Category Archives: Test

Pre-Season Testing, Day One: Vettel Quickest For Ferrari

Formula One kicked off 2015 with pre-season testing yesterday, with Sebastian Vettel topping the timesheets for Scuderia Ferrari. Of the seven drivers who completed laps over the space of the day’s running, Vettel’s tally of 60 laps put him fourth overall, but kept him a tenth clear of Marcus Ericsson who took the second fastest time, for Sauber.

“Today was a good start,” reflected Vettel when the day’s action had ended, but kept a grounded attitude and admitted: “I can’t say more than that because this is only the beginning.

“For now lap times aren’t important: I did mine on the medium compound but the comparison has to be made yet again with the Mercedes. They are very quick, let’s just hope they’re not quite as fast as last year…”

While the exact speed of the Mercedes is so far unclear, Nico Rosberg’s incredible count of 157 laps on what is, for some teams, a chance to see how many times the car can break down, was an ominous sign of the Mercedes’ potential strength again this coming season. While half a second slower than Vettel’s quickest lap, Rosberg said the focus of early testing was reliability.

“In the beginning it’s all about reliability and we managed to do a lot of mileage today. The guys in the factories built a complete new car and now we come here and it’s working great, so the team did a fantastic job over the winter.”

On the difference in lap times, Rosberg added: “As a driver, you always want to find out how quick you are compared to the others – but that will have to wait until qualifying in Melbourne.

Marcus Ericsson’s first day of running with his new team also showed positive reliability and he clocked 73 laps overall, tied second with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. The Swede, formerly of Caterham, was clearly pleased with his first experience of the Sauber on track, and praised the reliability of the car under various set ups.

“I think we have good reasons to be happy. We were able to complete a lot of laps, and we went through quite a few different small tweaks on the set-up and did all the installations needed. There were no major problems with the car, which was really the main thing. Overall it’s been a good day, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. I hope we can continue like this.”

Bottas also clocked 73 laps over his track time, and like Ericsson, the Finn seemed happy with his first taste of the FW37. Beginning with shorter stints, Williams began to build up to longer runs, and were happy with the car’s reliability, Bottas said. “The day started off a bit slow, but it turned out to be a really good one. After that initial set-back, we didn’t have a single issue with the FW37, which is impressive for the first day with a new car.

“We know we have a lot to learn and improve, but we also know where these gains can come from, and have work to do with the car performance and the power unit. There are a lot of strengths in this car and we’ve made good progress in just one day, so I am very pleased,” the Finn concluded.

Daniel Ricciardo was fourth fastest overall as he gave the RB11 its inaugural running, albeit with a swirly livery, specifically made for testing. In usual fashion, Ricciardo gave his approval of the unique design: “The livery’s cool. It’s a testing specification for us but I think it looks really good. Maybe I need a matching helmet.”

Ricciardo was similarly happy with the performance of the car, saying: “We got going pretty well this morning and I got a few laps under my belt. So the first impressions are good. We’ll get a few more laps over the next few days, but so far everything seems pretty encouraging.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of laps but definitely more than at this test last year! Obviously we had a couple of issues, but once the car is running it’s all going pretty normally. There are some positive signs there.”

Over at Red Bull’s sister team, Carlos Sainz Jr. took the RB10 for a noble 46 laps around the Circuit de Jerez. Although he had run in a filming day already this year, rookie Sainz felt positive about the Toro Rosso’s first proper shakedown.

“We worked well together as a team,” commented the Spaniard. “I felt good in the car today, I was constantly improving, lap after lap. We did some adjustments and I think we have a good starting baseline”.

Sainz’s country-man, Fernando Alonso, had the least successful day of any of the seven drivers, completing a mere six laps on the first day of his return to McLaren. Although alleging to have purposefully run a series of short stints, with the longest run being three laps, McLaren’s day of testing finished at lunchtime when a technical gremlin took the car out of action for the afternoon.

“Given the complexity of modern Formula 1 machinery, the sorts of issues we encountered today weren’t too surprising,” said Alonso of the technical issues. “They’re just the things you experience on the first day of a Formula 1 test.”

“Obviously, I don’t really have a feeling for the car yet – I only did a handful of laps, and most of those were at slow speed, conducting preliminary checks – so I need a bit more time to be able to speak accurately about it. But everything seems to be responding well, and showing us what we expected.”

While McLaren’s day ended early, neither Lotus nor Force India made it to Jerez in time for the beginning of testing. While Lotus’ trucks crawled into the pit lane in the afternoon, Force India’s were nowhere to be seen as it was confirmed that they would not be attending the test. The team have also moved to rubbish rumours that their car, again piloted by Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, will not make it to the grid for the curtain-opening Melbourne Grand Prix on March 15th.

Pre-season testing continues on Monday with Lewis Hamilton, Daniil Kvyat Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Max Verstappen and Felipe Nasr all piloting their respective cars.

Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari. 


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Maldonado On Top For Lotus In Barcelona

The F1 circus remained at the Circuit de Catalunya today as the second day of the second in-season test got underway. At least, it got underway for everyone excluding Caterham who announced that they would not take part due to the damage sustained in Kamui Kobayashi’s crash on Tuesday.

Of the ten remaining cars, it was Lotus’s E22 that went fastest today, piloted by Pastor Maldonado. The team praised their “trouble-free and extremely productive” test which saw them complete 102 laps and set a fastest lap of 1.24.871. Nico Rosberg finished second for Mercedes and his run included testing the team’s trial ‘megaphone’ exhaust system, but after also setting 102 laps, the German reported that: “Just tried the new exhaust system, but [it] didn’t work out. [It] didn’t make it much louder. We’re pushing for another solution”. 

Kimi Raikkonen was back in the car for Ferrari and his 94-lap test followed yesterday’s short run where he completed a mere 20. The Finn was followed by Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez had his run interrupted by a powertrain problem, but Test Engineer, Paul Russell, insisted that this did not cost the team too badly. He ended his running in fourth, over two seconds behind Maldonado’s quickest time – although Gutierrez did not sample the super-soft tyre compounds.

Susie Wolff was one of the few to test the quicker Pirelli tyres, but her running was limited following a red flag-prompting spin at turn 11 about an hour into her run. Despite the unplanned break, Wolff completed her run plan by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon session to just familiarise herself with the car.

Jules Bianchi was sixth for Marussia who topped the timesheet with Chilton on day one (although his super-soft fastest time was 1.6s behind that set by Maldonado today). His lap time was a second behind that of his team-mate, although he did not use the softer and quicker tyres.

Sebastian Vettel was in the car for Red Bull and took the team to seventh as they again focused on the development of the car instead of setting fastest laps. Their development was limited, however, as a gearbox repair from yesterday spilled over into today and delayed the start of their testing. Vettel looked positive and reported: “We did a lot of laps which, considering the time we had, was good. I would say it was a useful, if not perfect, day.”

Force India test driver Daniel Juncadella took the VJM07 out today but hit the barriers at turn 4, which, obviously, limited his track action. Nonetheless, Chief Engineer Tom McCullough said: He gave useful feedback on the tyres and general car performance,” and concluding that, “overall it was a successful test”. McLaren also ran their test driver Stoffel Vandoorne today, and his 136 lap run proved to be the longest run of any team this test. Daniil Kvyat was tenth for Toro Rosso and caused two red flags through his 21 lap run.

Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1.24.871 102 laps
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.25.805 102 laps
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.26.480 94 laps
Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1.26.972 85 laps
Susie Wolff Williams 1.27.280 55 laps
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1.27.718 56 laps
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.27.973 73 laps
Daniel Juncadella Force India 1.28.278 91 laps
Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1.28.441 136 laps
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.28.910 21 laps

Image courtesy Lotus F1 Team.


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Chilton Quickest In First Day Of Barcelona Test

Marussia’s Max Chilton was the quickest man in the opening day of the two-day Barcelona test at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Briton recorded a lap of 1.26.434 during his 60 lap run which set him .227 ahead of the second fastest time which was set by Lotus reserve driver Charles Pic in the E22. The Frenchman focused on set-up changes and an assessment of aero and mapping updates, but Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane admits they were cautious with their programme due to the heavy rain during the morning session.

Sunday’s race winner at the same track Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, whose running was limited to 20 laps. The Finn was 1.2 seconds ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne who narrowly placed ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa and who completed 51, 52 and 55 laps respectively. Unlike Lotus, Williams were prepared for the wet weather and had a wet weather plan in place, which Rod Nelson, the Chief Test and Support Engineer for Williams, said helped them gather information on which will help in wet weather qualifying and race conditions.

Jenson Button was eighth for McLaren, over half a second shy of the Williams ahead of him, while Kamui Kobayashi placed ninth before  a big accident in the final half hour.

“Unfortunately in the last half hour I went off in turn three on run 22 and hit the barriers pretty hard,” Kobayashi reported. “There is quite a lot of damage to the car so I’m sorry for the guys in the garage who now have a long night ahead to fix the car. Even though the day ended with a pretty big off it’s still been quite a good day for us and we’ve managed to get through a lot of work.”

Behind him was Sebastian Buemi who piloted Red Bull’s car and finished five seconds off the pace of the Marussia. Buemi’s slow pace can be explained through fine-tuning the car rather than pushing for competitive lap times, but the Swiss driver were forced to end the day with a mechanical failure after 54 laps. Giedo van der Garde was the final man down the order as he took charge of the Sauber and he set the most laps of any driver – 86 – while his fastest lap was 5.4s behind that of Chilton.

Max Chilton Marussia 1.26.434 60 laps
Charles Pic Lotus 1.26.661 69 laps
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.26.674 79 laps
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1.26.956 20 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.27.724 51 laps
Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1.27.727 52 laps
Felipe Massa Williams 1.27.756 55 laps
Jenson Button McLaren 1.28.333 73 laps
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1.30.101 72 laps
Sebastian Buemi Red Bull 1.31.440 54 laps
Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1.31.783 86 laps


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De Silvestro Completes Two Day Test With Sauber

Sauber’s affiliate driver Simona de Silvestro was behind the wheel of the 2012 C31 this weekend for a two-day test with the Swiss outfit.

The Swiss driver was behind the wheel of a Formula One car for the first time, after signing as an affiliate driver with Sauber earlier this year. The test was held at Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in Italy and was held to help de Silvestro familiarise herself with Formula One cars. 25-year-old de Silvestro began racing in the American IndyCar series in 2010 and was that year awarded the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award.

Although it’s something very special to drive a Formula one car, I was not too nervous in the morning,” de Silvestro said after her first day of running. “I was more focused on what my job would be. but, after completing the installation lap, I realised that this was my first lap in a Formula One car and that this was something really special.

Overall I’m happy with my first day in a Formula One car. I concentrated mainly on understanding the tyres and finding out how to get the best out of them. And with every outing I learned more about the behaviour of the car.

Physically I feel quite good, which is definitely a result of my preparation in recent months. I have been training really hard and this paid off. 

The feeling you get driving a Formula One car is just awesome!” she concluded.

De Silvestro completed a total of 180 laps between the two days which is enough to earn her FIA Super License, a license which any driver much posses before they take part in a race weekend. To do so, a driver must have driven 300km in an F1 car, while de Silvestro has completed 540km.

Images courtesy Sauber Motorsport AG. 

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Mercedes stay quickest, problems for Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton out on track today. Photo courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Lewis Hamilton out on track today. Photo courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Lewis Hamilton kept Mercedes at the top of the timesheets today after his team-mate took the fastest time on the opening day of the two day in-season test. Like Rosberg, Hamilton ended the day on top of both the timesheets and the lap chart as he clocked up 120 laps with a best time of 1.34.136.

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was the next man down the order and his day consisted of shorter runs during which he conducted mechanical evaluations and tested various compounds, Medium, Soft and Supersoft, for Pirelli. His 64 laps were enough to get within 1.4 seconds of Hamilton in the seemingly unstoppable Mercedes.

McLaren kept Kevin Magnussen in the car for the second day of testing but his day was cut short after he went into the gravel before lunch with 26 laps completed. Fresh from his podium in the Bahrain Grand Prix last Sunday, Sergio Perez went fourth for Force India while completing longer runs in the morning and shorter aero tests in the afternoon.

Daniel Ricciardo got off to a slow start as he encountered mechanical issues in his RB10 and lost running as the team patched the car up. This delay caused the morning aero work to be bumped into the afternoon session where he completed only shorter aero runs. He ended the day fifth overall.

Jules Bianchi brought Marussia to sixth today, as team-mate Max Chilton did yesterday. Running the second highest amount of laps today, the team are satisfied with the “valuable milage” completed. The team are now defending tenth place in the World Constructors’ Championship after Max Chilton finished 13th during the race last weekend and took the position from Caterham.

Sauber gave reserve driver Giedo van der Garde the car for today’s test but his running was delayed due to problems with the power unit which took the team two hours to overcome. Eventually van der Garde, who last year drove for Caterham in his rookie year, got out on track and the team scrapped plans to test aero set ups. Instead they focused on long runs and different car set ups, eventually accumulating 77 laps.

Ferrari had their running brought to a sudden stop after a mere 12 laps when the chassis was discovered to be damaged. They have not given any information regarding the damage, what it affects or the extent of the damage, but the team explained that they withdrew from the test as a precaution.

Felipe Nasr, the reserve driver for Williams, was in the cockpit for the aforementioned team today as he conducted various tests for Pirelli who are using Williams and Mercedes as a guinea pigs for their tests. The tests were for next season’s tyres and they went to plan, although control issues did pop up at the end of the day. Overall the team say they are happy with the day’s running.

Lotus were slap-bang at the bottom of the order as they too had to abandon testing with just 16 laps run. Romain Grosjean took over for Maldonado who yesterday had a similarly short day, as a power unit issue affected both drivers. Unlike the slight mechanical blips or minor control issues experienced by other teams, Lotus’ issue was quite serious as it could very well cause both cars to drop out of the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix before the chequered flag.

The next on-track activity is at the Chinese GP on Sunday, 20th April.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.34.136 120 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.35.557 64 laps
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1.36.203 26 laps
Sergio Perez Force India 1.37.586 63 laps
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.37.310 67 laps
Jules Bianchi Marussia 1.37.316 93 laps
Giedo van der Garde Sauber 1.37.623 77 laps
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.37.912 12 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1.39.263 66 laps
Felipe Nasr Williams 1.39.879 64 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.43.732 16 laps

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Rosberg Quickest In First Bahrain Test

Rosberg at the hands of the Mercedes today as the first of two test days got underway at the Bahrain International Circuit. Picture (c) Mercedes AMG F1 Team

Rosberg at the hands of the Mercedes today as the first of two test days got underway at the Bahrain International Circuit. Picture (c) Mercedes AMG F1 Team

Coming from his second place at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend, Nico Rosberg unsurprisingly took the top time at today’s Bahrain test, the first of two days in the first in-season test this year. His time put him firmly on top of both the time sheets and the lap chart with a 1.35.697 after 121 laps.

He was not too far from the grip of Nico Hulkenberg, whose team are still celebrating after their first podium finish since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. His track time was dedicated to short runs during the morning and longer runs in the afternoon as Force India tested new “solutions” for the upcoming Grand Prix. Kevin Magnussen racked up 104 laps for McLaren without mechanical interruption.

Max Chilton prompted a red flag when his Marussia stopped at the exit of turn 4 with a hydraulics issue, but he eventually got back out on track and completed the day’s schedule. Toro Rosso focused on chassis work with Daniil Kvyat at the hands of the STR9 today. The Russian hailed the day as good experience for himself and productive for the team.

After missing the bulk of the morning session, Daniel Ricciardo focused on long runs in the afternoon and clocked up 91 laps overall. He admitted that Red Bull was still behind Mercedes, but believes that they are chipping away at the gap.

“We’re still a little behind but we’re chipping away and I’m sure over the course of this test and in China we’ll get a little bit closer. For the moment, though, we’ll take every little bit we can get. We’re learning and we’re making progress.”

Pastor Maldonado was in the car for Lotus and, like most of the pre-season tests for the team, his running was short as a power unit related issue limited them to 16 laps. Although his running was so limited, Maldonado is happy with the aerodynamics work that the team managed to get done. He’ll hand over to Romain Grosjean for the second day of testing.

After running for Caterham in the opening practice session for last weekend’s Grand Prix, Robin Frijns was back in the car today and completed 63 laps. His entire running was during the morning session as a hydraulics leak was discovered shortly before lunch and meant a total strip of the car in the afternoon.

Sauber gave Sergey Sirotkin the car for the test today and his track time was focused on morning aerodynamic development and afternoon long runs. He also completed more than 300km, which means that the young Russian is now eligible for the FIA Super License that all drivers must hold before competing in a race.

Williams gave Valtteri Bottas the first go at the test and he also worked on aerodynamics and the general set up of the car. There was a positive vibe coming from the team today and Head of Vehicle Development, Rob Smedley, saying that the team achieved all the objectives laid out and that the data collected was very encouraging.

Ferrari worked on the aerodynamics of their car with constant speed tests on the main straight, and they also completed short runs to try out different car set-ups. Fernando Alonso was running today and, unsurprisingly, Kimi Raikkonen will not be testing tomorrow, so Alonso returns to the cockpit.

Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.35.697 121 laps
Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1.36.064 69 laps
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.36.626 69 laps
Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1.46.634 102 laps
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1.37.305 28 laps
Max Chilton Marussia 1.37.678 60 laps
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1.38.326 91 laps
Sergey Sirtokin Sauber 1.39.023 76 laps
Robin Frijns Caterham 1.40.027 63 laps
Pastor Maldonado Williams 1.40.183 16 laps
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.40.452 67 laps


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