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Jerez Day 4 – Hamilton on a high while Virgin get up to speed
Jerez Day 4 – Hamilton on a high while Virgin get up to speed
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Feb 2010   |  8:26 pm GMT  |  136 comments

The second official test ended today in Jerez with Lewis Hamilton and McLaren setting the benchmark time. But we have still to see any of the runners going for outright pace in low fuel qualifying mode. This will come at the final test in Barcelona and possibly for some teams next week in Jerez.
Picture 62

It was a day of two parts, after a damp start there was dry meaningful running in the afternoon and it brought some positive news for the Virgin Racing team, who managed 63 laps and got close to the pace of the established teams. After a difficult week in which they suffered a worrying front wing failure, they bounced back.

McLaren have been doing a lot of aerodynamic measurement this week with a variety of devices to measure things like the wake behind the new narrow front wheels. After last year’s dramas this has given rise to rumours that they are again struggling with the aerodynamics, but this does not appear to be the case as most engineers are agreed the car looks very competitive. Hamilton has once again been the faster of the two McLaren drivers, but it was a better week for Jenson Button who now feels comfortable in the car. Barcelona test in two weeks will give a good idea of where they are relative to each other.

Michael Schumacher again had the benefit of dry track time, unlike Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg who seems to have copped for the two fully wet days this week. Formula 1 is always about making things happen for yourself!

The suspicion doing the rounds is that Mercedes has miscalculated the weight distribution slightly, with the weight too far forward. They are working to solve this with new suspension solutions. But Schumacher has been very upbeat this week, “The old Michael is back and he has all his speed, ” he said. “I’m convinced that I have a good car and a good relationship with Rosberg. It’s great to be able to express myself to a team mate in my own language. ”

Red Bull continued to work on their car below the radar, not setting any eye catching times. They lost time in the afternoon with a fuel pump failure, a second bout of unreliability this week. Sebastian Vettel nevertheless seemed positive about the new car, “This car is not just a step forward on the ‘numbers’ but also in driveability, ” he said. “The balance is as it was last year, but the grip in the high speed corners is better.”

An interested spectator trackside at the Jerez test was former BAR Honda and Red Bull technical boss Geoff Willis, who delivered a clear verdict on how things stand as he sees them, “Of the new cars the one that has impressed me the most is the McLaren, ” he said. ” It will be the front runner for the title battle along with the Red Bull. Just behind are the Ferrari and the Mercedes.

Ferrari covered a whopping 160 laps today, twice as many as Mercedes. Felipe Massa was again at the wheel. “The car is well balanced,” said Massa. The Ferrari has been very consistent so far in long run testing and has proved very reliable, something Fernando Alonso paid tribute to on Thursday. Between them they covered 449 laps this week. We will learn its outright pace at the final test in Barcelona when they bolt on the definitive Bahrain aerodynamic package.

I’ve posted before that the new head of aerodynamics was recruited from Toyota in December and brought with him a clever idea for a very large hole in the double diffuser. It will be interesting to see whether this is part of the Barcelona aero package.

It’s been a good week for Force India, who were running their new car for the first time. It has covered plenty of laps and been consistent and reliable. “We’ve got some efficient downforce, we’ve kept the speed in the straight line, so we will be really strong on particular circuits again but hopefully also on slower speed circuits where you require a little more downforce, ” said Adrian Sutil.

Williams finished the test early after a gearbox problem stopped the car. It’s been a mixed week for the team, who have had some reliability issues particularly with the transmission. Nevertheless the car looks pretty good and Nico Hulkenberg has caught the eye, he looks pretty quick.

The testing resumes at Jerez next Wednesday.

1. Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1:19.583 113 Laps
2. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:20.180 84
3. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:20.341 90
4. Robert Kubica Renault 1:20.358 85
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:20.613 84
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:21.203 90
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.485 160
8. Pedro De La Rosa BMW Sauber 1:22.134 105
9. Lucas Di Grassi Virgin Racing 1:22.912 63
10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:24.072 98

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You make a point. In spite what these other people say. When LH had the 2008-spec rear wing on, ITV-F1 were rambling on about how fast he was.

Maybe a little deal brokered to keep the sponsors happy…..


Found this lap chart from day four of Jerez testing. Maybe it’ll be of any interest for some of you here?


Did the other teams know that Mercedes and Ferrari were going to run their cars until they stopped out on the track?

I doubt they’d have been happy if the red flag interrupted their test programs


i think it´s curious that ferrari and Mercedes have gone hard for testing long stints. Outright speed as observed can make teams like Toro Rosso and Force India seem very strong, but quality this year is focused on reliability. Thus I predict Ferrari and Merc in the front, with Hamilton a strong contender despite reliability issues and Vettel with similar performance.


Fancy Rosberg everyone. He will shock everyone. This kid has talent, but the williams didin’t. He will beat Michael. My 2 cents

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Thanks Keke!



I have to agree with “Keke” 😉 that Nico has an undeniable talent though. I really hope he gets the opportunity to show it, and doesn’t find himself forced to play second fiddle to Schumacher. Nico is the future of the team, not Michael.


Interesting point TM, but personally I don’t rate Buemi that highly 😉

It won’t be Vettel, he’ll be the future of Ferrari after Alonso falls out with them!


No Sebastian is the future of that team!!


Given that Geoff Willis is an aerodynamicist (and arguably the very best in the paddock), he’s probably looking at the cars from an aerodynamic perspective and not considering the side of mechanical grip.

With that said, I agree with his sense. The McLaren certainly seems to be the most aerodynamically sophisticated, with the Red Bull not very far behind. I’ve read that both of these cars have shown positive figures in high speed corners, where aerodynamic grip is so important. It’s not really much of a coincidence that these teams also seem to have the most drastic diffuser solutions on the cars as of now.

McLaren versus Red Bull is somewhat the battle I expected before the beginning of the year. They did the best job of the teams in developing their cars over last year, and both Hamilton and Vettel were really on it at the end of the year. Personally, I think Hamilton and Vettel are the two best around right now and will be the battle for F1’s future, and we could well see the beginning of it this year.

I suspect that Ferrari and Merc may be very strong in the area of mechanical grip, just as both were last year. If they’re lacking on the aero side, they could easily make up for it on the mechanical side. I understand that both teams are working on a new diffuser for their cars or have yet to introduce their diffuser for the 2010 car, so they may catch up quickly with a new piece. In any event, if they are a little behind, it’s clear that it’s not by much.

I also think we need to be on the lookout for Renault and Sauber. Sauber may be running some media laps, but the vibes I’m reading are that people are genuinely impressed with the car. Renault seem quite positive, as well, and upon close examination of the car, it seems that some thought has gone into it with some interesting solutions. Interestingly, these two teams also have some pretty intriguing and drastic diffuser solutions, comparable to the scale of those on the McLaren and Red Bull.

I strongly suspect we’re going to see more of what we saw in 2009 with the performances of the cars being very much dependent on circuit characteristics.


It looks like it will boil down to a car with the least time difference in full/light tanks vs. tire wear could be the best car. It could also be a car without the best outright pace, just nicely balanced in race trim.

This could indeed bring on a lot more battles during the race.


Me thinks the driver will have more of a bearing this year as well as some will manage their tyres better than others.


I agree newey and brawn cars can’t be disregarded at this time but I just think the big two are looking better at this stage of the game and have got there heads around the new regs for the others to catch up this year. And I reckon their drivers used to winning will be more fired up this year and not let points slip like the main title contenders last year. Ps that not a dig at vettel who i rate very highly


Something for us bloggers to consider! A lap time, or series times ,after a session may not satisfy some of us, but more often is exactly what a particular team is lookin for at that moment….Negative or positive!


“Michael Schumacher again had the benefit of dry track time, unlike Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg who seems to have copped for the two fully wet days this week. Formula 1 is always about making things happen for yourself!”

James, how do you make dry weather happen?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I’m sure that Ross Brawn had pretty good data on the % probabilities for rain on each of the 4 days and chose the lower probability days for MS.


Somuch talk about equal status ….


You don’t, but you make sure you are in the car when it does..


The track conditions for the 4 days in Jerez were roughly wet-dry-wet-dry. I couldn’t help but notice that all the teams bar Mercedes had their drivers test on consecutive days. Schumacher and Rosberg instead alternated between days, and it turned out that Schumi got the dry days and Rosberg the wets. I honestly hope this was purely down to coincidence rather than the point James may or may not be alluding to..



HE has lost none of his touch, on-track and off it as well..

can’t wait for Bahrain…..


Two stories have emerged about exhaust problems on the Mercedes engine.- Merc GP and Force India. Any chance to chase up the situation?

great site james.


James, could you offer your opinion on the following?

David Richards did a stint as a team boss a few years ago; why did that end so abruptly? Does anyone other than DR and maybe Mr Mosley know why his application for a team slot was refused for this season? One would have thought that his application was a very suitable one, bearing in mind his previous experience in racing and his industry connections. One wonders if his attempted collaboration with McLaren last season blackened his name forever with the FIA?

Finally, is there a three-race grace period for the new teams or not? The FIA appears to disagree with their President and the boss of FOM, it would be nice if they cleared this up for us peasants.

JA Tweets is a masterstroke, James!


It ended because he did such a good job Honda they thought they didn’t heed him any more, the spat with button about bonus payments didn’t help either.

Maybe if Richards had stayed at Honda they would have been champions by now and still be part of the family which is F1, David Richards would be a great asset for F1 and only an incompetent could not see that.


After 2 weeks of testing, one thing is clear: Jenson Button is simply too slow to compete with Lewis Hamilton. I currently deduce that the gap between them is likely to be 7 tenths per lap, and this quite frankly is not good enough on Button’s part. Even Kovalainen was faster than that relative to Hamilton. Some of you may remember that I did not fancy Button to qualify within 5 grid places of Hamilton ALL YEAR. Some people even challenged me on that and wanted to make a bet. I bet you aren’t looking so confident now. Button spent the entire Jerez test testing things like finding the speed limiter button on the steering wheel. He should have learned stuff like that as he was driven into the circuit in his team’s road car. Guys like Hamilton, Vettel, Schumacher, Alonso, do not pussyfoot around like that. Come Bahrain, Button will be so far off the pace I dread to even look at the Q1 times.


Wouldn’t stuff like familiarising yourself with the car layout be the kind of thing you do in the simulator? If Button had to do it in the real car and he was still having problems getting his way around, what does that say about his work ethic? I just hope he doesn’t start moaning about how the team is built around Lewis etc etc. Nonetheless, i am of the school of thought that thinks its too early to pass judgement between the two.


Without knowing all about the fuel weights, tyre usage and test plans, you have absolutely no basis for that conclusion, Clackers.

The word around Woking is quite the opposite. Some McLaren people who were Button skeptics are now feeling pretty happy about their new signing.

Of course you never quite know how much of it is the “party line”, even in private conversation, but when people are volunteering things like that you would have to assume there is some degree of truth in it.


Yeah but I also remember reading in Autosport how when Ferrari were first testing Raikkonen that the engineers were saying he was even faster than Schumacher… and in 1997 how Williams were astonished in testing how fast Frentzen was.


No I’m still going to take your bet Clackers. Button to not qualify within 5 grid places of Hamilton all season? Come off it.


I think it’s a little too soon to say that. Jenson will I suspect manage his tyres a lot better than Lewis so in a race we may well see a few surprises.


Button might as well turn out to be slower, but it’s a bit too early for those predictions. I expect Hamilton to ruin his tyres at some occasions this year. He is very aggressive and after all that is the fact that divides the people into liking him or not.


I do hope the McLaren really is on the pace and that the aero sensors are just to make sure rather than to figure out a problem. I remember this time last year thinking how it was getting ominous that McLaren kept switching between the new and old rear wing – and that did turn out to be to figure out problems. Good to hear that the engineers at Jerez think they will be competitive this time. Time will tell.


Must admit it does make McLaren fans nervous when they do that and other teams don’t doesn’t it ❓


really enjoying the insights from you and some of the posters.
Have you ever done a user survey to see how many posters work in motorsport or auto industry ?
It always amazes me some of the knowledge bases of some posters on aero and engines!

Unless it’s actually newey, head etc posting 😉


On a similar note, has anyone else noticed how many other websites are referring to this blog for their own articles?

Planet F1 has a whole article posted today about Schumacher’s “confidence”, based purely on one line from here. They’ve also quoted Geoff Willis’s comments to James in their testing summary. The BBC refers to it often too and The Times recently referred to it as “peerless”.

Seems you’ve got engineers, fans and journalists alike hooked James!

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

The BBC have got some cheek after leaving James on the sidelines in favour of old timer Jonathan Legard.

I notice that his first hand articles are about as informative as reading a free copy of the Metro on the London undergound.


At this point you would expect Mark Hughes to come out and say the Mclaren has an advanced feature that puts it 2 seconds ahead of the pack.

‘….That’s why McLaren must be feeling confident.

It has what is generally reckoned to be the most advanced tyre modelling capability of all the teams, with a project that was initiated at the turn of the decade.’

He said of the 2009 Mclaren.



Haha, too true! 🙂

Maybe all those gadgets they had on their car in a past two tests. 🙂

“That kind of advanced air flow measuring device puts McLaren 2 seconds clear from the rest of the field.” 🙂


Very good!


I’ve been really impressed with the force India, James what’s your thoughts about thier chances this season. I think they are going to be the biggest surprise this season! May win a race this season!! But I may be being over optimistic.


I think they are doing quite well. Looking at Sutil’s runs on Friday afternoon in the dry in similar conditions to Hamilton it looked pretty good.


James – perhaps you could put a link to this video on here. Would be good to see.


I am exactly the same! I was a bit horrified this time last year when the first of the cars came out with the new regulation specs, especially the BMW and thought they looked very out of proportion but as the season went on they seemed to get prettier and I love the cars this year.

The Virgin VR-01 is really nice, but I am surprised it’s not got more Virgin branding on it. I was expecting to see the big red Virgin logo on both sides of the engine cover. Ie red Virgin on black


I think the idea is that Virgin get their publicity from the team’s name and that the whole of the livery is ‘for sale’, effectively letting them run the team at a profit. At least that’s the impression I’ve got.


Makes sense, didn’t Benneton do something similar ?


With the engines doing so well is there a chance that the teams have them running slightly less than maximum for the testing? Especially as they are known quantity.

This I assume has the additional benefits of more running time and a better idea of the performance vs fuel eco.


JA, you might want to have a word at some point with one of the Bridgestone engineers at the track – I think you might find that the “accepted” running order so far (with the media seemingly assuming that Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and RBR are the top four teams) is incorrect and that Renault, once fuel corrected, is very much in the mix…


Interesting…. is that a bit of insider knowledge?


Thanks for that.


Interesting point there…. do Bridgestone, as suppliers to all teams and therefore privy to loads/timing data, actually end up knowing more than anyone about comparative speeds at this time of year?


You think Hamilton might have already inflicted some psychological damage on Button?

Too soon of course, but I have a feeling Hamilton’s still going to bring-the-pain come Melbourne.


I don’t think Button cares to be the fastest in preseason testing and I doubt Hamilton is the brightest of the 2. Hamilton looks the outright fastest be he’ll have to show he has got it all to take the championship with a decent teammate.

Maybe he wants! Hamilton to feel confident at the start of the season….


“I doubt Hamilton is the brightest of the 2”

and why would that be Mitori? How you believe you can tell I don’t know, but I very much doubt you’re anywhere near as bright as Hamilton given you evidently have zero inkling of what it takes to be a F1 driver. But go on, humour us with your fantastic insight. Why?


First race is Bahrain…but I think you’re right


make that Bahrain.


I honestly believe Jenson is going into the 2010 F1 season completely confident and thinking he can match it with Lewis.

I don’t think there are many people out there who share his confidence…. (myself included).

Lewis will cream Jenson. I’d say he’ll finish higher in 85% of races this year.


I hope you’re right but there again Kubica was supposed to be better than NF but he kept being matched or beaten by him.

Button has far more to gain than loose as most if not all expect him to loose to Hamilton.

I think this year we’ll really see just how good Hamilton is, i9f he really does have those Sennaesk skills which allowed Senna to always dominate his team-mate with raw speed – just look at his poles when poles meant something.

I hope Hamilton doesn’t overcook it by trying too hard.


Interested to hear to comments of Geoff Willis, but I still think it is too early to predict who will be quick and who won’t. Personally, I don’t think the Mercedes will be as good as people think it will be, the car I fancy is the Red Bull. They have two very talented drivers who are both experienced and carry with them less expectation than some of the others. Their team has not been unsettled, they have Adrian Newey designing the machines, and he always got there in the end with his designs when at Williams and McLaren.

Far more potent a force than most suggest. I think the Ferraris’ and McLarens’ will be about even on pace, with the Red Bull’s being just a hare faster at the start of the season.


not with that engine though


I disagree. Look at last season – with Alonso in the Renault, it just could not perform well and fell away during races (although he did post a fastest lap and a pole position). But Red Bull, using the Renault engine, were able to compete for the title

Yes they had reliability issues, but don’t forget that everyone was saying it was inevitable that Vettel would need a 9th engine, and to take a penalty. The Renault guys upped their game, restricted running on Fridays and were able to reuse some older engines from earlier in the season. If they keep that level of commitment, the engine difference should not be a factor.

Actually I think last year showed just how much the aero package has to do with the performance. Brawn v Mclaren at the start of the season, and Red Bull v Renault throughout.


Maybe that wont be the case though, as the Renault Engine is more economical, so that might negate its lack of outright pace, if Renault engined cars carry less fuel!


How nice to see the regs for the season published at last, well the third version anyway. I always thought it was a bit ambitious to release a version called the “stable” regulations, obviously they wee not, they have been removed from the issue list.

It is nice for us weird engineer types to have a separate much larger appendix document this time including example drawings of all the aero and form boxes. (The whole car form (shape) is defined in boxes in which things either must, or must not be!)

The wheel covers are definitely off the menu now and both front and rear have been explicitly excluded. Though you won’t see the words “wheel covers” anywhere in the regs, it is done by description of what is allowed.

Interesting to see that suspension arm major elliptical axes may be inclined by up to 5deg, Yeah ok not to you then but I always thought it had to be parallel to the datum plane since no aero effect is allowed to come from them.


would an incline of that extent over what is a relatively small plane actually have much effect on downforce? Wouldn’t it have more effect on airflow to the sidepods / over the body of the car?

I’m asking as a non-engineer, I love the fact that people who actually know about these things post on this blog!


You are probably right, but somewhere it says the suspension arms must no have any aero effect, that must include flow direction into or over the sidepods.



Do you think Red Bull are sandbagging at the moment?



Everybody is.



Any thoughts on how Renault are doing ?


Does anyone really care? In any case they aren’t really Renault any more are they?


It’s all right, you don’t have to care but do not answer for all of us.

Yeah, I am a kubica supporter but I think that even if you do not care about the team itself, it is worth looking at renault engine. So any thoughts related to renault engine’s fuel efficiency (thoughts that could for example be heard by JA during talks with engineers)would be really interesting. I mean yes, they engine is said to be the most fuel efficient but how big (if at all) is the advantage? etc etc


@ Dale

Ok, I understand what you mean but still I am afraid that Red Bull is not a big team. It is a racing team similiar to last year’s Brawn (in my opinion of course). You seem to associate the ‘big team’ with a ‘manufacturer’ and I do not think it is that simple


The point to my comment was and is: Renault are not really Renault any more, they are no longer one of the big teams and try as they will they will not, in my opinion beat the big teams as one needs to be one to beat one (Brawn by the way were a big team when their car was designed and it had such a lead over the others thanks to Mosley’s FIA ruling against the spirit of their own rules that they won the championship but by the end of the season both RedBull and McLaren were faster which proves to me when operating not as a big team one tends to fall behind, now Mercedes they are a big team but Renault whatever they call themselves are not 🙂


Please be respectful of other peoples comments. There are several other people that have also asked about Renault.


It was said tong in cheek 🙂


Anyone from France or Poland are probably quite interested.

I think that the Renault seems to have copied the nose of last year’s Brawn rather than the Reb Bull.


If the Merc has a weight forward bias, then shirley 🙂 that will be in it’s favour with a full fuel load, since the fuel is essentially at the rear.


All the car’s will have their centre of gravity in the middle of the fuel tank so that it doesn’t change position during the race. Basically there are only disadvantages with having the weight distribution out of sync with the tyres.


Whilst there is an obvious logic to that, they would need a huge amount of ballast up front to counterbalance the engine and drivetrain. (assuming the ballast is placed at three times the distance between the effective mass centre of the fuel bladder and the centre of mass of the engine/gearbox etc assy, then they will need 1/3 the engine mass as ballast up front ) Since the tyres are different widths front to rear they may well perform differently under full load as opposed to fumes, in terms of understeer/oversteer balance. Thus any front/rear centre of mass differential may be intentional.


V interesting thanks. Entirely logical.

I would guess that you are in the business or have better access than most


It’s not too difficult to get the CoG within the fuel tank. The engine is limited to 95 kg minimum weight. This is largely counterbalanced by the mass of the driver. The tub around the driver has to be a fair bit stronger than the rearward structure as the engine and gearbox are the stressed elements. The 1988 McLaren had the CoG within the tank with a much heavier iron block engine and the lightweight gearboxes of today. (Ref: McLaren Honda Turbo a Technical Appraisal by Ian Bamsey). I’d be astonished if any current car didn’t have its CoG within the fuel tank.

Still the CoG is a side issue as the discussion was about front:rear weight distribution. The problem last year comes from having a very reclined driver: while the CoG is within the car’s fuel tank, the majority of the mass was rearwards as driver’s relatively light legs push the mass rearwards in the wheelbase. The forward ballast last year was to move the front:back split forward. For a driver such as Kubica KERS was a problem as there wasn’t the forward weight balance to use the tyres effectively. There was still notably more weight on the rear tyres, probably on the order of a 45:55 split.

As well as changing the weight distribution there is also the need to adjust the aerodynamic centre of pressure to the new tyres widths. If this is out of place then the high and low speed over/understeer balance will be different.

In simple terms, there is only one right answer for the CoG and CoP locations. Any deviation from this will be worse.


Hi James,

Hamilton’s run was right at the end of the session on a short run. Obviously by then the track had rubbered in and it appears he would be on a lowish fuel level. The mclaren website said he had done longer runs earlier. What were these runs like compared to the likes of ferrari and red bull?




James, i heard some rumours that Williams are still using the same Cosworth engine from last week and are planning to run it til it pops. Are Cosworth satisfied with how their engine’s are performing so far?


Yes. I posted on that yesterday.


I find all the praise on Mclaren and Hamilton a bit premature.

Lewis needed an extra day on a much more rubbered in track, in what seems to be a low fuel gloryrun, to beat a midfield teams time by 3 tenths of second? A time set by rookie Alguersuari?

That does not impress me much. Mclaren will need a lot more than that to be considered championship contenders.


Rubbered in? Me thinks you maybe don’t know how rain removes this?


rubbered in? it rained harder on friday than any other day on the test, the track was hardly rubbered in at all in the morning, so today conditions were similar to thursday

mclaren didn’t go low fuel at all, they just don’t do that in testing – alguersuari reckoned that he could’ve done a low 1:17 with fresh tyres and low fuel, so it just goes to show that none of the teams have really went all out when it comes to posting a very quick time

all indicators suggest that mclaren will be competitive


It’ll be great if McLaren keep their speed as it will be F1’s loss if Hamilton isn’t able to mix it with Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel.

If it turns out that RedBull and McLaren are ahead at the first race it will be great to see Vettel going at it together though this year he may choose not to go for a position which isn’t there 🙂


I wonder how much fuel Mclaren were running when Hamilton set the fastest lap? Mclaren dont usually go for glory runs. Interesting. Starting to look good for Hamilton in 2010…


I don’t know whether McLaren goes for glory runs, but Hamilton definetly does.


off ocurse they go for glory runs, remember last year that they put the 2008 rear wing just to post a decent time


jose arellano,

If you don’t follow F1, pls get your facts right before say anything …

It has been documented many times before that it was for comparing data between a known quatity (2008 wing) and an unknown one.

If you don’t know; please keep your mouth tightly shut……


i would believe that 2008-2009 data comparing if they do it one or two times. but they did it a lot more! and just before the session ended…

calm down people, seems like i heart your feelings..


McLaren put the 2008 rear wing on the car to compare the data from the year before to the 2009 year because they were lost with the aerodynamics.

They knew something was wrong with the car, but didn’t precisely knew what was wrong. They did put the 2008 rear wing untill very late in the tests to compare, not to go for glory runs.


I think you will find that they put the 2008 rear wing on to try and find the problem for their lack of downforce. I believe the 2009 wing was stalling yet the computers said it should have been. The 2008 wing was obviously something they knew all about so they were using it to try and get to the botom of the problem. Glory Runs they were not!


It’s amazing to see Alonso and Massa doing almost the same lap-times, with Alonso being roughly 0.060s quicker. I listened to an interview where the BBC asked Alonso whether Schumacher would stop being so controversial now that he’s coming back (think Hill, Villeneuve!).

Alonso just replied with something like ‘No, that’s the competitor inside Michael, he will never lose the controversial side’ [He didn’t mean to criticise, he was just was being honest].

Nevertheless, Alonso has done much controversial things himself (think spygate e-mails/demanding #1 against Hammy). So does that mean the ‘competitor’ inside Alonso won’t change either? I predict some fireworks between Alonso and Massa.


Could you give us any proof about “Alonso asking #1 against Hamilton”? Because for now the “silence deal” between Alonso and McLaren says that it wasn’t Alonso who was asking something. If he was why he has no right to speak and convince? This info has been posted many time in this blog by someone “close to Alonso”.


Hammy has had his share of controversy and in much less time than Alonso in F1. Shall we predict some fireworks in mcLaren as well?


Not a word about Renault?


160 laps!

Guess no-one is questioning Massa’s fitness anymore!


You are right!


Not questioning his fitness at all. But I didn’t know Massa wore glasses.

James can you shed some light on this? Is this a result of Massa’s accident or did he wear them before?


I appreciate that Geoff Willis used to be the technical boss of Red Bull, but I’d love to know how he came to the conclusion that it would be Mclaren vs Red Bull. Red Bull haven’t completed that many laps of testing.


Fantastic insight as always James.
It’s great to hear Willis’ thoughts on where the teams stand.
It is of little surprise that he has singled out the McLaren; it has by far and away the largest diffuser outlet of all the cars (it goes all the way up to the beam wing on the rear wing).
Although not the be all and end all in performance, thus should stand them in good stead aerodynamically.

P.S An interesting tidbit on Ferrari- their first engine used on Valencia/2 days of Jerez covered nearly 2,400km. Pretty amazing!


Thats got to be come kind of record!


It seems interesting that Geoff Willis is so confident that his team are a title-contender with McLaren (and with Ferrari just behind them).

None of the times thus far this week suggested that (though he probably knows more than what the times suggest, given he is privy to windtunnel numbers and computer simulations on jerez and so forth)


He’s not with Red Bull any more


well something tells me it is going to be lewis versus the two ferrari drivers this year for the bull not reliable enough for an all out title assault and i think mercedes wont just be right this ferrari are bringing aero updates on wednesday and again for barcalona and then again for bahrain and with mclaren on something similar it will be back to normal for first races of this year anyway



late newey cars are always good (well nearly always). Too early to write off the reliability.


I’m gonna disagree the red bull cannot be discounted because it will be getting podiums on the races, especially at the start of the season, even if it doesn’t finish two cars every race, it will be a front runner. I think mercedes will be up to speed fairly quickly, remember Ross Brawn is one of the greatest figures in Formula 1. What will be interesting is how ferrari react to having schumi on the grid not in a red car – they’ll be determined to beat him!


As a Hamilton fan I cannot say how pleased that I am that, Mclaren’s seasonal start this year will not be a repeat of 2009.

James a little off topic…. I remember when you was doing commentary here in the states for ESPN2, and that look of concern on your face, some may say terror, when driven by David Coultard in a Mercedes demonstration run around the 14.5 mile Nurburgring in the wet. I believe alot of your fans James, would get a hearty laugh as I did at some of your facial expressions.

Now that Peter Windsor is leaving his pit coverage job at Speed Channel, and is off to USF1…what are the chances James, of you moving in and taking that spot? I look forward James, to maybe seeing you along with Bob Varsha, David Hobbs, and Steve Matchett this year in the states on Speed Channel.


Hi James,

I’ve been reading your post these past winter months and wanted to ask you about Nicolo (as I think it is with 1 ‘c’) Petrucci: didn’t he work for Toro Rosso the last couple of years, having left Toyota in 2006 for Honda? Last week’s Autosport has him as head of aerodynamics in Toro Rosso and the official line of Ferrari is that Marco de Luca is their chief aerodynamicist. Could you shed us some light on this one?

Kind regards


The McLaren is a beaut!


Yeah, I agree


I, like many others, was very skeptical of the entry into the F1 championship of constructors that didn’t have racing, automotive or engineering pedigrees

Now that the cars (principally Virgin Racing and Lotus) are actually living-breathing racing machines on the racetrack – my skepticism has completely dissapated. I’m simply fascinated at how quickly the new teams have managed to create beautiful, functional cars, and I can’t wait to see how they perform in anger at the start of the 2010 Season.

I get caught out every year by these regulation changes. I always find myself in vehement opposition the often radical rule revisions, but once the season settles in, previous rules and cars always look dated (2007 cars look positively ‘squat’ by the current high-wing standards, and not the beautiful machines I always used to think!).

Anybody else suffer from this resistance to change?!



I had similar thoughts but you have to remember nick with is experienced in f1 and manor themselves know how to race engineer cars if not extensively design them. Cosworth too have extensive experience at this level. I will be surprised if the engine isn’t good.

if you look at lotus you have mike in charge who is high calibre, he’s coupled up with a lot of old Toyota and other experienced staff.

I think personally it is usf1 and campos that will struggle to get up to standard. Sounds like one has no funding and a running chassis, one has money. If they combined they would be in better shape!


Same, last year i thought the cars looked didn’t look right with the massive front wing. but this year i think the cars look fantastic!

funny how you get used to an ugly duckling


sorry ignore “looked”


Glad to see the VR-01 putting in some mileage and quieting the sceptics who are so quick to draw conclusions on its early runs… That cosworth doesn’t seem too bad, does it?

I’m just as keen to see what the bottom four teams do this season, as the top four. That lotus looks ok, but it seems a little frankenstein in the bits that were copied – thats a brawn 2009 front wing without doubt, and a straightened up nose from last year’s toyota. It’s not obvious how the two will work together but I suppose they have the tunnel figures and patterns – they know what they’re doing. Nevertheless, 5 months to put it all together is admirable; definitely does seem a “solid base to work from”.

As for today’s test, there was some talk of Michael running dry on the 5 lap run he did to post his fastest, and Massa running dry after a long run too. Can anything be gleaned from their times knowing that they were light when they posted them?


What about Renault James? It’s very quiet about them. They don’t seem to be competetive, definately behind Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull & Mercedes, but maybe you could reveal some details about French team from your talks with engineers?


in this blog for some reason james don’t talk about renault much. Even when alonso was in. imagne now with petrov-kubica.


‘mr opposite lock’, try reading previous threads, before making any judgements


Not true. I’ve done quite a bit on them. Perhaps less so from Jerez this week, but stay tuned


I’m interested to see what the McLaren does with its tyres on longer runs in next week’s test.

It seemed today as though Lewis was struggling to capitalise on diminishing fuel weight because of deterioration in his tyres… or perhaps he was just finishing up the job of testing the car with steady consistent laps before going for a bit of a headline finish- only time will tell


Tyre degradation was always going to be more of an issue for Lewis than most other drivers I think… it will be an interesting aspect of the Button vs Hamilton battle next year.


Fantastic summary, and much appreciated! I love the winter testing season. Not as much as the proper season, of course, but at least it gives us fanatics something to get all worked up about.


It seems the start with Brawns last years car was way better, both in terms of speed and reliability, than with the current Mercedes.

Rosberg and Schumacher might only play the seconds fiddle to others this year, at least in the early races.


says who? willis? with all due respect, he doesn’t know. Ferrari was not going for a lap time with massa, and they are getting some new pieces for barcelona. Like the rest i imagine.


Yeah… a person like willis, who has been inside F1 surely know what is going on without the aid of the stopwatch… unlike you, ‘mr opposite lock’ and me..


His comments are interesting because he was standing trackside and knows what he is looking at. You can see a good car from trackside and although the stopwatch is the ultimate arbiter, I’ve always found that the instincts you develop at this stage of the year are valid.


a clear verdict on how things stand by BAR Honda and Red Bull technical boss Geoff Willis:

McLaren most impressed,it will be the front runner for the title battle along with the Red Bull. Just behind are the Ferrari and the Mercedes.

It seems James is quite interested in this verdict.

Let’s wait and see


Everyone’s looking good. Do you know if people are bringing updates to the next test? Or more testing with current configs. Also with all these holes on the McLaren appearing are they cooling or for aero dynamic benefit as rumors suggest.


James, how far off the pace are Virgin in your estimate? Was the best time from Virgin on low fuel?


James, did that Geoff Willis guy say exactly why he thinks Macca have the best car?


it must be his feeling. He can’t be certain. Nobody can at this point.


It was nice to have some dry weather testing for Hamilton. He did a 26 lap run which was ruined by schumacher deliberately allowing his car to run out of fuel. But Hamilton looked pretty consistent.

James, quick observation. I noticed that in the middle of Hamilton’ long run his lap time had peaked and then his lap times rose marginally. Do you believe this had something to do with the tires wearing out as I thought with the fuel decreasing the car would get quicker and quicker. And how Hamilton coping with managing his tires?


Please James ask some good-for-something engineer what the opinion in the paddock is about Hamilton’s tire management following the tests. Your piece on Massa is quite threatening to McLaren in the sense that everything just looks so all rosy and tied up for the Brazilian!!


“deliberately allowing his car to run out of fuel”. I’d like to know how this is possible.

The teams are trying to get their cars to run as lean as possible in testing so they know what loads to go for come qualifying this year. The logical thing to do is to try and do this in testing rather than have red faces come qualifying in Bahrain…

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