The four day test at Barcelona ended today with rain, but the three previous days gave the teams a chance to learn more about the performance of their new cars and especially about the way they work on the new Pirelli tyres.
While it is still a bit early to say too much in terms of who is fastest in outright pace, as the definitive aerodynamic packages will only come onto the cars in the final test next week, we can nevertheless look at some details of long run performance, which shows us who is looking good.
Below you can see charts expressing the longer runs from Day 3, the final dry day. The first thing to note is that Alonso and Ferrari are not there, as they did not do any longer runs.
The lines going upwards indicate the tyre degradation; the lap times increasing as the tyre performance goes away, despite the lightening of the fuel load. Many of these are similar to race stints.
However the run of Grosjean is the stand-out performance of the day. He did three stints with Hard, Medium and Medium tyres. Look at his final run on the medium tyres. It stands out as the fastest and most consistent of all the runs.
The car looks quick and it seems to have inherited the 2012 Lotus’ ability to look after its tyres. It’s very encouraging for the Lotus engineers. There is real pace there too.
Rosberg’s run is interesting as it has more laps under 90 seconds than others. This may be due to fuel load, as it’s not possible to be certain how much fuel they were carrying. But as you can see, the degradation is more pronounced and more variable. Rosberg’s second run in particular looks reasonable, with 15 laps starting and ending around 89 seconds.
The Williams runs are interesting as they are quite consistent,even if they are slower than some of the others. This could be fuel related, but what engineers will be encourage by is the consistency, especially of Maldonado’s runs. He was using Medium-Medium-Hard-Soft. It’s a slow start, but assuming he’s running race fuel the degradation is not too bad. Arguably the Williams is the most consistent across the different tyre compounds.
Button’s run is consistent, again not exceptionally quick. The performance is similar to Hulkenberg’s runs and the degradation is slightly worse than Maldonado’s. We don’t know the fuel loads, so it’s hard to draw too many conclusions.
Likewise Webber’s run in the Red Bull. It’s consistent, he’s quicker on the medium tyre, but it’s not outstanding. It will be interesting to compare with next week’s runs when the teams fit the definitive Melbourne bodywork.
Overall conclusions then, a very encouraging picture for Lotus, Williams look like they will race well, although the outright pace isn’t known yet, the Pirelli tyre degradation is high, but they say it will improve in warmer conditions, Red Bull and McLaren not giving much away at this stage, but certainly clear of the Lotus.
[Additional Technical Input and Charts: Mark Gillan]