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Jerez Day 2: Virgin woes continue as Alonso flies
Jerez Day 2: Virgin woes continue as Alonso flies
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Feb 2010   |  8:14 pm GMT  |  128 comments

Today was the first dry day of running in the second official test of the pre-season. Ten of the 13 teams who will contest this year’s world championship were in Jerez on the second of four days. Forecasts suggest it may turn out to be the only dry day’s running at this test.

After remarkable reliability in the first test at Valencia, today several teams lost time due to technical problems. The most extreme of these was Virgin Racing, which managed just 11 laps before the front wing came off. The team called a halt to testing for the day, pending some reinforcements from the factory in Oxfordshire.

Technical director Nick Wirth said, “This morning we experienced a front wing mounting problem which caused the wing to come off the car at the beginning of a run. The cause has already been identified. Unfortunately, we’re missing one or two spare parts which will hopefully arrive this evening, so we won’t be able to run for the rest of the day. In the short amount of running that we’ve achieved so far, we are very encouraged by what we’ve seen and we have gathered some vital aero data which is very much in the range of what we were predicting. We look forward to resuming the programme tomorrow morning.”

The team says that they expect to be back out on track tomorrow afternoon. They were reluctant to “risk” the car in yesterday’s rain, but as time is running out, they will probably be forced to send it out tomorrow to get some mileage.

Williams also lost time today due to a hydraulic problem in the morning and a driveshaft issue in the afternoon. Nevertheless Nico Hulkenberg covered 67 laps. At one stage this morning he set the fastest time through the sped trap, which wasn’t in the script as Williams’ drivers are generally running quite conservatively, particularly on the new Cosworth engine.

There is a quiet confidence about the performance potential of this package. One area of concern however is likely to be the exhausts of this car, as Williams had a lot of failures in this area the last time they used Cosworth engines. Williams make the exhausts themselves and this year they will be called upon to run very hot at times when the engine is being run lean for fuel saving reasons.

McLaren also had some reliability issues with Jenson Button stopping late on in the day due to “a warning light in the cockpit” according to McLaren. Nevertheless the world champion says he is now comfortable in the car and had a more positive experience than in Valencia.

Fastest today was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber, a time set right at the end of the day on low fuel after he had spent most of the day on high fuel loads. Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso was second fastest. But it was the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso which caught the eye with a long run of 48 laps at a very strong pace.

“We’re really satisfied with what we’ve done during these two days, ” said Alonso. “We’ve driven many kilometres without any reliability problems, which is something that makes me really happy. We put many components under pressure over these five days and we didn’t have any problems at all.” He added that the car is “very easy to drive”. He now hands it over to Felipe Massa.

Picture 18
Michael Schumacher had a busy day in what may turn out to be the only dry day for Mercedes, covering a race simulation in the afternoon.

Red Bull and Force India both had their first day of dry running with their new car. Force India seemed the happier of the two. The car seems to be living up to expectations and like last year’s car it is slippery in a straight line. It was the fastest car through the speed trap today. Mark Webber covered 99 laps in the Red Bull and gave the car a cautious thumbs up, “We’ve still got quite a bit of testing to go before we get to Bahrain, which we are going to need to continue to understand the car and to find performance. We are off to a pretty solid start and we’ve got a great base to build on.”

Most teams have started to work on set up and are beginning to push the performance envelope. New specification Bridgestone tyres are being used in Jerez, which puts a greater strain on the tyres than Valencia.

Vitaly Petrov was replaced by Robert Kubica today, giving rise to rumours to that the Russian’s funding was in trouble. But the team says that Petrov will be back in the car again tomorrow, when more rain is forecast. Chief engineer Alan Permane described today as “very productive.”

Tomorrow many of the drivers will swap over and the line up will be as follows:
Red Bull – Vettel
Renault – Petrov
Mercedes – Rosberg
McLaren – Hamilton
Force India – Sutil
Williams – Barrichello
Ferrari – Massa
Toro Rosso – Alguersuari
Sauber – De la Rosa

1. Kobayashi BMW-Sauber 1:19.950 103
2. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:20.026 121
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.618 83
4. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:20.629 67
5. Liuzzi Force India- Mercedes 1:20.754 80
6. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:21.083 124
7. Alonso Ferrari 1:21.424 129
8. Kubica Renault 1:22.003 103
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:22.043 99
10. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:29.964 11

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Kubica today – 1.21.916., About 5.9 seconds better than yesterday. It does not seem to RF1 deserved attention to the lack of “Cinderella” rate.


So are Virgin in trouble, are we going to see another Lola and a pull out after the first qually or earlier

Seperate Q James. What happened about the whole Stepney affair with the white powder.

Was this just a Ferrari smoke screen to keep him from writing a book about skeletons in cupboards etc. All sounded very odd ???


Good question. It’s all gone quiet there.


Hi, does anyone know what it means all those implements on the McLaren car? I mean not only today but all these days.

Last year it seemed to mean problems. Why nobody else make use of something similar?

I don’t know whether McLaren is sandbagging, but looking at past tests, I think that the only time Hamilton is not topping the board is when he can’t.

The rain in Spain falls mainly on… Jerez.


They are measuring the wake from the new narrower front tyres – it’s a critical area for 2010. No worries at this stage but if they are still doing it in final test then worry!


Lol freespeech!

Yeah, but it did get me thinking that if the VR car has had part stuck on subject to real life simulation ie a wind tunnel how do they know the brackets holding on parts can take the forces.

It’s prob all fine but it did get me thinking, I just thought after massa’s accident last year some might be touchy towards safety of components.


James you claim Alonso flew, but is there any verification that his long stint was genuinely super fast? How did his pace compare to Michael and others exactly?


Hi James,

as a long standing F1 fan (’bout 35 years), hearing the latest news that the FIA have completely contradicted Todt and Bernie, I’m getting to the point where I’m wondering why anyone puts up with them. That coupled with the fact that you can’t even find an area on their website to ask them why they so utterly incompetent. Who are these people? Is it not the job of paying fans to stand up and be counted? They’re ruining a perfectly good sport with lies, deception and downright stupidity? Thank God Todt does this for free…if he was being paid you’d have to sack him! Idiots the lot! You’re in the inner sanctum…what can we do…tell us please?




You mean you are only just coming to this conclusion?

FOTA should have made the jump last year.


No I don’t think that they should have. As James pointed out at some point last year, team run series don’t work well. His point at the time was that a benevolent dictator is a better bet. What we have is an FIA similar to the European Parliament…a joke. The point is, we as fans hold the key…money. Unfortunately motivating everyone worldwide to vote with their feet is not really an option, so what do we do? Without us, there is no F1. We, the customers, should be given a shout. I like the idea of the FIA, just not the way it’s run (or not) presently. Get some professionals in.


Hi James,

Have you bee able to glean any information as to what the Ferrari engineers are thinking of Alonso’s performance in the car?



When drivers spout ‘positive’ and ‘for sure’ every other word, who do you think they’re trying to convince? Jenson Button: “In a positive way I feel really at home in the car”…is there a negative way to feel at home in the car? Please drivers, if you haven’t got an original thought, just bung a looped tape on that says “I’m positive and for sure about everything, all of the time”. We get it.


Is there any concern over the safety of the virgin car? If it hasn’t been tested in a wind tunnel and already bits are flying off it, is this a small sign of things to come?

Or I’m I just being dramatic?



Overly drammatic.

We have seen Mclaren and Ferraris losing wings and suspensions parts, throwing their drivers on the walls and ending in the emergency room a few times in the past.

si te pica te rascas

you are, but it is the f1 culture, that moesley tried to implement.

It was all blown out of proportion last year, but now they are sensible enough to start talking about it, and damage the reputation of a new team like VR.


Mod – general message to users – Please use proper names when leaving a comment. Do not employ user names which are phrases in Spanish or any other language. We have to translate them to ensure they are not abusive ( as some have been) and we haven’t got the time. From now on any comment from a new user name which uses a foreign language phrase rather than a name will not pass moderation. Thank you. Mod.


I am spanish and got to read some of the names some were using. Not the best taste, but hardly worth moderation.


Really, you are a drama queen 😆


We are all dying to know how 2010 will shape up, but I seem to remember the first couple of races being dismissed with “Wait till we get to XXXXXX, then we will see the true relative performance of the cars”….. I seem to remember Hamilton in Melbourne somehow getting the then useless McLaren onto the podium !


That says a lot about Hamilton, the very best can always drive beyond the car.


he was in a podium with a lie


….Then lie about it afterwards.


Its very difficult to predict how fast the cars actually are, if i were Ferrari ,or any of the other top teams, i would be definitely sandbagging the car. Ferrari in particular dont seem to want to have the “Fastest Car” tagline in the media and are quick to play down the test times.

Schumacher will no doubt be very happy so far. The car looks good and he is putting in some full race distances in variable conditions.

si te pica te rascas

i agree. If they start blowing everybody, the race starts at the fia headquarters.


Ferrari tend to start each and every season with a dramatic press release to the effect that the new F1 car has lapped their own testing circuit in the fastest time ever.

Whilst tactics do play a part in testing, it is at a fairly subtle level and just putting in lower lap times than the car’s capable of is a bit crude.

The teams have to service their sponsors and poor times is not necessarily good press, especially when so many teams are still looking to sell advertising space.

Ferrari has the additional problem of the tiffosi. Whilst they may live up to their press image of sophisticated and intelligent fans, the only thing they are interested in is Ferrari coming out on top. They, together with the press, are ravenous beasts and need feeding or else they will turn on their keepers.

But, of course, I agree with the basic premise of your post: the lap times are all but useless in gauging the competiveness of teams. That said, if, rather clown-like, bits fly off the car this is, in my experience, a bad sign.


Facts are exactly showing the opposite of what you say though.

It is true that on majority of previous seasons ferrari was banging fastest laps from day one, but it was also the case that the car was faster than the previous one and fastest over all for real. results speak supported the case.

So, they were not dressing up lap times, for the press.

Again, all this mythology of tifosi being very demanding is mostly exactly just a myth coming from the British press always ready to bash at any opportunity.

Tifosi are definitively enthusiasts of their team, yet they can take defeat when is the case. they got use to it during 21 years of wait.


To be fair, there are few other supporters who will leave en masse when their team’s cars have been eliminated and further, whilst I agree that for many years Ferrari were, on and off, in the doldrums, their cars still put in pre season headline grabbing laps at Fiorano and then proceeded to wander aimlessly around the circuits.

Perhaps I was being harsh on Ferrari supporters as a whole but I was rather lenient on the Italian press.


I was, or at least tried to be, in the vanguard of criticism of the selection procedure for the new teams but for them it was the only game in town. We should not, perhaps, blame those selected for having to take part in the only game in town.

As for Virgin, at least they are testing with a real car. That is a much better performance than the other new teams even the end did fall off.

I’m a bit worried about any team that runs cars that haven’t seen the inside of a wind tunnel. It will be compulsive viewing though, rather like a bungee jumper who boasts that he’s tied a slip knot – you know you shouldn’t watch and only half hope everything will be alright.

I’m with Seebee: I’m getting quite excited. I normally ignore this part of the season in the same way as I ignore the pre-match interviews of a rugby or football match. It’s all hype and clarifies nothing. In fact the whole intent seems to be to confuse and obscure. But I do have the feeling that this will be a fascinating season.

So let’s not criticse Virgin for a system which they were not part of other than as a participant. Have a go at its creator.


Give us dry running and Lewis in the McLaren, then we’ll have a better view how well McLaren are really doing.


James, we all had been eagerly waiting for the RBR car to roll out. I, somehow, do not see it to be the best out of the box. What do you read into its running so far? Are they sandbagging?


Early days yet and some technical problems on day 1.

si te pica te rascas

there is not much more time left until the first race.

If they are not fast by barcelona, they can start the season with some catching up to do..


You don’t sound as confident as you did a week back. 😛 Do you?


There’s some interesting talk of the ferrari engine being mounted at an angle (the gearbox end is slightly elevated) so that the diffuser gets fed with a larger volume of air.

Thats the kind of innovation I expect would give them the pace they’re showing, especially on the long runs (more downforce makes the car easier on its tyres). But then, who really knows how much the other top teams are pushing on their long runs.


We’ll get a clearer picture of McLaren’s pace when Hamilton drives it.


We surely will as he is the man ❗ 🙂


Anyone noticed that big hole at the back of the engine cover (below the sharkfin) on the Red Bull? Can’t miss it really – it can be clearly seen from the rear end shots.

It’s probably to assist engine cooling but none of the other teams have it so clearly it’s an innovation.

Or maybe Newey has secretly fitted a small jet engine?


Well, what ever it is….It is not working.


For goodness sake give virgin a break. I doubt aero had anything to do with the mounts failing.

This is clearly a teething problem for a new team. We’ve seen suspension failures and rear wing failures from established teams in the past. I didn’t hear anyone asking for brawn to stop racing when the spring came off Rubens car (accidents happen).

I have no link to the team, I just wish them and all of the new teams well.


Is there a current rule similar to the old 107%? Lapping an inexperienced driver in a car that is at best 5 seconds a lap slower might cause some grief, if not tragedy. Very nice to have new teams, so long as they are not unpredictable, semi-stationary obstacles.


No 107% rule but the marshals could black flag a car that is dangerously slow.


James – from your experience, at what stage of the testing cycle do the teams really start going for times?

All this sandbagging is fine but surely at some stage the teams and drivers want to know how the car behaves at the limit on ALL fuel loads?

I want to know when I need to start paying close attention to test times. This guesswork is making me impatient for racing!


Well it’s a little different this year with the no-refuelling rules, which make it harder to see a pattern in performance and easier to sandbag. But by the next Jerez test and certainly Barcelona we will see some cars on low fuel laps looking to see outright pace. Not least because they need to get an idea of how to set a car up for that and then for a race distance on high fuel with no changes allowed between.


Yes its too early to tell anything from these tests, however if nothing else surely if one is at the testing sessions and standing on corners and analysing how the cars BEHAVE coming into and out of corners, how they are riding kerbs and the like, then we can get an idea of which cars look hooked up and which are struggling with less smooth handling characteristics.


with this in mind and given your first hand experience at the tests, can you shed any light on who’s hot and who’s not

regarding the above points.

From video Ive seen linked to here it looks like the Ferrari is a smooth car to drive, in contrast to say the Virgin Racing team which looked very twitchy anywhere near corners.


There’ll be a post on this shortly


Very little said about Button and Mclaren considering they were third fastest. To me it seemed as if no-one wanted to talk about them today. Is that because they are not doing any decent times with decent fuel loads? Does their pace seem lower then the top teams?



Judging by the testing so far, it is obvious that the fastest car is: USF1

They are obviously sandbagging to a degree that no one else is. There are rumors that one of the cars entered in this weekend’s Daytona 500 is a USF1 car with a hologram of a regular stock car generated around the car to conceal the F1 car beneath. 500 miles of secret testing will be very valuable.


However Molder and Scully are investigating whether this is in fact true, for their new series the conspiracy files.


Somehow I just know “the smoking man” is somehow involved.


I don’t think anyone’s going to know who’s on top until after Bahrain.

This year much has been said about fuel consumption and good/bad looking cars, but to my mind tyre management will be the clincher for the season. Yes, a good all-round package will still be needed, but if one driver/car combo is gentler on it’s tyres (in a dry race scenario especially), this will potentially give that combo a one pitstop advantage over rivals. That’s probably an average (over all circuits) of 20 seconds in the bag. The fastest car will be nowhere if it can’t look after it’s tyres very well, in my opinion.

Having said all that, it means to me that the Ferrari is looking pretty mighty at the moment.

I believe we will see a greater disparity between driver pairings than in previous seasons due to tyre management also.


I wonder if redbull are sand bagging like they did last year?

That Ferrari is a nice looking car


Last year, we already knew that Red Bull would be fast.


Nope they are not!

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