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Jerez Days 3 – Webber shines in the dry
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Jerez Days 3 – Webber shines in the dry
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Feb 2010   |  7:16 pm GMT  |  66 comments

The second Jerez test has been quite a frustrating affair for the teams, but at least they are all in the same boat.

Today there was plenty of dry running, but nevertheless the shortage of track days and the amount of them which have been wet has serious limited the teams’ ability to learn about the new Bridgestone tyres for this season.

There are now just five days left of testing, unless an extra day in Barcelona is granted by the Testing committee. And although Bridgestone have brought with them the soft, medium and hard compounds from the range, time is short for properly evaluating their characteristics. Today was therefore an important opportunity for the teams to compare different tyre compounds.

Picture 69
Today Mark Webber was fastest in the Red Bull, setting a lap in the 1m 19.2s, on the the first lap of a short three lap run on soft tyres, which is the fastest time at Jerez in either of the tests. Webber went on to do a comparison between the soft and the medium tyre, which looked fast and consistent. But, allowing for fuel loads, the fastest runner appeared once again to be Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who was second on the time sheets as Ferrari continue to rack up the miles. Alonso did 132 laps today.

Alonso covered a comprehensive programme with a tyre comparison between the soft, medium and hard Bridgestone tyres with two very strong runs on the soft in particular. He set his fastest time on the first lap of a 13 lap run on soft tyres and went on to have consistent lap times in the 1m 20s.

Schumacher and Hulkenberg both worked exclusively on the medium tyre today, Hulkenberg doing a series of long runs which looked very consistent.

There were quite a few stoppages for cars broken down on the circuit and a strong wind seemed to bother quite a few people, but nevertheless teams covered a high mileage.

“We’re showing some good form in terms of reliability,” said Webber. “But we always need to work on performance, you never know what the others are doing. We are in a good position.”

Felipe Massa confirmed the picture which is emerging from the engineers involved in the testing, “Last year at the Barcelona test we discovered that there was one car which was much stronger than the rest (the Brawn),” he said. “So far this year there isn’t one car faster than the rest, we’re looking at a very competitive championship. The Red Bull looks strong, as expected. They were the fastest at the end of last season. I hope to be fighting them for the win from the first race.”

Engineers who are analysing the data from the tests continue to stress how close it is between the established teams. The order isn’t definitive yet, as it will shift next week when many teams bring their definitive Bahrain aerodynamic kits to the final Barcelona test. But Ferrari seems to be at the front while Renault seem a little behind the other established teams, but probably no more than 7/10ths off the Ferrari.

Sauber had real bad luck today with a fuel system problem restricting Kamui Kobayashi to just 28 laps on a day when it was essential to get the maximum workload covered.

There are still a lot of question marks about the composition of the grid. Off track there has been plenty of activity today, with a meeting of investors at Campos HQ in Spain, which resulted in Jose Ramon Carabante taking over the team and installing former Midland team principal Colin Kolles as team principal (see separate story). Elsewhere, the USF1 team underlined via Twitter that they are still in business, despite rumours to the contrary and Stefan GP fired up their engine for the first time. USF1 driver Jose Maria Lopez came to London for a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone.

Common sense tells you that an amalgamation of USF1 and Campos would make one strong team and many people close to the action are suggesting that. Meanwhile team boss Zoran Stefanovitch confirmed to Autosport today that he has a deal with Kazuki Nakajima and is in negotiation with 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. But there are a lot of rumours and denials flying around. One thing is for certain; Ecclestone is in the middle of this situation trying to get an outcome he can work with.

The two new teams that have made it to the test, Virgin and Lotus, had some more problems today, Lotus had a clutch issue, while Virgin had a couple of stoppages due to a repeat of hydraulic issues. Lucas di Grassi has not done much mileage so far in testing. The Virgin ended up a fraction ahead of the Lotus on this occasion. Heikki Kovalainen has said that the basics of the Lotus car are sound, it is just a bit heavy still and not optimised for high speed corners. Both new cars look rather unrefined in comparison with the established teams, but nevertheless for brand new cars from new teams they are impressive.

The test concludes tomorrow.

HEADLINE LAP TIMES – JEREZ DAY 3
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:19.299 115 Laps
2. Alonso Ferrari 1:20.115 132
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.394 101
4. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:21.432 138
5. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:21.437 79
6. Kubica Renault 1:21.916 100
7. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:21.939 69
8. Kobayashi BMW-Sauber 1:22.228 28
9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.564 120
10. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:23.504 34
11. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:23.521 68

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1

James, when you write, “Renault seem a little behind the other established teams”, which are the “established teams” you mean?

I read that to mean that Renault are behind everyone except the new teams (Lotus & Virgin, with USF1 & Campos yet to test). That puts them on track to be 9th in the WCC, behind both Toro Rosso and Force India.

If I read correctly, some people on this thread have read your words as implying that Renault are maybe about 5th, maybe ahead of Sauber and Williams at this stage.

Would you clarify what you originally meant, i.e. which teams you think are in the group ahead of Renault and behind Ferrari, which you excluded as clearly slower than Renault, and which if any you think might be more or less at the same point as Renault right now? Many thanks.

2

I meant that of the teams who raced in 2009, Renault are at the back at the moment, but the order is likely to change with the new aero packs which will come on stream at the next test

3

“Renault seem a little behind the other established teams, but probably no more than 7/10ths off the Ferrari.”

Is that just 1/10th plus the Alonso factor??

4

Wouldn’t like to have my last pound on it

5

How many people do Stefan GP have employed? I would have thought there aren’t that many…is it even feasible for them to hire all the staff they need in a couple of weeks? Would be interesting to see how Villeneuve gets on, though, if he makes a comeback…

6

So many variables I am finding it very difficult to unravel what will actually happen on race day. I am wondering what influence average track temperatures will have on performance and degradation, something I don’t believe we have seen so far? If you are starting on softs for quali position, only to see those wipe out after 10 laps or compromise performance by track position, it’s virtually race over. Come in and change to the harder compound and you are just dropping any chance sat behind the pack.

I believe that 3 teams so far have had fuel pump issues, something I cannot remember being that significant in previous seasons. Renault mentioned months ago that cavitation of the fuel pump being a major issue for teams under the new regulations. Previously you had cooled fuel being tanked every stop, now the extra volume and time seem to be having it’s effect at relatively modest track temperatures?

Have to wait and see what happens on the track, especially with over taking. But this just looks like a very watered down version of last season in every aspect, with only attrition of the various aspects of the cars going to give any excitement. When you consider that most of the excitement last season was generated by KER’s, I am really wondering what sort of product we are now going to be left with?

7

With so little testing, why are many teams only running one car per day?

8

Because they are not allowed to run more at a time.

9

Because they are not allowed to run more then 1.

10

It’s in the rules.

11

Hi James

It seems to me thatt he Ferrari does look consistant and potent on long runs.

What info do you have for me on this “A3” size diffuser .Do yo uthink it will bring that much to the lap times ?

12

Off-thread, but James do you have a feeling for Cosworth’ performance so far?

13

Button: Ferrari strongest at present

I have to admit the 2009 world champion said something some people here would feel uneasy.

14

On the other hand you wouldn’t expect him to say that McLaren look the strongest would you?

Most drivers have lap times that vary by half a second or more from lap to lap.

That is, in my opinion, an indication that the cars are rarely pushed to the limit.

Besides, the clearer picture will emerge in Barcelona where any aerodynamic flaws will be highlighted.

15

Yes, I agree with you, the clearer picture will emerge in Barcelona

16

I don’t see Ferrari in front. They’re masking a lot with the long runs they’re doing. I still believe the assessment from Geoff Willis is correct. This from Massa is about all that has passed anyone’s lips about the current situation:

“The Red Bull looks strong, as expected. They were the fastest at the end of last season. I hope to be fighting them for the win from the first race.”

17

Which begs the question, if Massa can see that the RB is clearly the fastest and his Ferrari not quite so, why nobody else who has analysed the testing so far?

I mean if the teams know exactly how fast everyone is why don’t they just publish their fuel loads so that we know too?

18

Earlier I was looking through some pics of the events this week.

I noticed a couple of the Force India running a green rear light, not sure whether it was di Resta or one of the race drivers.

I’ve just finished looking through some pics from yesterday and today in various places and not seen any shots looking at the rear of the Force India.

My initial thought was it was to symbolise aero testing as the FI had one of the aero devices on top, but other cars have run the devices and still used a red rear light from what I’ve seen.

So is this green light to signify di Resta’s status or something does anyone know? Though saying that I didn’t notice Fauzy running it on Tuesday either!

19

James,

You didn’t mention anything about Button. Any comment on how he looked / ran today?

Thanks.

20

Humanoid / With both legs.

21

I am not sure why james never mentions Mclaren in much depth as ferrari/redbull

22
la oreja de lauda

i see you are a macca fan, but if you were a renault fan… he doesn’t mention them at all.

Last year he made an article team by team, and forgot to even mention the french team. i didn’t say it at the time, but it is the truth..

23

Testing times are far more complicated than what you say. Red Bull set their time when the track was at its optimum re the temperature.

The truth is none of us, James included know exactly who is fastest unless you have a car like the Brawn was last year) other than to say certain teams do look faster than others etc and at the top it appears to me having read all the blogs and news that the top 4 are those we all expected to be the top 4.

Being a McLaren man it’s clear to me that one driver seems to be faster in the car than the other I just hope Button delivers when it matters though I have my doubts if the car isn’t exactly like he wants it together with a few 10th on those around him (I do hope I’m wrong).

24

Button might not beat Lewis but I’m sure he’ll do better than Heikki did.

25

8 tenths are about 20 kg which is 1/8 of a race fuel load nowadays – not much for the 2010 season

26
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

If it rains tomorrow then Michael Schumacher would have gained the best testing track time again!

Poor Nico. Maybe he’s been shown the weather forecasts for Jerez de García in Mexico!!

27

James, Mercedes seem to be in real trouble, if you look at the car it does not look as stable as the others, and this is reflected in the times as they seem to be some way behind the leader (McLaren, Ferrari and red bull). Do you have any info as to why they are so far behind at this stage?

28

Some suggestions that they don’t have the weight distribution quite right. I don’t think they are far off, they are all in a tight pack within a few tenths of each other

29

James, 2 Q’s.

Firstly, with the lack of dry running they have had, could RBRs decision to miss the first test now be looking like a poorer trade off on R&D time vs learning the tyre characteristics?

Secondly, you talk about teams taking their definitive aero updates for Bahrain to Barcelona, is this will these be ‘definitive’, or would do you expect further advancement between Barcelona and Bahrain. For example, would Ferrari’s ‘A3 Size’ diffuser be expected at Barcelona, Bahrain or later into the season? (I would think it would come for Barcelona so it can be evaluated and tweaked pre Bahrain).

Thanks as ever for your insight into the times, rather than just RBs fastest and Lotus = Fail.

30

If Webber was a full 8 tenths quicker than Alonso, doesn’t that really say that the RBR is the fastest car now ? Even their respective fuel loads were different, 8/10 is still a lot.

31

Are you kidding? Fuel, tyres, overall tests?

32

Not really. Fuel difference could account for 3 seconds in some instances.

33

Webber was on 3 lap flyer when he made that time, while Alonso set his time on 1st lap in 15 lap stint. Take 12 laps of fuel from Alonso to compensate fuel difference and I am sure he would go 1.18…

34

Well, it makes total sense. It depends if Alonso went on softs or not. Can anyone who followed tell me. The softs are excellent on it’s first lap…

Still, good consistency though. I still think that the Renault is better and that Mercedes is sandbagging.

35

sorry I meant RedBull is better

36

It is not a lot and it doesn’t matter. Look at Alonso’s stint…it is the most consistent and think about how races are going to evolve this year. Answer is very clear, Ferrari is in a good shape. I wonder whether they will bring this magical diffuser to Barcelona and what will it give. But McLaren, Merc and RBR will bring serious improvements too.

37

Average lap times today tell a different story to the fastest times.

Button 1:22.4

Alonso 1:23.0

Schum 1:23.1

Kubica 1:23.4

Webber 1:23.7

Sutil 1:24.6

Hulk 1:24.8

38

james great job!

what do you think about the williams?are they close to the front?

39

Hi James,

Do you really mean Renault are the second strongest team 7/10s behind?

40

I got that impression from James’ comment too. Today Kubicia has set a 19.11 which is a decent time.

Could Renualt be a surprise?

41

I understood from what JA wrote that Renault is “closing” the group of the teams which are very close to each other (at the front). In this group Ferrari is supposed to be the strongest while Renault is 7/10ths off them which does not mean that they are second. Between them must be RBR, McLaren and probably Mercedes.

42

No he doesn’t. Read.

43

slowest, non new team.

44

I am getting the impression that Ferrari seem to have done more than most, in exploring the tyre wear characteristics, so may have a tactical advantage when the speculation ends and the racing begins.

45

USf1 might say they are still going, but an almost complete lack of updates on the progress of their car etc suggests a different picture to me.

Perhaps, as you say James, the best thing would be to merge Campos/USf1 and then bring in Stefan GP who seem to be so much better organised and advanced than the other two put together!

After all this talk of 4 new teams for the 2010 season, it’d be a shame at this late stage to not see something worked out that can’t allow a satisfactory conclusion for all concerned.

46

Suggesting that Campos and USF1 merge, must be a total anathema to both teams.

47

What a joke this is when we have both Pro Drive/Aston Martin and Lola just waiting to be given a fair chance, what a joke – NOT

48

This was the most illuminating test day so far – with all the relevant teams participating and dry running I think we got to see the approximate running order.

Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari out in front (I would add a couple tenths to the Mclaren time to account for my inclination that Hamilton > Button by approx that much).

Next comes Williams and Mercedes with Sauber the dark horse with them. Sauber was the only team not to show its full potential today. As may have been expected, the Brawn/Honda/Mercedes team seems to have pulled off a fast one last year with the double diffuser and the early start they had on designing the 09 car. Some of that advantage has worn off and they seem to have slipped behind. That plus the downsizing layoffs last year may have affected them.

Renault a behind them. No real surprise given the trajectory the team were on with Force-India challenging them.

Then Torro Rosso being the tail of the old teams.

Virgin and Lotus seem to be doing a very good job given their resources and time – just 5 seconds off is rather good. Goes to show what a limited budget can achieve.

Good day.

49

Only 2 tenths for Hamilton over Button ❓

I’d be amazed if Williams are in the top 4 teams and would bet money they don’t even Finnish 5th, they are still living in the past nand sadly are going the way Tyrell did but now look how well the team that sprung from them (Mercedes) is doing.

50

Pundit Wanted: I am still uncomfortably puzzled as to how the teams will actually shape up on race #1 and I feel in desperate need for some serious punditry. I just hope you can help.

Fact is, the loss of refuelling seems to bring such radical changes to the approach to each circuit, it feels I can’t trust any of the lap times and it’s making me antsy.

So how, for example, would you say that priorities have changed — engine reliability, race-pace, tyres — and what are they using this testing time for? Reading between the lines of one Massa interview in the Gazzetta the other day suggested Ferrari had placed a great deal of emphasis on durability and tyre wear during these sessions.

Am I reading right? What insights to you have? And if the diffuser was the killer app in ’09, is it even possible to speculate as to what the specifics that are likely to be critical this season.

51

The driver hopefully.

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