F1 Winter Break
Final test day 5: Pre season ends with a bit of a washout
Final test day 5: Pre season ends with a bit of a washout
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Mar 2011   |  7:52 pm GMT  |  130 comments

The final day of pre season testing was very wet, as predicted, giving teams the chance to sample Pirelli’s wet weather tyres, but gaining little other useful data.

That’s it now for testing until after December- following the final race in Brazil.

The feeling is that Red Bull has the edge going into the first race, with Ferrari close behind and Mercedes came through the ranks to close up quite a bit of the second deficit they had to the front runners at the final test.

Nico Rosberg ends the week with a positive frame of mind after the improvement shown by the update package this week.

“We are on the up for sure, and all credit to the team for getting the upgrades on the car and, most importantly, to see that they are working as expected,” he said.

McLaren have work still to do, after another difficult week, while Renault leads the midfield runners, who are all pretty close together and the pecking order will be interesting to see in Melbourne and Sepang.

From Pirelli’s point of view the testing has now covered almost 100,000 miles and lasted seven months since they first turned a wheel at a private test.

According to them Ferrari has covered the greatest mileage with 5244 kilometres covered over the course of the 15 days running, then Mercedes (4483), Red Bull (4407), Sauber (4099), Williams (3894), McLaren (3844), Force India (3745), Toro Rosso (3737), Lotus Renault (3700), Virgin (3361) Lotus (2403) and HRT (1949).

Sauber did the biggest mileage of this final week, which was hastily put together after the cancellation of the Bahrain test and GP.

“Fernando Alonso has driven the most distance on Pirelli tyres with a total of 2826 kilometres, ahead of Michael Schumacher (2474), Felipe Massa (2417), Mark Webber (2373), Rubens Barrichello (2198) and Sergio Perez (2129),” said a Pirelli statement.

Pirelli’s Paul Hembery was on the defensive this week after some comments from drivers about the dry and wet tyres, but he stuck to his line that their tyres will make for more exciting racing, “Pirelli will respond to the requests from the FOTA and we can do all the modifications necessary, ” he said. “But for the choice of tyre they must not last more than 30 laps. From our calculations we are looking at between 2 and 4 pit stops. Just think what an advantage it will be to be able to do one pit stop less (than your rival).” A point I was making in my post at the end of the last Barcelona test.

Meanwhile HRT did not run its new car today, due to problems with parts stuck in customs, which all sounds very odd. So they will have to start from zero in Melbourne. Gazzetta dello Sport spoke to Tonio Liuzzi and has reported that the team’s budget for the season is between €45-50 million, a similar budget to Virgin Racing, but which is still a fortune to compete at the back.

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What do HRT get from this? Whats the point in them just turning up (as they did last year). At least the other new teams have made some progress...




Do you see signs that the Pirelli tyres are suiting better for Michael and Felipe?

As I remember the narrow front tyre was Michael's problem and Felipe struggled with heat-up of the hard compounds.



PaulL, I wasn't sure, you may be right.


Ok after the last test I dont my prediction on the pecking order and this is my revised pecking order after the last test:

1. Redbull

2. Ferrari

3. Renault

4. Mercedes

5. Sauber

6. Mclaren

7. Torro Rosso

8. Williams

9. Force India





Certainly they are better for them than last year B'stones because the fronts are stronger, which suits them


And if I remember correctly Fernando also liked strong front tyres...


Wasn't Alonso once big on strong rears more? Part of his understeery approach was to launch the front in and rely on the rears to be strong.
I really don't know though, I'm just trying to make sense of what I've heard.


Do Pirelli actually make any money from F1? They supply a lot of tyres for testing, do they get paid for them?

Only an idiot would believe that an F1 tyre has anything to do with road tyres sold by the same company, so the sales boost from that association must be negligible. (Or are the driving fraternity really that gullible?)

One has to feel a little sorry for HRT assuming of course that they did not make the fatal mistake of asking the customs officers to hurry up; this is something you only do once.


There are a lot of tyre manufacturers, and this is one of the main ways of trying to differentiate as a premium brand versus the more generic ones out there. It's a trickle down type thing, people may not think they're being biased, but as people buy more pirelli's for track days, etc it gets the brand more exposure and more sales in the general market.


Win on Sunday,sell on Monday.If non-committal on a brand of motor oil or tire,a motorist can be swayed by motorsports success or failure.And with hours of exposure on TV all year (hours of R&D too) it must be viewed as a win/win-even if it is a loser.


The Pirelli sponsorship of F1 is a matter of branding and marketing. Their tyres are associated with the pinnacle of motorsport technology, which sends the message that they know their stuff. Then, they get talked about regularly; you you see their logos on the TV throughout the global coverage, and this implants the Pirelli brand into our heads, so when we next go shopping for regular road tyres we go, "ah Pirelli, I've heard they are good..."


This is a PR exercise for Pirelli and they must be wondering what they have let themselves in for. What they are really unhappy with at the present is that virtually every driver is complaining about tyre degradation. Those close to F1 readily understand this, but when Joe Blow sees drivers after a race, state their tyres degraded so fast that it ruined their race / strategy, it's hardly the impression you want to leave from a PR angle.

Bridgestone saw this coming a mile off, Pirrelli have not been so smart here and are just now realising the full implications.


No, it costs them to be in F1.


Hispania's excuse is strange and it comes across as more of a cover for the fact they have no money. Would love to see them out there but if they can not even get a car to test then what is the point of racing this season? The photos in the pitbox yesterday did not suggest that the team was really prepared for testing.

I went to their website yesterday and they have one notable sponsor in Tata and then the next one JimRickey the link goes to a vacant domain name. The rest are only very minor suppliers. Lets hope they get some cash from somewhere (possibly the Spanish owners of the team for once) go racing the best they can.


James, what do you make of Sarah Holt's analysis that Red Bull have not been on the track with less than 80kgs of fuel on board?

I find it rather ridiculous as it would mean the RB7 is actually faster than the RB6.


James, after yesterday's impressive performance by Schuey, what in your opinion can we expect for Australia? Do you think that the situation is Red Bull - Ferrari - Merc - rest of the teams? Are McLaren so far from the front runners, or are they better in race pace terms than what we have seen so far?


I think james makes it quite clear in his post above. read it again, particularly the third para:

"The feeling is that Red Bull has the edge going into the first race, with Ferrari close behind and Mercedes came through the ranks to close up quite a bit of the second deficit they had to the front runners at the final test."


Yep, you're right, thanks mate. I realised just two minutes after writing the comment. Next time I promise to read the article twice before writting any comments.

Anyway, I still have some doubt re the real race pace of the McLarens, no matter we all know they have a lot of work to do.



Can you explain why Mercedes started the development of this year's car in mid-summer 2010 and had to bring everything together DURING the winter testing period, whereas a team like Red Bull who has fought to the last race (therefore directing a significant part of development up until October to the 2010 car) and brought a near-finished car at the first test?

I can fully appreciate different approaches, etc., but there aren't really that many different approaches a trained project manager can take to bring a product to market, for them to vary so much.

I did not think much of the allegations late last year that Red Bull did not adhere to the resource restriction agreement, but this could (concievably) explain the discrepancy..

Any other possible explnations? One would be their savings on their drivers, but I'd expect them all to have earned hefty enough bonuses last year (per race won) to negate the difference.


Mercedes had a flawed car last year, hence it made sense for them to bring an interim car to get used to Kers, the wing, weight distribution and the tyres before adding stuff on. The RB was the fastest car last year, with this car mainly being an evolution on that.

Merc's strategy also means that they had more time in the wind tunnel.


indeed the customs story is strange... is HRT not based in Germany where Kolles has his "shop"? Or are they based in Spain. In any case it is all EU plus what kind of prohibited material could be transported by HRT? Drugs? LOL!


they said they had parts coming from the us hence why they are stuck in customs


Just to set the record straight on HRT, the Dampers were shipped frm USA. this is as per colles interview.


Top 5 positions as of winter testing finishing then -

1) Redbull

2) Ferrari

3) Mercedes

4) McLaren

5) Renault

As a Lewis Hamilton & Mclaren fan im very disappointed once again with the teams pace. In a round about sort of way im glad Red Bull exist and are competitive otherwise we would be seeing continued Ferrari dominance that we have come to expect over the years.


I am a McLaren fan as well, and yet I think you are being too generous. I think Renault should be no. 4, and McLaren no. 5.

If Jenson wins in Australia again, it will be a miracle, but welcomed nevertheless.


I agree to a point.

I really do believe that once McLaren get to grips with their car it will be an absolute rocket and up there challenging for race wins on a regular basis.

The problem the team faces is that while they are doing that everyone else will be improving their cars and they might just find that by the time they start winning, they're too far behind in the championships to make much difference.


I think at the moment, until the first race happens it difficult to place 4th and beyond. I feel Williams and Toro Rosso are also a strong contenders for 4th/5th fastest as well as Sauber who have come through in the latest test. Its more of a 1-3 and then 4-8 at the moment.

Vincent McLauchlan

Hi James

Yor site is alway of great interest, also your comments on TV.

I think there is a very BIG point missing about tyers and pit stops. We want to see racing on the track car passing on the track not in the pit stops.



I think that the difference between Red Bull and Ferrari(if any) is not going to decide on the race win - strategic and operational perfection is going to win races and titles this year.

First race is not going to be straightforward and it might be that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull will win in Australia -maybe Schumacher is going to crack it?


James, this is probably a stupid question, but I never understand why teams don't elect to practise in the rain. I understand that they may not be able to go through their original dry-weather program, but given that several races a year end up with at least some rain in, is there no useful information they can get from this type of weather?


I thought they do test in the rain, though they take it easier... And sometimes the rain is just too heavy. I read in the autosport commentary yesterday that the conditions reminded last year's Japan or Korea (when the FP/qualifying/race was red flagged). Also I think Hamilton said that he hadn't seen so much rain for some time (and I remember how he considered the rainy Korea to be fine ;-). Or at least he pretended to...). Anyway, there was some rain before during the winter tests, I guess in Jerez and also in Barcelona (during first tests there) and the teams did test then. So maybe on Saturday the rain was simply too heavy and it wouldn't have been useful. Plus there were only five cars testing on Saturday anyway (the rest opting to test on Tuesday as their 4th day), so the track seemed more empty than normally. And e.g. Ferrari, even without the last day, covered more kilometres than any other team, so maybe they didn't really need to risk in such conditions. The other 3 teams that decided to test on Saturday instead of Tuesday tried to do something, but maybe the conditions were simply too extreme...


Red Bull(for one) were looking at reliability and outright speed-both negated by wet conditions.Therefore you cannot learn what you came after.They may already have a handle on waterproofing for this year's model as well.And I feel sure James loves questions,even if he cannot answer them all.He asks questions all the time at his job.So turnabout is fair play.


Of course, but some of the teams were finished testing yesterday, so not all of them were expected on track today


Alonso said that he was very confident and felt that Ferrari was on the pace of RedBull. Everyone else seems to think that RBR is clearly faster.

The issue is that Alonso isn't renowned for bragging and over-estimating the strength of his own team. If anything he's sometimes too cautious.

On the other hand, everybody including you James says that RBR is the fastest (journalists, drivers, team managers, etc). My feeling is that Alonso is wrong and I can't wait to see the track verdict. We'll need 1 to 2 months to assess who's there and who's not.


I thought Alonso was talking about race pace in which case RBR and Ferrari are closer. I've heard people saying that the gap is bigger (about 0.3?) in qualifying pace, but maybe that won't be as crucial (as was the case in 2010) with the rear wings and various strategies due to the tyre wear. So maybe talking about the race itself, these two teams are closer.

However, we still need to wait 2 weeks and see.


One interesting comment you made James is that the mid-pack is so close that drivers will make the difference this year. I fear for Sauber and Williams with their OILdonado and Smurf Grouchy.


Am I wrong to think that McLaren is unlikely to make it to the end of the race in Melbourne with TeamLotus


If I were a betting man I'd put money on them not finishing.




James, if you had to guess where would you place Mclaren right now? Hamilton seems to think they are at least a second off the pace which would put them in the Sauber/Williams/Torro Rosso battle. They must surely admit now that the decision to miss the first test was not the correct one


i think the bad decision was the one to build a slow car


Probably for the best the HRT car has a chequered flag pattern on it -

I can't imagine they'll be seeing too many at the end of races, heading into the season without any testing.


What on earth is going on with HRT? Ok, I said last year that if they made it to the grid in 2011, I would eat the Toyota/Pirelli test car, but even though it looks like they'll make it to the grid, there's almost no point in just turning up for a second year running. They are constantly six months behind everyone else. Just what are they in F1 for? What incentive is there?

On a side note, I'm not up on all the comings and goings of the teams, but can anyone tell me whether Torro Rosso use resources from Red Bull Technology? I know it seems like a silly question, but I'm just curious as to what they have at their disposal right now.


Maybe Kolles really wanted to see you eat that Toyota?

It's possible that Toro Rosso shares KERS, gearbox and some other stuff with Red Bull; but otherwise I think they make everything themselves (or outsources it to other companies).


If there's enough chips with it, I'll be fine.

Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking. I just wondered if Toro Rosso was getting RB tech to supply it "at trade price".


Just not sure about Hispania's 2011 strategy. No testing? It seems they only planned one/two days at best.

If they're lucky they might be able to finish a place ahead of Virgin this year like last, I don't see them troubling the midfield anytime soon.


Weird that the team that needs it the most, doesn't do ANY testing. Something tells me there has been a lot of yelling behind the scenes.


It's like a vicious circle, isn't it? They don't have money, so they can't do much testing (aparently they can't do any testing at all). As a consequence, they can't improve the car much and will always be at the bottom, which, "for sure", will not attract many sponsors. And again, because of the lack of big sponsors, they won't have money to develop the car and test, so the car will still be a mess (I don't want to judge them even before the first race, but I just don't see them doing any better than last year). And so the circle is complete...


Isn't it weird that Alonso has never won the Australia Grand Prix while Vettel usually DNFs there. As for Webber, he is always in the middle of some drama or the other.

Am immediately discounting all the above from winning irrespective of their cars & that includes Massa who has never won down under.

The win is between Hammy & Schumi


The win is between Hamilton and Schumacher?! Very much unlikely sorry, the win in Australia is between vettel and alonso who should I remind you did win Australia in 2006 get your facts straight.
Also you're not giving Button or webber the credit they deserve.


Yes I had forgotten Alonso won it in 2006 but here's my reasoning. Vettel usually crashes out in Oz & worse still he won the last race of last season so his odds look really dim.

Alonso too doesn't look too good because he won the first race in 2010 & in these competitive years, it's much harder to win the same race twice on the trot or back to back.

Webber has a bogey track in Oz maybe the pressure gets too much in his home grand prix.

As for Button, he has won the last two Australian grand prix so winning a third on the trot is next to impossible - Trust me!


Statistics count for nothing, sport is unpredictable - except for wrestling anyway.

Look at Hakkinen - where did he come from? Won the last race of 1997 and the first two of 1998. Damon Hill won in Australia back-to-back, 1995 last race, 1996 first race.

Don't believe in statistics - anyone can win, it depends on the cars, the drivers, and the circumstances. The most important thing in the end is the result.


Alonso won in 2006


Hasn't Jenson won the last 2 or 3 Australia GP's? So, if a McLaren wins, it might end up being him. Having said that, if Lewis wins, I will be happy.


Check it out: Australia 2006


If we go further with this reasoning, we may reach interessting conclusions: basing on statistics we may expect that neither Alonso nor Vettel (nor Massa as you notice) will win in Australia. Then, statistically, the driver who wins the first race will most probably win the WDC (since 2000 that wasn't the case only 3 times if I'm correct), so taking into account both probabilities, we see that neither Alonso nor Vettel nor Massa will become the champion this year.

Luckily, the statistics are sometimes wrong and there are some exeptions to the rules :).


Aah yes, now I remember. Alonso won Bahrain & Australia back to back in 2006. Okay thanks!

Yes you're right, statistically the driver that has won the first race (especially if it was in Australia) has gone on to win the title more so this year because last year, the driver that won the first race didn't lift the WDC trophy.

Now Vettel can't win Australia because he won in Abu Dhabi last year same thing with Jenson in that he's won back to back Oz races.

Alonso won't win it with Ferrari for he has the Prost curse hanging over his head while Webber has the dreaded #2 car while his home grand prix has always been a bogey track & that only leaves chosen ones i.e. Hammy & Schumi to come through.

P.s. You say statistics are wrong then how come in F1 since the Big Bang, we have had a totally different team win the WDC every decade


Statistics are not totally wrong - only sometimes things don't go according to them (luckily, so there is a room for some surprises and unpredicted events 😉 ) - e.g. last year, 2003 and 2005 don't go along the regularity saying that the driver winning the first race wins the WDC) :). I'm hoping for a great season opener and though I'm rooting for Alonso, I really woudn't mind seeing Schumacher and Hamilton fighting at the front as well :). These are going to be hard and long two weeks!


Apart from the fact that Alonso did win in Oz in 2006... 🙂


It's even weirder that you say bluntly that Alonso's never won Australian GP. I suggest you watch the 2006 Australian GP once more....


In football now, the FA are introducing a fit and proper persons test for anyone looking to own a football club after the Portsmouth debacle. Do you think this should be introduced to Formula One to prove that a team has the necessary funds and facilities in place to go racing at a proper level? This would help reduce the problems that HRT are currently having and USF1 had, I feel that is slightly embarrassing that a team is using a race weekend as a test session. I would hate to see what kind of mess they would have been in if Bahrain wouldnt have been cancelled


They do something - now. During last season, the FIA checked the financial credentials, and other areas, of the two teams who were aiming to enter F1, Villeneuve and (I think) Stefan. They decided not to award a 13th grid slot, as neither team could have made it.

The USF1 debacal was a slap in the face for the sport in Anerica, although not down to the FIA or Formula 1 itself. USF1 had the idea, and the stuff to show for it. But they never had the money, the credentials, the ability. A bit of a shame, because I did like some of their marketing ideas.

HRT on the other hand, were failing badly. Let us not forget they were Campos Meta until a couple of weeks befor ethe 2010 season. The only reason Bruno Senna raced for them is because he had a contract with Campos, which Kolles couldn't break. A shame for Bruno really.

What I do not like about HRT, is that they can never accept the situations they are in. Rather than say, yes, we need Yamamoto in the car as we need the money - it was always about giving him mileage, that he was a quick driver etc etc. Never stating that this was a plan for the rest of the season, they constantly did not mention their driver like up until the eve of practice.

Then there is the whole 'we would have finished 10th, but we had rookie drivers' - Truth is, they were lucky to finish 11th. Virgin had a lot of teething and reliability troubles, but were on course for 12th or higher in Korea, until (I think) Buemi took Glock out. The HRT meanwhile did outqualify a Virgin a few times on merit, but always fell back in the races.

The FOTA situation too - we left because we felt the organisation did not reflect the smaller teams (a point not shared by Virgin, Lotus, Sauber et al), was followed by FOTA pointing out that HRT had not paid. The team hit back saying they didn't pay because they felt the organisation didn't reflect... What matters is that HRT say they left, FOTA say they were thrown out, then HRT practically admit it by saying they didn't pay.

A lot of comments I read, people say they like an underdog, they support HRT, the modern Minardi. Thing is, Minardi knew where they stood. They never shot above their weight. always admitted problems where possible. Paul Stoddart always campaigned for the small teams to get funding from the bigger guys, but at least he was asking for help.

What I really liked was HRT saying that they are already in a better position than last year. I suppose that means at least the car made it to a test, albeit on the last day, and didn't run. Last year it just made it to Bahrain.


The test doesn't work in football, why would it work in F1?


I just used football as a potential example, but there has to be something which can be done to secure a team from start up to 3 or 5 seasons down the line. As you well know its not just a team, its a lot of individuals that are affected.


I might be wrong but I think that mclaren are only ahead of force India and the teams that joined last year judging from what I've heard from people at the tests watching the cars.


@ James

"Mercedes (4483), Red Bull (4407), Sauber (4099), Williams (3894), McLaren (3844), Force India (3745), Toro Rosso (3737), Lotus Renault (3700), Virgin (3361) Lotus (2403) and HRT (1949)."

Why did you write 'Lotus Renault'? It has become my pet hate and I thought you had decided only to use the Lotus in Lotus Renault when referring to Mercedes as Mercedes Petronas and Ferrari as Marlboro Ferrari.

Interesting that Webber got quite a lot of testing done given that he dind't even rock up to the end of last year's Pirelli fest. Seems it didn't do anything bad to him


Hi James, most people seem to think that RB and ferrari are on the same level during long runs. From what I have seen in barcelona and this week it seems the ferrari's stop much more frequent (after 12-15 laps) compared to RB or even williams during race simulations is this true? And if not neccesary why would they stop so frequent? thanks

mohamed south africa

james, predictions for this season please


A fierce battle between Vettel and Alonso for the title


Interesting! No Webber then? Could Massa's 'help' be the crucial factor this year.


Jo.. incorrect. Phil Hill won the 1961 championship.

Ipso facto, 50 years on it will be Hamilton.


Honestly the only person I see lifting the WDC is Hammy.

Alonso's career looks so much like that of Prost & yes both failed to win the WDC with Ferrari & if you recall Prost's first year at Ferrari in 1990, he too won 5 races & lost it at the last race.

Vettel - Since Kimi, the defending Champ has only won two races so I suspect Vettel will too.

As for Massa, the lost he the 2008 WDC is very similar to the way Schumi lost his 2006 title or the way Chelsea lost their Champions league final = Will never happen.

I can't see Webber winning it too since Prost is the only driver EVER to win the WDC with the #2 car.

Rosberg & Jenson are doomed too because the #7 car & the #4 car have never won the WDC so after all my calculations, that just leaves Hammy as the 2011 Champ.


You really cannot count Prost for that - It was the penultimate race in Japan, and Senna took him out (he even admitted to it, later). Therefore Prost didn't loose it, Senna took it.

Massa lost the 2008 title because he was inconsistant. So too was Hamilton, but he finished more times. In the end, it came down to one corner. Schumacher lost the 2006 title because of reliability, especially his engine blow up in Japan.

Out of interest, does anyone know how many times car 5 has won the title?


Hamilton won't win because no driver whose name starts with "H" has ever won a world championship in a year ending with 1. Does this sound logic ?!


Meanwhile, the fact that Schumi returned to the track on Saturday, that just goes to show, the shark has smelt blood in the water & is going in for the kill


Hi James, where do you put McLaren in the pecking order based on all the tests we have seen so far? Are they really title contender this year? I don't reckon they are, but what do you reckon?


As a work in progress it's hard to place them as they haven't been able to unlock the speed because of problems. I'd be surprised if they aren't in the hunt by the start of the European season


Another question James, in one of the articles last year you mentioned that each team would save around $350k US for not having a pit stop. Now this year looks like multiple pit stop season. However, there is not refueling involved of course. So, how does it affect the cost of the teams compare to last year?


THe money was saved by not transporting big heavy refuelling rigs around the world. They will get through a lot more tyres, of course


Wash-A-out??? I know your son has an Italian name but I didn't know you were adopting the accent... 🙂


Are HRT serious? They are Spanish, Barcelona is in Spain? Where was this car actually built? Who by?

Have you seen the front wing? The end fence turns 90 degrees effectively creating a brick wall for the airflow. I've never seen a flat surface as bas as that on an F1 car.


The car has been designed by a team led by technical director Geoff Willis and chief designer Paul White. Many of the individual components have been built or contracted from numerous locations. It uses a 2010 Williams LG14 transmission and gearbox. The chassis was made in Austria by CarboTech. According to Willis 95% of the car is new this year. And most of what is held over are standard items such as the ECU, and of course the Cosworth engine.

Not every item on an F-1 car is made in-house, brakes, and suspension dampers for instance are often manufactured by second parties.

Not everything you see on roll-out is what you see in a race.


I hate that I've become quite a constant slasher of the HRT team because they have admittedly made it into F1 and are surviving, but so much on the cusp and bubble of things they are almost making a mockery of it (from a very personal view).

You would have thought after last year's issues they would have atleast tried to get things in considerably done more in advance, but no they are still very much almost living by a motto of doing things by the last minute! Their driver musical chairs last season didn't help their public image either of management and of course also the deal they had with Dallara for making and developing the car.

Sure they've also provided more jobs in F1, but they are turning it all into a great, big, massive joke. I personally would rather the team was gone altogether seeing as Team Lotus and Marussia Virgin have managed to make good progress and if my memory is correct, Team Lotus when they started as Lotus Racing had even LESS time to get things together than HRT.

So not only are they not really progressing they are also seemingly not efficient!


At the risk of sounding like an HRT fanboi they actually finished ahead of Virgin in 2010. Granted it was second-to last place. But remember Virgin had some very serious issues last year as well, not the least of which was of all things lack of fuel capacity, and after that lack of downforce. Nor does it appear they've done all that much much development over the winter on their new car, mostly it appears they've updated to current specs and worked on reliablity. Lotus has certainly made the biggest strides of the sophomore teams, but I don't know if there was less time than HRT last year; certainly there was less funding, and not as clear a vision in HRT as there was in Lotus, Tony Fernandes has been the guiding light there all along. Until they hired Colin Kolles HRT was quite a mess indeed. I think they would have done a bit better had they had a more sophsticated chassis than what Dallara provided, and had they been able to do some development over the season-also a result of their fallout with Dallara.

Like I said, I'm not an HRT fanboy, but I do appreciate their ability to confound their naysayers.


Couldn't reply to your last post, so hopefully this comes under it!

Totally agree there, (Team) Lotus did do the best prep work of the year old teams for 2011. Getting Renault engines and the Red Bull gearbox, and designing a more modern car than last years effort (which itself did well considering the timescale). Agree too that the Cossie is hardly a weak link. the X-Trac is though, and it is a shame that Virgin are using it again this year. How many failures did Virgin, HRT and Lotus have with it last season? Of all, Virgin were the ones who struggled with it most, I think!


A lot of people seem to be pointing out the fact that Lotus have made a step forward over Virgin.

We shouldn't forget that Lotus are now using a Renault engine, and the Red Bull Technology gearbox. Virgin meanwhile, are still with the Cosworth powerplant, and the X-Trac box.

HRT meanwhile, are with Cosworth, and fitted with a 2010 Williams back end and gearbox.


I should have said; Lotus have made the biggest strides in preparation for 2011. The changes they've made should be an improvement, but the significant step forward of course will be seen when the season starts. I mentioned the 2010 Williams equipment for HRT in the post just before this one and I think that was a very wise choice. The X Trac was in my opinion a key contributor to Virgin placing last in the standings. The Cozzie however is hardly the weak link in anyone's package.



How funny would it be if it rained in Melbourne and McLaren were really fast in the rain again and got a 1-2 haha.


It can always happen. There's rain forecast for next weekend (the one before the race weekend) and its in the high teens low 20 degrees at the moment.


29 degrees Celcius and sunny most of this weekend just past!


As a Melbournian we have just had the 2nd wettest summer on record. Would almost be a suprise if it doesnt rain at some point over the weekend!


Now that made my day! Thanks mate.


James..this year how cars treat their tyres is going to be key to who wins .....wat aspects of the car affect the car directly...how can a car be designed to treat its tyres better?


Minimise sliding and wheelspin, get an even load across the tyres that kind of thing



You talk about wheelspin,I am curious to know the type of system Teams use to control any excessive wheelspining on the car. We know that these cars are not fitted with a traction control system on them since 2006 I think , is there something else which the teams are allowed to use or is it entirely left up to the driver and how he drives the car?


Bring on OZ!!!

Last day of running turned out to be a bad gamle from Mclaren, but I feel somehow calmer about they form now. Lewis is known for beeing rainmaster,yet reasonably strong showing in rain meens that car doesn't suffer from major issues. They must be ok on downforce and have reasonable traction.

From there I am sure they will be able to work this car into a race winner if not chmpionship contender.

It made me smile a bit when I saw an egg growing out of Mclarens nose like spot on tenagers face. It is a young car after all 😉

They seem to be employing academic practices in their development. Their guys collecting rubber samples from arround the track, all the paints, sensors and... inocent looking boy by Ferrari garage.

Everyone is tired of speculation, but I can't loose this feeling that they will be up there comes Melbourne.

Bring it on!!!


Think some of you macca fans need to wake up and smell the rubber.


Sobering events this weekend on what would have been the opening race of the season. This cancelation of Bahrain now seems even more appropriate. I bet not many are in the mood for racing. I for one am not.


I feel like Williams are quietly optimistic for this year. I'd love to see them challenging the likes of Renault, Mercedes, mclaren. They're not going for the usual pre-season low-fuel showboating that we've seen in previous years, but they have a good looking car. Plus they have Reliable Rubens and GP2 champ Oil Maldonado, which is actually a better line up than a few other teams. Go Williams! Who's with me? 😉


I am!Go team Willy!


James, one question please.

I am a Hamilton fan and believe that he is getting deeply frustrated at Mclarens inability to produce a fast car.

He knows that he should be fighting with Vettel and Alonso on an even playing field.

Do you believe that he will look to leave when his contract runs out in 2012 if Mclaren do not fix up?

Also when are you going to give us the Testing times analysis?


James thank you for the great coverage of testing through your blog and JaTweets.

I am a Williams Fan as many others and I would like to ask you what is your thinking about the team in 2011.The team has sounded quite optimistic.

Thank you very much James


The first race of the season is always a bit of a lottery. No matter how hard the teams work on the cars, the drivers still lack match fitness. Driving around circuits seeing how their tyres wear is not good practice for a GP.


@Jo Torrent Now that doesn't make sense. Look the Mclaren isn't the fastest car & that goes to prove that Hammy won't be the strongest driver in the first half of the season & since 2005, the strongest driver in the first half isn't the strongest driver in the second half & if the strongest driver in the first half didn't rank up enough points, the strongest driver in the second half will always comes through to win it = Lewis Hamilton!


2006, true, but only because the Renault's Mass Damper was declared illegal after a protest by Ferrari at the halfway point. The car wasn't as strong without it.

2007, that kind of works, Alonso was strong, Hamilton came on song in the middle, but Kimi took it in the end

2008, pretty consistant, Hamilton and Massa both made mistakes, had bad luck, were good. No real strong runs.

2009, strongest driver in the first half was Jenson Button, Strongest driver in the second half was Vettel, but Button still won.

2010, there wasn't a strong driver in the first half, in the second it was Alonso, but Vettel, who had not led the title race all season, took it.


Statistics count for nothing Hahaa - The F1 gods laugh in your face. I never said statistics are the gospel truth but more times than not, they are always right.

How would you explain then that the number 4 & number 7 cars have never won the WDC if statistics don't count for anything.

We shall have this conservation at the end of the season & yes, I will look forward to your elaborate excuses.

Now how can you say no driver was the strongest in the first half of 2010? How many people did Hammy overtake in the first half of 2010?

And who was leading the WDC by the mid way point of 2010? Yes Hammy was the strongest driver.

As for Enzo being a team principal, are you sure about that - I thought he just owned the outfit but didn't run it himself.


He entered the cars - back in the 50s that was about it to being a team principal.

How do I explain that cars 4 & 7 have never won the WDC? he may be a partial explaination...

Until 1996, car numbers were not allocated on the order of the WCC. instead, the team who won the WDC swapped their numbers with the team that had numbers 1 & 2. for most of the 80s and 90s, car numbers 3 and 4 belonged to Tyrell, who, lets be honest, didn't light up the world in that period. After 1985, 7 & 8 went to Brabham, again, they faltered after that period.

So generally, the cars retained their numbers. If it was a poor team, those numbers were as good as theirs for life.

Since 1996, the numbers have been based around the championships. And usually, it is two teams fighting it out. Damon Hill won in 5, Jacques Villeneuve was team leader, so he had every right to No. 3, Mika Hakkinen, I don't know why he had 8, then he won the title in 1 (beating Eddie Irvine at the last race in No. 4, so he came close). In 2000, Schumacher won in 3, then in 01, 02, 03 and 04 he had the title in 1. Alonso won in 5, then in 1, Kimi won in 5 (team leader, higher car number), Hamilton won in 22, Button won in 22, Vettel won in 5.

Car 4 is usually the second driver of a team who are in with a shout, and at Ferrari, with Schumacher always favouring the odd numbers, it was his by right. Cars 7&8 were 4th in the previous years constructors, and as such were not good enough to fight.

That's the only explanation I can offer.

Yes Hamilton was strong, but not as strong as Webber, Vettel, Button in the first half. They all shared the spoils. Hamilton did some fantastic overtakes, but the points were close.

And I am a Hamilton and McLaren fan, so in no way am I bashing him.


@Lilla Ma Aww so you're an Alonso fan girl, how cute. Yes it's true superstitions do not always work out but in more cases than not, they prove to be accurate.

Look at 2003 & 2005, the winner of the first race didn't go on to win the WDC & look what happened the next year - The driver who won the first race went ahead to do the business.

This thing this year - Hammy will win the first race & go ahead to win the WDC.

P.s. Alonso is a spent force



This is in some way a bit of the topic, I have always been curious about the difference in car set up between team mates.For example with Mercedes guys, one has an idea of the type of set up Michael prefers given his car/tyre situation last year. Do the teams let you in on this kind of info, would you happen to know how Michael sets up his car compared to Rosberg and similarly Hamilton to Button etc.


@Lilla Ma Oh you may want to chew on this too - Ferrari have never won the WDC while Italians were running the team as in when the team Principal was Italian

If am not mistaken, the team also hasn't won the WDC with an Italian driver


Actually Ferrari won many WDC when Italians were running the team and where do you think Alberto Ascari was from.


Aah so there was an Italian champion in Alberto, okay I didn't know that but hey, who are these Italian team principals that won it with Ferrari?


No doubt, Enzo put the "p" in "principal" (also the 'r', the 'i' and the 'c' as well).


Old man Ferrari himself?



I have to applaud you on your knowledge of F1 -AMAZING


Why thanks for the compliment, yes I read a lot.


I wouldn't count on that being a compliment.


@Phil C Ha and there you go with the elaborate explanations. The point I was trying to make that irrespective of who's in the number 4 or number 7 car, statistics do count for something. e.g. this year Jenson & Rosberg are pretty decent you would say but both will fail to win it AGAIN!

How about, Prost has been the only driver (since the new numbers were introduced) to win with the number 2 whereas the number 2 car has brought Senna & Hammy lots of bad luck as shown in the 1994/2007/2010 seasons. And yes it's true the odd numbers are given to the team leader but surely then Senna or Hammy sh'd have won it if not for statistics.

And then there's the fact that every decade a different team has won the WDC & you say statistics count for nothing!

Now as for 2010, there's no such thing as they shared the spoils, Hammy was the strongest, it's only his car that let him down e.g. In Spain & some other races were it wasn't on the pace but throughout the first season he pushed that thing & put it in places it didn't belong for instance Silverstone qualifying.


Statistics count the past, they do not determine the present, or the future. You cannot say that Button will not win this year, as he is in No. 4, how do you know? Because it has never been done, does not mean it never will be.

Hamilton was strong, but so was Webber. It was the two of them trading the title lead until Alonso came on song, and then Vettel started achieving too.

I wouldn't say No.2 brought any driver bad luck. in 2007, Hamilton was a rookie, did remarkably well to only lose by 1 point (yes he faltered toward the end, losing a 17 point lead, but I put that down to pressure and poor calls by McLaren), while in 2010 he was in contention until the last race. Since 1996, numbers 2, 4, 6, 7 etc have not won the title. Interesting however, since (and including) 1996, No. 1 has won the title six times, No. 3 has won it twice, No. 5 has won it four times, No. 8 has won it once, and number 22 has won it twice.

So based on those statistics, with the most titles, the race for the championship this year will be between Vettel and Alonso.

I am enjoying this debate. I hope you are too 🙂


I agree on your penultimate line


Hahaa, in sport logic doesn't work so Phil C's penultimate line doesn't count for who knows for sure if Red Bull & Ferrari are the fastest cars seeing as the teams themselves do not know where they really are in the peeking order


@Phil C True Alonso was the strongest driver in the second half and that just goes to show he's a spent force for he even won the first race but still failed to wrap up the WDC - How many mistakes did Alonso make last year, all this with a decent car.

Anyway Alonso couldn't do it regardless for not only was the Prost curse over his head but the statistics were also against him - Not only was the every decade statistic saying he wouldn't do it but also for the fact that the driver that is leading the WDC standings at the last race with three or more drivers still in it, well that driver in most cases than not doesn't win it.


Still more rolling of the bones and reading into the statistical tea-leaves.


Yeah, I love stats & numbers hey Schumi too believes in stats so you should better jump on the band wagon, you do not know what you're missing.


@Phil C The only thing I find enjoyable is seeing that a grown man can be this naive & worse still, who doesn't believe in bad/good luck

Tell me, haven't you ever studied history? Don't you know that to predict the future/present, all one has to do is look at the past plus they say those that forget the past are bound to repeat past mistakes.

Jenson will NOT win the WDC (most probably EVER) not only because he's got the dreaded #4 car but also because he's living in the Lion's den - Am surprised he hasn't been devoured yet.

Yeah thanks I hadn't realised that the #6 car had never won it too. What about the #9 car?

In the first half of 2010, Webber was strong but Hammy was the strongest since Webber had a car advantage yet Hammy held his own & remember was the first non Red Bull driver to plant it on pole = Hammy was the better driver & as you know in Formula 1, drivers are rated more if they have poor machinery

Now, if you say losing 17 points in two races isn't bad luck, I don't know what is, how about all the off track things that happened to Hammy when he had the #2 car in 2010. I understand Senna had also broken up with his girlfriend in 1994 before the crash

I told you Alonso isn't winning nothing for not only is he a spent force, Prost too didn't win it with Ferrari (I do not know if Prost had an Italian team Principal too) as for Vettel, he was a very lucky champion so am going to give him two race wins just like Kimi, Jenson & Hammy before him.

This thing will be between Hammy & Alonso - Yes 1991 all over again


@Phil C Now the most concrete prove you will ever need that Hammy has it in the bag - Ahem

When Kimi luckily snatched the title in 2007, the first driver (who wasn't his teammate) to congratulate him while still in Parc Femme was - Hammy & guess what happened? Yes, he too went ahead & won it the following year.

In 2008, the first driver (who wasn't his teammate) to congratulate Hammy in Parc Femme when he clinched it was - Jenson & he too did the business the following year.

2009, Hammy was about to become the first non-teammate to congratulate Jenson & thus stealing the WDC title but since he wasn't the chosen one, Jenson dodged him

Now here's the interesting bit, the first driver to congratulate Vettel (even before Webber) was non other than the crowned & chosen 2011 champ - Lewis Hamilton then Jenson. Yes!

And since Hammy congratulated Vettel even before Webber, I think he's going to dominate the season Schumacher-style & since Jenson was also up in there, I also predict a Mclaren 1-2

P.s. He who laughs last...


@Phil C Lets see how the Real Madrid Vs Lyon game pans out in the Champion's League. Real haven't beaten Lyon in their last 7 meetings


@Phil C Alright, I guess I will see you on track but before I do, let me part these last gems of wisdom

Turkey - Apart from Jenson in 09, the driver that wins this race doesn't go on to win the WDC

Belgium - Since 2002, the winner of this race doesn't go on to win the WDC

Monza - Since 2003, the winner of Monza doesn't win the title

Singapore - The winner of this night race doesn't go on to win the WDC - Period

Canada - Since 2006, the winner in Canada doesn't win it

Hungry - Am not so sure about this but I think since 2002, the winner at this Massa bogey track doesn't win the WDC


I don't wish to gloat, but statistics count for nothing in F1...

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