Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Barcelona Test Day 1: Lotus bounce back
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Mar 2012   |  8:32 pm GMT  |  98 comments

The final pre season test got underway today in Barcelona. The test will last four days and its the last chance for teams to test new parts ahead of the first Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Teams worked mainly on set up and in the afternoon many focussed on long runs when the track conditions were stable.

Lotus has bounced back from the shock of missing last week’s test due to a chassis construction issue. Romain Grosjean set the fastest time of the day on a soft tyre run, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button.

After a difficult first two tests, where they were assessing their new car, Ferrari
are able now to start the normal development programme. The main area of interest for them is the exhausts. This is true of a number of teams with varying approaches of blowing on the bottom element of the rear wing or even onto winglets on top of the rear brake ducts.

But Ferrari remain the only one of the front running teams not to have managed a full race distance simulation. Massa was going for one when he was interrupted, so it remains on the job list for the moment.

There is no HRT or Marussia at the test, the former ran out of time after passing the FIA crash tests late and the latter still has to pass them, which it hopes to have done by tomorrow.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg covered the most mileage with 596 km today, the equivalent of two Grand Prix distances at Barcelona. He ran a new rear wing on Day 1 on the Mercedes and there is a growing sense of excitement at Mercedes about the potential of their car.

1. Grosjean Lotus 1m23.252s 73
2. Button McLaren 1m23.510s +0.258 64
3. Perez Sauber 1m23.820s +0.568 118
4. Webber Red Bull 1m23.830s +0.578 102
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.992s +0.740 128
6. Vergne Toro Rosso 1m24.216s +0.964 113
7. Di Resta Force India 1m24.305s +1.053 98
8. Massa Ferrari 1m24.318s +1.066 105
9. Petrov Caterham 1m24.876s +1.624 123
10. Maldonado Williams 1m25.587s +2.335 58

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I’m still learning from you, as I’m trying to achieve my goals. I absolutely enjoy reading everything that is posted on your site.Keep the tips coming. I liked it!


we will soon learn that the platterpuss nose is a serious design malfunction (a liability waiting to happen)! in the event of a racing accident: piercing the body of another vehicle and posibly decapitating the driver in the process. or in the pits; poor pit crew, especially the front Jackman. it will add to the drama though.


Ferrari are the biggest wingers and Sandbaggers in the F1 paddock. They will be there or thereabouts come Melbourne. Agree with Paul Watson Ferrari long runs arent so bad. Force India I reckon will be 5th and Di Resta/Hulkenburg is a great lineup personally think Paul will be consistently quicker. Nico Roseberg will fight the front teams now and then. Michael will be fighting to keep his seat-him & Fillipe..


That is a very optimistic view….


Reckon you are going to find she ain’t too far wrong James, BUT! i reckon the only word wrong there inc placement was consistently not so sure looking at testing so far!


James, I know it is very early to say but what do you think the impact inside Ferrari would be if this year turned into failure (in terms of being unable to fight for the championship). I think winning the title may be a stretch too far but surely their main goal is to go into the finale with a chance of winning the title.

Should they be unable to iron out the gremlins with the 2012 car, do you think there will be a tidal wave of change, and that the perception of the team will begin to revert back to how they were seen in the 90s? Do you think Alonso would begin to weigh up his options given the team won’t be making the progress he expected of them?


Hard to say. It’s also a very busy year behind the scenes with the Concorde Negotiations now underway.

Alonso will have to put up with it, but I’m sure they’ll get some performance out of the car at some point.


Caterham getting better right now..



There appears to be on ongoing theme from the mid-back field teams, I noticed Sauber and Caterham in particular, of running out of fuel trackside (confirmed by the teams own tweets).

As the cars stop on track it causes a red flag and causes other teams to loose potential testing time/mileage.

Do you not think this practice is a little unfair? And do you think teams should be penalized?


Yes, but if they all do it at some point it’s the same for everyone. Would be good to co-ordinate it so it doesn’t wreck race sims


James or anyone else in actual know would it not be better if they had a time zone on one of the testing days (say a 2hr period) to carry out the fuel run out tests so it was not effecting teams trying to obtain real time long term run data??? all seems a bit silly. if unsure could you suggest/find out from someone who can relevantly comment??


An interesting first day, Day 2 will be much the same with one of the smaller teams probably putting in a shotgun lap at the end to get top of the time sheets. Saturday and Sunday are the good days when Mclaren and Redbull will be bringing and bolting on their upgrades. Looking good for the first race, looks much closer than last year.


Would love to see a 4 way battle at the top between McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus this year. A real show of our engineering strength. Come on boys. Bring it home!


I hope Lotus is a front running contender. Go Kimi!!!


James, can you give me your personal opinion. Do you think the Lotus is a competitive care?


It’s quite a quick car, yes.

Last season, it got two podiums in first two races, then fell back. They should be in the top six in Melbourne.


Top six teams or places on the grid, James?


Certainly top six teams, potentially one car in top six, more likely one car in top 8.


Thanks for your reply James. I just hope they dont fall back this year after the start of season.


Hi James – Wanted to request if you can present the test timings as under for the next three days:

Drive | Time | Tyre | x lap of a y lap run.

For e.g.

Webber | 1m23.123s | Mediums | 2nd lap of a 7 lap run

Not sure if this is possible but would be helpful to make some more sense of the test timings.

Grayzee (Australia)

James,(or anyone else out there)

Is there a restriction on the number of cars/personell allowed to run in these tests.

Otherwise, why aren’t the teams running both cars and both drivers for the whole four days?


FOTA Testing rules say only one car. However FIA rules say no more than 15,000kms of testing and don’t specify how many cars


James, just curious. Then why are non- FOTA members (ferrari and Redbull) still running single car?? Ferrari could have used this excuse(being a non FOTA member) to dig more into their troubled car right?? Any insights on this.


Yes they could refuse to observe FOTA test rules about single car and just observe FIA rules on maximum kilometerage (15,000)

They don’t because they are still working with other teams on cost control. I think a solution is not far off

Grayzee (Australia)

Ah, that explains it!

Thanks for that, James.


Great to see Caterham getting much closer to the mid-field, hope it’s a meaningful time. Poor old Williams! 🙁


Just get to the season already.

Redbull is expected to be dominant, Mclaren will be there abouts, can’t keep Alonso down, Mecerdes will be Goliath Slayer this year… The usual.script.

What I want is Lotus to give atleast fifth best car to Raikkonen, if not all wins, he’ll atleast would win spa and podium in Suzuka.


Lotus at front to me still means nothing. In fact I think it just a PR stunt to intice investers and sponsors as they now have Kimi. I’m sure they told Kimi next years car will be built around him so all this hype is temporary.

Podiums in firt 2-3 races is max they will do, but i think they are going to be like Williams last year- good team with worst car.


I don’t have the impression that Lotus are doing show runs on low fuel to impress people, instead it seems to me as if the good lap times come quite easy, but they’re not holding back. They look like they might be the dark horse for the first quarter of the season.

Red Bull on the other hand seem to play it suspiciously low, as do McLaren.

I’m not sure about the Mercs though – last week I had a pretty good feeling they could fight for the second place and thought they were pretty much on target, maybe on par with the boys from Woking. Today I think they might be struggling a bit.

Ferrari on the other hand seem to get a grip on their car and might be on their way to pass Mercedes until the start of the season.

I can’t wait for the red flag to drop and the bullshit to stop. 🙂


Hi James,

Was Lotus’ fastest time set on a ‘fast lap’ or during a longer run. Also what tyre was he using. new or used?

Those factors will determine whether it was a show boating lap or it’s genuinely a competitive car.


Set on the first of a four lap stint on soft tyres!


Regarding times (and in mention to both Lotus and Ferrari), people would do well to focus instead on the race simulations and tire management over headline laps. If you actually apply logic to Ferrari and their longer runs so far, their consistency and drop off is looking good in comparison to the other front runners. Their problem, as openly discussed is mid-corner to exit handling. I expect Ferrari to be challenging podium come Melbourne.

James, can you shed any further light on the mysterious tire situation with Pirelli, I mean why they ran some unmarked tires and why the secrecy over backup factory?


The unmarked tyres come from a alternative factory should the other one run into trouble. Those tyres are exactly the same compound and construction, but they had to make sure that there aren’t any deviations in performance by testing the unmarked tyres.


I thought Charlie Whiting made it clear that any blowing that was ‘purely to enhance performance’ was banned… so why are teams tinkering with blowing purely to enhance performance? Typically confusing..

Mike from Medellin, Colombia



Anyone notice Sauber’s sidepod wings that everyone was expecting on the Ferrari’s (horizontal wings on top of the sidepod).

Stephen Szymanskyj

I think it looks like a ducks bill.

But as per any other year, we will get used to it soon!


@ James Allen

Aah excuse me, thanks for the correction.

There’s no doubt about it, we’re really spoilt for choice this year, lets just hope some mid field team won’t shock us come Melbourne with a pole e.g. Brazil 2010.


No chance!!


Well that’s 3 of the 4 teams that i tipped on a post here about a month ago clear movers up this season i reckon (Mercedes lotus and force india) just Ferrari left to show there colours clearly, Still reckon there sandbagging.


Or rather you wish they are sandbagging.


Only for the reason of my pre testing predictions, dont get me wrong i don’t mind Ferrari and certainly admire what they have done and of course Alonso is very admirable for his skills etc.

Don’t really have a favourite Team or driver as such, if i was going to say a team long term i would say Mclaren probably Driver long term (still current) Alonso for his talents BUT OBV being a Scot i hope Di Resta surpasses that.

I am more of a fan of the whole picture of F1 not the typical fan picking a team or driver team/driver just watching on race day not knowing/understanding what the heck is going on other than who is winning or been winning in the past.

rob in victoria bc

A quick question I hope no one else has asked. Is the DRS being used in winter testing?


Yes, is testing so they have to see if it works properly.


a close personal friend of mine attended the last barca tests and like me, he thought that this seasons cars were the ugliest in history. after just one day he forgot all about it and he told me that he failed to notice the ‘looks’ thereafter.

i am starting to feel the same way, unbelievable.


Is it just me or does the pic (above) of the Lotus with its stepped nose look quite nice? Perhaps we’ll get used to the new look through the season.

Grayzee (Australia)

Hehehe…maybe I’m a purist old fart, but I don’t think I’ll EVER get used to these new noses. I think they are just plain ugly. Mind you, I think the Lotus is the best looking one.

Nah, give me sleek lines and flowing bodywork, anyday!


It’s just you 🙂


hoy!! sorry but i have a little more intelligencness than to venture into that hobby!!:)




No that nose is ugly as hell. I think people will need a set of beer goggles before any of these cars could be considered nice (excepting the McLaren of course which avoided the broken nose look)


the point was in reference to the cars with the new stepped noses


I am getting used to them. Same as a few years back when they narrowed the rear wing and widened the front. The nose is quite angle dependent, kind of like Uma Thurman.


I agree it does look quite nice.. However, I don’t think I will get used to the LEGO look of the Ferrari 🙂


best looking of the step nosed cars for sure, reckon its the historic “John Player Special” scheme that does it justice 🙂 there’s a thought do you still get John Player Special fags????? Any smoking idiots amongst us???


Kev – I am an idiot and I smoke (yet, now into my 40’s, I can still run a marathon in under 4 hours and know a fair few marathon runners who enjoy the odd cigarette and\or cigar – it’s all about moderation kid)… and yes, you can still get JPS fags.

Back to the Lotus’s nose… it’s sculpted and thus to me, doesn’t look quite as obtrusive and ugly as say the Ferrari’s, which is almost square. I’m not keen on the stepped-noses, but they will grow on us; as the large (cow-catching) front wings did a season or two ago. What I’m more stunned about (these days) is the lack of width of an F1 car, they are so thin compared with those of a decade or so ago; I’ve been watching F1 since the 70’s and I’d never really noticed this before.

Anyway, I’m off to chain-smoke a pack of JPS 😉


“Any smoking -idiots- amongst us?”#

You’re likely to get a lot of helpful responses with questions worded like that.

(this is just one of them)


About five years ago I have quit smoking after one and a half decade of this stupidity. It’s just that I didn’t recogize what an idiot I’ve been until I had quit and somewhat recovered from smoking, which took more than a year.

Anyway: The JPS-Lotus/Playboy-image worked for me, they had been the reason for me to prefer this brand to another on numerous occasions.

And to be honest: The black and gold design still looks pretty awesome.


Your last comment regarding smokers is quite insulting. I’m surprised it didn’t get caught by mods.


It’s a general line, not specific to anyone, just slips under the bar.. – Mod


OMG Mark. You’re well on your way to the dark side.

James thank you for the whole package. Enjoying myself.




I think there’s been a lot of fuss about nothing re these new noses. I think they look aggressive and purposeful!

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