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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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@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…


@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 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 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 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 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



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.


@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?



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 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


@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.


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.


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


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?


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!


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.


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.


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?



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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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

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