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Jerez test day 4 – Barrichello gives Williams something to smile about
Jerez test day 4 – Barrichello gives Williams something to smile about
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Feb 2011   |  7:58 pm GMT  |  93 comments

The second official F1 pre season test ended at Jerez today with Williams’ Rubens Barrichello setting the fastest time and covering 103 laps after a week of niggling problems and frustrations for the team.

It has been a week when the importance of having experienced drivers setting up and developing the new cars has been a hot topic as Renault seek to not lose too much ground on that front due to the accident of Robert Kubica.

Photo: Williams

Barrichello, the most experienced driver in F1 history with over 300 GP starts, set the fastest lap of the week in 1m 19.832s as the Grove team beds in one of the most adventurous new cars it has produced for a while.

Barrichello did the time on the first lap of an eight lap run in which the tyre drop off was three seconds, which is pretty big. He later did a harder tyre long run of 25 laps in which the drop off was a couple of seconds, showing the range of tactics which strategists will be thinking through ahead of the first race. It really is going to be an interesting year for tactics.

At Renault, Bruno Senna had his first run since becoming the teams’ reserve driver. It wasn’t really an audition for Kubica’s seat as team principal Eric Boullier has said repeatedly that the team needs an experienced driver in this situation. This is also the reason why they have not tried to winkle Nico Hulkenberg out of the Force India test seat. “It was a very productive day,” said Senna. “The team liked my feedback and I enjoyed it very much. This was only the second test I’ve ever had in an F1 car and I’ve
raced for a whole year!” (other test was with Honda). You grow so much as a driver when you do a test like this. I set my fastest time on the soft tyre. I was waiting to go out on the super-soft at the end of the day when the rain came down (at 4pm)”

The Ferrari again did a huge mileage in Fernando Alonso’s hands, the Spaniard delighted at the car’s reliability, which has given him plenty of opportunity to evaluate all of the Pirelli tyres. However Alonso has been deliberately cagey on the performance of the Ferrari, refusing to be drawn on the ultimate pace of the F150th Italia. We should get more of an idea at Barcelona test next week.

McLaren had a frustrating day with Jenson Button struggling to find a balance in the windy conditions and with some reliability issues restricting his running.

For Mercedes, Nico Rosberg was very downbeat at the end of the day. He lost a lot of time in the middle of the day when the team made a precautionary engine change and his pace wasn’t startling on a long run mid-afternoon. He seems to have had more problems with the car on his days than team mate Schumacher. Nevertheless this team remains a question mark at this stage in terms of pace. Have they fallen behind Renault and Williams as well? Rosberg keeps talking about his hopes for the update kits due to arrive before the Bahrain test so let’s hope it does the trick.

Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio was another to lose time today with an engine problem. The Belgian hasn’t managed to cover many miles in the new car. Meanwhile Pat Symonds has been pulled in as a consultant to the team, which is a smart, if slightly controversial move. He pleaded guilty to plotting to deliberately cause Nelson Piquet’s accident in Singapore in 2008 and although his sentence was cut back from the original ban, he was still not expected to be seen back so close to the sport so soon.

He is a very astute racer, however and Virgin was always the most likely place for him to return as it is the home of ex Renault engineering colleagues Nick Wirth, Christian Silk and Mark Herd.

Red Bull have been interesting to watch this week, at no stage setting the fastest lap times, staying deep undercover. They obviously have a lot of confidence in this car. Ferrari haven’t really extended their car either and McLaren have been bedding their new car in this week, so all of the top three are being cagey. The feeling persists though that when the time comes for Red Bull to see what the thing will do over a single lap on a low fuel run, it will lead to a collective intake of breath in the F1 paddock.

As for the Pirelli tyres, the degradation was quite high again, but motor sport boss Paul Hembery says the super-soft tyre is the only one being changed for the Barcelona test. The others are as in Jerez. Hembery added that there was a three-second difference between the four compounds in Jerez.

1. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m19.832s 103 laps
2. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m20.601s + 0.769s 86 laps
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.074s + 1.242s 115 laps
4. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m21.213s + 1.381s 90 laps
5. Bruno Senna Renault 1m21.400s + 1.568s 68 laps
6. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m21.632s + 1.800s 43 laps
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.103s + 2.271s 45 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m22.222s + 2.39 s 90 laps
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1m22.278s + 2.446s 70 laps
10. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m22.985s + 3.153s 45 laps
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.111s + 3.279s 99 laps

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Hi James,

This is unrelated to this article, but I was wondering whether you have heard anything through F1 connections about the political state of affairs in Bahrain. After the protests in Tunisia, Egypt took to the streets and there is potentially a whole wave of protests spreading across the region.

I have heard reports in the past about unfair balance of power between the people and authority in Bahrain, but not much about the stability of the situation. All of a sudden there seems to be mention of the threat of F1 being disrupted.

In the very little spare time between lectures and deadlines I have tried to sift through Reuters to find anything, however not to much avail. The telegraph has come out today with an article online about a potential threat to the season opener, but has been a little sparse on facts. Obviously this would be of huge concern to the F1 community and so I imagine there are a few people who really do know the state of affairs in the country. I don’t suppose you would be able to dig out some of this knowledge?



James, I read a rumour that when asked by Renault who’d he like to see replace him Kubica said his preferred choice would be Liuzzi because he’s more of a racer than Heidfeld.

I read this on a couple of sites, but not ones I particularly trust. Have you heard anything like this? It said Liuzzi could get a test at Barcelona, explaining why Renault havn’t confirmed Heidfeld following his test.


Well Renault don’t seem to be considering him so I guess it’s kind of irrelevant


James – Is the difference between compounds still two steps for the races?

I ask because if the gap remains at around four seconds for the four available compounds it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on qualifying, especially Q3.

Hopefully the gap won’t be so big as an entire second per compound as the degradation issue could mean that most teams apart from the top three will choose the harder tyre in Q3 to give them better race position after pitstops.

Indeed if the dropoff is severe enough on the softer tyre could we even see some of the big three runners opt for the harder tyre and sacrifice ultimate qualifying pace to ensure they don’t need to pit too early?

Any thought on this?


Yes, my understanding is that it is two steps. There’s no doubt that this will be a talking point in the races this season.


There is some serious Newey man love going on in here!

Williams set their time without KERS on the car, if KERS is worth 3/10ths then that is a quick pace.

Thomas in Australia

James, sorry for the offtopic post – any thought about publishing your 2010 review on Apple’s iBook store? I think you would reach a new audience.

Would be perfectly suited to the iPad.


This isn’t easy.

Fastest sector per hour per tyre type regardless of driver would give the potential fastest lap for the hour.

Then compare this to the fastest sector times of any lap for a single driver on the same tyre to get a better idea of their outright potential this early in the season.

But don’t forget; a new wing here, a new side pod there, turning on KERS, using the rear wing would dramatically change things… basically the only people would would have a good idea of their car, but unlikely the opposition, would be the team itself.

Just look at those smiling and those looking like they’re working hard on something, to see who’s good a good car at this point in the season.


If Mclaren dont deliver this year. (Which i have a feeling they wont!) When does Lewis choose to move on?

I dont read much into peoples “top drivers of the year”, as it seems to be whoevers had the best car to challenge for titles always gets the top spot, e.g Vettel last year, everyone raved about Hamilton in 08. But Hamiltpn is definately a top drawer driver.

So to sum up Mclarens years.

2010: Not good enough car, even though they argue it was second best, not good enough end of.

2009: Dog.

07/08: Good but bit dubious, ferrari info?

The last time Mclaren designed a decent car was 2005, oh hello Adrian Newey!

When will Lewis leave that team, if he is to explore his potential he needs to move, and fast.


James, there has been much discussion about the big boys and their relative performances, but I have been encouraged by Lotus, at the hands of Kovalainen…

In light of the Lotus row, should I be taking Heikki’s times with a grain of salt? Or do you think this is a sign that the Team have taken a solid step forward?


The running commentary on headline lap times is rather amusing and qualifies as a background subplot if anything.

As some other contributors have correctly suggested it’s all about sandbagging,poker face and who can get durability from the changeable Pirelli tyres.

It’s not until the opener in Bahrain that we get the real facts come to fruition.


It’s been interesting to see this week. Mclaren have been doing their bedding in tests that tge others did at the first test.

I don’t think mclaren, redbull or Ferrari are pushing at this point. We will see their hands when we get to the final test.

For now the majority of time will be spent putting laps on the systems in the cars.

I do worry about mercedes, as neither ms or nico were very positive about the car. I don’t think it will be very good (again). If you see tge Honda/brawn/merc team, the have only crested three good cars in about 8 yrs. Hopefully not.

And I hope Williams have taken a step forward. If they could push into the higher points this year it would give them a good platform for the future.


Funny that Williams posted the fastest time just before their IPO.


i think red bull is the car to beat, at least for at start of the season.

i spent 3 days in jerez watching the test and the car looks to have awesome mechanical grip as well as a good aero balance.

the red bull was the only car i saw in those 3 days that was able to use the adjustable rear wing in a corner, vettel had the wing activated as soon as he got out of turn 2 and was able to keep it activated through the fast turns 3 and 4. everyone else seems only able to use it on straghts and most only seem able to use it on the longer straghts.

something i noticed with mclaren is that that car seems to be eating its tyres, i noticed that the tyres on the mclaren looked a lot worse when the drivers came back in when compared to other cars and that included after some short runs. this could perhaps be why mclaren havnt really done any long runs like others have.

also think bruno senna did a good job sunday. his pace on the long runs he did was great and he was matching what alonso and vettel were doing at that time, they were all in the low 1:24’s from memory which seemed to be about the front running pace on the 20-ish lap runs.


I’ll be a little dissapointed if Red Bull have the same advantage as last year. I think if it wasn’t for the mistakes, reliability and random weather then they would have run away with the title long before the end.

I feel a little dissapointed with Mercedes because they started work on their new car before the others, would have expected them to close the gap a bit to the leaders, i don’t understand their talk of interim car and big updates because i’m assuming that is the same scenario for all teams.

I must say, during pre-season 2010 Dear ol’James called it right with the teams rough positions.

Oh well early days, there is still hope.

What i do hope for is the teams at the top to be all near to each other to make the racing exciting.



James … once again thanks for all the insight you provide us with. And your following is getting bigger and more involved.

Just something that could be up for a chat:

Since the Pirelli’s are unpredictable, and i am sure this is going to provide a very nice spectacle, did they have to introduce the movable rear wing?? I mean, first of all the rule governing the use is just too much. And second, do they really want the drivers to think and even do multiple finger tricks while decelerating from 300+kph and having an eye on the field and using KERS and turning the steering wheel?

Do you think this rule will stay?


Interesting to see Williams topping the timesheets , it is still difficult to predict which is the fastest car. I think if you look at some of the Low Budget teams their pace was not that far off from the Big teams like Ferrari which is quite unusual and based on that I think it is best to wait for Barhain.James do have any idea more or less how heavy Rubens was in terms of the fuel load he was carry when he completed his lap ? Do the teams let you in on the type of setups the car is on ?


James, are the individual lap-times available anywhere? It would be very interesting to analyse them. Headline times tell you very little as you don’t know the fuel load etc at the time but if you could dig deep and work out average times, comparison times on the same tyre compound etc then it would give a better ‘feel’ for how the teams compare.


Here is an idea…

why dont they give a couple of points towards the manufacturers championship, to the team that achieves the fastest time during a test day? It should be good enough motivation for them to show their pace potential and make test days more inetersting for us (???)


In my opinion, you are confusing testing with the racing. That’s why is called testing, so they can test and not to entertain us.


There is no reason why testing cannot be entertaining for us. Especially if the teams can win a points/money. I agree of course, implementing the idea could be more complicated than the rules and restrictions for operating the adjustable rear wing…


“Jenson Button struggling to find a balance” is becoming a familiar refrain at McLaren.


Haha I see where you are coming from. But it is not quali yet so I don’t think he is looking for excuses at this stage.


That’s exactly what I thought! He starts really early this season with that excuse!

Oh dear… As an F1 fan I do hope he will find it eventually somehow (and the car turns out to be competitive) so we can see another tight battle till the last race.


Isn’t that always his excuse. I don’t think I’ve seen a driver complain as much about balance as Jenson. I like him as a driver, but wish sometimes that he would stop finding excuses for things that other drivers do not really have a problem for.

I also think that they use “balance” as a way of saying, “it is none of your business as to what my problems are”.


James I know that there is little to read in the testing times but how do you see Team Willy this year?Have you spoken in Rubens?What does he say about the car?


After looking at the testing results so far, I feel that McLaren and Red Bull are yet to show their full hand yet. I feel the McLaren is going to be exceptionally fast. I think Renault and Ferrari are behind them, shame for the injury to Kubica and hope he gets back quickly as with him in the car, they would be pushing the Top 2. So at the moment, the Top 4 are:

1. McLaren

2. Red Bull

3. Renault

4. Ferrari

That is my opinion. What do you think James?


Why would you think that? As far as I know, Ferarri in Friday practice sesions were not pushing to show their teeth at all. Why would they do it now?

What has shown the McLaren and Ferarri didn’t? Having a different design doesn’t necesarily means is going to be fast.


Interesting chart, but what is it based on. From what I have read Ferrari and Red Bull are quite evenly matched, at least on longruns, they both handle tyres well and are reliable. The McLaren looks impressive but hasn’t shown a lot yet, will be much clearer in Barcelona. I get mixed signals about the Renault, it is a quite radical car, with a very short wheel base (interestingly McLaren chose to go for a very long one) and a radical exhaust solution. But it’s still hard to tell if it will work as a total package, which also depends a lot on who’s stepping up for Kubica, as Petrov is too inconsistent and inexperienced to really shine. Heidfeld seems most likely. I read a comment somewhere where he said the car was “not bad” but still needs quite a lot of work. Don’t know if they will be up there at the front… hard to tell but it’s a great shame Kubica is not there as I think he has the ability to be better than the car’s actual level (something Schumacher was good at as well, and few others)


McLaren at No.1 so far!! You’re dreaming mate.. The jury is still out on McLaren form for this year. But from what we have seen so far, they still have a lot of work ahead of them. Their car looks innovative but It may not translate into pure pace and reliability might be an issue.

As for your Top 4, to put Ferrari behind Renault and McLaren above Red Bull is based on what you wish, not on reality. Its safe to say that Red Bull will be the car to beat follow by Ferrari/McLaren and then Renault/Mercedes. It think reliability will have a major impact on the early races..


What criteria did you use for this list? Sounds more like a wish list than reality.


Renault pushing top 2when redbull is 2nd. I’m almost 100% sure that this year Renault wont be pushing RBR for 2nd place in the championship….


Is that what you think or what you whish? Ferrari boys have been on top 3 at 6 about 7 testing days and have made more than 3000 Km. McLaren haven’t done anything special yet, like Red Bull…


When the team that won both championships, scored 15 poles and 9 wins the year before hardly gets a mention during testing it more thank likely means the other teams should be very worried!


I don’t think anything is odd at all with McLaren. It’s a new car.

And I don’t think that there is any reason – other than last year – to think that RB& is quicker than Ferrari or McLaren.

By which I mean why will RB7 in one quick lap with low fuel be quicker than Ferrari or McLaren? Currently there is not one single good reason.

This is called ‘testing’.

It’s McLaren’s first single issue with their new car. Don’t forget that Ferrari’s caught fire a few days ago.

Therefore in pure reality, there is still literally nothing at all to read into the times or events.

So it might be wiser to stop trying and just be patient.


Yes, this IS called testing. There are,however, many posters who think it’s time to hand out trophies & crack open the Moet & Chandon.

Impatient for the season to start, maybe?


This year’s leadup and testing is more intriguing to me than it’s been in quite a few years. Technical rule and tyre supplier changes that are at least in part a leap of faith, who’s sandbagging, who’s got the best poker face, who’ll get to keep Kubica’s seat warm and what’ll he make of the opportunity? Will a year’s experience change the ranking of the new teams, has the ranking of the teams that haven’t been able to aspire to run at the front changed? Will the presumed frontrunners live up to expectations? I hope that the rule changes and resource restrictions narrow the spread, and that the season will live up to the potential!


I vaguely remember an interview with Newey (after he left McLaren) where he blamed a championship loss essentially on McLaren not listening to him. I can’t remember exactly which year he was pointing at, but it was during the later years of Ferrari dominance.

I think his cars at the time were a bit unreliable too, in contrast to Ferrari and later Renault.


I saw a picture of Mclaren using aero paint. Is this standard testing procedure or is it a problem, as they used it back in 2009 as well.


Most teams use it on testing, as it gives new data of the airflow over the car, which they will then probably match up with their wind tunnel data and compare. This as such does not signify aerodynamic problems as such.


Red Bull used aero paint frequently last year. It doesn’t mean you have a problem, it means that you are finding out more about your car & how every change you make alters the aero.

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