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Jerez Test Day 3: Rosberg on top but Grosjean and Lotus going well
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Feb 2012   |  6:22 pm GMT  |  118 comments

Formula 1 has six world champions in the field this year and today three of them stepped out of their cars, having done the early test work while three others stepped in. It was the turn of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton to get their first taste of the Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren respectively.

Meanwhile Nico Rosberg came in for Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes and continued to set the pace; the German running the same 2011 specification car with the blown diffuser as the team builds up data on the new generation Pirelli tyres.

Rosberg did his fastest time on a single lap run, edging out Romain Grosjean in the Lotus who did his time on the first lap of a six lap run. Grosjean covered 117 laps today and did a long run of 20 laps in the afternoon with times in the 1m 22s dropping to 1m 24s.

Everyone apart from Mercedes is coping with the loss of the downforce and rear end stability that the EBD brought. Of the 2012 cars on show the Red Bull seems to be handling as expected, able to knock off the lap times at will, without yet showing what it can do when pushed to the limit. Vettel set his time on the second lap of a four lap run and his long run pace indicated that at all stages he was carrying a lot of fuel.

Ferrari and McLaren are feeling their way, not even exploring the limits yet. Ferrari continue to make gentle progress with their revolutionary new car. Its engineers have been saying that some new things on the car, like the pullrod suspension, are working as expected, while others, like the exhausts are more complicated to understand and make the most of.

Alonso’s best today of 1m20.412s was set on the first lap of an eight lap run, while Hamilton’s 1m 19.464s was done on the first lap of a five lap run. Fuel loads are unknown in the case of all the short runs.

When he left Jerez yesterday, Felipe Massa told the Italian media that, “There is a lot of work to do, perhaps a little more than we had anticipated.” Massa spent much of his time data logging, but did observe that the F2012 Ferrari has less understeer than its predecessors and has “gigantic potential”. But there’s a lot of work to do to bed down a completely new concept before extracting those vital few final tenths of a second.

McLaren too has been taking small steps with its car, but today engineering boss Paddy Lowe said that Jenson Button had given the car a thumbs up as one he could “do business with.”

Bruno Senna took the wheel of the Williams and covered 125 laps, the most of any driver today. Caterham’s recently announced new tester Guido van der Garde got an outing today too, trying KERS for the first time. Heikki Kovalainen has given the new Caterham the thumbs up, saying that be believes it is closer to the midfield pace they have been hoping for.

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting took the unusual step of attending the test to check on some of the interpretations of the new rules. He’s already intervened to ba Lotus’ innovative brake stabilisation system. But he gave the thumbs up to the exhaust exits on the Ferrari, which some rivals had questioned. He did however say that aero devices on brake ducts which channel the exhaust gases to the diffuser would not be permitted. This is a concept that some engineers were talking about during the launch season.

One whisper doing the rounds is that former Sauber technical director James Key has been linked with a move to Lotus Cars to work on their sportcar programme.

1 Rosberg Mercedes 1m17.613s 118 Laps
2 Grosjean Lotus 1m18.419s +0.806 117 Laps
3 Vettel Red Bull 1m19.297s +1.684 96 Laps
4 Hamilton McLaren 1m19.464s +1.851 80 Laps
5 Vergne Toro Rosso 1m19.734s +2.121 79 Laps
6 Perez Sauber 1m19.770s +2.157 48 Laps
7 Alonso Ferrari 1m20.412s +2.799 67 Laps
8 Senna Williams 1m21.293s +3.680 125 Laps
9 Van der Garde Caterham 1m23.324s +5.711 74 Laps

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

wow zero negative comments about Rosberg topping the sheets in last years car, compare that to the amount of negative personal comments when Schumacher was fastest yesterday.

Biased audience much lol?


No – nothing much to add. It wasn’t an attack on MS but an attack on Merc for running last years car. Rosberg’s times are equally irrelevant.


No of? What are you point from that?


On that bill if it is what i think and they believe there car to be so good they feel there better of running it late as possible then hats off to them for taking the gamble.

Reckon the car as such is going to surprise quite a few. As also prev said i reckon its going to be Ferrari and Merc that’s the notable movers of the top 4.

Hope Lotus have got correct spanner to lob in the works just to mix it up a bit! 🙂


No I think its just people picking up on the disillusioned/tainted past success and the likewise Shumi fans out there that go on and on!


No, Success breed popularity and every successful people pretty much got haters unfortunately some haters just need to “get a life” :D.

That’s what fan for

val from montreal

Did’nt history teach us anything about Ferrari ?

Since the demise of the dream-team , Ferrari have won only 1 drivers championship ….LDM sees now , what special times the team once had … Jealous of Todt and Schumacher , I hope he’s happy now ….But he should’nt worry becuase his Santader sponcered driver is Alonso … The guy who brought 5 tenths to McLaren ,, who was supposedly going to make Renault world champions again ….

Im betting huge Mercedes will have made more progress to their car than Ferri did to theirs.. my prediction for the whole of the season :

Red Bull ,

Mclaren ,



In that order !


Quite interesting that Val I don’t believe you have a single one of that suggested orders correct!


You could very well be correct regarding possibility of Ferrari (once again) failing. What you are disregarding though is that a driver of Alonso caliber can make a (substantial) difference and sometimes make a (below par) team achieve what is generally percieved to be impossible. I will never forget what that man accomplished 2010, when he kept telling he would become WC that year, even though (certain) media were laughing at him. He (and the below par) Ferrari arrived to last race as world champions (remember?) and nearly beat the nearly ~1 second faster RB.


Interesting point you made James this years first test times were a second faster then last years after a session at Valencia so would that indicate anything or not


Apart from Grojean in the Renault (1m18.419s), Alonso has put in the fastest time of any new car (1m18.877s) at the Jerez test this morning. Webber is the next closest with a 1m19.184s lap on Wednesday. Encouraging stuff.


And to add to that it was his very 1st 3 lap run of the day. I read that as not just him not just the car but BOTH!


Hi, what do the teams get from running their reserve driver in tests?

Would teams and race drivers not get better knowledge of the car and be able to tailor the development route better?


Sometimes its a financial imperative because they bring sponsorship. Sometimes it so they get to know the real car before being confined to sim work


I dont know bout everyone else but i have too say that I dont really notice the ugly noses now


James, what is your overall opinion of Toro Rosso so far?

BTW, really enjoy your reports for Aussie TV, hope you continue to do them in the future.


Looking okay. Barcelona will be the judge. You don’t learn much at Jerez. Looking forward to continuing the reports on 10 Sport




Merc are surely up to something the others are not. I can’t think of any other reason as to why they would delay the car till Barcelona, i’m thinking the car has been ready for sometime..


Hello James, Thanks so much for the informative news. It keeps us alive during the winter !

Please allow me this general question here as I could find a location to send a general question:

In the list of 2012 Grands Prix the countries for each race appear on the list except for Spain which has two. The American GP was known as the US GP for all of its life (I have the programs !). The Canadian GP is called just that. Canada and the US are in North America. There is no such country as “America”. Why the change ?


James – any indication Mercedes are “hiding” a radical car by not taking it to the first test?


That Ferrari’s will suddenly Burst into life late testing/1st race wait and see. And Im not in particular a Ferrari fan just had a pretty good hunch things were happening just after mid season last yr.


Early days yet and it is nearly impossible to judge as even now new parts are being designed and sent to the cars out there testing. I remember BMWs coming from nowhere after testing to qualifying and racing high up the grid in 2008. Question James when are Mercedes launching their new car?


For the next test starting 21 Feb


“They were quick in British GP when the double-diffuser was banned. Was it necessary for them to be quite so aggressive?”…I agree that an evolution would definately have worked better, but because of pressure of underperforming and results of the last 2 years, they thought radical. Well, they’re sure making noise about that… like radical would solve everything. Newey’s comments that the RB8 would follow the path of previous models did’nt wake Ferrari up at all


Was a reply to Patrick Byrne comments, but the computer and my wacom “decided to do funny things”


“He’s already intervened to ba Lotus’ innovative”

to ba what ?




I’m struggling to see what’s so radical about the Ferrari.

It’s copied the Red Bull front wing, put an ugly step in the nose, copied Mclaren’s dual airbox from last year, and still has a rear end which is nowhere near as neat as the RB7 or 8.

Apart from the pull rod front suspension, they’ve just nicked ideas. Pkus the overall car looks ugly. Unimpressed. Bring back the brits to take charge of ferrari!!!


Ermmm, last time I checked a Brit was in charge of design 😉


Not brits plural though, too many italians in the mix now!! 🙂 Pat Fry doesn’t count :-), I still can’t see him as being Ferrari after his eternity with Mclaren!! Ferrari did best when it was run by foreigners (to Italians!) Would like those days back again. I wish Luca would quit too and stop saying the same old thing year after year. Rant over…


When Ferrari dominated in early to mid 2000s it wasn’t a Brit who designed the car.


It’s radical … for Ferrari. Were it a Red Bull it’d be seen as evolutionary.

To me, two things are clear in 2012:

One, McLaren have the guts to stick with their designs rather than following RB et al.;

Two, the Toro Rosso and McLaren are far more interesting than the rest of the field. Ferrari is slightly less interesting for its pull-rod front suspension, too. The rest of the grid, well … meh.


Hello James,

After today’s test, can you tell us who is quick who is slow? I think you might have an idea already. Many thank!


Thank you for all the information James.

I wonder what’s behind the late launch for Mercedes: they’re just late, panic served with problems, cagy, prefer to test the tires with the old car?


Hard to know what to make of Ferrari. Did the throw the baby out with the bathwater? They were quick in British GP when the double-diffuser was banned. Was it necessary for them to be quite so aggressive?

Still early days though – Williams were quick at last year’s first test and Ferrari got caught out by BR sandbagging.

McLaren seem quietly confident and the appointment of a sensible old goat like Didier Coton might keep Hamilton’s feet on the ground.


Exactly, therefore if someone considers Ferrari’s aero fundamentals are the same (see high nose=down force=stepped nose, even more tight packed rear end) like last year, then the reds should be in front. Unless otherwise their “stated aggression” to choose to go for an all pull rod suspension car – I can’t recognize any other form of aggressive innovation from last year- might hold back the car’s potential. Apart from that, all teams had to figure out the best place to locate exhausts, which in turn it has been widely accepted to be limited or and have minor possible contribution to the car under the new rules. From the other hand, RB8 doesn’t look to enjoy that little extra thing yet, like it did the previous years, whereas McL is up there and bound to prove, their obsession for a lower nose – lcg, to be at last the recipe of success… At the same time I wonder, what is Aldo up to?


good point about ferrari


No to Lotus and Yes to Ferrari. Charlie Whiting… we the fans are not naive to know what exactly is happening here… Good Luck to you and your Bosses – The Ferraris.

I cheered for Ferrari and Alonso last year… Since, Kimi’s return… only a fool would cheer for anyone else 🙂


Why would I cheer for a guy who doesn’t say much to the media, hit a hit accidentaly a child in the paddock but keeps walking..

Kimi doesn’t do it for me.


Same here. I was disgusted by watching him just continue walking away, even though he looked back and saw the child had fallen down after being hit by mr Robot… Sorry to say, but I do not respect such “champions” lacking the most basic social competense

Scandinavian are often, incorrectly, percieved as very good at “controlling” their feelings and acting rationally. In reality it has more to do with their insecurity/fear to open to others, than anything else…


[ I cheered for Ferrari and Alonso last year… Since, Kimi’s return… only a fool would cheer for anyone else ]

Somehow I agree with you. But I don’t mind being a fool too.


You can say “No to Lotus and yes to McLaren” as Maccas also had some controversial system,

or “Yes to Res Bull and no to Lotus” as last year blown diffuser was declared legal, or even “Yes to Lotus and no to the rest” as Mass dumper was “legal” for a year and a half, or…

And yes, you can call me a fool.


Need to proofread more


Is that proof-read?


Sorry, I was being vicious. I love the blog and really respect all the great info that James puts out. My apologies.


Shouldn’t it be possible to determine the weight of the car by analysing how the engine note changes during acceleration?


You should know gear box ratios for that.


And fuel mixture, and KERS settings, and how old the tyres are. A little more complex than just listening to the engine note as so many parameters can, and do, get changed in between runs.


“Gigantic potential”. Yes please.


Just being the good corporate employee. Everything always has gigantic potential until it is proved otherwise. How well do we trust his judgement on such development matters? Here you go, have a share of my gigantic pinch of salt.


Don’t think he was serious at all… media pleaser that boy… 😛


He’s talking to his paycheck.

Gotta pay the rent.


Great to see Lewis near the top, although not much can be read into these lap times.

On another note James, it seems like for the second season in a row, we’re going to be robbed of a race because of Bahrain. Can’t the race just be dropped easily and another one put in its place?


If it were to be dropped, then BE would have to pay a lot to the middle-easterners for compensation in voiding a multi-year contract lol. Surely not something that BE likes doing =)


Not easily but it can be done – and has been done before – Donnington switched back to Silverstone, although that was intra-country. I am trying but cannot recall if it was even done inter-country before. Did Spa get replaced by another Spanish event a couple of years back when the organisaers ran into financial trouble?

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