F1 Winter Break
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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So I wait to the moment I will see what Red Bull can do with their ultimate pace. I really want to know what this thing can do...

For now I need to be happy with the mileage that Ferrari is able to do and no reliability issues.


I think when RBR first throw out a hot lap in anger there will be gasps up and down the pit lane; I fully expect it to be a monster again. As I also expect reliability to have improved and the drivers to have matured through their battle last year - this could be very ominous for fans wanting to see a close championship. As for Williams, unfortunately I think we are simply seeing a repeat of last year when they put in a few glory runs in testing but were quickly found out to be average when the racing began - which is a shame as there is no team I'd love to see win a couple of races more than Williams! Ferrari look solid, functional and exactly where you would expect them to be at this point in the proceedings - either right at the front or thereabouts.

However, It is McLaren that always confuse me at this stage of the year. Considering their experience and bank-balance, they always seem to 'fluff' this pre-season period (over the last few years) and roll out an average to terrible car. These lacklustre cars (and I don’t know if this year's car is lacklustre or amazing yet) have seemed to coincide with the both the big rule changes and LH's arrival at the team. Could it be that their strength is not in innovation and flexibility and that LH simply isn’t a very good 'development' driver despite his phenomenal racing talent? If so perhaps Button will help. I fully understand why they held a big launch event - they now have a road car to promote as throwing a big bash like an F1 launch event is great PR. I just hope they have not tried to hard to overcompensate for their poor innovation and flexibility over the past few years by designing and producing a 'freak' car this year. I have a feeling it will either be great or abysmal and nothing in-between. Here's hoping for great!

As for Merc, It feels as though they have built MS a racing car and Rosberg will just have to fit into it somehow which is very short term thinking from Merc if true. Is it a dog? Are they behind Williams and Force India? Are they just sandbagging? I really have no idea.


Since when a driver needs to be an engineer as well to develop a car? If I follow your logic, Sebastian Vettel is very good at developping cars and a very good asset for Adrian Newey. He wouldn't have designed such a good car had hamilton been there. And Mercedes have propably built a rocketship as they have the great Schamacher to develop their car.


I got a very strange feeling - not matter what others will do, Red Bull is super confident and they might dominate AGAIN.


Don't worry, Vettel and Webber will do their best to throw wins and points away again. They'll only be outdone by Ferrari's strategy.


you mean like Ferrari's strategy in Abu Dhabi?


Well I think Ferrari's strategy is what cost them the drivers championship last year and despite Redbull throwing a lot of points away they still managed to win both titles. I think that having won their maiden title they'll be even more difficult to beat. That RB7 looks ominously fast.


James! What's your gut feeling on merc? Do you think they'll get it together and that Schumacher can fight at the front?


Well I think that particular team is quite well known for having one side unreliable and the other side reliable. Last year it was MSC side. The year before, it was Ruben's and now may be it is Nico's.

And that team is not known for making a leap, they are known for going backwards in terms of development.

They go backward faster than any team including in 2009 I think. I dont know how they manage it.


"Nico Rosberg... ...seems to have had more problems with the car on his days than team mate Schumacher."

Seems to me we might be seeing old team dynamics come into play. We heard that Brawn always ran Ferrari round the needs of MSC and 2nd drivers were always compromised by the way the cars were designed to suit Michael's style. History repeating?


so when nico is quicker than michael it is because michael has lost it. However if michael is quicker it is because of team dynamics!! Basically he can't win!?;-)


Michael was a surprise entrant to the 2010 season. The team didn't have time to build a car honed to suit him.

Perhaps this year they will, because Michael's great skill is in moulding his team to fit his style. Remember how Massa was in MSC's shadow all those years -- and then how he came to the fore and almost won the world championship once Michael 'retired'?


Was Micheal that sensitive to tyres? Rather fortunate that he helped to develop the Bridgestones for so long.


I coudn't agree more I think the issue here is Micheal didnt have any problems with his car during testing.


James, how you do read McLaren situation, they have skiped the 1st test. launch the car in berlin, should have been woking. low milage, system checks in interviews and short on new parts ? its strange to me given the status in f1. thanks.


I think Senna explained why he isn't taking Kubica's place as well as anyone can. Looks like Mclaren have their work cut out for them, but I'm glad to see Williams got things sorted out.

Really the biggest story is the tire degredation, you see it in the initial times as they fall off after a few laps and then stablize. It appears that wear is not an issue. Should be a very interesting test in Bahrain.

I think Ferrari and Red Bull at this point are the most worrisome for the rest, good pace, very few technical issues.


Hi James,

I just wondered if it was true that during this testing session Alonso was using a new helmet featuring Robert Kubica's helmet design...or something along those lines? Fingers crossed to have cars actually close to one another's pace this year as opposed to another Renault lockout.


Alonso had a decal of Kubica's colours on the front of his own racing helmet.

You can see it here:



He had his standard helmet with the addition of a graphic of RK's helmet on the top


I am a bit dissapointed by the new McLaren. I was expecting to see it at the front after all that publicity. But in a way I do understand that being a 90% new car (as Jenson said I believe) they need to test a lot before pushing and also they are 3 days short on testing on this car then the rest of big boys.

Looking forward to the next test. So next is Barcelona and then Bahrain, right?

Everybody says that in Barcelona we might get a clue of who has the pace and who doesn't. Why is that?


perhaps they are learning the Newey achilles heal of too much "innovation" or maybe they really did throw the kitchen sink at this one... heavy porcelain fixtures cant be too god for reliability now can they.


Innovation means nothing if the team can't bring any results to the scoreboard in this game. However, it is too early to count them out as well. They are pretty good at develpoing during the season. This time around it might be a bit too late. So, yes Barca test will tell us where McLaren stands for the rest of the year. If they are like 3rd or 4th in the running then they might find something suspecious about other teams!!


The teams will want to delay showing off the detailed aerodynamic ideas for a long as possible, but F1 is about performance, so the teams have to more than just systems checks to be sure that the cars are quick across the race distance.

In addition to that, Barcelona rewards high downforce cars, and with long corners it is shows up car imbalances. It is very difficult to drive around a problem there as many of the corners are just about grip levels and all drivers can do that. To make up time compared to a teammate, it is primarily about braking performance, and to a lesser degree throttle control (too much grip to grunt makes this less important). Therefore the drivers want stability under braking (which can potentially lead to an understeering car), and neutral handling in the turns.

If the teams just cruise around and don't push at Barcelona, the race engineers don't get the data to understand how to tune the car. It may not be a peak lap time display, but across the long runs it should be clear who is good.


I suspect it's because Barcelona is the second to last test. The teams should be close to the car configuration they'll use in the first few flayaway races, until the start of the European season. Also the fact that the established teams have thousands of kms logged at Barcelona, which is said to account for why the racing is so mundane there as well.


There hasn't been much mention of Sauber on any site. What do people who know these kind of things think about their pace?


At the moment, it's hard to read who's got pace with different fuel loads (4.5 seconds between a full and an empty tank), tyre (3 seconds between compounds and degradation), use of KERS and use of moveable ring wings.

As far as Sauber is concerned, they were near the top of the timesheets for last year's tests and somehow ended up at the back of the field. The fact, that Massa, Heidfeld, Schumacher and Barrichello ended up with fastest times respectively over the last four days definitely indicates that all the above factors are making it impossible to read what's going on.

At this stage, I'd follow who's doing what time on the long runs, look at the consistemcy of times and drop of performance over one stint. So far, Red Bull and Ferrari are more or less an even match.

It'll be interesting to see what happens when they start going for single lap qualifying simulation and we'll probably have to wait for that for the last test, in Bahrain.


And so, in just four weeks, we will be discussing who the Driver of the Day in Bahrain has been...

Can't help for the season to start. 😀


Personally, at the moment it's no change from last year, maybe RBR faster, Maybe Mcl handles better and softer springs, it needed it. Renault could be ok but will drop back. Merc seems a turkey, Williams if it keeps going has Rubens ... and hopefully is good.

Any bets on form staying approx the same.


Interesting - hope the Williams pace is a sign they're on the way up.

I just had a thought reading the column - we speak of Rubens as the most experienced F1 driver ever, and he is in terms of F1 starts, but I wonder how many starts in other kinds of racing a driver like Jackie Stewart or Graham Hill would have had in their careers. From memory Stewart had 99 F1 starts, and during the time he was in F1 he must have had many other races in sports cars, F2, Tasman, Can Am, etc. Not F1 to be sure, but still useful experience, and often against other top flight drivers.


Check out Ralph DePalma's record. He was a bit early for F1, but an Indy 500 winner, along with apparently more than 2000 other races.

Jackie Stewart probably isn't the best example. I suspect Stirling Moss raced more often. Someone like Jacky Ickx or Derek Bell had much longer careers too.


Yes, but jackie retired after his third wdc title in a short career. You have to remember he lost pretty much 75% of his race and team mates during that time, including his team mate cevert before what was meant to be his 100th.

If anybody wants to read an interesting story, read his autobiography. Absolutely brilliant. Can't envisage anyone coming into f1 nowadays I'm the way he did.


No argument from me in terms of JYS' significance in the history of motorsport, with skill, results, safety, commercial acumen and charisma all ticked. But on Tim's point there are better examples than Jackie for racing regularly in other classes.


It looks good if you're about to invest in the team.


As much as I would love to see a Williams race upfront I fear that it is another low fuel Glory run given, that they are going to be listed in Frankfurt soon.


Do you think they would pander to that James? By concentrating on glory runs they will only hurt themselves in the first races by not having the tyre data over long runs with fuel. And then where will the investors be?


I think they can afford one 'glory run', and anyway it's good for team moral.


Wouldn't it be great to see Williams back up in the front again, I know it's testing, but hands up if you think it would be fantastic to see this team, a team that is as long standing and famous as Ferrari and McLaren up their in the mix.

They should have kept Hulkenberg



I want to see Williams as the team to beat. Not Ferrari.


again thousand excuses from McLaren...


In their first test with the new car? Did you expect anything else.

Ferrari set theirs on fire on the first test. That's what happens in tests.


I've never really understood why teams sandbag their cars. Teams will always look for more performance and speed from their car, so you won't really make them try harder by being faster than them, will you?

No team was ever 1 second a lap faster than the field and said "You know what? We should all take it easy in the factory for a bit"

How much trust do the teams put in the simulators these days? Once they're set up, do they perfectly replicate the car?

Interesting that one of the least radical "looking" cars is the most talked about and feared. It would be almost funny if the Red Bull was just slow. It's great that Newey is again hitting his stride at RB, but I wonder what didn't work with him at McLaren? Or was it just that Ferrari were "that good" at the time.

A lot of teams are setting similar lap times and I can't wait to see what they make of the tyres in the season-opener.


Teams do need to decide which rivals' innovations to try to copy first, so from that point of view it does make sense to try to conceal the true effect of your own innovations.


exactly, case in point the EBD of redbull that made it so dominant last year. I cant remember testing too much but I do remember being shocked when Redbull pounced on the front row at the season opener and everyone immediately started pouring over the car trying to find its secret. At that point their job was harder as proven by Mclarens teething problems with their EBD because there isnt enough factory time or freebies testing since once the season is underway fridays and saturdays have to also be used to do setup and strategy work. It must have been depressing having the factory going flat out and yet every weekend the redbull seemed to stretch the gap a little more for a while there.

If Redbull had showed up at testing last year and blown everyone away like they most probably could have, I suspect some of the RB6 tech would have had some clones rolling around by Australia, sort of like the F-duct. I cant wait till Bahrain quali. Frankly their pace right now scares me because it either means they are an absolute dog or this year isnt gonna even be a fight... hoping for the latter.


Go check out the jerez test blog on autosport, where he talks about the Red Bull and how they can take cornern with the rear wing slot still open while others have to fight theirs with it closed.

That car sounds like a dominating piece of kit.


James, it may not be sandbagging, just not running light. The cars feel their best when they have no fuel in them is there is minimal mass that moves about, so there is more benefit in working on heavier fuel loads. Particularly so if qualifying is going to be less important with easier overtaking and more tyre stops.

If you take Webber's reported behaviour of backing off when he caught up to Schumacher, a couple of seconds dropped on a straight is no big deal, whereas running off line trying to pass someone potentially just wastes a number of laps.


Your missing the point completely in terms of sandbagging. The teams know exactly what works and how fast the car is. The teams don't look at the time sheets and compare, it's all against themselves.

They are running all tests knowing what the car is capable of. If the redbull was flying around 1 second ahead of everyone else then all the eyes would be stuck to it, so naturally rather than running around doing everything on fumes, they run with quite a bit of fuel onboard.

I kind of see where you're coming from, that one team going faster can't make the others push harder themselves. But if at the start of last season everyone say Red Bull flying, then they would stare down the car and mimic the car. Added to that they need to see how at the start of a race the car goes with soft tyres etc... It' not just about posting the fastest time you can.


At McLaren Newey was just an employee who had to do what he was told, bu mainly Dennis.

In RBR, he is practically the boss in many departments and he can hire whoever he needs and do anything he wants without any limitations.

The first few years of RBR, obviously there was a lot of building up to do. And the last 2 seasons they are right on to it and this is for the longer run...until Newey decides it is enough. Then RBR will have 2 more top seasons and then fade away.

Vettel will be gone too then and RBR will be like Williams is now.


I hardly think vettel is the saving grace there. Webber nearly won the WDC and without vettel stealing his potential points (say with an alg or beumi there instead) then he would be WDC right.

Vettel hardly had to 'win it', more like just not crahs and hope for reliability... both kinda worked and need a bit of practice on obth sides.

And Webber is the one developing it more than Vettel, vettel was getting a hand with Mark Webber for his setup for atleast most of 09 and I'm not sure about 2010.

While Newey is at RBR, you can put any top driver there and they can win.


The signs are ominimous for Red Bull being on top again. I don't think that means we're in for a white-wash season though; the competition as a whole is too close and strong for that, and with such competion comes with high pressure (and errors as per last year).

I'm hoping though McLaren is at least on a par aero-wise when the acid test of testing occurs!

I think we'll see teams with differing strengths this year due to the extra variables of KERS units and adapting to new tyres. Talking of tyres, I do hope we get what we want in terms of variation in the compounds and strategy variation (it seems that way so far)! It's potentially looking like the drivers' skill will have a greater input too this year, due to their fragility. A good thing! 🙂


Don't think we are going to know where they all sit till we get to Bahrain.

I think the tyres will give us as many strategy changes as we had with refuelling which should level the field somewhat. I'm hoping this year could be even closer than last year.


Seem more than possible that Williams were running light to create a false picture of capability/performance ahead of their IPO.....time will tell, but seems at best 'coincidental'


The interesting thing developing from the testing is not who is fast over a single lap, but who can make the Pirrelli's last the best on a long run. James, hopefully you can do a feature on this after the next test.

Tactic's, tire wear and raw pace are going to be equally critical this year. It's going to be awesome.


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.


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.


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 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?


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!


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...


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?


"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".


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...


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.


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 ... 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?


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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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