that Ferrari let him say what he said. Strange thing to say, really. On the other hand, it is just another confirmation that Alonso says more than he can handle. I thought he did change.


Not as funny as what Kovalainen said about the Lotus: "just by looking at the car I could improve a few things".

2 years at McLaren and he learned nothing about PR!!


I think it's pretty safe for Alonso to say what he said. If it is true, that he was just telling truth. If he was wrong, he can always say that something/somebody surprised him and Ferrari and that everything is "open" in terms of challenge between teams.

But letting in few sentences like those, letting everybody doubt strength of McLaren/Redbull for example - priceless;)


psicological warfare.


Reading into comments by both Button and Alonso, McLaren and Red Bull are quicker over a single lap but Ferrari are more consistently quick over a long run. What seems obvious is that everybody seems to think the Mercedes car has some balance issues. I do not think they ever posted a sub 1:20 time in two weeks at Jerez. Could you please shed some more light on this? Also it seems the Cosworth engine is very competitive and reliable in the Williams. Is this your opinion as well?


so finally opinion is favouring Ferrari over McLaren even among UK journos


What is this issue people have about biased comments on testing? How irrelevant!

If a biased journo talked down a team in testing, THEY will have egg on their face if they are proved to be wrong come the first race of the year. A journos comments aren't going to affect the team...it's not the stockmarket!

For the record, there's clearly no bias in the blog. UK commentary has always focused on the UK drivers, but surely that's natural.


Well said ....


Cmon, James Allen deserves the credit. I read his site everyday, a few times.


this is a blog - so it is biased and that is what i come here to get, among other things. I will still read JA's Blog from the perspective that he is British - basically because that is the truth!


I don't like the suggestion that there is bias here. It has opinion, but the opinion is based on research. If I get it wrong, it's because the research wasn't good enough, not because I have an axe to grind.


Forget about this 'UK journos' business. I've no interest in nationality, only racing


Come now we all know that james loves Ferrari most of all. His son is called Enzo ;-).But if Colin was a popular name i would have called my son that, after the great Mr Chapman.


This goes to "banned again"...

In YOUR *opinion* he is biased.

To many others, myself included he is no such thing.

How about you accept, that James was biased is your opinion only, and that you're in no position to tell him or anyone else to accept something which is *your* opinion.



the other son is called emerson, so, you see he is pro mclaren. Mmmm so the hole thing is clear now. Please stop the nonsense.

He is pretty objective on his comments. But on the 2007 season he was bias. And he is saying he wasn't. Just accept that you are not perfect, and end of story.


not in 07 you weren't. i remember.


"banned again" Stop talking out your backside. James and Martin's commentry was the best I've ever seen in F1, and I've been watching since 1995


great comment James !!! i guess thats why i am sticking with your site now a days.

Keep up the pour work...


Strongly disagree James. Alsono does not look lie e good bet... A good bet is not the favourite...

It is still to uncertain to draw any conclusions.. who knows how light Button or Alonso were... Alonso was 1.5 behind which is a long gap if he was reasonably light. Its totally unclear at the moment. Yes Ferrari are in a good position ( they should be considering their drivers they have and the time they had to develop the car) but there is so much unknow at the moment....

Still a great season ahead... fantastic...


Trust me it is not totally unclear at the moment. It's close.


Hmmm.... James I will reminf you of that line after the first Grand prix and someone streaks away ahead... finishing a lap a head of everyone.....

Who knows what games people are playing... what updates are yet to come, how cars will react to the searing heat, how tyre will truly last with a full load....

I still think too many variables to say its close... I say still uncertain...

If the first race is a close finish I will apologise ( trust me ... that will kill me...)


"Who knows what games people are playing" you ask.... Well probably every team in the pit-lane in reality.

For a start, testing is limited - so the room for games is limited also. Yes, there can be some sand-bagging, but the big teams will all know from acoustic analysis of revs, analysis of runs etc. roughly what the pecking order is.

Yes there are updates to come and yes there are variables like track temperature to play in - and of course there's the intra-team driver comparison. But based on what's out there today, they know where they all stand as teams and no one is going to find the pace to leap a lap ahead at race one.

Now if you want to guess which teams will be a lap behind by half race distance that's a different matter. Some will be a whole grand prix behind apparently!


My understanding is that Alonso and engineers are the same opinion of naming 1st 2nd and 3rd quickest team but differ to each other with 4th team (Alonso opts for Renault while engineers for Mercedes). Maybe Mercedes are still to show cards as Brawn said that final shape of the car (major upgrades) will be brought to Bahrain the earliest.


Ross Brawn + Mickey Schumacher = Sandbagging of the highest order.

They will be there in the mix. If not because of the car, then because of the driver!


underestimate mercedes at your own peril; they won both championships last year, still have that in their dna and their budget has been kept competetive by the german car maker ... not to mention they have a certain former champion and a certain crafty team principal. they look pretty bullet proof on paper. indeed if you were to remove all the branding, they sound very much like a 2 year slice of Ferrari.


let's wait to bahrain then... it is going to be a very interesting season


Interesting stuff.

What do you make of Renault at the moment James? Visually the car looks pretty basic, if it weren't for the paint job I might have mistaken it for one of the new teams. Obviously looks can be deceptive but still...


It is a shame that Bridgestone will be conservative with tyres once again. I was hoping they would pitch it so that a) the soft tyre would have a significant advantage in qualifying and b) at least one of the tyres would be a bit marginal for the race, meaning that it could be a 1, 2 or 3 stop strategy that would be the way to go.

I have a bad feeling that we are going to get quite processional 1-stop races with a long first stint on the harder tyre :(.


You dont like Renault ?

Kubica made more than 22 lap in his long run; he made, at last, 37 lap. He started with 1:23 laps and ended with 1:20 laps…


So James if I asked u who u think is going to win and who u want to win ur answers wouldn't contradict that.


may be not, because the answer to both questions is, hamilton. Is it not?

And don't lie to us or to yourself, that's even worse.


Even if that's what you believe (and a shufty through some of the posts should persuade you otherwise), this isn't that type of forum for those types of comments. A little bit of respect is deserved.


Maybe you should be....banned again!

banned several times.

who told you i wasn't?


Of course he will. Just not this season


Hamilton will beat him down so badly that mclaren will b bending over backwards mid season to have kimi next year


that's a little too much i think.


Thank you for bringing "JA on F1 Tweets".

I had a much better perception of what these winter tests were about. Everything seem to be approached in a rather professional way, very F1. I saw very nice pictures of people working there, not only drivers and cars but also from everybody out there, the bomberos (firemen), mecanics, fotographers, and so on. Really nice.

About team performances I had a good feeling concerning Ferrari reliability, and I Hope they will keep it along the championship.

Thanks, I really enjoyed,


How about Sauber?

Kobayashi also provided some quite impressive laps on Saturday.

I expect the Japanese will make some big guys headache in the new season.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, separate topic - your filter for "cheese sandwich" type tweets is letting F1 lightweight Jake Humphrey slip through the net.

This F1 "arrivista" has less than 1% of F1 content in his tweets. Today it was about the sunshine in his weekend home, last week it was about camp Masterchef finalist and z-lister Andy Peters and yesterday it was about his trip to see the new Adam Sandler movie.

I hope that you surprise us by making a TV comeback soon. The noughties were a golden period in British F1 journalism. It now seems any Tom, Dick and Humphrey feels that they have become F1 experts.

James, on testing, it would be great to have some insight on what are we likely to see in terms of set-up and running next week.


I'll get the developer to tighten up the filter! Have to wait and see on the testing


Actually on that note - when I press for the tweets related to USF1, i get a lot of tweets relating to LotusF1 as well! i'm guessing because it has USF1 at the end, but can anything be done about that?


Dear James,

normally I do not feel compelled to comment on sites, but the standard of your analysis is excellent - I pray that you are brought back to replace Legard.

Kind regards.



Let's be selfish and keep James here. I need my daily fix of JA. Seriously, it would be like a breath of fresh airto hear you back on the box James. Thanks for the reports over the closed season.


Wow, this is truely going to be an amazing season! The top cars seemingly so close, probably the most truely great f1 drivers in the same field, in my opinion 7 or 8! I think we can all agree that the identiity of the 2010 World Champion will be one of the greatest f1 drivers who ever lived!


James on a side topic - a few months ago you asked us whether we had any good ideas to spice up the Formula 1 show. Going into the last test in Barcelona, do you think the F1 teams could take a page out of the MotoGP book and have a session dedicated to a qualifying format in which the fastest driver/team has an incentive to win something?

This isnt a mini-race which I know we've wanted for a long time now but more of a shoot out and would make the more mundane testing a lot more interesting.

MotoGP do this every year with the winner claiming a new car and it draws a big crowd and interest to see who is the best before the first race. This could be done to drum up some enthusism and increase television coverage.


I think you will see some fast times in Barcelona

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Just saw the odds on Lewis Hamilton for the WDC at 6:1. Those are insane!!



They were using all 4 sets of tyres at the Jerez test weren't they? I have heard a lot of people talk about times on this site and elsewhere and people don't seem to be factoring this in.

Am I right they were using all 4 types and what was the time difference between them at Jerez?


No, I think just the soft, medium and hard, not the super soft. That was used in Valencia


Being an Alonso fan, my heart swells at the thought of him conquering the world again like back in the mid noughties. I have always felt that like MS, he is unstoppable if the stars align and allow it to happen. Hopefully SF have given him the car to do what he does best, and that is put in stellar performances at every GP, demolishing the opposition in the process. I am biased of course, but he is undeniably one of the greats already, in my opinion. Let's hope that he adds to his tally this year.


frankly James: I don´t see FA comments as bullish. he´s always been understated about the cars he drives -i still remember when at Macca he praised the livery as the best pre-season advance, and that was a championship car despite all the stuff going on in the season...


that's what makes his latest comments so interesting. He rarely makes this type of comments. This time, he seems like, so excited, he just couldn't help himself.

He knows that some pieces are comming for barcelona, and the car is going to have the performance, besides the consistency we all saw already.


I honestly love your work. Always so informative and very detailed in comparisions to other sites. "JA on F1 Tweets", simply the best thing you added, even though i'm not a user of twitter, but like it alot.

Ferrari seem strong and reliable which is a good sign, but i still think Red Bull and Mercedes have alot more to show. My gut feeling is telling me that Mercedes hasn't shown it's potential yet. I like Alonso's comments because he's already started playing with his rivals minds and its a great preview of what to expect.

Anyways, thanks again for your fantastic work.



I would like to know what you think about Force India. You said that that are in pursuit.

What does that exactly mean?

Do you think that they are ahead of teams such as Renault, Sauber, and Williams?

Do you think that they will make it to Q3?

Also, who do you think is faster, Sutil or Liuzzi?


James i`m interested in these teams as vell please put some comment


Pardon me for going waaay off the topic here - but I just saw the most bizzare-looking racecar concept. IRL is running a competition for their 2012 car and have gotten entries from Lola, Dahlara, Swift, and... DeltaWing??

Read about it on AutoWeek.com. Theres stuff they are trying that F1 claims it wants to try.

We now return you to your regular programming. 🙂


I hope I am wrong but I think Mercedes are in BIG trouble.

Their times are consistently off the pace and I can't imagine them not trying out a single low fuel run in 6 days of testing.

James, what can you share with us? Thanks


they will find a solution to their problems sooner or later. Wich i am sure are not very serious.


Let's ask that question after Barcelona test


Correct me if I'm wrong here, but history tells us it's too simplistic to look at just relative car performance when Michael is involved.

Even if the Mercedes is the fourth fastest car on the grid, I suspect that by the time we're a third of the way into the season Michael's position in the championship will be higher than the car pecking order suggests.

Why?.... because no matter what Nico thinks, Michael will dominate the team in a way the other three big teams/drivers won't allow so early in the season.

Ferrari, McLaren & Red Bull will all have two drivers nicking points and places off each other (no matter what you think of Button, Massa & Webber - they're all more than capable of beating their team mates on the right day/track). Add into that a few noses missing at the start, mechanical failure, driver errors , wild card results, etc. and slowly but steadily Michael will be amassing the points and keeping in the hunt while Mercedes try to improve the car for the last half of the season.

That's why I don't think it matters who has the fastest car as long as they're all close... because there's only one team, despite what they say, with a true "Number 1" driver from the first race.

Or am I missing something......


If McLaren and Ferrari are as close as is rumoured, I find it quite amazing how two teams with very entirely different concepts have ended up so close performance wise. Also interesting is how McLaren didn't jump on the Red Bull design bandwagon this season. That decision will either prove to be bold and ingenious or a tad silly... Good or bad, the macca does stand out from the crowd visually.


Frankly i don't think McLaren is comparable to the Ferrari. I get this feeling that the McLaren is more fragile and will throw some pretty uncomfortable gremlins on the Bridgestones. JB has already started on tire problems and for him to be worried given his reputed driving style, i am thinking LH is not going to have a championship that he likes. But then again, JB could be complaining about getting heat into the tires ...


I think these Dick Dastardly "shark fin" engine covers take away from the aesthetics of F1 cars! Tends to make them look top heavy, and now Muccys have 1 too! The F10 is by far the best loooker out there, and still no shark fin! I can only see this fin working under heavy cornering with a high crosswind, as it is useless in a straight line surely! #:)


Its for adverts space, so it works just fine, thankyouverymuch!


James, it seems that the Ferrari this year is a completely different beast. Knowing that Massa was out of any sort of development for 2009 and Alonso came in when the F10 was nearly completely ready, how much of an impact has Kimi's (and Fisi's?) input made on this year's car?


Many people believe Alonso agreed to join Ferrari after his McLaren debacle in late 07 early 08....and the last 2 seasons at Renoo has been a stop-gap while all the deals had to fall into place. With that in mind, how much influence has Alonso really had on this years F10?? Maybe he has had some clandestine collaboration at Marranello during 09 with some juicy secrets now coming Ferraris way!! After all, he did it at Muccys!! #:)


ha ha ha ...Raikkonen and Fisichellas input!!It made 0.01 per cent difference!! Neither of them are the drivers to be calling on for car development from what ive seen!!! Raikkonen is well known for hardly any input, but everyone says he will drive the wheels off anything, and usually he does! By crashing it or braking it. The Fizz left Fissy after he got mauled by Fred at Renoo....Im still in shock Ferrari have him as reserve! #:)


I really think Fisi's deal is a nice "thank you for being Italian" retirement pkg and he'll never drive in F1 again.


Which is ok with me, btw, 'cause I always liked the guy and thought with better equip earlier in his career he'd have gone far. But, alas...


Very good question. I'll ask


I wouldn't be surprised that MS put a lot of inputs into this 2010 F10 Ferrari.

MS is consultant to Ferrari in 2009, and the 2009 car is such a dog. So MS is commissioned to develop the F10. These are all my presumptions and are not based on facts.

On the subject of testing, what are the roles of the testers in F1. Do they just carry out set programs to collect data, or do they input into the development of the car.

I noticed Ferrari has 2 test drivers in 2009, Marc Gené and Luca Badoer, but in-season testing is banned. What is their role in a F1 team during the season. Apart from reserve drivers I can't see what else they could do.

And we have all witness what Luca Badoer can do in a GP when he step in for Massa.

James, can you shed some light on this ??


Resevre drivers do a lot of PR work at races and they drive the simulator, which is going all the time


Its could be without Massa feedback, Ferrari engineers did it better. Something to think about.


the punches above the belt, please.


Hi james, i would be eagerly awaiting the answer to this question as it is very curious question. Wouls be a shame for kimi to help develop such a car and not be around to drive it or Schumi maybe?


I don't think there is much of that, really. Drivers' involvement in a new car mostly starts when the testing begins, not the design phase. I've got an interesting piece of content coming on this, probably next week


excellent info James. Great analysis. Looking forward to the next test.


James a question on Ferrari - On one hand people speak of Ferrari's ability to conserve their tyres over long runs, on the other hand i have heard reports that they like McLaren have been able to work the harder compound over one lap to get the tyres into their operating window to ensure a good grid slot but then later that they suffer from degradation...

So which is it? Or is the degradation or consistency really dependent on the compound of rubber they are using?

I haven't seen any data to suggest that they have unlocked the ability to warm the tyres over one lap, but i have seen plenty of data which demonstrates their long run consistency and overall pace. I have also seen some significant drop off in pace over 15 -20 lap runs which may be down to the compound.

I suppose without knowing what compound they were running during each stint it makes a proper assessment of their short run performance and tyre warming capacity difficult to assess.

Can you offer any clarity here?




I've been following F1 since the 60's. Many times I have witnessed cars that are dogs on low fuel. Anybody can get an F1 car to handle on full tanks. It can mask deficiencies in the chasis/tyre setup. Over the years I've seen this issue beat the best engineers. The teams need to make sure their cars are good on low fuel. Can't wait to see who is quick towards the end of the GP's.


Hey James, do you have any inside information on how Alonso and Massa have been matching up in testing?


alonso is getting the best piece of accion. No reliability issues, and all the dry running.

He is making things happen for himself up to this point.

He is not criticizing his teammate, and he is working the press much better. Creating expectations, and putting some pressure on the opposition.

Massa on the other hand is behaving like a child, having to apologize for comments made against a member of the ferrari family.

i think is alonso 1 massa 0.


i am hoping that all the teams are very close to each other.. we may well see lots of overtaking.... with different teams coming on top on different circuits... that will make the racing ever more exciting...

also will be exciting to see who wins the development race coz if the difference is small then the pecking order will swing like a pendulum from race to race... what else we fans can hope for?? i say bring it on


I just want to see the 1st race and reassure myself that this format does not overly lend itself to a win from pole procession...then I will be grinning from ear to ear.


no politics maybe?


James, well done on a great article, the latest in a long line. I really think you should shop these to the BBC, ITV, even Autosport. The level of analysis available here is far superior to anything they have available (which, regarding jerez week 2, is nothing at the moment).

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Yep. Much better than the waste of kb articles from Sarah "I'm a fully paid up member of the F1 circus" Holt of the BBC.

This is the site that is followed by true fans and those actually working in F1.


I still don't see it to be honest. I think it's impossible to predict Ferrari at the front because they just haven't done the times either Red Bull or McLaren have done. They're masking a lot and there will come a point where they will have to show their hand in testing soon.

To talk about fuel corrected times in this kind of testing where you've no real handle on what teams are doing, despite what some engineers might tell you, strikes me as rather silly.


Just discovered this excellent blog after reading the 'tabloid' f1 websites that offer nothing but..... erm....crap. This is a breath of fresh unbiased air. Cheers.


I live in Valencia which gave me that ease to travel the 30 odd Kms to Cheste where the Ricardo Tormo Circuit is. I know that the valencian circuit doesn't give good indications as to what can o can't be in the forthcoming F1 season, but you do get indications of other aspects like the human sensation of the drivers and mechanics working together and initial views of that very important thing called 'reliability'.

Jerez has been very interesting for many reasons which you have described fantasticaly well James and I don't think anything else can be added to your piece apart from thanking you for your constant work and enthusiasm with impartiality... That last part is the most importante for me because objectivity in sport is so hard to come by these days and it makes reading journalism a heavy task, trying to capture the reality from the 'wish'.

I can't wait to see what new stuff some of the teams have for Montmeló in Barcelona. I'ts all so secretive this time around in testing. Something that's always been there but this season with all of the cars bieng dramaticaly so different, well it makes it a situation of wonderment for us F1 fans to see what crazy stuff they've come up with for their crazy cars hahahaha

Thanks James!


Enjoying the blogs as always James.

I just went on http://www.formula1.com/teams_and_drivers/drivers/ to find out what numbers the drivers will have on their cars this season, and Sauber are still not on there. Is this just the webmasters being slow?

Do you know if Kobayashi and De La Rosa will be numbers 26 and 27, and if so which way round?


Hi James.

I think we are all very concentrated in tyre management and forgetting FUEL management.

Do you heard any inside info on how Ferrari have coped with his thirst engine?


I went to the Shell lab recently and its clear that they have done a lot of work with Ferrari to find better fuel economy. We will see the results soon


The problem wasn't the fuel. It was the engine.


The also still have a bigger tank than most. 😉


More "rocket fuel" ?


Decoding Jerez, the $64M question. The big question I would like to know is the effect of track temperature. I don't know all the track temperatures at Jerez, but the ones I saw were very low compared to the average for grand prixs? Bearing in mind the dramatic difference seen on various tracks due to temperature, laid in rubber and tyres available, is this one variable that's going to cause massive swings in performances for the teams.

I fully agree about Hamilton, an exceptional talent that has not received the plaudits from many for what he did in his first season at McLaren. For a complete rookie to come in and do what he did to Alonso, a two times WDC, not having raced many of the tracks, let alone an F1 car previously was totally exceptional.

But as Alonso showed last season when you don't have the car, there is only a limited amount you can do. When you hear Alonso this bullish about things it pays to take notice. It's just not in his nature, so when he comes out with something like that it would not surprise me to see either Alonso or Massa lifting the WDC.



I am sure you feel the same, but I can not believe all of the posters who questin / criticise your articles.

To me the choice is clear, if they do not like what you write, they don't need to read it 😉

I think the blog is great, and while I don't agree on some points it is compulsive Reading.

Just because you are a journalist doesn't mean you can't express if you think one driver is better than the next....

Thanks, and keep up the good work!


The lack of MS/Mercedes info is noticeable and not just by me looking at some of the comments - MS's and Mercedes return is pretty big stuff and deserves at least equal time to the others - not less.

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