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Valencia Test: Day 3 – Kubica sets the pace, fiery start for Massa
Valencia Test: Day 3 – Kubica sets the pace, fiery start for Massa
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Feb 2011   |  5:57 pm GMT  |  94 comments

The first F1 test of the new season in Valencia test drew to a close today after three days with Robert Kubica setting the fastest time in the radical new Renault car.

The Pole set a fastest lap of 1m 13.144s on the second lap of a six lap run, the fastest time of the week’s test. Interestingly the tyre drop off on the following lap was 1.4 seconds. Adrian Sutil was second fastest in the 2010 Force India car, setting his time on the second lap of a four lap run, ahead of Jenson Button in the 2010 McLaren.

Photo: Renault

In the afternoon Kubica did a 24 lap run with reasonably consistent laps in the high 1m 16s range. Like many other drivers Kubica has commented on the steep degradation on the new Pirelli tyres, but this afternoon’s run will have been quite encouraging for Renault. Pirelli’s Paul Hembery indicated this afternoon that the four tyre compounds were more or less set now for the season, with only some minor tweaks for the next two tests, so it looks like we are going to be in for multi-stop Grands Prix and the pressure is on the teams to set their cars up to make the tyres last as long as possible.

It looks as though the Pirelli tyre switches on more quickly than the Bridgestones used to do, in other words they are easier to get ready for a hot qualifying lap. The trick is to minimise the drop off in performance after that first flying lap. Yesterday Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said that the most positive thing to come out of the test for him – apart from the reliability of the Ferrari – was that he had begun to understand how that might be achieved through car set up and driving style. “The result we got, above all on the long runs, was good,” he said, without giving any more details away.

Drivers like Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, who showed time and again last season that they can go longer on a set of tyres, must be feeling very positive about things at this early stage. The crucial tests for measuring tyre performance will be Barcelona, always tough on the left front tyre, and Bahrain.

Mark Webber was fourth fastest in the Red Bull and set his fastest time on the second lap of a six lap run, on what looked like a pretty high fuel load. His lap times on the run were mainly in the 1m 15s.

After the boasts of Fernando Alonso that the new Ferrari had ‘zero’ reliability problems, his team mate Felipe Massa had the opposite experience today with a fire at the back of the car due to an oil leak from a broken clamp, in the first hour of running. The Brazilian spun on his own oil and lost four hours of track time to repairs. Nevertheless he will be the first driver out in the Ferrari at the next test in Jerez on February 10.

Mercedes had Michael Schumacher in the car today and the seven times champion managed to cover a fair mileage, after problems with electrics and hydraulics in the first two days. Ross Brawn told the BBC that, “We’re not right at the sharp end but we are reasonably encouraged,” by the performance of the Mercedes so far. The Mercedes has looked a bit tail-happy in comparison with the Ferrari and Red Bull cars, so it seems there is still quite a lot of work for Mercedes to do.

Pastor Maldonado was at the wheel of the Williams again today. The team was using KERS for the first time.

It is noticeable that although Williams have had some technical niggles with the FW33, they have been in better overall shape for this first test of the season than they were 12 months ago where they were forced to run the then new Cosworth engine at reduced revs. However it’s early days to talk about where they stand in performance terms relative to the rest. However the Williams has had rival engineers closely studying it’s rear suspension which has been used to incorporate the support for the rear wing, something which hasn’t been done before – a bit like the sidepod mounted exhausts on the Renault. The Williams suspension/wing innovation is due to the miniature gearbox the team has designed this year. Williams looks like they have been more adventurous this year with design.

Timo Glock’s time in the 2010 Virgin car of 1m 14.207s was set on a qualifying simulation of out lap, fast lap and in-lap. His lap times for the rest of the day were mainly in the high 1m 16 – 1m 17s range.

Lotus has been struggling with parts for its power steering system and the running today was blighted by not having the new parts ready. As Mike Gascoyne tweeted this morning, the team was therefore “not going for times.” Jarno Trulli drove 38 laps without power steering, gathering data.

On the whole, though, the new cars have performed pretty reliably today. Not counting the Lotus, the other seven new cars in the field averaged 94 laps today.

Additional reporting: Tom Clarkson

1 R. Kubica Renault 1:13.144 95 laps
2 A. Sutil Force India 1:13.201 +0.057 114 laps (2010 car)
3 J. Button McLaren 1:13.553 +0.409 105 laps (2010 car)
4 M. Webber Red Bull 1:13.936 +0.792 102 laps
5 F. Massa Ferrari 1:14.017 +0.873 78 laps
6 T. Glock Virgin 1:14.207 +1.063 111 laps (2010 car)
7 P. Maldonado Williams 1:14.299 +1.155 98 laps
8 S. Perez Sauber 1:14.469 +1.325 104 laps
9 M. Schumacher Mercedes 1:14.537 +1.393 110 laps
10 S. Buemi Toro Rosso 1:14.801 +1.657 73 laps
11 N. Karthikeyan HRT 1:16.535 +3.391 63 laps (2010 car)
12 J Trulli Lotus No Time 38 laps

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Well here we go again, can’t really tell that much from the first test too many variables but I do like the way Renault have approached their design, if their exhausts work I’d expect at least 3 other teams to be running in very quickly and probably more than Renault from race one.


Pirelli making tires that go off so easily is just nonsensicle. Say i see an F1 race notice all these Pirelli tyres failing or losing pace, i’m hardly going to go out and buy some tyres by that manufacturer.

It’s terrible advertising for their brand.


You mean just like people are going to turn away from buying Meganes and A-/B-Classes because F1 cars go through eight engines a year?


With reference to G-Force. Colin Chapman suggested G Suits for the drivers. I think that this was around the time of his outlawed twin tub chassis.

I for one am a fan of the box theory. Instead of stating physical dimensions and materials use limits instead. No faster than x, no lateral G greater than y, bang for yer buck with fuel etc.

Any thoughts folks?


One issue this year is that in race trim car balance will change dramatically during the race and drivers won’t be able to adjust front wings to balance the car anymore. Do you think that we might see front wing adjustments during pit stops James or do they take too much time ?



could one judge or get a clue regarding anticipated speeds of cars by these tests, or just they are quite negligent for that? the teams always say they work with own individual programs, but do they really refrain from temptation compare in true speeds.


We should not read too much into the lap times, I know. For the sake of fun however, I shall allow myself a bit of just that after first tests are done. I’d say the top three are RBR, Ferrari, Renault, in that order (all three sandbagging). The Merc needs more work done on it, as does Williams or they’ll be battling in the midfield.


Agree with lockster – if the tires are still that bad, but… hard to believe Pirelli won’t be told that that severe of a drop-off is ridiculous. I also like Luca’s season prediction based on 1 corner.


Has anyone done a long enough stint for us to get an idea of fuel efficiency at this stage? It would be nice to know who might have the edge in this aspect of the season’s battle.

What would be a major improvement over last season’s fuel rules would be having a set amount of fuel that must be carried onto the start line by each car. This might reduce some of the under-fuelling that the teams have been doing and reduce the amount of time that fuel-efficient teams have to run on low revs and short shifting to conserve fuel.

This way, the team’s that can run efficiently get to run harder for longer and the teams who don’t will have to do more short shifting. Otherwise we will still see Red Bull underfuel their car to save a couple of kilos off the start line and then o into “cruise” mode during the middle of the race.

I think most of us want to see these cars go as fast as they and their drivers can go throughout the whole race, not just the start and three laps either side of the pit-stops…


First off, there’s nothing in a lap-by-lap analysis of a long stint that can give us good data on fuel efficiency. It’s impossible to isolate that from tyre wear, engine maps etc.

Secondly, having a set limit would in fact mean that they would just carry that much fuel. Why would they bother with slowing the cars down by adding more fuel into the tank? Don’t forget the packaging benefits they’d get from a smaller fuel cell.


Sure, they won’t put more fuel in – unless their car is particularly fuel hungry – but it also means that they aren’t allowed to put less in.

The Red Bulls last year were supposedly more fuel efficient than other teams, but they used that advantage to put less fuel in, rather than racing harder for longer. I want them to race harder for longer and see a situation where someone who has better fuel economy can catch and pass a car which has to economise. Rather than see everyone praying for safety cars and lapping at 80% pace for the back third of the race.

Multiple stops will probably help somewhat as there will be additional pit stop windows to defend/attack and the potential of the overtake wing feature will be interesting..



That is my point, however. Red Bull didn’t run at full pace for the whole race because they allowed themselves the “luxury” of less fuel than required to run the race, knowing that they would go into conservation mode at some stage of the race.

By having a minimum amount required, then they will be carrying enough fuel to go the whole distance at full pace.

This is really the problem with not having refuelling. Previously the strategy had several factors. More fuel means more weight, more tyre stress and less speed, but may mean only one pit stop. Less fuel reduces tyre wear, increases speed, but requires extra pit stops.

Now, the weight is a constant – albeit, reducing throughout the race – and it is only the tyre wear that differs. The way that most teams have played the tyre wear strategy with last year’s Bridgestones was to minimise the stops and just put up with worn, slow rubber – because everyone else was. The races could probably have been completed faster if the teams were more aggressive with their tyre changes, but each pit stop increases the chances of something going wrong so they just “covered” everyone else. In the end, that mentality cost Alonso his opportunity at the title as they covered the wrong Red Bull…

Lets find a way to stop the races going into cruise mode after the pit stop and give them more incentive to race the whole distance. I hope that the new wing system will create this type of atmosphere, but I suspect it will require some fine-tuning to become a balanced factor


Sorry to burst your bubble here mate, but your logic is slightly lopsided. Red Bulls were said to be more fuel efficient. Meaning they can run @ 100% pace with no fuel penalty. Their competitors with less fuel efficiency will have a fuel weight penalty for carrying extra fuel. Because red bull were most efficient, then they would have been running at full pace whilst the other teams wouldn’t have.

“Fuel efficient” would mean more power for same fuel, or equal power for less fuel.

Next, I think your minimum fuel load is slightly unfair. What if the minimum fuel load is more than what Car X has to use to run the whole race distance at 100% power?

While I do love seeing these cars flat out, remember that no refuelling immediately makes it a good idea to conserve your tyres, and by carrying less fuel the cars would be kinder on the tyres.


James (or anyone)

The engines used in the test, where do these fit/fall into the engine allocation scenario? Are they using last year left over engines? Or are the allocated a number of new engines just for test?




James what are your thoughts about the FIA’s idea of painting lines on the tracks for the new overtaking devices?


Every year there are more new buttons, lights and other gadgets on the steering wheel for the drivers to monitor and control! I wonder at which point it will become too much to handle without affecting performance, or has it already…wasn’t there speculation that Vettel hit Button because he forgot to shut off the F Duct off in time?


Jenson Button – “Guys there’s to many buttons on my steering, i don’t know which i’m suppose to push??”

Jakob Andreasen – “Just push which you like!”

Jenson Button – “Alright then…I’ll push myself”


yes…he hit the wrong “Button”…:P


That Mercedes nose makes it look like a duckbilled platypus from ahead!


With all these new devices on the cars and ‘overtaking zones’ we are going to have have NFL style play analysis of each move!

The forums are going to go on meltdown should any accidents occur.


If tyres are dropping off that much it is going to be very interesting, especially when they get to that corner after using kers and the rear wing, the higher entry speeds might cause some spectacular offs!! Especially with the lesser experienced and over exhuberent drivers!!


The Merc’s a Dog..right lol


I’m really glad to see a little innovation this season – the Williams’ gearbox and the weird Renault exhaust (which will probably be banned soon as not being ‘roadcar relavent’).

I’d be happier still if “they” just said “heres a box your car has to fit into, heres the tires you’ll be using, and here’s how much ‘fuel’ you get, now go to it!”


I’d like that too.

Not on this planet, not in this century.


Sadly, you are probably right. Modern F1 seems to be all about not getting beaten badly than about winning.


It would be nice, but the reality is that that would destroy the lower budget team’s ability to come even close.

Also, we would find that whoever guessed best during the off-season would win each year, rather than the teams having opportunities to replicate the top teams’ technology.

By having a clear framework, there is a level of consistency that prevents teams from getting too far ahead too quickly and staying there too long.

Even Red Bull last year with the “best” car struggled at certain tracks and certain conditions allowing two other manufacturers to still have a chance at the driver’s title in the last race of the season.


I cant buy your reasoning there. Why would ‘the Box’ favor the Big Teams?

And they have the same opportunity to ‘guess’ wrong in the off season already, so how is that different?

They handle it by avoiding taking chances and ‘play defense’ instead of ‘offense’.

I’d also think ‘the Box’ would be pretty consistent and you couldn’t get much clearer than having to fit it all in there!


The more freedom the teams are given in design, the more it favours the teams with the larger budgets. The more strict design conditions provide a basic framework which focusses the variables into smaller subsets which makes it a much more affordable proposition as there is less that needs to be designed. Money talks in R&D and the teams with the money will always have an advantage – they already do. Increase the R&D component and you increase the advantage that the folks with $$$ have.


Seems like alot of frustration there in that post, the thing is without more and more strict regulations the cars would be way too fast, even if they had rules from let’s say 1996 these cars would need much bigger and safer circuits, if there was no rules then a Newey designed Redbull X1 that’s in GT5 would be undrivable! The speed of the thing is hard for a human brain to react to and if it’s in real life then the Gforce would be too much for a human body, technology is amazing.


Well if they get too fast you give them skinny tires and smaller engines!

IndyCars had that problem a couple of years ago at the track in Texas and actually cancelled the race. Too much g-force for too long and some of the drivers were blacking out. Don’t know how they solved it.


As long as they said..”..and don’t spend more than $50m”

Otherwise it just becomes another boring arms race with billions being spent on 1/100ths of a second…..lets have innovation not saturation..!


James, thanks for the analysis of the FW33, the rear end is a seriously ‘aggressive’ piece of engineering, very impressive!

I’ve confidence in their ability to develop during the season so if they’re starting nearer the front, or at least not so far behind, this time then that is a positive sign.

I also think the cutaway and shaping around the airbox / roll hoop is excellent, and a full development year around packaging the Cosworth has undoubtedly helped.

Williams have taken a lot of flak over the last few years with many people seemingly dismissive of their ability to ‘get back on it’, I can only hope this is the step they have been striving for…


The tyre performance drop-off should be a concern for anyone hoping to see drivers pushing in races this year.

Even moreso than last-year, I can see drivers holding back a great deal to preserve tyre life. Again, such a thing is, to me, long-distance sportscar racing not F1.


Can you not see anyone going for fast laps on soft tyres over and over again? A la Schumi in France, I believe. Whereas another driver will go for less pace (to retain their tyres) and pit-stop fewer times, than “the hare”.

Personally, I feel that the softer sets of Bridgestone tyres held on for too long ie, there wasn’t a big enough gap between their degradation patterns\rates.


it should also be a concern to anyone who wants to watch actual racing!

intentionally making high-wear tyres is just as much a gimmick as that stupid rear wing and kers.


Exactly right


Any confirmation that Mercedes actually had KERS functioning today ? It appears ( KERS or not) that they already have a pace problem. Unless they were running 60kg of fuel – not likely – they are over a second back of the top 4. Notice that Nico and Michael at nearly identical times. Getting everything out of this chassis at this point.


bit off topic slightly, do the top 10 qualifiers still start on same tyres they qualify on?


I believe so


“Yes and no – the adjustable rear wing will help a fast car out of position come through the field so quali may be less important than it was.”

And can the KERS be even more decisive for non poles to take the 1st position in bad starts?

I think i remember last year RB in one or two of their long list of bad starts struggling to cover… With a good start and with KERS maybe a pole sitter with bad start can lose even more than before, but then again he will be able 2 laps later to use his Rear Wing 😀


Ouch, if the soft tyres are experiencing sharp drop off of perfprmance within a few laps, we might see the smart drivers use softer tyres just to get themselves into the top 10 then use harder tyres for final qual to ensure they are on the better race tyre for the first stint/stints then whack on the softs for the final stint on light fuel.


Probably last two stints based on two stops


It opens up a whole lot of fascinating options now that they’ll also be able to use team orders much more explicitly. Send one guy out in hards, the other on softs, grab the pole, manage the train… The strategy will earn their paychecks in full!

And of course, I’d be curious whether we start seeing banzai, pole-seeking laps from mid-field teams in need of headline news, sponsors, etc.


Cheers James, could be quite interesting then puts more emphasis on a lap qualy


Yes and no – the adjustable rear wing will help a fast car out of position come through the field so quali may be less important than it was


Looks like “team lotus” rushed their car so badly in a vain effort to generate some publicity and now its back firing. Gascoyne probably spends too much time tweeting.


It’s so easy to pick on the lower teams – Mike does a great job and I’m getting sick of defending the team. At the end of the day they have built this up from scratch and they are only just over a year old. The car has only been running for 3 days so lets see how things look in Bahrain…

As I have constantly said for the last three days – it stuns me when people make season long predictions right at the start. Remember Bahrain last year? Everyone thought Ferrari were going to smash it and that there’d be no overtaking.

Patience my friends! It’s an even longer year this year!


They’ve talked the talk in the off-season as you’d expect. To me they have quite something to live up to. Let’s see if they can score “30-40 points”.


You seem to have a downer on Team Lotus


Of course I do my names Dany Bahar!


The Renault front wing looks extremely close to the ground. Is this just a function of camber and suspension roll? Looking forward to a great season and may the best man and team win whoever they may be.


Looks like its right *on the ground!

And my understanding of the “rule” was that it didn’t matter *why it was too low.


Mr. Allen. How can we contact with you via e-mail?


It should be quite straight forward for your techy guys to set up a “Contact Us” form/page where the message gets sent to your email address directly, saves you having to publicly advertise your email address. Might help might not, but should take them minutes to set up


Baron Von Awesome

Go RK! go the R31-FEE! Def a positive sign for the season, not that one can conclude much from tests, but hey, doesn’t hurt to be on top;)


Why do bad things always happen to Massa? Alonso did over 200 laps in this car and Massa was on fire almost right from the start. And in this case it was the “wrong” meaning of being on fire….

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