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Valencia Test: Day 2 – Ferrari and Alonso step up
Valencia Test: Day 2 – Ferrari and Alonso step up
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Feb 2011   |  6:17 pm GMT  |  110 comments

Fernando Alonso set the benchmark time on his second and final day of this test in the new Ferrari F150 car at Valencia today, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Force India’s Paul di Resta third quickest.

The Ferrari has covered an impressive 108 laps, over 200 laps in total (800 kilometres) in its first two days of testing. Alonso told Italian colleagues that he was astonished by the reliability and had never seen anything like it before,

Photo: Ferrari

“Zero problems here, zero problems in Fiorano, zero problems on the dyno,” he said. “That’s not normal for a brand new car. I’m really surprised. In the last few years you went into the new car test with caution, you did a couple of laps and then checked everything. Here we went straight out and did 12 laps first time out.”

Alonso did some long runs today, which impressed other teams. This is a similar story to this stage last season, showing that the F150, like its predecessor appears to be kind to its tyres. With wear on the Pirellis still looking quite high, this is an early positive indicator for Ferrari.

Not everyone has enjoyed such reliability as new car niggles have affected many teams. Williams have had a frustrating time, Renault lost time yesterday, although today they covered over 100 laps. Mercedes had a fuel system problem today,

Sauber had a frustrating day with only 42 laps turned by Mexican rookie Sergio Perez. Technical director James Key said that the lost time was due to “some issues with the rear bodywork of the car, which needed time to be fixed. Then unfortunately we suffered a power train issue early in the afternoon.”

Today saw both “Lotus” branded teams out on track together for the first time, with Robert Kubica in the black and gold Renault, sponsored by Lotus and Heikki Kovalainen in the new Team Lotus car. He suffered problems with the power steering system and did only a handful of laps. The system had to be flown back to the UK for repair so it can be used tomorrow. Nevertheless Kovalainen was able to give the car a thumbs up, “The whole concept feels right,” he said.

Rubens Barrichello lost time with a problem in the Williams battery KERS system yesterday and had a wiring loom issue today. Williams technical director Sam Michael, meanwhile, made an interesting comment on the time taken to activate the adjustable rear wing, “With a hydraulic system, we’re down to a few milliseconds to activate,” he said. “When the driver comes off the button or applies the brakes it returns to the high downforce position. While testing the system in the simulator, we asked the driver to hold the button down and allow the system to automatically bring it back when applying the brakes, but there were certain situations where you want the driver to bring it back before he touches the brakes.”

Pastor Maldonado had his first run in the new Williams car, while Mark Webber managed to do a few laps in the Red Bull towards the end of the day.
Apart from the indications on the Ferrari, it is still early days yet, with not too much to read into the relative lap times, as the teams come to terms with the new tyres from Pirelli and KERS in particular. Pirelli has the medium, soft and super soft tyres available this week.

There is a report in German magazine Auto Motor und Sport that McLaren’s new car, due to be launched on Friday in Berlin, has a version of the sidepod mounted exhausts seen on the new Renault. Engineers I have spoken to about this innovation say that the complexities of it and the repackaging required to pass side impact tests and to re-house electronics to accommodate it must mean that the gain is significant, as they wouldn’t do it otherwise.

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn said today that, with what was learned last year, he expects teams to experiment with blowing exhaust gases in various areas to gain extra downforce before the season starts in Bahrain. Everyone is working hard to recapture downforce, particularly that lost from the banning of the double diffuser.

Karun Chandhok was sighted in the Valencia paddock wearing a Team Lotus jacket and there appears to be a connection with the team, it looks like he may be taking the third driver role.

* In other news today, it was announced that Virgin Racing have had a management reshuffle, which brings the boss of main sponsor and shareholder Marussia into the senior management of the race team. Nikolay Fomenko becomes engineering director, while F1 veteran Ian Philips returns after being laid off by Force India last year. He takes up the role of chief operating officer. Grahame Lowdon is still the point man for the team in team principal meetings and with FOTA while John Booth is still in charge of the race team.

Additional reporting: Tom Clarkson

1. Alonso Ferrari 1m13.307s 108 laps
2. Vettel Red Bull 1m13.614s +0.307 43 laps
3. Di Resta Force India 1m13.844s +0.537 111 laps (2010 car)
4. Hamilton McLaren 1m14.353s +1.046 83 laps (2010 car)
5. Kubica Renault 1m14.412s +1.105 104 laps
6. Karthikeyan HRT 1m14.472s +1.165 80 laps (2010 car)
7. Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.645s +1.338 69 laps
8. Glock Virgin 1m15.408s +2.101 34 laps (2010 car)
9. Barrichello Williams 1m16.023s +2.716 51 laps
10. Perez Sauber 1m16.198s +2.891 42 laps
11. Maldonado Williams 1m16.266s +2.959 29 laps
12. Buemi Toro Rosso 1m16.359s +3.052 46 laps
13. Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m16.474s +3.167 64 laps
14. Webber Red Bull 1m17.365s +4.058 17 laps
15. Kovalainen Lotus 1m20.649s +7.342 15 laps

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“Zero problems here, zero problems in Fiorano, zero problems on the dyno,” he said. “That’s not normal for a brand new car. I’m really surprised. In the last few years you went into the new car test with caution, you did a couple of laps and then checked everything. Here we went straight out and did 12 laps first time out.”

Well… not anymore after today, it seems.

However, on the one hand, there are so many (complex) parts in an F1 car that the probability of any of it breaking down, especially when used for the forst time should be big.

On the other hand, however, the F1 technology is so modern and sophisticated (and expensive) that the car should always work perfectly.

That’s theory… 😉


The “overtaking zone” now sounds like it’s straight out of a console game.


Wouldn’t it be better for the rear wing to revert to high downforce when the driver comes off the throttle as opposed to hitting the brake? This would mean the wing would already be returning to its default position by the time the driver needs the additional downforce. With the current system there must be a terrifying half a second as the driver brakes hard but has no rear downforce.


Hi James

Just noticed something in your reports, Williams commenting that their ARW comes back down as soon as they hit the brakes (unless overridden), but nico commented that Merc’s is a completely manual process. I do wonders if Mercedes do have the ability to come up with a race winning car, if they miss something as seemingly obvious as this. Surely the less the driver has to think about, the more he can concentrate on going faster.


I read Williams’ comments slightly differently – I think they were saying that they wanted their drivers to let the wing close automatically despite the button being held down. I believe this is so the driver’s have one less thing to worry about when approaching the braking zone – ie, not having to think about releasing the button at the exact point, but instead just keep holding it down and trust the automatic system kicks in when braking starts. That’s just how I read it though!


I was under the impression that it automatically was to default under braking back to its starting position and also if there is a failure the device would default back.

I think I also read somewhere that due to the air flow it would default to is standard position if there was a failure…. but what i don’t get is if its actuated in some way, and what actuates the wing jams then won’t the device be stuck ‘on’….

Could be a benefit on a track like monza, no?


I think it’s compulsory for it to come down when they hit brakes but I will check. There are some corners where you want driver to lower it manually before he brakes.


Hi James,

How will the ARW effect the rev limit?

Will the team nead to adjust the gear ratio accordingly and how will they do that when they have 2 straights in a lap where only one allows the ARW ?


Yes, gear ratios will be affected, but it will be known unlike sudden tail winds etc


Looks like f1 2011 is all about tyres. I didn’t have high expectations of pirelli and they haven’t disappointed. Too much wear. I don’t want the f1 title decided by a tyre lottery. Damn shame. Might be good for Jenson Button and his fans.


Another website mentions Mark Webber had and installation problem. Is ther any information on what this refers to?

he’s four seconds off Alonso, so I’m tempted to ask if they didn’t install an actual engine 🙂


This isn’t qualifying, it’s the first early test of (mainly) new cars, so does it really matter that Mark Webber IS 4 secs. slower???


Good question, I think what matters is whether RB as a team are ready to help MW with equal equipment.

The number of testing days are severly limited now and to lose effectively a whole day is just silly.


The foot pedal box had to be changed and this took alot longer than expected. Apparently he has bigger feet than Vettel and hits the pedals harder.


Poor old Alonso, complaining away as ever.

“Zorro problems here, zorro problems at Fiorano, Zorro problems on the dyno”

So many problems for poor Zorro 🙂


“Nikolay Fomenko becomes engineering director” at MVR – he’s a former musician/actor/tv personality and used to race in GT and endurance events but I doubt he’s got some sort of degree in engineering. A PR stunt? What’s going on there I wonder? Marussia boss getting value for his money?

Unless, of course, it’s a mere coordination work… maybe posing for the cameras on the grid…


A lot of us are former *somethings, it comes with surviving being young and crazy!

It doesn’t mean we’re not qualified to manage ppl, or stand on the bow of the ship and hold up the flag!


Well, let’s see what he can do. He’s not been very visible so far, maybe later in the year when they announced the Marussia deal. CSC trackside reports column also mentioned him only in Abu Dhabi last year.


It’ll be important to qualify at the front so you don’t get caught up with the Team Lotuses at the back.


And despite the fact that they will run behind the HRTS, TF will constantly tweet ” the good guys always win” !!!!


Are you a Group Lotus employee. Anti-TF comments are geeting tedious… we get you point of view.


With KERS and a moveable rear wing, qualifying will have far less importance than last year as faster drivers will be able to pass (too?) easily.

Personally, I think the Team Lotus car ‘looks’ faster than last year’s. I reckon they will be in the same ballpark as Toro Rosso.


Hi James,

is the McLaren interim, i.e running a single diffuser on last years car, or do they still have the double diffuser on it?




No, they have the dd blocked off so simulating 2011 diffuser


I read that a few of the drivers/teams are saying that the Pirelli’s are falling away quickly, but is that not part of the design rather than a flaw?

Or are they still a ‘work in progress’?

Would be good to understand this before there is too much comparison and bad press compared to the tyres from last season….


I would hope it is part of the design. Montreal was an awesome race last year specifically because the tires degraded so quickly. and if the tires do degrade faster it will open the possibility of more strategies besides the quali on the softs and then make one stop to switch to the hards route that all the top teams went with last year. Last season could’ve been even better if the bridgestones weren’t such a durable tire.


completely agree – fingers crossed!


tyres that wear too quickly are just as much a gimmick as the rear wing and kers in my view.

just let them race, stop bringing in stupid rules and other situations to ‘artificially spice up the action’.

i have zero intrest in seeing races and championships decided by who is able to push what buttons and who manages to have less tyre problems.

i just want to watch a nice, clean race without any of this outside nonsence!


for what I remember from early Pirelli’s interviews, it is part of the design.

Pirelli also said if the drivers complain too much and make Pirelli look bad, they can just make a tire that last the whole race and they have no problem to achieve that and shout drivers mouths up.

But some drivers like rosberg and hamilton are actually happy that the tires wear fast, because they think is more challenging and fun to race like that.


that’s pretty cool – shame you can’t select a Ferrari vs a Redbull or McL etc….

still you’d prob have half the fields design teams on it then….


Nice one AlexD!


That’s incredible. A really useful tool!


Thats great, hope they do some others. Cheers AlexD


Agree. They had it for the 2009 vs 2010 models also.


Cheers for that, wish they had it for all the cars. Makes direct comparisons so much easier. If they had it so you could select any two cars from any year or constructor I’d be able to while away my late shift constructively for a change.

It really shows how the drivers position seems to be higher and further forward than the F10. have any other team done this? Maybe another piece of inspiration from the pick-up truck?


hmmm, quite nice. of course, it can’t really be done for other cars as it seems only Ferrari has done studio shots. Did they in the previous years ? Also, I’m surprised Ferrari’s unveiling is the only one of it’s kind as everyone just shows up at the track with their new baby. Not that it ultimately matters but still…


I have no idea who is fast and who is not. I think that even teams engineers do not know what is possible and what is not.

But as a Ferrari fan I am happy because of reliability and number of laps that Alonso managed to do.

Tires seem to be bothering everybody. I am wondering, James, will Pirelli listen and still change something before the 1 race?

I am caution on judging the form of teams – after 3-4 races we will have better understanding.


If I remember rightly, didn’t Ferrari have good reliability in testing last year, then Alonso had a few issues in the early GPs with stuff breaking?


Actually Ferrari had best reliability overall in 2010 season.


Yeah… I know these are just tests, but it’s always nice to see Ferrari and Alonso on top ;-). And it’s good to have the cars back on the track again.

I’m quite curious what Massa will show tomorrow and how will his work go, though I know that comparing times doesn’t really tell us much as there are so many variables to take into consideration and everybody tests something else.


This is what I said that I support Ferrari, not any particular driver. Alonso doesn’t deserve this being what he is – hypocrite. He is one of the best drivers, this is 100%, but I can’t support fully because of what he has done and I am not naive, he knew 100% about Singapore and definitely was at the center of the Spygate. Alonso would have had zero chances to be in Ferrari if Jean Todt was still around.

I hope he wins – because this is going to bring title to Ferrari, but I like Massa a lot more.


Alonso is nice and genuine? Sure…he surely did not know anything about the race being set up for him with Renault in Singapore 2008 and he was 100% innocent with Spygate (Ferrari/McLaren). This guy was involved in 2 biggest breaches in F1 of recent history….

There is nothing honest in Alonso….Ferrari, in fact, might experience it one day….


We did go far in this converstation. I’m sure it would be easier in Polish (smaller misunderstandings). I hope my explanation of being “genuine” gets through moderation :).


When I said genuine I meant not acting like smiling to the cameras when he’s mad. You look at him and you know that he’s e.g. angry. He doesn’t hide his emotions too well – that’s what I meant :). I prefer that to all smiles and pretended happiness ;-). Don’t get me wrong – I like him, but I know he’s no saint, but like I said before – that spices things up and gives us new topics all the time.

Re Singapore: I think he didn’t know before the whole thing. Realising during/afterwards is a whole different matter which I don’t want to discuss now, cause it’s a neverending story and really not a subject of today. These subjects were in fact discussed so much, that there’s hardly anything that hasn’t been said about it, everybody has some point of view (more or less complex) and I think it’ll stay this way :).

I hope Ferrari won’t experience anything like that anyway ;-). And I still think from today’s grid he’s the best match for Ferrari. They just suit each other well and I woant it to bring results not scandals :). So do you, right? 🙂


Funny – I am from Warsaw and I am a forever Ferrari fan. I do not pay too much attention to drivers anymore…I do not like anybody from the current grid. I did like Kimi and Schumi….

Alonso is a dark character – I am happy with him in the team, but he is a not a “nice guy”…

I would love Massa to be as good as he is.


So we’re neighbours ;-). I actually like Alonso’s “villain” image (though I don’t think he’s as bad as many say) – at least I know that he’s genuine – not acting and not pretending to be a nice guy so that people would like him more (though I still think he seems nice and normal in interviews most of the time). What I see is what I get and I can see how much he wants to win and never gives up – I like this will to be the best 🙂 (these are other reasons for liking him apart from his driving skills of course ;-)). And if he does or says something controvertial then be it – it only spices things up and adds some human factor and emotions – I wouldn’t be an F1 fan if the sport didn’t stir my emotions after all ;-). Like him or not, but as you said – it’s always better to have a good driver in your favourite team.

And it’s still possible to like Schuey, though it’s a bit different now.

I too like Massa, but in a different way. I hope he’ll have a better season this year, though it didn’t start too well for him today…

It’s always nice to see that there are more Ferrari fans in the land of Kubica-maniacs ;-). As you probably know, it’s sometimes difficult not to be a pure Kubica fan here – especially when looking for information other than the one concerning Renault ;-).

I’m actually afraid all web portals will go crazy after Kubica’s results in Valencia today (yup, I know – only first tests). Have a nice afternoon :).


You are from Poland, right and you support Ferrari? That is strange:-)


Yes, that’s true and I know this is unusual here (I’m having a hard life ;-)), but I was watching F1 before Kubica appeared, so maybe that explains it at least to some extent.

It will go even strager now – I like both Alonso and Hamilton :D. Alonso will always be the first one for me (so I’m happy to see him in Ferrari ;-)), but I must admit they are both brilliant drivers. And I also like Schumacher, so I would love to see him at the front again this season. I wouldn’t mind if all three of them were fighting for the title till the very last race this year.


What raises my eyebrows is that last year’s HRT was maybe 5 sec a lap behind on some tracks.

Hopefully they’ll get it sorted out but the early signs for the Mercedes are worrying?


Autosport are now reporting that the 1:17.769 listed in ogi’s lapchart above was the fastest time the HRT did today, which would place it 14th rather than 6th. No explanation in their report of why the time has changed, but it fits in far better with what Narain was running yesterday.


Time measuring error.


Sorry if this obvious/has already been asked, but have the monocoques already been homologated? If not, when does the freeze kick in? I’m curious as to how much radical, structural change we can realistically expect between now and Bahrain. Are sidepod redesign, for example, fair game? Are Renault front end exhausts or STR’s double floors an option for all teams willing to look into at any point throughout the season?


This will be even more off topic, but I’m really curious: is Ayrton an actually popular name? Because I’ve never heard of anybody other than Senna being called this way.

I think it’s a cool name. It sounds a bit odd, but cool at the same time. And at least you could be sure that no one would mistaken your child with another as there aren’t that many Ayrtons, I guess.


Umm…this might be a little off topic but I am curious…Did you really name your kid Ayrton?


LOL! It’s a running joke with my wife. I actually did lobby pretty hard for it, but she always came back with the same argument: “How will I ever be able to explain that I named my kid Ayrton?” And then she’d do a bit of an alcoholics anonymous mock routine, standing up looking ashamed and saying “Hi, my name is X and I named my kid Ayrton.”

But of course, I still think it would have been a pretty cool name for our kid… who’s a bit of a petrol head anyway!

James, I am now officially envious of your ability to earn naming rights! 😉


No. Emerson


sidepods are not part of monocoques, nor are exhausts for that matter


Yes, but if the exhaust pipe is directed smartly somewhere through the monocoque, the whole system can’t be copied directly, just like McLaren’s F-duct, and it will take much longer to implement.


Monocoques are homologated before racing, must pass crash tests of course.


I think the comment was meant to read ‘are the monocoques homologated before the testing sessions start, or can they still make changes and the homologation is immediately before the first race?’




By the way, I fully agree that the FEE look risky on side crashes. Wonder how they’ll fare in a gravel trap too.


Ok, thank you! With the deadline really being March 13, no wonder some of the big guys appear to be running very modest and conservative designs at this stage.

Unless it’s all smoke and mirrors, I’m not sure I get Renault’s logic in tooting their own horn so loud and early…


Good call to bring Ian Phillips back in, particularly as he has always been good on tge commercial side.

With nikolai fomenkos appointment, does he have a background in high tech engineering background? Or just a very healthy cheque book?

I thought his background (other the marussia enterprise) was in tv and a bit of racing?

Sounds strange to me if I’m honest…


HRT are obviously running on fumes trying to get sponsors


Another thing i thought of, was that HRT didnt update their car at all last season, so they know pretty damn well its ideal set up. Could this add to them being a bit quicker ?

This isnt even their 2011 car, so why anyone would sponsor them based on last years car being timed well against rivals in their ’11 cars, i dont know.


Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. It would have to be sponsors who had no idea what went on last season and/or didn’t understand they weren’t using their 2011 car yet…


Team Lotus suffered major mechanical problems at the very beginning. Although times shouldn’t be taken seriously, the reliability woes often transfer into the season. It’s kind of worrying. Also Mike Gascoyne’s bullish statements were significantly toned down. I have a feeling that despite Heikki’s optimism, the car is not what the guys in Norfolk expected and fighting for midfield may turn in fighting with HRT.


I agree, despite all the hype and PR Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne have manafactured, their car will be dog slow.


Because all cars reach their ultimate potential on day one of the first test.

They’ve had power steering problems, it kept failing and locking…

Lets see how they are when they reach bahrain. Then lets judge.


I’m actually worried not about performance, but the reliability of this year’s design, ability of mechanics and organization. They practically lost 2 days of testing and it’s obviously not positive for Gascoyne and co. No other team suffered such an obstacle in Valencia. It’s not about potential, it’s about getting team work properly, which should be greatly improved after 8 months of preparations. I wonder how the new designs from Virgin and HRT (if we see it during tests) will work. If they suffer similar problems, that will mean that organization-wise and technique-wise the new teams are still far behind.


This is the reason that tests are done, to spot these mechanical issues and sort them before the race. Im sure Team Lotus would rather their car faulter mechanically now then in Bahrain in a months time. Besides, some of the best machines made have had dodgey starts, example being the Gruman F-14 which crashed on only its 2nd test flight!

I wouldnt worry about Team Lotus, or other teams, breaking down at this point just as much as i wouldnt worry about the times being set by people.


“Zero problems here, zero problems in Fiorano, zero problems on the dyno,” he said. “That’s not normal for a brand new car. I’m really surprised. In the last few years you went into the new car test with caution, you did a couple of laps and then checked everything. Here we went straight out and did 12 laps first time out.”

Well its an F150 so it should be Built Ford Tough, right? 😀


Isnt it funny how someone saying things like this quite often cause bad luck (The murray walker effect).

After all of this reliable running, poor old felippe gets the recieving end of a tech issue today….


I bet Adrian Newey would say if it’s that reliable, it’s probably not fast enough 🙂


Massa took care of those concerns today 🙂 In mental games, once again, advantage Alonso.



only faster and only comes in red…

The downside is probably $10 mill. wouldn’t buy you one.


“Lotus” three sec. slower than HRT. Sandbagging ?


No , despite TFs hype and PR, theyl still be tail end charlies


How can you possibly make that assertion?

Kovalainen only did a handful of laps yesterday and of those laps, most were apparently installation laps with an intermittently malfunctioning power steering rack.

Truth is we don’t even have a ballpark figure for how fast the new Lotus is on track yet.


Shame for Lotus to have issues but needs to be remembered that this was more of a shake down rather than first day of testing. Certainly looks the business.

HRT are using last years car, plus probably some interim updates no doubt. As such they’ll have more knowledge of setting up the car rather than playing with settings like would be happening on the new cars. So what appears to be Karthikeyan doing well needs to be put in perspective – all the cars below had technical issues, with possible exception of Toro Rosso but not heard anything about them.

Great to see Renault getting a lot of runs in, really want to see the effect of the FEE and the impact on different tracks – will it be as good on more point and shoot tracks like Monaco with more gear changes and greater change in exhaust pressures. Interesting comment by Brawn saying he expects a few different methods of making use of exhaust gases by the first race.

Can’t believe the compact nature of the Williams, hope the tiny gearbox doesn’t result in reliability issues. The car looks very sleek and purposeful in the interim livery.

I’ve heard mention of a split floor on the Toro Rosso – does anybody know what is meant by this?


Pic of the floor on the torro rosso


Thanks for that. Can’t see that area surviving intact in the hustle and bustle of turn one midfield pack!



How easy will it be for other teams to copy Renault’s sidepod exhausts if it turns out to offer a big advantage or will this be similar to F duct in that other teams couldn’t fully implement it after chasis was sealed by FIA


I believe its not part of the chassis, so its easy to copy if you can make it fit into the body work.


Interesting what Sam Michael says about Williams rear wing. He confirms it’s a hydraulic version not electronic. The leading engineers over the winter (Anderson and Symonds) were saying the potential for leaks made electronics a far better and more reliable solution.

Be good to know whether the front runners are using hydraulics or electronic rear wing adjusters. James any ideas?


It would make sense for a hydraulic device to be sprung-loaded so that the hydraulics push against the return spring. That way hydraulic failure would cause the wing to fail safe.

Also, after watching the Sauber version… …it seems that that design is such that the pressure of the air flow should cause the wing slot to close if the hydraulics fail. I doubt whether engineers would consider a system that would not fail safe — given the danger inherent in a car taking a corner with the slot open.

It’s interesting the comment James makes about the speed of wing operation. It seems that automatic closing of the slot on braking might not be fast enough and could momentarily unsettle the car. Watch out for twitches!


I know its still too early and the rules may change but I wonder how they will control the use of the adj. rear wing. Whats to stop teams from using it outside the designated areas, same with KERS, how do they regulate its use ? Is it part of the ECU teams can’t touch ?


I think it is controlled eletronicly. Probably the controls are placed in the are for race control.


James, with the expected increase in tyre wear, will the allocation of tyres to teams each GP weekend increase? If not, don’t you think we’re in for extremely boring Fridays’?


It looks like they are going the opposite direction there, I think less tires are available than last year (reducing again in the next year)… could be bad news for the Mclaren 2010 strategy of “throw the kitchen sink at it” and if it doesn’t work on friday send the update package home and do setup work on Saturday. It will make teams under a lot more pressure to get updates right the first time so they can spend more time on setup with the few tires they have instead of evaluating new parts.

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