F1 Winter Break
Barcelona Day 4: Ferrari “Disappointed” as testing comes to an end
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Mar 2012   |  12:12 am GMT  |  264 comments

The winter testing season is at an end; the next time most F1 teams will fire up the engines will be on Friday morning practice in Melbourne less than two weeks from now.

And the picture that has emerged from testing is pretty much as it has seemed throughout the month of track action: Red Bull lead the way and are likely to fight against McLaren initially, while a group of four or five teams look quite close together on pace with Mercedes and Lotus at the head, Force India in the mix and Ferrari struggling.

Ferrari has looked in trouble ever since the car started running, but this week confirmed that the technical team has yet to get on top of its complex new car and with Red Bull unveiling a B Spec car which has a radical exhaust concept, something Ferrari could not get to work, the feeling of drift has been exacerbated.

Asked if he felt Ferrari were contenders for a podium in Melbourne, Ferrari technical director Pat Fry said, “At the moment I’d say no.

“We are disappointed with the performance level seen at these tests and I think we have a lot of work ahead of us. It will only be in Melbourne that we will get a clear answer as to whether we have to be very disappointed or just a little, how far we really are off the front runners and consequently how much ground we have to make up to get there.

“Clearly the decision relating to the exhausts that we took last week meant we took a few steps backwards in terms of development. How much? Difficult to say right now.”

The final day was short on revelations: Red Bull had some problems following an off for Sebastian Vettel which damaged the front wing, and did not at any stage of this test go for a flat out qualifying lap, preferring to run with fuel, as it has all winter.

Meanwhile HRT, which has missed all the testing due to problems passing crash tests and preparing the cars, will at least do a filming day at Barcelona on Monday, which is allowed under FIA rules.

Lotus once again went for a time, Kimi Raikkonen signing off his first winter test season since 2009 with the fastest time,

“The fastest time at the end of the day looks good but no-one will know how fast any of the cars are until we get to qualifying at Albert Park,” said the 2007 champion. “All the changes we have made over testing have been improving the car, so we’ll have to see what happens in Melbourne in a couple of weeks’ time. I’m feeling positive.”

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier said that after the disappointment of missing the second test due to a construction issue, the third test had been a boost for the whole team, “We’ve been able to confirm that the changes made to the car fixed our front suspension problems. We were confident that the redesign was well conceived and well executed, but we have demonstrated the integrity of the modified part,” he said.

1. Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.030s 121 Laps
2. Alonso Ferrari 1m22.250s +0.220 115
3. Senna Williams 1m22.296s +0.266 53
4. Hulkenberg Force India 1m22.312s +0.282 101
5. Kobayashi Sauber 1m22.386s +0.356 72
6. Hamilton McLaren 1m22.430s +0.400 115
7. Petrov Caterham 1m22.795s +0.765 101
8. Schumacher Mercedes 1m22.939s +0.909 100
9. Maldonado Williams 1m23.347s +1.317 48
10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.393s +1.363 100
11. Vettel Red Bull 1m23.608s +1.578 23

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What do you think about Lotus? Is their pace genuine and do they have a shot at challenging at least McLaren? Or today's times are just full of hot air?


I think Lotus times are very consistent with the rest of the field, probably second best but of course we do not know for sure.

Here i share the times set in all 4 days.



Red Bull and McLaren haven't really done the long runs this week, especially with the last two day's updates, so I don't think you can judge Lotus against them with any accuracy.

Midfield looks pretty tight.


Having watched McLaren last year, the best thing is to wait until Melbourne. Testing is just that - testing.


I will need to think about this.


These JA pretenders are getting annoying.




There long run times today were comparable. But, as Kimi would say - we will see.


Way to go Kimi... I am not sure how fast the Lotus will be this year, but at least Kimi seems to be back on it quickly.


Interesting that Vettel had oroblems today. Probably the firtstije they haven't completed a lot of mileage since testign started. Niggles with the B modifications?

Can't wait for Melbourne. I just hope it's as close as it appears at the moment. I wouldn't be surprised if Red Bull dashed everybody's early season hopes by walloping the field in quali. But if they do, all credit to them.


I agree, I would not be surprised to find RBR 4-5 tenths clear come race day, which would be a shame for all of us fans.

Shame I cannot watch the first race live for the first time since I was a child, but hey Bernie and Murdoch will make great bedfellows I am sure. Within 2 years Murdoch will have swallowed F1 whole and there will not even be highlights on terrestrial TV at which point I won't be watching any more at all. This is a real shame but at least Bernie/CVC and Murdoch will have added a few hundred million to their bank accounts, [mod]. It does seem that the more Murdoch's companies allegedly break the law the more the man prospers, a commentary on civilisation rather than the man himself.

That said, good luck to F1 and all the teams for 2012. Let's hope that no driver walks away with it, despite our personal favourites, and we all enjoy a vintage year watching these fantastic past, present and future world champions slug it out on the greatest motorsport stage on earth while we still can.


Wish people would quit complaining about f1 going to sky!

I am thrilled to have F1 on sky now just because of what there going to be offering, the additional interactive feeds that will be avaliable & other informtaion sky are bringing from timing to team radio to additional incar feeds are all what ive been wanting to see from f1 for years.

sure its unfortunate if you dont have sky, but for those with it were getting the best, most comprehensive f1 coverage ever & i for one am really looking forward to it.


The idea that people should stop complaining about things which they consider to be 'wrong' is ridiculous. If everyone just settled for what they are given the world would be an awful place and glutinous reptiles would rule the universe. Dissent is a force for change, even if it has no immediate effect, the fact that there was and continues to be an outcry is a good thing - it makes people think.

Remember, for many people it is less about the money and more about NewsCorp's utterly disgusting moral track record, especially here in the UK.


The new Sky channel looks amazing. It's bye bye beeb I'm afraid. Although I'm tempted to now turn the sound down and stick on 5live! FOM feed and JA! Perfect!!


I totally and wholeheartedly agree with this!!


I largely agree. I'm still not happy about the fudge that the Beeb and sky put together, but I'm glad I swallowed my indignation and signed-up. It hurt at the time but I was somewhat appeased that sky chose not to make the F1 channel exclusive to a sports package. And now I can get properly excited about the upcoming season, plus I get to watch it in glorious HD, not to mention all the cool stuff Dizzy mentions too. So come on guys - whilst the sky thing may suck, it has some silver linings and, for an avid F1 fan, it doesn't suck as much as missing half of the season surely.


That's really great for you! I'm super pleased. Congratulations! I can't afford it but knowing that you'll have such a great service makes me feel so much better about being denied access to a sport I've watched since before I can remember. Really, it's great. I can't wait until Melbourne, you're going to have such a wonderful experience.


I currently have Sky and spend £60 a month..it's in the process of being cancelled and I'm moving to Virgin for HD freeview at £5 a month. I love F1 and can afford to pay...but I'm mindful that many people are not as lucky as I am and can see F1 dissapearing from FTA if 'we' as the fans, don't make a unified stand. If you really love F1, you have to be prepared to walk away from Sky coverage..excellent though it may well prove to be.


Why don't you stream the race from Australia? You'll need to put up with very average commercial but at least you don't have to spend a fortune watching qualifying and race.

I use my-private-network.co.uk to stream the beeb. At 5 GBP for one month (no subscribtion needed), you can watch the first two rounds live, providing you have fast speed internet.


Thanks for the excellent advice!


Wayne, there is nothing anyone can do about the sky deal now. We signed petitions and even the government didn't do anything.

So, as the saying goes ... 'If you can't beat them, join them'.

Alternatively, you can keep an eye on the internet as someone will stream. Or, if you live in Sheffield, you are most welcome to join me to watch :).


Cheers Rob, I'll bring the Doritos 😉


I would qualify the above with this.....

Over the years it does seem to me that Bernie has revealed glimpses of the conscience and humantiy that he tries to keep covered most of the time. Overall he has brought more good to F1 than bad and I will always be greatful for the game he played over the British GP when I still choose to believe he used his power and influence to kick start the BRDC into action for their own good and saved the long term future of the race by doing what was needed.

Murdoch and his entire business empire, however, in my uneducated and uninformed opinion, are a force for evil in the world which we could all do without. I will never buy a News Corp product, not even to watch my beloved F1. Still, on the bright side, the decline of print accelerates every day and if we all remain united as a force for decency, freedom of speech and the rule of law, the very nature of the internet should ensure that he never dominates that!


markdartj, that sounds like a nice package, but then until last year we also got to watch all sessions without adverts etc. SKY TV may well deliver quality coverage but it's juts the Murdoch element I refuse to let slide. His organisations are the epitomy of everything that is wrong with the world and I will not fund it. I also, however, would not judge anyone who chose to subscribe!


Here in the States, if you want to watch F-1, you have to have the SPEED channel, which is owned by FOX, which, you guessed it, is owned by Murdoch. At most we've ever had three or four free to air broadcasts a season, and they were lame, until FOX took over broadcasting those too but they are still tape delayed, without a pre-race show. SPEED's coverage is pretty extensive, given that we can watch every practice session (P1 and P3 streaming on SPEED.com, with no commentary or commercials). Everything else (P2, Quali, and Race) are full of commercials, but so is everything over here. SPEED re-airs the race later in the day, and later in the week. They also re-air the entire previous season over the winter, so we do get to watch F-1 all year round.


should be noted that my sisters fiance who works at sky is sales was telling me a week back that sky have seen a significant jump in subscriptions since the f1 deal was announced.

since there f1 promotional stuff started a month or so ago they have also seen a jump in sports/hd subscribers & when asked most sited the f1 channel launch as there reason for purchase.


Guys, i'm from Bulgaria and the same story happened here. F1 will be broadcast on a paid channel from this year on instead of FTA channel as it used to be (luckily, we have RTL in the package). That shrank the audience to roughly 1/3 of what it used to be. Not a good way to promote the sport in times of crisis, is it?

Hopefully, these guys (Bernie/Murdoch) will get 'sober' some day when the people start 'voting by the remote control' opting to other channels/options and the advertising rates drop due to lower value to advertisers...

I'm wondering though, could it be a strategy for pushing the attendance on the circuit? Or i'm conspiring now...


wayne - i concur re murdoch - and we only know half of the story.


Hi James,

From you're assesment it looks like Red Bull as the front runners, Mclaren second and MERC/Lotus fighting for 3rd. Who do you think has the best chance of being 3rd based on what you have seen the past few test sessions?

I personally think Lotus are way back than people think, only hitting the top spot to attact sponsorship.


I recall a lot of people saying the exact same thing about the Brawn car in 2009 when they were consistently at or near the top in winter testing. They're just showboating, they need more sponsors, the car is underweight etc etc.

Anyone can top the times with a qualifying simulation when the big boys are doing longer runs on harder tyres (Sauber appear to have done it by accident a couple of times already), but when a team is there or thereabouts in most of the sessions then it usually indicates the pace is real.

Until Saturday I thought McLaren and Red Bull were neck and neck, but now we can't be sure how far in front RBR's B-spec car puts them. They may even have some teething problems that allow McLaren to steal a march on them until Barcelona. Behind the front two, it looks very close indeed. Mercedes and Lotus appear very evenly matched and I've a feeling Force India could be up there with them.

Where Ferrari slot in will depend on whether they can figure out why their car isn't working before Melbourne. It looks a real handful out there and if it's something they can dial out with the setup and minor upgrades then they should be up behind McLaren quite quickly. If they discover something is fundamentally wrong with the car, though, we'll be back in Europe before they can do very much about it. Dare they write off another season if it comes to that?


I am sure Prost GP did the same. Go for glory in testing...... That did not turn out so well


they may have said that about brawn on the forums you were reading, but i can tell you, the first morning the brawn ran everybody at the circuit was in no doubt at all that they were the team to beat.


I had no doubt, as I'd spoken to friends at Honda who were very excited about the car long before Honda pulled the plug (and the development process they went through was extraordinary in itself).

But on here, at BBC 606 and on the Autosport forums a lot of posters were entirely unconvinced and remained so until qualifying in Melbourne. They were sure the team was running the car illegally underweight to get those times and under the circumstances, it's not difficult to see why they might.


Wouldn't it be brilliant if Ferrari figure out how to hook up the car and blitz the field in Melbourne? What a dream that would be...


No need to blitz the feild - enough if they put a car which is no more than lets say 1-2 tenths slower than the fastest. F Alonso will make up the difference, as always. I am with you hoping, m8.


Nope. I hate Ferrari.

And what a prosaic posting. I see Ferrari as the Manchester United of the F1 world - which is to say, the team whom non fans gravitate towards out of ignorance (Italians aside, for whom its natural to support their national team). I'm not proud of it but I rejoice in their current struggles. I'm afraid I find Ferrari to be an arrogant team, historically, although they have thawed somewhat with the personable Stefan Dominicella at the helm. Montezemelo is as arrogant as ever though and he alone still manages to put me off Ferrari.


Not really. Not for me at least. I would rather dream about a Lotus 1-2 with Kimi scoring a win on his debut.


I think the BrawnGP had a lot more margin over the other guys. I don't think it is as clear cut this year with the rule being stable since 2010.


i'd put alonso in third. (even if he has a dog to drive)


You better have a look at Kimi simulation race with fuel for 66 laps.


Agreed! I would assume their Trying to encourage sponsers to give them more money to develop their car. Given that last year they had 2 podiums at the start of their season then progressively went backwards, history might be repeating itself. They would have gotten an injection of funds signing senna midyear an option not available this year. Just speculating though....


I'm not so sure about that. They attracted additional sponsorship from the signing of Kimi, so i'm sure they are fine for money now.

As is mentioned, one only needs to look at the long run times to see that while they aren't up front they aren't too far off the Mercedes


Don't forget Eric Boulier manages Grosjean... so it is in his interest that Grosjean gets an F1 seat (afterall, he takes a commission).


Since Petrov is the bigest cashcow in F1 I doubt they got rid of him if they really needed sponsorship.

They went with Grosjean that wont be able to contribute at the same level.

I think they are fine but might have got a headstart due to they not run EBD last year and will not be able to develop at the speed of the top3.

They will most likely put in a good start of the season.

Anyone seen a real comparison of race distance testing times and how the teams compared there?

That shows more of their pace than single lap test times.


Total signed up again as long as they took grosjean ....I think they are grosjean's personal sponsor as well


Ahh the irony of using Kimi as a media tool... My dream car has always been a Lotus and as a communications student and Kimi fan it's a great combination.

Who was The additional sponsor you mentioned? The dandruff shampoo company ? Their marketing department is pretty brave. All lotus's staff wear black. It's not going to be a good look if Kimi starts 'snowing' at a press conference (assuming he shows up lol).


genii capital is up to its eyeballs in cash as far as i know. i highly doubt they're seeking funding...


Yes but Genii capital is an investment company and F1 a marketing/investment tool. There going to increase stakeholder value every way the can and reduce their expenses accordingly. This is commercial sport.


Seriously - this podium is not callable. Senna may be on it for all we know. And Vettel slow today. I don't recall a pre season testing that has resulted in such a muddy picture. Ever.


Have to say low fuel or not Kimi is looking sharp and hungry. How much for a 5th win at spa?


I would imagine Kimi's 5th win at Spa, in a car that won't have had the same development as the other teams ( I base this assumption on the fact Lotus has lost alot of engineering staff to other teams, and the fact that last year they went slower and slower as the season progressed) is about the same as Schumi winning his 7th, simply because they have had success there before...


1/1 is my guess.



Hi James,

Do you have any information as to why Ferrari changed their exhaust setup? They claim it was too aggressive, but it provided more downforce and it was legal. So I don't know why they would change, if it had more potential.

It is massively disappointing to see Ferrari out of the top 3, struggling with an over complicated car.


In answer to my own question, I now think I know why the Ferrari exhaust changed.

Late in testing, RBR revealed they are channelling the exhausts gases to the underside of the car so it can be used to blow the diffuser. Great areodynamic benefits.

Quite possibly this was in response of the McLaren car. Possibly they have analysed McLaren's handy work at the start of the testing and two weeks later have produced a similar solution.

Ferrari on the other hand were caught napping.

See image for exhaust solutions of RBR and McLaren:



Well... at least they didn't 'play it safe' - as Luca must be saying through very gritted teeth right now ; )


I'm not sure if it's an "over complicated" car or if it's simply a bad one.

In any case, it's absolutely disappointing.


The times are misleading. It's like Friday practice where no one lets on what is going on. Come Q2 and Q3 they find another 3/4 of a second. It would not surprise me if the Red and Mclaren could easily get into the 1m20s. Sauber, Williams all want sponsors and a higher profile so they have gone close to flat out. I suspect the top two have at least a second on those teams, maybe not Mercedes and Ferrari but enough.


yes, times are misleading (maybe) but it can give a good indication of things


I've noticed the Farrari has been called "complex" by a few journalists. I'd be interested to know what inovations they've come up with that are so different from the others. I assume it's related to the mechanical design, but there's not many areas open to inovation except suspension and even that is limited now due to the fact FIA has outlawed things like brake/suspension reaction mechanisms and anti-squat/anti-dive controls etc, etc.



No one has mentioned the effect of the Front Pull-Rod suspension on the F2012. Ferrari are the only ones running it this year (as far as I know).

Having seen a photo of Massa taking the corner, tt seemed the right wheel was up and the air whilst the other three were planted on the track (as they should be). Could this be the cause of their balance issues?

Newey evolved the RB6/7/8 from the RB4 and RB5. Back when Coulthard was racing with RBR, I recall seeing his front and back wings flex. Clearly after all these years, Adrian has been able to hone the design so that it works perfectly (ie pasts the FIA Flex test, but still manages to flex on the track).

Whereas Ferrari, as others have put it, have thrown the baby out with the bath water and gone with a totally "innovative" design. With so much new innovation, this equates to having equation with too many variables.


A car 3 wheeling is due to running stiffer suspension (which they would have to with the pull rod at that angle). It's nothing to do with their balance issues though. That is because of a simple lack of rear downforce.

Newey did not evolve the RB5/6/7/8 from the RB4 since the RB4 was designed under a completely different set of aerodynamic regulations.

Also, Newey is an aerodynamicist, not a composite carbon fibre engineer. RB would probably have got an external company specialising in exotic materials in order to get the front wing to flex.


All F1 cars are complex, and the closer you get to the front of the grid the more complex they get. I'd expect that it's less a case of inovation and more about the fact that Ferrari has started from a clean sheet of paper with a whole new concept because they found the conservative designs of the last couple of years had gone as far as it would go. As Martin above says, this also means that they don't have any data to fall back on so it's going to take time to build up their understanding of how the car behaves on track.


Hi Paul,

There are a few possibilities that come to mind. Aerodynamically, there could be additional clever interactions between the front suspension, sidepods that they are trying to exploit rather than neutralise.

The rest is probably just a case of there being more new bits, so the database is relatively empty - more unknowns equals more complexity as they tune the suspension.

Not a great answer, but as you suggest, there is little room for extra systems on the car.




Kimi looks good and Ferrari does not, so Nando gotta push real hard to make the reds be where they're not supposed to be.

And from testing the teams seem closer now.

Finally here comes Melbourne.


James, would you mind expeanding more on Red Bull. After reading about their theatre yesterday it makes me wonder whether they will be able to extract more performance from this new configuration. Probably better than Ferrari, but I'd love to know your take on it.


Just an interesting observation someone made. Red Bull had asked to shift their testing days, probably to perform their theatrics to an empty theatre. And Ferrari's extra day?? That would make for a Melbourne blockbuster if u see where i'm going with this.


Kinda felt for Kimi during this pre-season test. Jerez went as planned, second test had to be abandoned and on his 1st day of the final test, the car was plagued with steering problems. Not ideal coming back from a 2 year break. Glad the final day went well for him. His long runs I've heard were impressive and not having much drop-off in tyre performance. Lewis ran a similar stint today, the Mclaren was approx 2 tenths quicker per lap. So the Lotus doesnt seem to be too shabby.

Oh and as for RB, holding cards very close to their chest!


For all Ferrari's troubles they still completed more then 100 laps again and were near the top of the time sheets.


Yes, but Alonso was on super softs when he ran that time. I know this for a fact cos I was following live analysis of test. If he were on hard tyres, it would be a completely different story.

Andrew Woodruff

Difficult to know what to make of it at all really, as claerly the times are meaningless. As James said earlier in the testing season, you can learn more from the teams' body language than the times at this stage.

For any other team, completing only 23 laps and being slowest on the final day of testing, while leaving big question marks over the B-spec aero package, would be a disaster. Not so for Red Bull it seems!

I have to say, I much preferred the ore RRA days when Ferrari pounded round Fiorano and Mugello, while McLaren and the rest tore up Silverstone and Barcelona - all to their hearts' content. All we has to go on were the times compared to the best time set by the previous year's car, and there was no need for sand bagging. The mystery and suspense was pure, before battle was finally joined at the first race. What happens now is a lot of hot air about not very much, which leaves everyone with a sense of anti climax that the status qui has more than likely been maintained.

I understand the RRA is necessary, but it is a shame. One thing I would add is, if teams like Marussia and HRT can't even get a car out in time with the RRA in place, then either the teams are completely incompetent and should be chucked out, or the RRA isn't working entirely as intended. I suspect it's a combination of the two.


The problem with Marussia and HRT and back marker teams won't go away if they are allowed to fail. It's not just about money. They would apear to lack the corperate knowledge on how to build and produce a car. It's a people/process issue that should get better over time. Some consistency in the rules might aid but than it wouldn't be F1 hgh!

A solution to the whole RRA thing could be to introduce a NBA style (sallery) cap. If a team wants to spend over the cap, for every dollar they spend another dollar must be contributed to a fund which is collected and distributed amongst the lowest ranked teams. This might solve both problems.

Another solution might be compulsory business mentoring. The team who finished first may not be able to debut their car unless the lowest place team can. And so on for second and second last.

Is Bernie looking for a new successor? I'd like the job 🙂

Brent McMaster

Their cars are "out in time" there is no requirement to track test. HRT is actually ahead of last year.


I agree completely.


James, Is Lotus legit???


Caterham now can fight with midfielder team this year.. Looking forward Australia GP start..


Hi James

What is you take on Ferrari more specific Domenicali, if this proves to be a very poor year for the team. Thank you.


Oh yes, I love Kimi's new helmut, sure looks nasty and very racy.

Grayzee (Australia)


Given that Vettel only completed 23 laps, how can you be so confident that RB is still the leading team?

As an known Webber supporter, I would certainly like it to be, but.....is it?

How much of the Lotus pace is real?

Is Ferrari REALLY that bad, or are they playing it down?

Is the Merc better than it looks?

All these, plus more, will be answered in couple of weeks!

I, for one, cannot wait!

tom in adelaide

I'll be happy to see Mercedes ahead of Ferrari.

Love him or hate him, a podium for Schumi would be quite a moment.


I'd much rather see Nico on the top step.


I've been saying it since last year, but Fernando should try and move to Mercedes. Without Brawn and Todt, Ferrari are just ordinary. It looks like another year where Alonso won't have a car capable of winning races..


Hi James,

Is it too early to say Kimi still got his speed? What is the common in the pitlane about this?


That he's been impressive, will have some struggles due to lack of race sharpness but on the whole good


Hi James, I've been wondering about this myself. Are the teams able to simulate a full race (i.e. 24 cars on the track) or does that demand too much processing power? Obviously with Kimi, his racecraft is the great unknown at this point.


Thanks Bob. I suppose I was really asking to what extent teams can simulate race consitions because Kimi has not been racing "wheel to wheel" for some time.


You do not need James for that one: Simulation 24 cards on track is not really computationally taxing. Now, the question is up to which point can your simulation represent reality. A F1 team has a great idea of how their car behaves, so you can virtually drive the car in a simulator in which someone is in the driver's seat. It is an important part of development. It is perfectly possible to simulate competitor's cars when they are just dots on the screen that lap accurately enough to plan tire change strategies. But can, say, Ferrari give you a simulation where you drive a Red Bull, and it performs extremely closely to the real thing? I doubt it.


This is Mclaren's year.


Agree 100%


Barely going to be one of the notable important records though padock is it!!!


how were you right ? like i said he never created any more unexpected records


Looks like I was right 😀


Only in your opinion, I'm sure the TV media and press will mention it often as it's newsworthy nonetheless 😉


Disagree 200 percent


Who do you think will win ya clown or not brave enough to put it out there??Im betting your a Ferrari man Nathan..?

Or/and a closet Redbull fan that hasnt came out yet.! Lol


Nah, although it could be I think Red Bull are set to make history.


Lol! No I I think you'll find I wasn't talking rubbish as I'm pretty sure Vettel would be the youngest triple consecutive triple world champion in the history of the sport. Red Bull would obviously be part of that story. I guess it depends on what records I was talking about. 😀


Was going to say i thought you were speaking rubbish, YOU were!! that record is already been set in stone by the Ferrari/Schumacher era (more car/complete team than driver i will assure you) they hold that record at 5 seasons.

As for Vettel's records to set for this? there's not really any that will mean anything to anyone than himself other than setting all pole's and all wins in the season.


That is very strong definitve confidence in McLaren James. Would like to know a little more on why you are so confident.


Many years of looking at new racing cars


A third consecutive drivers and contructors crown. Of course I could be wrong as we all could. It's just my opinion based on various opinions around the web. Mclaren could prove me wrong, Mercedes could also. Ferrari could and I'd like them to however I don't have that opinion that they will. Be great if they could. BUt hey that's the beauty of F1, every has someone to like and dislike and we can all have an opinion without anyone getting hurt.


I reckon McLaren will win constructors' this year


In what respect would that be???

Tornillo Amarillo

Today I would say:

1. McLaren

2. Red Bull

3. Lotus

4. Mercedes

5. Ferrari

6. Toro Rosso

7. Force India

8. Sauber...

If I am wrong, who cares? 🙂

Stuart Harrison

I'd put Red Bull and Sauber higher, but I think you have the rest pretty spot on 🙂

Red Bull play their cards close to their chest - it shows awesome confidence to try out a "B-Spec" car on the last two days of testing.


Agreed on Red Bull being higher, although if they found more aero performance, reliability is usually the trade off, however I'm sure they'll work it through as they usually do.


I'm not convinced it is a B spec car. I believe this is what they designed, removed all the "good bits" and ran the car for reliability tests.

This "B" spec is actually the proper design, and introduced in such a way to deflate everyone else


Perhaps too much confidence?

They do say that pride comes before a fall.

Even with Adrian's skill, I wonder about the wisdom of introducing that many new variables with so little test time to go.

If only from an aesthetics standpoint, I'd like to see the McLaren ahead.


Just as well then!

Stone the crows

Perez will shine for Sauber this year. The Swiss team have come up with a competitive, contemporary package. Caterham appear to have made the jump to mid-field. At this point it looks like Grossjean is a bit more consistent than Kimi, but I think he'll improve as the season progresses.


Will shine ? with a team 8th place finish at best and a personal finish of 9th at best. Wait and see!!

Stone the crows

Shine, as in show his talent and skill, and get the most out of what he's driving. Rumour has it Ferrari's interested in him.


Reckon there are 3 or 4 drivers destined for that seat before perez. and i don't think he will get near Kobiashi (him being one of the genuine ferrari seat contenders) this season anyway.


Dear James,

Thanks for the update. As you said, with red bull and mclaren set to square off, and a lot of teams bunched up together, in the midfield, not much is being set about Mercedes. They appeared to have run a very low profile test. some of the test results suggest a huge drop of in pace on soft tyre for Mercedes after the intial 2 or 3 laps. Is tyre degradation an issue for all teams or is it only for the Mercedes?


SK Anand


Mercedes insist tire degradation is no longer an issue. Brawn was quite upbeat yesterday - they reckon they will be 3rd this year.


Finally testing is done and dusted that means enough with the games, it's time people did reveal their cards.

Yeah pretty interesting final test at Barcelona and it confirmed to me a number of things:

a) Red Bull are really in a panic for not only have their taken the desperate step to bring out a B spec car at the last moment but from the looks of it, it doesn't appear to have made that much of a difference e.g. Vettel saying he's happier than 5 but less than 10.

b) It also appears we have a season where the Red Bull won't be bullet proof & will suffer a number of retirements just like 2010

c) Mclaren seem to be the most organized team this team round having ticked all the pre-testing boxes with no problems to write home about

d) Ferrari's problems seem to be all management ones (including the pit wall kind - Abu-Dhabi 2010) for it appears to me, we have a horse running in all directions because no one has a firm grip of the reins.

e) Maybe Lotus aren't as quick as we would like for it's strange, why would show their hand so soon.

f) Mercedes are looking good for podiums so it seems the season may boil down to a battle between the engines as Mercedes take on the Renaults for honours.

g) It's really impossible to tell apart the Torro Rossos, Force Indias and Saubers this season in performance, this is where the real battle will take place and where driver talent will have to make the difference.

h) Marussia and HRT are dead to me.

Alright people, may you please get your Qantas papers in order for it's that time of the season to be jolly. I want to see lots of Kangaroos hopping all over the place.

Wishing all F1 fans a Merry Christmas 2.0 and a happy new season.


Goforet: Good comments. I think that RBR will be fast also 2012 with McL as second. This seems clear.

IF, and a bit IF, Lotus can be consistent, they could challange Mercedes for third and they Prancing Horse as fifth.

My personal belief is that Caterham Will challange the midfields, but will not be able to beat Sauber, FI and TR.

Interesting year ahead!


"Red Bull are really in a panic for not only have their taken the desperate step to bring out a B spec car"

Desperate? It was acknowledged when the car was released that it was conservative on the exhaust layout as they were looking to see what the FIA would allow. Once McLaren's and Ferrari's layout was given the all clear, the more sophisticated layout that would already have been planned was put in place. You really can't see past your McLaren (Hamilton) bias can you?

I really think you need to look past the "showstopper" times and look at the longer runs and see how much the times fell away. It seems to me that Red Bull and McLaren have the best long run pace. Kimmi had some good long runs but the rest showed some significant degredation, even (and especially) Ferrari. At the end of the day, it will be long run pace that wins the championship, not single lap pace. As an Aussie, I am really looking forward to Melbourne and having two drivers to cheer on. Also very pleased to see Toro Rosso seems to be there or thereabouts in the midfield


Get your facts straight on Red Bull. It was a gearbox problem that limited their running on the last day, and it's been the case for some years now that the teams bring a major update to the cars at the last test, though surprisingly less so this year.


RBR in panic mode? What? The gearbox problem of Vettel had nothing to do with the long time PLANNED updates. And if necessary they can bolt on the pre-update package in a day and still have the fastest package as they proved during the earlier tests.

McLaren fans wishing the worst for RBR says a lot about many things.


Hi Lol. Do you have information on the RBR plans for the rest of the season? - please share if you do.

The rest of us are not privvy to their plans so are in no position to say whether these upgrades were, in fact, planned or otherwise. The PR machine at RBR tells us exactly what they want us to hear - the same as all the other teams..

Let's just see how things go when the teams arrive in Oz.


Apologies if I came across as condescending but using caps lock to 'ram a point home' is a little aggressive don't you think? I was simply saying that we should wait until Melbourne before making assumptions. I have no particular affiliation to any team and would like to see all of the front runners having competitive cars. Racing isn't racing if one team has two seconds in its pocket...

Wild unfounded accusations about 'mclaren fans' are unnecessary especially given that the original poster was simply stating the facts as he saw them


Hi Roger, everyone else is giving their opinions about the teams, so why can't he? No need to be condescending like that.

And on top of that, what he said is also said by the media, including James.




@ MelB



Well, in my expert analysis, Williams will be at the back of that midfield bunch i.e. Saubers, Force Indias & Torro Rossos

But since I don't rate Williams pay drivers, my prediction is for Caterham to finish ahead of them.


I've been having a look through all the back of the car - diffuser shots, and there doesn't appear to be anything unusual on the front running cars.

Has anyone spotted something worth taking note of?


Come Melbourne, Mercedes will surprise us all, methinks.


From the wesbite of michael schumacher :

""After four intensive days of testing this week, we are soon heading to Australia and it's really time for the season to start. We are very happy with all the work we have been able to achieve, covering a lot of kilometres and learning a lot about our car which gives us a good basis to work from. The car felt good from the very beginning, and we have managed to improve it over the test days, so I think we can say that we are very well prepared. Again, what this means compared to our competitors is something I want only to go into after some races, as we all know that testing does not show everything. What we can say though is that the field is tighter than it has been, so we are looking forward to an exciting season."

Does not say much? or do they want to keep it very low profile?


Just out of interest, ref HRT, if a team does a 'filming day' do they actually have to have a film crew there? And do they have to provide the footage as proof?? (or is it just a 'Happy Snaps' con with no film in the camera?!!). We all know they simply want to shake down the car, so 'filming' won't be their most important aspect of the day!


One of my mate posted some footage from Jerez taken with his iPhone.

The picture and sound quality is pretty good.

Now, with HRT's budget in mind... 🙂


One must ask how disappointed can Ferrari be if they posted the 2nd fastest time!. If the car is that bad, then what will it be like when its better...Thise guys are full of ..it.

Mercedes and Mclaren sound very up beat and Red Bull dont seem too bothered by their troubles. I bet in quali at Melb they will all be .5 sec ahead of the rest.

I only hope Lotus keep up the pace & Kimi wins a few races.


Their posting a one off second fastest time is irrelevant. Their problem has been tyre degradation, so they'll quickly drop off the pace in races. That's not their only problem either - their car is twitchy and nervous and both drivers are having to pause before hitting the throttle coming out of corners - and its not too stable going into corners, either. Its clearly a handful which, as a Ferrari hater for many years, fills me with joy.


I guess you had really tough times in 2010 when Alonos almost won the drivers title despite the car being a dog...Watch out for a repeat this year!


It may not be difficult for Ferrari to set a quick time for one or two laps, but can they be consistent? It seems from what I've read that this is the real issue.


I imagine they are disappointed not to have more testing time. Let's not forget that Mclaren got extra time to redesign their car and improve due to the cancelled first race last year. While it was the same for everyone else Mclaren used this time best and fixed what was looking like a rough car.


Yeah, plus if i recall there was one extra test? McLaren got lucky last year. I am not so excited about their form this year since they are so obsessed with this "Battle of the Brits" thing that despite their form, they are likely to throw away a championship because of it.


Arguably, the team doesn't really benefit as much from a drivers' championship. The constructors' championship is where the money is, and their best chance at that is in having two strong drivers. If they can keep them civil and keep the car balance fair to both, then it's the right thing to do.


lol i quite agree i believe Ferrari are in a far better place than they are letting on.


I think that they will probably qualify quite well 5th-8th but will get passed by Kimi's Lotus in the race as they don't seem as good on tyre deg. long run pace. This will bring a big smile to Kimi's face...and a big frown to Luca's! 🙂


You Mean Finland Right?


May very well become the case, the first few races. Eventually Ferrari will make up the few tenths they are behind the best. When car is equally fast as the others, Alonso will be the one making the passing...sending Kimi back to Iceland.


not likely Alonso wont Qualify below 4th i would not think regardless of the cars shape (raw reserved talent). as for the race well lets see.


I don't. Have a look at the degradation on long runs


Dude, noone is showing their true pace. Teams run different fuel loads, and the tell drivers to slow down, only they know their true speed.


Hi James

It looks like through testing anyway that there is no-one way ahead of the pack which augers well for a tight season. Do you think that for the first part of the season at least that the podium will see a variety of teams up there. Last year was pretty dismal after the Malaysian GP with only Red Bull, McLaren & Ferrari trading honours.


No I think RBR will be out from to start with but McLaren will soon race them and fight for the title


So I guess that if Vettel makes it a 3 in a row and this time with a car that's no faster than the Mclaren the media will acknowledge Seb as the best driver on the grid? I highly doubt it you guys love Hamilton too much, even when he gets beaten by Button you guys fail to praise Jenson.


@Quattro_T, i think beating Hamilton is taken very seeriously - just look what it has done to Button's profile; McLaren have given him a long term contract and his fans regard him a literally a driving god



I do not think beating Hamilton is the test, really. Alonso has beaten LH both in 2010&2011 with a SLOWER car than the Mclaren. The real test is beating Alonso in equal cars. If you manage to do that over a whole season you are king.


No, if he did, then it will be undeniable...

I am a fan of Hamilton, but if Vettel beat Hamilton with equal cars, as doubtful as that is, then I will definitely concede...It hasn't happened though


You'd be surprised - I'm a proud supporter of the British drivers and teams, and have nothing but praise for the way Button's been driving over the last few years; he's established himself as a worthy world champion and one of the best racers on the grid, though his qualifying needed some work last year. Hamilton on the other hand is still an incredible racer on his day; but it's just that those days haven't fallen much on a Sunday recently...

Vettel is incredibly quick, and, well... That's about it (and that's more praise than I gave him this time last year, after everyone else threw the 2010 title away). Maybe this year he'll prove me, and many other observers wrong, but I've got an ominous feeling the Red Bull will be so fast he won't get the chance. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong about that!


How in the world do you seem almost certain Redbull will be out in front considering all the issues they had with their new package and Mclarens new upgrades moving them a step even further than they were in Jerez?...I don't understand your logic at all


The issue they had (gearbox) had NOTHING to do with the new package.


Not convinced Red Bull are in front with little evidence that there B spec car is better than the A spec. It seems to me as though they wanted to try both designs, but have gathered little data on the B spec design. How do we know it is faster? I'm not convinced and if they are lacking reliability they may revert to the A spec design for Melbourne. It seems to me that everyone thinks Red Bull are in front because of performance over the last two years, but I don't think there was any stand out performance from them in the later tests, and as a consequence the evidence is lacking. I think melbourne is going to be a bit of a lottery which makes it exciting.


Fully agree with you. Red Bull was hardly faster than the mid field during the testing and they had so many issues. For me McLaren had a smooth testing and they are leading.


Assuming the testing lap times mean anything. ferrari arguably had the smoothest testing last year and look where they ended up. Let's see and enjoy (whatever the result)


The situation with the F2012 reminds me of Williams back in 2003 and 2004, when the team (Williams) came up with revolutionary/radical designs in both years. In 2003, it took them some time to figure out the FW25, and when they finally sorted the car out it was the class of the field. But in 2004, they never quite got around to maximizing the performance of the "walrus nosed" FW26 and the team struggled to 4th place in the constructor's standings.

So in 2012, it can either be: (a) Ferrari has got a gem in their hands and they just don't know it yet or (b) they thought they had one but ended up with a load of (prancing) horse manure instead.


Williams managed to get a couple of podium places with the Walrus nose.

Ferrari will be lucky to get in the top 6 i think.


"Red Bull did not go for a flat out qualifyng lap, preferring to run with fuel, as it has all winter."

RBR's testing yesterday was royally stuffed up by Seb damaging the wing and undertray, and gearbox work. I don't think their 23 laps are desparately representative. Out of the big boys, only McLaren seem to have sailed through testing this time round - and a calm testing season is often a good indication of a smooth season (I hope!).

I presume your sentiment is more based on the general pitlane mood, which I can't tell from here, but my reading of the data / activity is that RBR are nervous about the McLaren, and uncertain about their own reliability.

Roll on Melbourne!


Neither did Mclaren mate!


Neither did McLaren do what? Sail through? Perhaps not entirely, but the B spec car for RBR was a different philosophy in the exhaust area particularly, so you can better your bottom dollar they really wanted some proper mileage out of that car.


I mean't neither did Mclaren go for a flat out qualifyng lap.


During the launch of F2012, LDM said that he is sure that it will be the year of ferrari...he called it a red year. I could never understand his big mouth...wise people never do it.

What we see today is that not only ferrari is not going to fight for the title, but it is unlikely they will be on the podium at all. They are going the williams way...back to the midfield and will fight torro rosso and force india this year.

Let's see what LDM has to say about it. Heads will roll, for sure...but it will not change anything....I think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the ferrari. Pride comes before the fall, mister LDM.


Hear, hear.


Doesn't Luca say the same thing year on year?

Ferrari will probably be where they were back in 92/93. Not good.



Just a thought, Ferrari in 92/93 was the same as Mclaren in 94,95,96 and 97 till Newey turned up. It's the same as Williams between 1988 and 1991, and then 1998 to 2001, and 2004 to this day.

All sports are cyclical, and much as Red Bull are dominating now, they will also inevitably struggle.

Maybe Ferrari are struggling right now, but 92 was a terrible time for Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari had passed away in 1988, management of the team was Fiat corporate managers and the team was rudderless.

LDM came in and started putting people and funding in place to turn the team around.

Pat Fry during an interview last year spoke of some areas of Ferrari that needed development such as simulation and CFD facilities etc, things that British teams had invested in heavily whilst Ferrari spent their money on test tracks.

Thanks to the "supposed" Ferrari biased FIA, they have no testing allowed anymore which is frankly ridiculous, but even more detrimental to Ferrari's strengths as opposed to the others. (All teams have different pro's and con's)

So Ferrari has to hire experts in to build up the equipment to go to war basically. If in 5 years time, all teams have equal equipment and they allow in season testing, will the British teams think, yes we need to buy our own test circuit? Or will they cry to the media and the governing body about Ferrari's unfair advantage once again?

Ferrari is forever regarded as Machiavellian in the F1 world, but what team in F1 is capable of throwing stones at the other glass houses?


God I hope not, although 1993 was when Ferrari started turning it all round...

More importantly, wasn't Pat Fry responsible for the MP4/24?

On Wikipedia it's described as

"In testing, the MP4-24 was proven slower than its rivals due to aerodynamic problems, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen repeatedly at the bottom of the timesheets. The car came under much scrutiny from team members and other critics alike. Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal, said the team "had not done a good enough job". He also went on to say "We have an underdeveloped car, we do not have sufficient aerodynamic downforce and we would like to focus on rectifying that as quickly as we can."

Exchange the names for Alonso, Massa and Ferrari, oh God!!!


True. Ferrari has been boasting about their 2012 car since last year. Remember how excited Dominicali was about the figures? May be they needed that marketing to please the sponsors. Let's wait and see the results in two weeks time.


It is crystal clear that Lewis and vettel will battle intensely throughout the entire season. I hope Hamilton will beat vettel. Go Lewis !!!


What about Button...you know, the guy who beat Hamilton in the same car?


Pfff. Lol your funny..ha made a joke!!..Jenson won three races Lewis won three. Lewis qualified on pole Jenson none. Lewis had two mechanical DNF's to Jensons one or two if you include failed pitstop (tyre not secured). This was all in Lewis's worst year!& we all know what happens when Lewis catches Jenson- he passes easily..except when Jenson says oops I didnt see you ...in Canada!. Hes shit scared of Lewis race pace..thats why he can only beat him on change if strategy.Thats why the team works it that way.

Kimi/Lewis/Fernando are class one racers

Sebastian/ Jenson are class two. Sebastian has been in a car that was.5 to 1 sec quicker & same cars would have seen Lewis or Jenson win easily.


If Sebastian is class 2 Lewis is class 3


I am Button fan too, but I think if Lewis just don't do some stupiid mistake or some avoidable accident on race day, Lewis still be ahead of Button.

Button didn't actually beat Lewis, Lewis just suicide a bit too much. Lewis speed is still better both in Qualify or Race , just better manage his race game he will be fine.


I menan if Lewis back on form, he will be better than Button.


Button did actually beat Hamilton, it's there in black and white (well, red and silver) on the noses of this year's cars. And he was often further back than Button when he was crashing with Massa, so I don't think your assessment is fair. Qualifying speed is a different matter, but that doesn't bring home the points!


Button beat Hamilton for being the better driver overall, period.

Just being faster is not what a complete F1 driver is about. Hamilton lacks in many areas that Button is very advancved at.


Hi James looking forward to the season and will be attending the F1 race there in Melbourne. Question any team that you think has made a big gain from this time last year to the next?


James, Toro Rosso didn't go out for a qualifying run did they?


Does anyone here think Ferrari is playing a master bluffing game by asking their drivers not to speak, and show that they are in doldrums. Only for melbourne to come and P1 for Ferrari??!!


I would like to think so. Lets see.


No way, why would they? In any event it's not just what they are saying. The people at the tests who have seen the car have reported that it is a handful. How do you bluff that?


I wonder if one aspect of his Mclaren design days that Fry has taken to Ferrari is a quick at the core, but incredibly complex design. His years at Mclaren seemed to be typified by creating what seemed like an advanced car, but was too complex to run at the optimum when needed.

I suspect Ferrari will fix these problems, but it may not be until the middle part of the season when it is usually too late. I'd tip Alonso to be the top scorer of the second half of the season.


That would contribute to a very exciting title race...


There was a time when the winter testing starts, there won’t be any surprises; Schumacher and Ferrari will be leading from Day one. Those days are gone and now every team is cagey.

McLaren looks very strong. Not sure if Red Bull has messed it up at the last moment. They have lot to do. Mercedes and Lotus looks very good to fight the leading pack. The midfield too looks very strong and reliable.

Everyone knew about the problems Ferrari had from the beginning. It was good to get some proper update from Pat Fry and Luca Colajanni instead of the misleading information we have been getting from the drivers. I am not really worried about where Ferrari will finish in the races but I feel sorry for Massa. He will be used as the guinea-pig and will have to move way for Alonso. Ferrari still can do what McLaren did last year. Also, they can copy designs from other teams as they have been doing for a few years. Or pick up points when others fall by the roadside.

I can’t help feeling sorry for HRT and Marussia. They couldn’t make it to the testing but I still admire their passion and determination. But honestly they shouldn’t be in this position after two years of racing.

Australia is going to be interesting. Tyre degradation, heating issues and reliability can bite many teams. Expecting for a classic season.


Rob, you make it sound as if only Ferrari copies other teams.

All F1 teams copy other designs, including the great Newey, it's known as competition.

Finally, when we speak of copying, let's not forget, the major culprit of copying, or should I say "photocopying" secret information is Mclaren, a crime they were found guilty of.

Regarding Massa, he is slower than Alonso, beyond any doubt.

Alonso qualified generally 5th last year because that's where Ferrari's pace was, yet finished on the podium 10 times. Massa's best was 5th.


Must be about the 1st post that i completely agree with you on hero!




I believe Massa was genuinely good enough BUT time for the sympathy to die and him to part company. I think they are going to regret keeping him this season he deserved to see out last season but thats 2 dead seasons now what was there has simply gone.


As far as we know Massa hasn't proved to be a better driver than his team mate. In fact he has been slower than Alonso. So, it's difficult to understand how Massa can move away for his team mate if he is not in front of him.


The doom and gloom around Ferrari is hard to understand having seen the laptimes against similarly timed competition, being very comparable.

After years of them saying we are fighting for the championship, perhaps this is a different way to undersell expectations?

It's hard to believe though, and sadly for Alonso's sake, it seems like its going to be an early season of super-human proportions to be in the championship hunt at all by mid season.

But that said, James, when they (the journos) say, that already it will be a McLaren, RBR title fight, to what degree do they anticipate this, ie. are Ferrari THAT far behind that they are 10 races of catchup behind, or for the first flyaway races it will be damage limitation, and hopefully by Europe be in the hunt? It seems the former... this of course being opinion rather than fact, yet from good sources rather than hunches.

So given the prophecy of doom being handed out, what are your comments on your soon-to-be colleague at BBC, Andrew Benson's points, that after number crunching the times etc. he figured Alonso could be the dark horse, and perhaps even be ahead, and they have been disguising the Ferrari's true potential?

See link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/03/kimi_raikkonen_was_to_the_poin.html

Particularly this point:


And yet, and yet. If you average out Alonso's lap times over the whole of winter testing, guess what? He is the fastest of all - by 0.3secs. No wonder Webber says: "The mystery is the Ferrari."


Fascinating stuff, really looking forward to Melbourne, but perhaps not the result thereof!


I hope Ferrari are sand bagging and not showing what they truly can do. Otherwise us Tifosi are in for another long brutal season.

I know it is not their style but hopefully Fry is trying to mask something special.

However, I am a realist...hope is short for hopeless! 🙁


I suspect that the second half of Ferrari's season will look very different from the first half. If they are lucky, the RBR and McLaren drivers will share out wins and so no-one (particularly Vettel) will be able to build an unassailable lead in the championship) If that happens Alonso could come through, very much as he did in 2010


That's a pretty big if.

Already verging on disappointed. *sad face*


Ahh, final day of testing...

Ferrari... looks like they did "McLaren" (new car that is too complex to be good). But unlike McLaren last year, I don't believe they can turn things around quickly. Despite all their greatness, "quick response" to issues was never their strong side. To make matter worse (as noted by many tech experts) their car has very narrow performance band, that means they can’t just change exhaust and become competitive right away. I am not rushing to conclusions, but from my perspective, they have a hell of a season on their hands.

McLaren. For the first time in many years, they look very focused and calm. I even can’t remember them being in such state before, but by my feelings they are in the same state as in 1998 and (possibly) as in 2008. They know where they are, what they want and what they need to do. Performance wise possibly they are a bit behind RBR, but truthfully I haven’t seen clear signs of that, Yes, I know most tech experts agrees McLaren is behind RBR now… but everyone makes mistakes from time to time.

The last question is about their drivers, but here it also looks very good. In Button I trust completely, in Hamilton – looks like he is also back. At least there are signs he left everything behind and will be focused on F1 100%. I think it’s not a coincidence that Mika Hakkinen’s former manager is now overlooking him.

RBR. From my perspective, they are in bit of disarray. I don’t believe you simply introduce B spec car for 2 last days of testing… fail to run it properly, have some issues, a broken front wing (and no Webber to provide the second one) and be happy with it. I don’t say they are “doomed” or something like that, but they are clearly not too much “above” competition at least, and from my perspective it bothers them.

Why do I also have a feeling they are pushing the rules too much already?

This new front wing is very questionable. Did you see that extreme angle (referenced to ground) on some photos? Of course it might be already broken by then (when photos were made), but if it can break that way (to change angle so much), then why can’t it just change angle during normal ride (say, under high speed...). I can only hope other teams will point FIA’s attention to it, if some tricky photos emerge in Australia.

Also exhausts… I don't like this exhaust design (Sauber, RBR...), I think it is stretching rules too much. Unfortunately it almost surely won't be banned, but that means every other team will rush to incorporate something similar (and we can already see it with Ferrari). That's disappointing, because it will mean, that what FIA tried to ban last year, continues to live now under some other interpretation.

About other teams I am not sure. Some of them look pretty cool, others look awful, but in general I think the status quo hadn’t changed much. May be only Lotus got closer to Mercedes. Either way, shown testing times are “unreal” in a way they don’t represent current order.

Backmarkers (so much disliked by me) are still the same, I even think Marussia might be in deep trouble if they fail the next crash test.


Hi James,

I find your report quite strange today - Red Bull barely did any running yet you say they looked heavy on fuel. It seemed to me that they brought a completely new concept to the car and weren't actually able to find out whether it is any good or not. Surely this leaves a big question for Melbourne, especially since the Mclaren also looked like it had been heavily modified in the final test and was looking very strong. I expect that Red Bull are going to be so unsure over which config to run that they will run both in the practice session - webber with old config and Vettel with new (or vice versa) to find out which is the best one. I'd say that it's completely unclear who is fastest at the moment - with Red Bull having a far from ideal end to test and Vettel in particular not getting any meaningful running in what is essentially a new car - how will the new exhaust effect tyre deg, warm up, rear grip et - Red Bull just don't know. I think it's looking like the very definition of Hubris - Red Bull arrogantly trying to keep their designs to the last moment because they think they're so good and that other teams will want to copy them but then not having the time to refine them. The truth is Mclaren's solution, especially with the parts fitted on the final day, looks to be the far neater solution and they've been able to run a lot of laps to gain knowledge of it.

I think the running order really got mixed up in the final two days, yet you don't really acknowledge that at all,



"Red Bull arrogantly trying to keep their designs to the last moment because they think they’re so good and that other teams will want to copy them but then not having the time to refine them. "

Other teams HAVE been copying them for the last 2 years...


All teams copy one another, f-duct, double diffuser, flexi-wing etc. the truth is though that teams are better off focusing on themselves. Let's face it, its only a matter of two weeks before the cars will be in their garages with no screens allowed.nwhy compromise yourself to keep things secret for such a short amount of time,especially when a few cars already have similar solutions. There are already reports that red bull might have to revert back to the old package for Oz. I know it's hard for some to believe but they may well have messed up here...


It would seem Ferrari have gone backwards. Yes, they can warm their tyres up now, but the race performance has dwindled. Whereas Mercedes now with ex Ferrari man Aldo Costa, have overtaken the Reds!



Do you assume that Ferraris problems could still be caused by wind tunnels, just like 2011? They were still studying wind directions and aerodinamics of their car in with paints in final days of the tests, which I think they should have done in tunnels and may be in the first days of the tests


Too much hot air from LDM near the wind tunnels possibly! 🙂


It's going to be a compressed start, but as the development race gets underway expect the teams with the resources to pull a progressively larger gap. I don't think Vettel is going to be allowed to do a repeat of last year so much will depend on individual teams consistency to win the day.

mohamed south africa

James is it true that the issue with ferrari is that even though they can do a quick lap the lap times are not consistent


And their tyre wear is significant



Has there been any suggestion that Ferrari aren't actually in that much trouble and are bluffing the media when they say they have problems and could turn up at Melbourne with a car that can challenge?


That's not their style and anyway you can see the car's problems when you stand by the trackside


James, Are you hearing them get on the throttle earlier and brake later when you observe them vs other cars at the track side? Do you think they will be able to overcome the niggles of the B Spec in time for Melbourne?


To James and all the experts out there:

What are your true assessment of Lotus and thie car so far?


How long before heads start to roll in Maranello? My guess is that Domenicali will be amongst the first to go this season: he has had long enough to perform, but the results are nearly always lacking...


Cant believe ferrari are having another dark year, Alonso could snatch 3rd in a poor car easily but his gota play it cool and keep his head, all these world champs around now and all. Ferrari will get him that car, maybe he can come back at the latter half.......

>> put raikonen anywhere u like, i think he is faster than vettel, car dependant.


Fascinating stats Webbo

I'd also suggest that if you put Kimi in against Massa in any car, he would get beaten conclusively, once again.

Don't be surprised to see Grosjean beating him this year, not because Grosjean is sensational, but I just don't particularly rate Kimi.


No chance not since the accident but i reckon Massa would have been mixing it now otherwise. Just a shame he did not get to pick up the title for the season he won as he will never manage to be close to that position again.

And remember in that same season we had a rather uninterested apparently even bored Kimi on the grid he will have the hunger back for at least a season or 2.


not arguing were all here for the same reason ! but Dont particularly rate an F1 champ ? never herd that before ! massa was good but his lost it recently - like hammy. would love to see them back on it.....


Well, not rating Kimi high seems odd to me. He won the title in a Ferrari in his first season. Alonso in contrast threw away the title.


I'm a proud Ferrari fan, and I believe Mclaren threw away the 2007 drivers championship.

Alonso responded to Ferrari's pit call, they threw away the championship in 2010 but he had done everything to be in a position which he was still in with the chance to win in the last race.

I wouldn't disagree with anyone claiming Kimi is a fast F1 driver, but he wouldn't be in my Top 20 WDC from history.

A recent article between Nigel Roebuck and Martin Brundle discussed the 6 champions on the grid this year and a comment made about Alonso highlighted what I believe is the difference between a fast driver and a Great champion.

It's how they deal with a bad car that defines them as opposed to if they can win with a great car.

Hakkinen only ever won in a Newey designed car. In fact his first 2 wins came courtesy of DC letting him through. when he wasn't leading as in Nurburgring 99, his head dropped completely and he was invisible.

Kimi showed the same characteristics and dis-interest and maybe people will say it's a Finnish characteristic, but Keke Rosberg was a fighter throughout.

Villeneuve won in a dominant car and people don't particularly rate him now, as did Hill, but Hill proved that he could win in a Jordan and almost an Arrows, yet he doesn't receive the credit he truly deserves.


Hardly can Kimi be considered faster than Sebastian when you look at the facts:

Titles: Sebastian 2 - Kimi 1

Wins: Sebastian 21 - Kimi 18

Poles: Sebastian 30 - Kimi 16

Fastest laps: Kimi 35 - Sebastian 9

Podiums: Kimi 62 - Sebastian 36

Points: Sebastian 773 - Kimi 579

Races: Kimi 156 - Sebastian 81

Age: Kimi 32 - Sebastian 24


Sorry Webbo your stats are so so irrelevant that car our little german friend is in is such a huge factor. Amazing what the variables in F1 cover and apparently show in F1 drivers BUT you can allways pick out the good cars for what THEY are.


Kevin Green, I actually do know what I'm talking about.


Never for a second said Vettel was not good it is very clear he is even despite the car but i DO Q how good, As for Ferrari are you forgetting Todt and Brawn have also left the team amongst others from that key era???

I really do not think you know what your talking about in relation to the overall relativity of the complete picture!

Senna got to what to was the best team at the time in which we have to thank frank for the tech push he was making at the time within F1 in general but again remember the tech was banned for the season start leaving Senna with a mixed up dog of a car in which he still coped very well concidering.


Eventually the best drivers end up in the best cars. It's been that way since the days of Fangio. So claiming a driver is not good because he drives the best car is a nonsense claim. You know, it is allways a combination of car AND driver. A part of the driver's work is to get himself in the best car. As an example I give you the fact that Senna desperately wanted to drive for Williams. He even threatened to retire if he can't get his hands on the Williams in 94. And once having the best car it's always a question of supporting the team to develop the cars furher. Take Lauda for example and the sorry state in which Ferrari have been until he arrived and changed things. Or Schumacher for example. When he joined Ferrari he found a team that won 2 races in the last 5 years. When he left he left them a car and organisation with which even a driver like Kimi, who never won a title before could win the title in his first attempt. However since Alonso joined Ferrari seems to go backward again.


These stats really prove nothing - Kimi was let down by his car in several championships; quite the opposite to Vettel. And I'd wager that from 2003-2006 if Kimi'd had a car as good as the Red Bull, Schumacher and Alonso wouldn't have gotten a sniff at the title. 2007 wasn't even his best year...

I hope the real Kimi turns up this year, but either way I'm excited to have him back.


Did you see the fastest lap stat ? lol but you can not compare two drivers from two different times in two different cars, you cant de-ny the redbull has been a dam good car. All i ever remember of Kimi is being properly stupid fast but his cars allways breaking down. give them the same car or similar - fingers crossed - My moneys on Kimi every time.....

( Im actually an Alonso fan so my money would actually go there haha )


If Alonso gets a strong team mate he might lose the battle (see Hamilton 2007).


I see what your trying to say, but you cant compare two drivers in two different places ( times ) in two different cars. stats dont mean a thing. no one can de-ny the redbull has been an awsome car. My overall memory of Kimi is he was dam fast, like stupidly properly fast but his cars allways broke down, look at your own stats if you want and the number of fastest laps. I would put big money on Kimi if i knew his car........


Looking at the fastest laps (35) I have to agree that Kimi has incredible race pace, only Schumacher (76) and Prost (41) have more fastest laps.


you need to consider 1 thing...kimi doesnt possess the luck vettel had...he nvr really drive any winning car....except F2007 ~~!! And the point system changed ....so you cant really compare~~!! Your argument is invalid.....and it shows that you are just wikipedia fans~~


The points system changed so one might not count on the points statistic, I agree with that point. Looking at the rest of the stats, though, I would asume that Sebastian has more qualifying pace (30 poles) and race intelligence (2 titles, 21 wins), on the other hand Kimi has more race pace (35 FL) and makes less mistakes (62 podiums).


Can anyone explain to me why Ferrari didn't just evolve last years car? Silverstone (the only 2011 race I missed) I thought demonstrated that that they were competitive when off the throttle blown diffusers were out of the equation. Additionally their 2011 problems with heating the tyres would have been negated by Pirelli's use of softer compounds for this year. Why did their organization feel the need to take such drastic action??


I assume that Fry, Tombasiz and Byrne all felt that there was no development path in the car for them to pursue.

They may have felt it better to start with a clean sheet and work through the various problems.

In 1997, when Brawn and Byrne joined Ferrari, they were left with the F310b which had been designed by John Barnard.

They made the best of the design, but their actual input to a car's design and philosophy wasn't seen till 1998. Even then it took till 1999 for the car to be comparable to Mclaren and 2000 was a major step forward, which took the team to both championships.

All design teams work towards certain parameters, thats why sometimes just copying new design features from other cars doesn't always fit into their car.

A recent one would have been the double diffuser in 2009. The Red Bull, Mclaren and Ferrari teams all copied this but their gearbox, rear suspension and rear aero meant it was not as effective as the cars designed with this from the start.

Red Bull had an incredible car that season which was developed beyond the Brawn by the end of the year, but the double diffuser was not the reason they gained time over Brawn, it was other updates and the fact that Brawn had practically no budget to develop the car further.


Brilliant. Thank you!


From what I remember Vettel was leading Alonso by a few seconds when both entered the pits on the same lap. However at the exit Alonso got ahead and Vettel lost another position to Hamilton because of the broken jack. So I do believe your statement is not correct.


If the rule had been clear on friday and both compounds were used Ferrari wont have won that race.


Didn't they win because Red Bull botched up a pitstop after one of the jascks broke?


I think it was the pitstop that let Alonso get ahead (I was in Spain and remember the cheering), but he had the pace to do it anyway because as HWS says he did just pull away when he got in front.


They were leading already when that happened iirc.

Afterwards Alonso just pulled away anyway.


Likewise, my thought as well!


Hi James,

we're not going to have a season where we start with RedBull dominating in qualifying by a significant margin, followed by the fact that if they get away cleanly then they run and hide.




Give direct witness at the track feeling of how the particular car good is? and can one assess respective performances, or is it more or less subjectiveness?



we'd love to see some of this live or recorded. Who can pass on to FOM that there are a huge amount of fans that would love to watch testing online (if not on TV)? Here in the US we have great coverage on SpeedTV.com but we really miss video. It must be the same in other countries.


Last year I wrote off McLaren at this time and they showed up in Melbourne and got 2nd place. I hope Ferrari have the time to turn things around.


I still can't get used to the new team names! Started off thinking "wow, Lotus have come on so much" but then I realised that it was the team formerly known as Renault who were in the upeer nid-field last year!


Just like the Chelsea football manager i wonder how long before pat fry is shown the door?


I've just realised that this years type of F1 car should be christened the LEGO cars. Because they all look so boxy especially he Ferrari and Caterham

I'm happy Lotus are up there but I think Caterham could have leapfrogged Williams this year.


Can someone please explain to me why Ferrari's car is so complex and has been dubbed to have a lot of potential? What are people looking at to make them think this (other than the pull-rod suspension)? From what i've read about testing, I get the feeling this car is not that great?


Ferrari are just hiding.

The car is so exceptionaly fast that they will take pole and finish 1 & 2 in race.

Simple as that 🙂

No... Just kidding!! Omg what a crappy car have they created! I stood at trackside in turn 3 at Barcelona' the corner exit speed was so slow due to the lack of grip, everytime the Ferrari came by I couldn't believe my eyes and ears - compared to other cars in the same corner it was pretty remarkable. As a Ferrari fan I'm hugely dissappointed and the season hasn't even started yet!


Sorry you must be exaggerating. If that Ferrari shows that much slower to your eyes it has to be terrible and even slower than the HRT. Your eyes can not judge a 3 km/h difference especially when differences in fuel loads, tyres are very determinative. And 3 km/h over a single lap is around 1,3 secs! This is simply crazy because experts are talking of differences between 0,3 to 0,5s for the front runners.


Of course I can't judge on 3km/h but you could clearly see the difference in car handling in corner exit. From turn 2 to turn 3 it was very obvious the Ferrari required more handling from it's pilotes compared to most other cars.


3rd or 4th Fastest in Qualifying might not be a problem for Ferrari? I think they still can make it fast for a single lap. I think there problem is race pace on the long run if their car is not nice on tire.

It would be good if Lotus is 3rd or 4th fastest team, Kimi will look good on come back and he wiill be very happy to be in fornt of Alonso/Ferrari. At least I am happy that Kimi still fast enough for F1.

for RB, they can test the new spec 1 more time on Friday. it the new spec is not working well enough, they might be back with the 'A' spec that they have collected data for 10 test days and if ithe A spec is not enough to be fastest car but should be enoght to secure at least second best and keep develop the B spec and test again when they get back to Europe.

If the B spec is fail to work, there is a good chance for McLaren to colllect as much point as possible in the early part of the season. But we hardly see the fail of Newey Design and I think RB still have a lot left in their hand.


Just imagine Kimi in Lotus and Michael in Mercedes beating Fernando in Ferrari regularly. Wouldn't that put a smile on the faces of fans who didn't appreciate they way Michael and Kimi were driven out at Ferrari?


Bit of a problem for me there.

It was obvious from 2003 to 2006 that Michael had peaked some years before. Little mistakes and not quite the same breathless speed as he once conjured up. If you think I'm wrong, Schumi's speed now isn't because of a 3 year break, its because of his age and his peak was realistically 10 years ago.

Alonso in 2005 and 2006 was clearly the greatest out there, and he has just continued developing but Todt decided to select Kimi who proved completely uninspiring to the team and most fans worldwide.

Ferrari didn't force Michael out, they just said they had signed Kimi and Michael decided, like he always had throughout his career, that he didn't want a good team-mate, so retired.

Ferrari did pay Kimi out, because frankly, they realised the mistake that had been made and sought to rectify it.

I am grateful that the dominant driver of the period 1994 to 2004 chose to win with Ferrari, I'm grateful that Kimi managed to win for us too, and sadly Massa couldn't in 2008.

But there are no Ferrari fans who care about Kimi or Schumi after they have left the Scuderia, all Tifosi care about is what's happening today with Ferrari.

Ferrari, to use a football connection, is like Man.Utd etc, if you support the team, it doesn't matter if Pele, Maradona, Best or Messi plays for your team as long as they win.

Once the player has left the club, he is no longer important.


Maybe it's my recollection of history, but wasn't the 2004 Ferrari, on tailor made Bridgestones the dominant car that season?

Would you say the Williams FW26 and the Mclaren MP4/19 were even comparable?

Schumacher beat Barrichello 13 wins to 2, but they weren't team-mates, Rubens was his lackey.

Personaly I believe Michaels best years were 1994 to 2000, after that he had a dominant car.

When Schumacher had proper opposition from Renault and Alonso, he was beaten.


'Bit of a problem for me there.

It was obvious from 2003 to 2006 that Michael had peaked some years before.'

Looks like an 'even after his peak Michael' was still better than the opposition. This is demonstrated by the way he crushed the opposition in 2004. He scored even 4 wins more than Our Nige in his dominant 92 season. And now imagine that Michael was past his peak in 2004, as you claim.


ive got to be honest as a williams fan i am suprised that noone seems to rate the fw34 for the season. ive been impressed by the pace i must say and bruno said the car was easy on its tyres. james, where do you see williams this season?

Stone the crows

Since last season I think everyone's a bit hesitant to overstate William's situation one way or the other. Most journalists are wanting them to succeed, but it seems everyone is thinking 'wait and see.'


yeah i can agree with that. i have my fingers crossed for a better year, then again it couldnt get any worse!


If as it's been said above that Ferrari is hard on tires but is an excellent one lap car, maybe they could qualify ahead of the rest. Then it would be fun to see Ham, Seb et al trying to pass. Alonso out for a Sunday drive, literally, Massa playing bumping cars with whatever comes his way. OMG I'm dreaming in colour.

Still it would be fun to see Seb having to pass to get to 1st place, instead of being divinely placed there by archangel Newy.


If we go with what happened at testing it means they are not the fastest on one lap either. Kimi beat Alonso with softs while Alonso did his lap on super-softs. Ferrari had probably the fourth fastest car at Barcalona....


James do you see caterham getting up into the midfield as their pace seemed pretty impressive? also i have been impressed with petrov he seems very close to heikke in speed a lot closer than people expected and certainly much better than trulli


Well after watching Pat Fry's post testing interview on the BBC my read is he is frankly not giving a hoot because they are in far better shape than testing suggests OR he simply ain't competenty up to the job because for a man that should apparently be worried he does not seem very much so carrying a very humourous manner throughout the interview.

I still feel there going to be fine come race day anyway. Not long now 🙂


Kevin, if you're right, can I have the name of the Church you worship at!!! LOL


Going by your Kimi/Massa theory i reckon you certainly need some form of religion, Your clearly lost!




James were some cars using DRS during their race simulations?


i am a great fan of kimi and so glad he is back to whip some a@@ go kimi go

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