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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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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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.



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!


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.


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” ?


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?


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!


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 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.


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 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?


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’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.


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?




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


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


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!


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……


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 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


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.


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.


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.



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

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

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


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

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