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Archive for February, 2013

Webber on top for Red Bull after first day of Barcelona testing

By Berthold Bouman

Webber on top for Red Bull after first day of Barcelona testing - Photo: Red Bull RacingMark Webber topped the time sheets on the opening day of the last pre-season test days at Barcelona, Spain, today. Not a great day for testing as rain showers hit the Barcelona track during the morning and drivers were forced to go out on the full wet and intermediate Pirellis.

The Red Bull driver set a time of 1m22.693, he set his time on a set of the soft Pirellis when the track conditions improved late in the afternoon. About the bad weather he said, “It was pretty heavy, I must say. There was a big tailwind down to Turn 1. And in other sections it was pretty dusty. The level of wind wasn’t trivial but to be honest it was tricky enough anyway because of the greasy conditions on the track. We only got one hour at the end of the day in more stable conditions.”

But he also reckons Red Bull still has a lot of development work to do, “We’ve still got work to do… We are seeing some very fast times from the other cars. There are some very strong teams out there. We’re not on our own — that is for sure!”

Webber fastest today in Barcelona - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber fastest today in Barcelona – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Second was Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, he was 1.655s slower than the Australian, after completing 113 laps or some 526 km. “The track started out really wet this morning but thankfully the conditions dried out later on and we were able to complete some proper running,” said the 2008 World Champion. “It felt good to work through the race simulation this afternoon; both to get myself back in practice and to put valuable miles on the car.”

Toro Rosso was fast again as Jean-Eric Vergne was third, albeit 2.324s slower than pace setter Webber. Like most drivers, Vergne wasn’t happy with the weather conditions today, ”We had many things to test and the rain meant we were not able to get that much done, but we have to remember that the other teams have similar programmes and the rain affects everyone. Nevertheless, I did plenty of laps, which is good for me and good for the new car to do a high mileage.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Valtteri Bottas completed 85 laps in the new Williams and was fourth with a time of 1m26.458. Williams had a good day and the new FW35 ran almost flawlessly. “It’s a shame we were disrupted a bit by the wet weather, although this did allow us to run on the wet, intermediate and dry tyres,” Bottas said.

And he added, “I clocked up a lot of mileage for myself and was able to get more experience driving in difficult conditions. It was cold, wet and windy all day, and particularly slippery on track this morning.”

Sergio Perez completed 100 laps for McLaren, he had a slow start in the morning and did some aero mapping, in the afternoon McLaren opted to focus on a ‘stable set-up on the Intermediate tyre’.

Only three red flags today, Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber went off at Turn 3 just before lunch, he ended up with the nose of the Sauber in the barrier, but not much damage was done, and the Mexican driver completed 92 laps today. “Unfortunately the weather changed constantly. It was important for us to work with the intermediate tyres, which seem to be the most difficult ones for us. We had to change quite a lot of things to make them work better,” he reported.

Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta, who only today learned who his 2013 team mate is, was seventh in the Force India VJM06. He too tested the wet Pirellis and said, “Quite a disrupted day with the constant rain showers, but it gave me the chance to run in the wet conditions and gain some knowledge of the wet weather tyres. That should mean we’re prepared in case we get a wet race early in the season.”

Felipe Massa was runner-up when it comes to the number of laps completed today; he completed 112 laps in the Ferrari F138. Massa caused the third red flag as his Ferrari came to a halt on track after a full race simulation.

Max Chilton still does all the testing for Marussia, rumours say his team mate Luiz Razia has problems getting the money together he was promised by his sponsors and the Marussia team has therefore decided to let Chilton do all the testing. The Briton was ninth today.

Charles Pic on the full wet Pirellis - Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic on the full wet Pirellis – Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic was on testing duty for Caterham, the Frenchman was especially pleased with the reliability of the new car, “Day one of the final test has been ok — 83 laps and another day where we’ve run without any issues and kept the same consistent approach throughout all the tests.”

Caterham’s progress was hampered too by the unfavourable weather conditions today, “ We had planned to do qualifying and race simulations but with the rain today we’ve switched the race simulation to Sunday when I’m back in the car, but we did run through all the qualifying procedures and that went pretty well.”

And on 11th and last place was Romain Grosjean, who caused the first red flag of the day when he spun at Turn 12 and ended up in the gravel. “It was a bit of a frustrating day as we concentrated on aero runs and never went for a time on the drying track surface. The car feels good on both the intermediate and wet tyres and we’ve run through more of our pre-season test programme so those are positives,” said the unlucky Frenchman.

Lotus then decided to assess their new DDRS system in the afternoon, and Grosjean did not set a representative time today.

Barcelona testing Day 1 – February 28

Pos  Driver              Team            Time       Gap        Laps
 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull        1m22.693               90
 2.  Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes        1m24.348   + 1.655    113
 3.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso      1m25.017   + 2.324     59
 4.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams        1m26.458   + 3.765     85
 5.  Sergio Perez        McLaren         1m26.538   + 3.845    100
 6.  Esteban Gutierrez   Sauber          1m26.574   + 3.881     92
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India     1m27.107   + 4.414     57
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari         1m27.541   + 4.848    112
 9.  Max Chilton         Marussia        1m28.166   + 5.473     78
10.  Charles Pic         Caterham        1m28.644   + 5.951     83
11.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus           1m34.928   + 12.235    52

Adrian Sutil rejoins Force India team to complete 2013 line-up

By Berthold Bouman

Adrian Sutil rejoins Force India team to complete 2013 line-up - Photo: Force IndiaAdrian Sutil rejoins Force India to complete the team’s 2013 driver line-up, Sutil was ousted from the same team in 2011 after the German driver was convicted for assaulting Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux in a bar in Shanghai following the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix. Sutil received an 18-month suspended prison sentence and had to pay a 200,000 Euro fine.

Sutil and Force India’s reserve driver Jules Bianchi diced for the last available 2013 Formula One race seat last week during testing in Barcelona, today it was announced Sutil will join Paul di Resta to complete Force India’s 2013 driver line-up.

Sutil, who drove for Force India since 2007, then known as the Spyker Formula One team, until 2011, does know the team very well and was of course pleased to make a return to the sport.

“I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well. I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One” said the 30-year old driver in a statement today.

Sutil back at Force India - Photo: Force India

Sutil back at Force India – Photo: Force India

About his test last week he said, “Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit.” And he added, “Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.”

Team owner Vijay Mallya acknowledged it had not been an easy decision. “The decision over our driver line-up has not been an easy one and we have given it great consideration over the last few months. It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge, and will provide us with the best possible chance of realising our ambitions for the coming season,” said the Indian.

He’s also adamant Sutil is the right man for the job, “If he can rediscover the exceptional form he showed in the second half of 2011, I’m confident that we can pick up where we left off at the end of 2012. As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future Grand Prix driver.”

Sutil will be driving the Force India VJM06 on Saturday and Sunday this week during the last pre-season testing days at the circuit de Catalunya. The Formula One season will officially kick off on March 17 in Melbourne, Australia.

Hamilton stays on top for Mercedes after rainy test day at Barcelona

By Berthold Bouman

Hamilton stays on top for Mercedes after rainy test day at Barcelona - Photo: Mercedes-BenzLewis Hamilton topped the time sheets for Mercedes today after a rainy test day at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Hamilton set his time on the medium Pirellis during a dry spell in the morning, but, due to the rain in the afternoon, others were not able to improve on the pace of the 2008 World Champion.

“We have been working on our consistency over long runs and we managed one run this morning on dry tyres; the car felt okay but the conditions were also very cool, so we cannot draw too many conclusions,” Hamilton said.

But he thinks Mercedes still needs to do some work to improve the car, “Like I said in Jerez, I can feel that we have a good foundation with this car but there is still a lot to learn and we know that the name of the game is to improve our downforce.”

Hamilton fastest today at Barcelona despite the rain - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

 Hamilton fastest today at Barcelona despite the rain – Mercedes-Benz

Closest was Hamilton’s old team mate Jenson Button, who took second place for McLaren, with a time of 1m23.633, also recorded in the morning on the mediums, he was 0.351s slower than Hamilton.

Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso STR8 was third after completing 80 laps, he was followed by Jules Bianchi in the Force India who took over from Adrian Sutil who tested the VJM06 yesterday, both drivers are in a race to conquer a race seat at the Indian team.

The day was also disrupted by many red flags, Hamilton caused one by stopping in Turn 6, and when Bianchi also stopped on track with just 15 minutes to go, it was decided to end the last test day of this week.

Bianchi later commented, “We did most of our dry running this morning and then did our aero work this afternoon when the track was wet. We didn’t manage to do the long runs we planned because it was so wet, but we still managed to look at a lot of things.”

Esteban Gutierrez 5th in the C32 - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez 5th in the C32 – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Fifth fastest today was Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber, but he was almost three seconds off Hamilton’s pace. “It was a very interesting day for me as  well as for the team, because it was important to get some experience in wet conditions,” said the young Mexican driver.

“For me it was the very first time I had driven a Formula One car in the wet. It was particularly interesting in the morning, when the track was wet to begin with and then started to dry out. I was able to drive with dry tyres in very tricky conditions, which was a situation I could experience in a race.”

Times were almost meaningless with the low temperatures and the rain, but it must have been a good feeling for rookie Giedo van der Garde to finish in sixth place, just 0.134s ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari F138, who was the first to cause a red flag today as he ended up in the gravel trap at Turn 4 after just ten minutes of testing.

Van der Garde said, “The cold weather meant it might not have been much fun for the fans in the stands, but it was useful to get some laps done on the intermediate tyres as it was my first time in a Formula One car in the wet, and to experience the car in the wet/dry conditions we had today. We also tried a couple more ideas to help improve the rear stability but, again, as the tyres weren’t really coming up to temperature we weren’t able to push too hard today.”

Giedo van der Garde on a cold Barcelona circuit - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde on a cold Barcelona circuit – Photo: Caterham F1

Mark Webber’s day in the Red Bull RB9 was also hampered by the rain, he was eighth, 4.334s slower than Hamilton. “It was cold out there today, I can’t remember having a full test day this cold,” Webber said. “But actually it was reasonably consistent; the conditions were pretty stable all day, although not very representative of a Grand Prix weekend. So, unusual conditions but I was happy with what we got done today.”

Max Chilton in the Marussia and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E21 completed the top ten, while Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado again shared testing duties today, Bottas had some pit stop practice in the morning, but both Williams drivers did not officially record a time.

The whole Williams race team was present and Bottas said about his pit stop training, “The key things to work on as a driver are breaking as late as possible for the pit lane speed limit to minimise the time lost, perfecting your positioning in the box and finally pulling away quickly and cleanly.”

And he added, “It’s really interesting as there are a lot of things to think about, but the better I get, the more trust you build with the pit crew which means they are able to react even quicker. We’ll be doing a few more at the next test but then I feel I will be ready for Melbourne when it comes to pit stops.”

Next and final pre-season test will also be held at the Circuit de Catalunya from February 28 to March 3 next week. The first race of the season is the Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

Barcelona testing Day 4 – February 22

 Pos  Driver                Team            Time       Gap       Laps
  1.  Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes        1m23.282              52
  2.  Jenson Button         McLaren         1m23.633   + 0.351    70
  3.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso      1m24.071   + 0.789    80
  4.  Jules Bianchi         Force India     1m25.732   + 2.450    96
  5.  Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber          1m26.239   + 2.957    61
  6.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham        1m27.429   + 4.147    50
  7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari         1m27.563   + 4.281    80
  8.  Mark Webber           Red Bull        1m27.616   + 4.334    64
  9.  Max Chilton           Marussia        1m29.902   + 6.620    51
 10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus           1m34.800   + 11.518   41
 11.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams        --                    23
 12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams        --                    13

Alonso quickest for Ferrari on day three of Barcelona testing

By Berthold Bouman

Alonso quickest for Ferrari on day three of Barcelona testing - Photo: FerrariFernando Alonso was fastest today at the Circuit de Catalunya, he lapped the circuit in 1m21.875, a time recorded on the soft Pirellis. Despite the low temperatures, Alonso was able to carry out all the tests in the F138, the focus was again on testing the 2013-spec Pirellis.

“Today we concentrated on a comparison of the compounds, starting with the soft and moving on to the hard in the afternoon. The track was colder than yesterday, especially in the morning, which made it harder to adapt the car and find the right grip level,” said Alonso.

And the Spaniard added, “Once again this year, the tyres will be one of the crucial aspects to manage: they are softer and quicker, but also less consistent and they degrade rapidly with every lap. We will have a lot of work to do to understand how best to balance the car, but that applies to all the teams.”

Second was Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber C32, he put a time of 1m22.160 on the clock after completing 92 laps. “It was a positive day. We got a lot of testing done with just minor problems,” said Hulkenberg. He too tested the soft Pirellis, and commented, “I ran the soft tyres in the morning here in Barcelona for the first time to get a feeling for those, which was interesting. The car is performing pretty well, and I‘m as happy as I can be.”

Romain Grosjean on third spot today - Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean on third spot today – Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean was on duty for Lotus today, and he again confirmed the potential of the E21 by conquering third place. After completing 119 laps he said with a smile, “I think I’m ready for a sleep after so many laps in the car! It’s good to see reliability today to add to the pace we’ve already seen in the car. We’re still at an early stage of development so it’s really promising to see where we are.”

About the Pirellis he said, “The 2013 tyres certainly feel different from last year’s but already we’re starting to understand them. I hope it’s dry tomorrow so we can get some more laps under our belt.”

Fourth on today’s list is Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes, he too experienced problems due to the low temperatures, “We didn’t have a perfect morning and it was tough out there with the low temperatures. They were causing a lot of tyre graining, which made it difficult to do much useful testing. It was a few degrees warmer after the break and that gave a completely different picture. In general, I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved this week — I did a lot of mileage and the team has done a good job over the winter.”

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas shared testing duties today, Maldonado was fifth and Bottas sixth, the difference between the pair was just 0.151s. Bottas again showed he is very competitive and the Finn said, “We started the afternoon with some shorter runs but we still haven’t seen the full potential of the FW35. I have been able to improve some things in my driving since yesterday, but there are still things I can work on compared to Pastor.”

Not much to write home about for McLaren and Jenson Button, yesterday Perez set the fastest time, today Button was seventh, almost a second off the pace. After the lunch break McLaren decided ‘to carry out some larger mechanical changes’, which meant Button had to wait until 15:00hrs local time before he could resume testing.

Adrian Sutil finally back in a F1 car again - Photo: Force India

Adrian Sutil finally back in a F1 car again – Photo: Force India

Adrian Sutil made his return to Formula One today and after 108 laps in the Force India VJM06 landed eighth place, not bad considering he hasn’t driven a Formula One car for almost 18 months now. A happy Sutil said, “I found that I was able to get back up to speed quickly and set some good times before lunch. In the afternoon we did some long runs and also introduced the hard compound tyre, which feels quite different to the soft and mediums.”

Sutil had never tried the new Pirellis and said, “We started off by doing some aero work this morning when the track was quite cold and green. Later on we moved to some performance work and tyre testing, and feeling all the different Pirelli compounds was something quite new for me.”

It was Mark Webber’s turn to drive the Red Bull RB9, he too put in a lot of laps, this time without any reliability problems. “We had a pretty good run today, we’re learning plenty, so a positive outing for us,” said the Australian. “Overall the car ran smoothly and once again we amassed a huge amount of data for the guys back at the factory to go through.”

Asked who has the fastest car during pre-season testing he said, “As usual at tests, the question of the pecking order comes up all the time but, honestly, I have no idea.” He thinks the new tyres make it difficult to make any predictions, “There are a few quick cars out there, but in winter testing it’s so hard to say if anyone’s better than anyone else, especially with the tyres going off the way they are — you’re losing four or five seconds over the course of a stint — so figuring out who’s doing what is pretty difficult.”

Behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso STR8 was Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman took tenth place, while Max Chilton took 11th spot for Marussia.

KERS problems for Caterham today - Photo: Caterham F1

KERS problems for Caterham today – Photo: Caterham F1

Dutchman Giedo van der Garde was twelfth and last today, after completing 93 laps in the Caterham. “We had a technical issue in the afternoon which meant we were running without KERS for the whole session after lunch but despite that we were still able to try a number of different set-ups that give us more to work on tomorrow and several options to work through at the next test.”

Rain has been forecasted for tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya, and although teams would rather like to test in dry conditions, the rain could also provide valuable information about how all new Formula One cars perform in wet conditions.

Barcelona testing Day 3 – February 21

Pos   Driver                  Team            Time       Gap       Laps
  1.  Fernando Alonso         Ferrari         1m21.875              97
  2.  Nico Hulkenberg         Sauber          1m22.160   + 0.285    91
  3.  Romain Grosjean         Lotus           1m22.188   + 0.313   119
  4.  Nico Rosberg            Mercedes        1m22.611   + 0.736   108
  5.  Pastor Maldonado        Williams        1m22.675   + 0.800    79
  6.  Valtteri Bottas         Williams        1m22.826   + 0.951    68
  7.  Jenson Button           McLaren         1m22.840   + 0.965    71
  8.  Adrian Sutil            Force India     1m22.877   + 1.002    78
  9.  Mark Webber             Red Bull        1m23.024   + 1.149   108
 10.  Jean-Eric Vergne        Toro Rosso      1m23.366   + 1.491   106
 11.  Max Chilton             Marussia        1m25.690   + 3.815    58
 12.  Giedo van der Garde     Caterham        1m26.177   + 4.302    93

Susie Wolff to star in BBC documentary about her life in the fast lane

By Berthold Bouman

Susie Wolff to star in BBC documentary about her life in the fast lane - Photo: Williams F1Williams development driver Susie Wolff is the star of a BBC documentary about her life as a racing driver, currently she’s the only female driver in in the pinnacle of motorsport: Formula One.

Wolff is very likely to become the next female Formula One driver, the documentary, ‘The fastest woman in the world,’ follows her career in a male dominated sport.

A statement on her website read, “Directed by her award-winning, BAFTA-nominated brother David Stoddart, 31, the no-holds-barred film will be broadcast as part of BBC Scotland’s spring schedule, and features appearances from Formula One race ace Lewis Hamilton and racing legend David Coulthard.”

Wolff, from Oban in Scotland, commented, “Shooting the film was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m a fairly private person, so to have my brother follow me for nine months, through some pretty difficult times — let’s just say it was a big challenge.”

Her brother David agreed, “It was tough combining the role of documentary maker and brother. You have to remember you’re there to film Susie’s story, but during the more difficult moments your instinct as a brother kicks in. It was challenging at times to strike the balance, but it’s a great story that needed to be told.”

And he added, “Susie was very open and honest, and I’m enormously grateful to her for that, and for giving me a rare glimpse into life in Formula One.”

Susie Wolff is development driver for the Williams F1 team - Photo: Williams F1

Susie Wolff is development driver for the Williams F1 team – Photo: Williams F1

Wolff started her race career — like most drivers — in karting when she was eight. In 2003 Wolff was one of the finalists of the prestigious BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award. She’s married to Toto Wolff, who left his job at Williams earlier this year to become Mercedes’ Head of Motorsport.

Wolff starred in the German touring car championship (DTM) for seven years, she drove for Mucke Motorsport and later for Persson Motorsport. At the end of the 2012 season she announced she would retire from the DTM series to prepare for her role as Formula One driver.

About her racing career she said, “I don’t race to prove how good women can be against men. I race because it’s my passion and I hope this documentary will give an insight into a very competitive world, in which I’ve been racing since I was a young girl.”

Last woman to participate in a Formula One race was Italian Lella Lombardi. Wolff is now the only female driver in Formula One, as Maria de Villota’s career abruptly ended after a crash at the Duxford Aerodrome while testing for the Marussia Formula One team.

‘The Fastest Woman in the World’ will premiere on BBC2 Scotland in spring.

Perez on top for McLaren after second day of testing at Barcelona

By Berthold Bouman

Perez on top for McLaren after second day of testing at Barcelona - Photo: McLarenSergio Perez set the fastest time for McLaren today at the circuit de Catalunya in Spain during the second day of testing at the Barcelona circuit. The Mexican recorded a time of 1m21.848 today, eight-tenths faster than the quickest time yesterday recorded by Nico Rosberg.

Second, but not without problems as he caused a red flag today, was Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull RB9, he was 0.349s slower than Perez. “We had some issues with reliability today and we couldn’t do as many laps as we wanted, but I think it’s better that this kind of thing happens today rather than in Australia,” the triple World Champion said.

Technical problems for Vettel today - Photo: Infinity

Technical problems for Vettel and Red Bull today – Photo: Infinity

He didn’t reveal much about the problems he encountered, “It was nothing disastrous, just small things that hampered us today. We stopped the car once as we saw a small loss of pressure. The second stop towards the end of the day caused a red flag and it simply took too much time to turn everything around, so we couldn’t get out again.”

Kimi Raikkonen was again at the front with the Lotus E21, yesterday he was second, today he was third, but like Vettel, not without problems. The E21 had a gearbox problem and the team decided to replace it. “Fortunately, once we were able to get a lap in we could see that the car has good pace. We test to find any problems so in that respect we’re doing a good job, but it’s frustrating. It’s no secret that we want to get more laps on the board and that’s the target for the rest of this test and the final sessions next week,” said Raikkonen.

It was Lewis Hamilton’s turn at the wheel of the Mercedes today, and the 2008 World Champion took fourth place with a lap of 1m22.726 after completing 121 laps. A productive day and Hamilton said, “We’re making continual steps forward in terms of our understanding of the set-up and the tyres. The hard compound work in particular was pretty good today, although all of tyres are showing degradation so looking after them isn’t easy.”

Fernando Alonso fifth quickest today - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso fifth quickest today – Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso was still keen to try the Ferrari F138, he scored the fifth fastest time after completing 76 laps. He did experience an exhaust problem, that prevented him from getting through all the day’s planned programme.

Today it was Valtteri Bottas’ turn to test the Williams FW35, he was sixth, 1.713s off the pace set by Perez. “I had a really strong first impression of the FW35 today. Once we completed the aero work this morning I was able to complete my first proper run to feel the FW35 and the improvements we have made,” Bottas said.

He’s confident the FW35 is a strong contender this season, “Straight out of the box I knew we had made a step forward from last year, and I am looking forward to working to develop the car even further. It’s great to know we have a really good base to start from but there are still a number of areas we can improve, so I’m really excited for the season ahead.”

Daniel Ricciardo was in the Toro Rosso for the second day this week, and he claimed seventh place for Red Bull’s Italian sister team.

Paul di Resta was eighth and with 62 laps completed today he said, “We stopped a little bit early today, but we still got plenty of running under our belt and we’re learning more and more about the car as we go along — that’s what winter testing is all about.”

Again, it was all about tyres today and di Resta remarked, “Understanding the tyres is always a priority and we’re getting a feel for the degradation rates, which have been quite high, although we have to remember that the track temperatures here are lower than we can expect at most races. Learning about the tyres and a new car at the same time is never easy, but we’re pretty pleased with how things have gone during the first couple of days.”

Ninth place for Nico Hulkenberg today - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Ninth place for Nico Hulkenberg today – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Sauber also experienced technical issues today, but were able to carry out the major part of their testing schedule. Nico Hulkenberg reported, “We got a lot done, but also had some issues today. I did quite a lot of running, but it was difficult because the tyres degraded quite quickly. In addition, it was not easy for us today to use the full potential of the tyres on a single quick lap.” And he added, “There is definitely room for improvement.”

Max Chilton completed 67 laps today, and was the second driver to cause a red flag, as he stopped his car during the closing stages of the afternoon session.

Charles Pic in the Caterham was 11th and last, but he was happy with the result, “After losing some time on day one it was important to get as many kilometres done as possible and completing 102 laps gives us a lot of data to work through and will help us progress over the next two days of this test, and to prepare for next week.”

And he added, “With every lap I’m getting more comfortable in the car and with the whole team. There are a few areas for us to look at to extract more performance, but this week hasn’t been about times, it’s been focused on working through various setup options and understanding the tyres which are going to be as important this year as they were in 2012.”

Barcelona testing Day 2 – February 20

 Pos  Driver             Team            Time       Gap       Laps
  1.  Sergio Perez       McLaren         1m21.848              97  
  2.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull        1m22.197   + 0.349    84  
  3.  Kimi Raikkonen     Lotus           1m22.697   + 0.849    43  
  4.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes        1m22.726   + 0.878   121 
  5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari         1m23.247   + 1.399    76  
  6.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams        1m23.561   + 1.713    98  
  7.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso      1m23.718   + 1.870    70  
  8.  Paul di Resta      Force India     1m23.971   + 2.123    62  
  9.  Nico Hulkenberg    Sauber          1m24.205   + 2.357    88  
 10.  Max Chilton        Marussia        1m25.115   + 3.267    67  
 11.  Charles Pic        Caterham        1m26.243   + 4.395   102

Formula One exhausts: Henri Coandã must be laughing in his grave

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One exhausts: Henri Coandã must be laughing in his graveSome great inventors were already a legend during their lifetime, others, like aerodynamicist Romanian Henri Coandã, became famous after they died and therefore never saw much of the fruits of their labour. The ‘Coandã effect’ is the magic word in Formula One today, as teams are searching for means to control the airflow under the car.

The FIA has banned the practice of using exhaust gases to boost the effect of the rear diffuser, two years ago Lotus even moved the exhaust outlets to the front of the side pods, where the gases were mixed with the airflow under the car.

Controlling that airflow is important as it generates most of the downforce for the rear of a Formula One car. By using the exhaust gases and the Coandã effect, the Formula One boffins now created a curtain of air (the exhaust gases) between the inner wall of the rear tyre and the rear-wing end plate, in such a way that the air under the car is trapped and can only escape through the rear diffuser.

According to Wikipedia, “The Coandã effect is the tendency of a fluid jet to be attracted to a nearby surface. Coandã used it for his Coandã -1910 aircraft which mounted an unusual engine designed by Coandã. The motor-driven turbine pushed hot air rearward, and Coandã noticed that the airflow was attracted to nearby surfaces. He discussed this matter with leading aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán who named it the Coandã effect.”

The VZ-9 AV Avrocar - Photo: Wikimedia

The VZ-9 AV Avrocar – Photo: Wikimedia

It is used in a variety of applications, the most famous being the Avro ‘flying saucer’ built in 1958. The VZ-9 AV Avrocar was a Canadian vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft developed by Avro Aircraft Ltd. as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War. Two prototypes were built as test vehicles, the project remained classified until 2012.

In a traditional hovercraft design, the air is blown into a central area and directed down with the use of a fabric or rubber ‘skirt’. The Avrocar was in fact an ‘inside out’ hovercraft-like aircraft from which the air exited in a ring around the outside of the aircraft and was directed by being ‘attached’ to a flap-like ring.

That same ‘curtain’ of air is now used in Formula One cars as well, while it is also used in aircrafts and helicopters, in modern helicopters the mechanical tail rotor is replaced by a controllable air jet to provide the anti-torque necessary to prevent the helicopter from spinning around the axis of its main rotor.

Coandã was an aerodynamics pioneer and inventor, he died in 1972 at the age of 86, not knowing that the effect named after him, would, more than 40 years later, cause so much turbulence in the world of Formula One.

The latest controversy surrounding the Coandã effect, was sparked by the design of the Williams exhaust outlets, regulations say the outlet has to have one aperture, however, in an effort to further control the airflow, Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan has come up with a solution that, at first glance, divides the outlet in two apertures. But examined closely, the piece that divides the airflow has a small gap in it, which would make it legal.

The Williams 'solution', exhaust outlet is still one aperture - Photo: Williams

The Williams solution, exhaust outlet is still one aperture – Photo: Williams

Coughlan said, “Ours is OK, because if you look at ours it’s actually not a single piece it’s two pieces. The rule is an aperture size, and ours is an aperture size; ours is one aperture because it’s joined by a small piece in the middle.” And he added, “You’re governed by total aperture size, but singular aperture, and ours is a single aperture joined by a very small slot. So it’s actually two pieces, if you look closely you’ll see.”

ESPN today reported Williams ‘are now seeking further clarification on this and a decision as to whether this design will be carried forward will be made before the first race.’

To be continued …

Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first day of testing in Barcelona

By Berthold Bouman

Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first day of testing in Barcelona - Photo: Mercedes-BenzNico Rosberg was fastest for Mercedes today during the first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain today. The German lapped the circuit in 1m22.616, only seven thousandths of a second faster than second-place man Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus E21.

Rosberg had a gearbox issue this morning, but was able to continue testing in the afternoon, but it now seems the Mercedes W04 has a few reliability problems. Rosberg, however, was undaunted by the problems and commented, “We were able to work through a good programme this afternoon and, of course, it’s always nice to be quickest at the end of the day.”

And he added, “In general, I feel happy and comfortable in the car and it feels better than the last time we were here at this track. There is still some work to be done on tyre degradation and our programme this afternoon was helpful in understanding that.”

Third place for Kimi Raikkonen - Photo: Lotus F1

Third place for Kimi Raikkonen – Photo: Lotus F1

Lotus had problems with the telemetry, and Raikkonen only completed 44 laps. “It wasn’t an ideal day in terms of the number of laps we completed, but the car feels strong and we’ve made some good progress. After Jerez it’s nice to be at a circuit where we race and the E21 is definitely a step in the right direction. There’s lots of work yet to do this week but I’m happy with where we are at the moment,” Raikkonen commented.

Alonso was behind the wheel of the Ferrari F138 for the first time this year, and the Spaniard claimed third place after he completed 110 laps in front of his home crowd. All three drivers set their time on the medium Pirelli rubber compound.

In fourth place was current World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who completed 66 laps in the Adrian Newey designed RB9. “It’s very important for us to put good mileage on the car and this morning that wasn’t really possible,” said Vettel afterwards. “We had a small software issue this morning, I think many teams had. That wasn’t ideal but we got it fixed and after that it was another decent day.”

Fernando Alonso's first taste of the Ferrari F138 - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso’s first taste of the Ferrari F138 – Photo: Ferrari

A good day for Williams, as the FW35 was fast enough for fifth place, with a brand-new car straight out of the box, as their 2013 contender was launched this morning. Pastor Maldonado completed 86 laps, but he was 1.117 second slower than pace-setter Rosberg.

Daniel Ricciardo was not as fast as two weeks ago in Jerez, but still fast enough to take sixth place, still three-tenths of a second faster than a somewhat disappointing Sergio Perez in the McLaren MP4-28. Perez spent most of the day testing the new Pirellis, and in the afternoon he did a series of long runs ‘to evaluate the effects of the mechanical set-up changes’.

Paul di Resta took eighth place for Force India, on Thursday Adrian Sutil will make a return to the Indian team, and on Friday test driver Jules Bianchi will be in the new VJM06. Although Force India denies it, it certainly looks like it will be a last-minute shoot-out between Sutil and Bianchi for the last remaining 2013 race seat.

Mexican Esteban Gutierrez was on duty for Sauber today, he took ninth place, 2.5 seconds slower than Rosberg. Sauber too tested the new Pirellis and Gutierrez commented, “It was quite a tricky day with the tyres. We were struggling with tyre management and, as a result, degradation. We tried different things in the morning, but then in the afternoon we had some issues with the set-up of the car. The good thing is we have a lot of data to analyse.”

Max Chilton pleased with today's results - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton pleased with today’s results – Photo: Marussia F1

Further down the order are  two of the original three new teams, Marussia and Caterham. However, Max Chilton in the Marussia was over four seconds off the pace, while Charles Pic was almost five seconds slower.

Chilton was still happy with the results of today, “It took a little while to get into our rhythm this morning as the track conditions were cool and green and the early part of our programme consisted mainly of checks with the KERS and other on-car systems. This afternoon we were able to get into a proper set-up programme and the initial results from that are quite promising. I am pleased with where I ended the day — P10 — in respect of the teams around us.”

Pic caused the only red flag today as his Caterham stopped in Turn 3 at the beginning of the afternoon. Pic had to sit out the rest of the afternoon and commented, “When I went out for a stint after the lunch break I had a mechanical problem going into Turn 3 and after we got the car back to the garage we found out it was a gearbox issue and that brought the day to an early end. We’ve already started work on the fix and I’m sure we’ll be ready for tomorrow morning when we can get back to work.”

Barcelona testing Day 1 – February 19

Pos  Driver               Team          Time                  Laps
 1.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes      1m22.616               54
 2.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus         1m22.672   + 0.007     44
 3.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari       1m22.952   + 0.336    110
 4.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull      1m22.965   + 0.349     66
 5.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams      1m23.733   + 1.117     86
 6.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso    1m23.884   + 1.268     73
 7.  Sergio Perez         McLaren       1m24.124   + 1.508     77
 8.  Paul di Resta        Force India   1m24.144   + 1.528     82
 9.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber        1m25.124   + 2.508     68
10.  Max Chilton          Marussia      1m26.747   + 4.131     65
11.  Charles Pic          Caterham      1m27.534   + 4.918     49

Williams launches FW35 – team to maximise gains of Coanda effect

By Berthold Bouman

Williams launches FW35 - team to maximise gains of Coanda effect - Photo: Williams F1Williams was the last team to launch their 2013 contender at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain, today. The FW35 is an evolution of its predecessor, but according to a statement, it has a new gearbox, new rear suspension, new radiators, a new floor, new exhausts, new bodywork, a new nose, and the car is a lot lighter as well.

As there have not been any significant regulation changes, Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan has had a relatively easy job. “I’m pleased with the gains that we’ve been able to make with this car. It’s a better, more refined Formula One car than the FW34 and I think everyone involved in the project can feel proud of the work they’ve done,” said Coughlan.

Coughlan also said Williams will during the season explore the benefits of the Coanda effect. “The Coanda effect is going to be a big thing for us,” he said, and added, “There’s been no rule clarification concerning this area of the car, so we’ll work closely with Renault to maximise the available gains. Use of the DRS is more restricted this year, so we’ll take some resource away from that and focus on other areas.”

Sir Frank Williams was proud to present his new car, but was cautious about the expectations of the FW35, “We will have to wait until Australia to truly see what we have, but we believe it is step forward from last year’s car which was also a very competitive vehicle.”

He nevertheless remained optimistic about the forthcoming season, “I’m hoping that with the current team we have in place, our new FW35, the combined talent of Pastor [Maldonado], Valtteri [Bottas] and Susie [Wolff], and the continued support from our partners; we will be in a position to challenge the very best.”

All Photos: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado is ready for his third season with the British outfit, and he’s confident the FW35 will be competitive, and even thinks about winning more races, “Last year we won a race and were competitive, but this season we must be even more competitive which I believe is possible. Consistency will be our aim to close the gap to the teams in front.”

And he added, “Being part of the Williams family is very special as a driver and I want to thank Frank [Williams] for not only giving me the opportunity to drive for him, but also to deliver a win. My goal is to help take the team back to the top.”

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas will make his Formula One debut this season, and he’s looking forward to his first Grand Prix for Williams. “I have been doing a lot of training, meeting with my engineers and working in the simulator in preparation; so I feel ready. We know we have improved our car from last season but I am looking forward to seeing how it compares on track. We have a busy test programme ahead but I’m really excited,” he said, adding, “The moment the start lights go out in Melbourne is a moment I have been building towards my whole career.”

Development driver Susie Wolff is actually the only one who has already had a taste of what the FW35 is like before the official launch, as she did the initial shake-down at Idiada. “Being the first to get behind the wheel of the FW35 at Idiada was a real honour. It was a special feeling to drive the FW35 out of the garage for the first time and successfully complete its first kilometres in front of many of the team who have put so much effort into the design and build,” she commented.

Today is the first day of, in total, eight days of testing at the Barcelona circuit, the first four days are scheduled for this week, the next and final four days of testing take place from February 28 to March 3.

Formula One teams ready for second pre-season test at Barcelona

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One teams ready for second pre-season test at Barcelona - Photo: McLarenTomorrow pre-season testing will resume at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, it’s the second pre-season test and teams will test their cars, drivers, and even more important, the new 2013-spec Pirelli tyres for four days. An important test, as there is only one month left before the 2013 season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.

Adrian Sutil to return to Force India?

Force India is the only team who still have to announce their second driver, there are plenty of drivers in the race for the last available Formula One race seat. One candidate is Adrian Sutil who was ousted by the Indian team after he had assaulted Lotus CEO Eric Lux in 2011. It might be the last chance for Sutil to return to Formula One.

There have been reports the German had a seat fitting last week, and rumours say he will be testing the VJM06 in Barcelona. A spokesman said about the seat fitting, “At this stage, the test driving schedule for the Barcelona test is not finalized but there is a possibility Adrian could be involved. The driving schedule will be communicated on Monday next week.”

Sutil’s manager, Manfred Zimmermann, is adamant Sutil still has a chance, “We’re convinced it will work out. But unfortunately we have to be patient and keep our fingers crossed.”

Adrian Sutil to return to Force India? - Photo: Force India

Adrian Sutil to return to Force India? – Photo: Force India

Alonso ready to test Ferrari F138

Tomorrow will be the first time Fernando Alonso will drive the Ferrari F138, as he chose to work to improve his physical condition with gym sessions, running and biking. So far, Felipe Massa and Pedro de la Rosa have done the development work on the F138, both were positive and claim the car is a lot faster than the 2012 car was during testing.

In Barcelona Ferrari hopes to get a better idea about how the car performs at a Grand Prix circuit, and the Maranello-based team is looking forward to test the Pirellis on a track surface that is more ‘representative of what lies ahead in terms of degradation and pace’.

Fernando Alonso ready for his first taste of the F138 - Photo: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso ready for his first taste of the F138 – Photo: Ferrari

Williams to launch 2013 contender at Barcelona

Williams is the only team who still have to reveal their new car, they will present the Williams FW35 tomorrow in the pit lane of the Circuit de Catalunya. So far, Williams have used the 2012 car to test the components for the FW35, it is unknown why they postponed the launch of their new car, perhaps it wasn’t finished yet, or maybe Technical Director Mike Coughlan first wanted to snoop around the Jerez pit lane to see what the competition has come up with.

Pirelli in the spotlight

Most teams are eager to test the new Pirelli tyres, according to the Italian tyre manufacturer, 35 sets of all four rubber compounds are available for each car. Each team is allowed to use a maximum of 100 sets of tyres per car during the testing season, for Barcelona Pirelli will pick 20 sets, while teams are free to pick another 15 sets of the compounds they would like to test extra.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented about the test venue, “Barcelona is a circuit that the teams have plenty of data on already, which is useful for comparison purposes. So it should be possible for them to carry out plenty of productive work to help understand how their new cars interact with our latest generation of tyres, which are generally softer and faster than last year with deliberately increased degradation.”

And he added, “The limiting factor at the opening test in Jerez earlier this month was the abrasiveness of the track, so hopefully conditions will be more representative this time. There is always the potential for low ambient temperatures though: last year, we actually saw some ice on the track in the morning.”

Barcelona is an extremely demanding circuit for the tyres, in particular the left-front tyre is subjected to extreme forces, as the 4.655 km long circuit has mostly right-hand corners. Last year the fastest time (1m22.312) was set on the fourth day on the soft tyres, but whether the record can be broken of course depends on the weather conditions and ambient temperatures.

Formula One 2013 – Pay drivers still in the hot seat

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One 2013 - Paying drivers still in the hot seat - Photo: MarussiaPaying for a drive in Formula One, rather than being paid, is as old as the sport itself, even Niki Lauda paid for his first Formula One race in 1972. Being labelled as a pay driver is a stigma, but as a result of the economic recession — which has also hit Formula One hard — the pay driver has made a prominent return to the sport.

German Nico Hulkenberg, now driving for Sauber, was famously ousted by Frank Williams at the end of 2010 to make way for Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who brought with him the money of  the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA. He was labelled a pay driver, and many said that Maldonado had more money than talent.

But he in fact saved the Williams team, as many sponsors had left the Grove-based outfit at the end of 2010 and Sir Frank really didn’t have any another option. Luckily for Sir Frank and his team, Maldonado proved to be a talented driver, as he not only won the GP2 championship in 2010, but also gave Williams their first victory in eight years when he won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.

After his victory Sir Frank said to the many pay driver sceptics, “He [Maldonado] did a great job, he’s a very happy boy, he deserves to be. He fully deserves to be in the team with or without the dosh. The truth is that if you haven’t got the dosh you can’t go Formula One racing.” And that is of course to what it all boils down to, the dosh.

Heikki Kovalainen - Photo: Caterham F1

Heikki Kovalainen – Photo: Caterham F1

Last year Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen said, “Caterham know that they’ll need to pay to keep me next season. I consider Tony [Fernandes, team owner] a good friend but he’s a businessman and he has to do what’s best for his business and, if that means bringing in a paying driver, then that’s life. But I’d rather be out of Formula One than be paying to drive.”

These proved to be Kovalainen’s famous last words, as Caterham hired two pay drivers for 2013, Frenchman Charles Pic, who has the support of Renault, and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, who brought wealthy sponsor McGregor with him.

Timo Glock left the Marussia team because they couldn’t afford to pay him, now Max Chilton and Luiz Razia will be racing for Marussia this season, again thanks to the many sponsors they have brought with them. A tricky situation, as both drivers have very little experience in Formula One, and Marussia’s future, in fact, depends on them.

Max Chilton - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F1

Chilton acknowledged it will be a difficult season not only for Marussia, but also for him. “It is not ideal and we will sometimes have a hard time. I had been looking forward to being Timo’s team mate, because of his vast experience,” he recently said. About pay drivers he commented, “Unless we were all capable, we would not be in Formula One.”

Mexican Sergio Perez was hired by Sauber because of his sponsorship, he has now moved on to McLaren, and was replaced by his compatriot Esteban Gutierrez, who also has an impressive sponsor portfolio. Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn defended her team’s choice to give the seat to Gutierrez, “Everybody who comes into Formula One is on a high level and if there are only a limited number of seats, then of course every team is looking for the best option. Who wouldn’t?”

Toto Wolff, who is now Mercedes’ Head of Motorsport, agrees with Kaltenborn and Chilton, “The classic pay driver was one who was clearly under performing but had a big budget,” he said. “There are no drivers who are clearly under performing. Most have either won championships before, or races, there is no one who is a waste of time. You simply can’t afford to put a complete loser in the car who is two seconds off the pace because it is going to hit you hard in the long-term.”

But McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, is clearly not a fan of pay drivers. “For me, personally I think it’s sad there are so many pay drivers in Formula One. The numbers have crept up,” said Whitmarsh. “I’m sure it’s good and exciting for those that can afford it, but you would hope in the premier form of motor racing worldwide, you would not have pay drivers.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

And he added, “That means there are some good young, professional drivers who can’t get in and aren’t getting in.” Some of the pay drivers shouldn’t even be in Formula One said Whitmarsh, “It’s sad to say, but the reason that some of those guys are pay drivers, not all of them, but the reason that some are pay drivers is because they are actually and fundamentally not good enough to be in Formula One.”

But he understands why teams need pay drivers, “It’s difficult in Formula One for us to say to some of these teams ‘you can’t have pay drivers’. Sadly, they have become an important constituent of their budget, so I wouldn’t want to condemn them.”

And indeed, these drivers contribute to their team’s budget, and without them they wouldn’t survive. The Spanish HRT racing team ceased to exist as it became increasingly more difficult to find enough money for another season in Formula One. HRT also had in their short existence a long history of pay drivers, but that still wasn’t enough to survive.

Formula One has now become the survival of the financially fittest, and inevitably, if no action is taken, more teams will not survive. Although they deny they have financial problems, Marussia is dancing on the edge of the volcano, if they don’t improve their performance, they will not score any points this season and will not get any money from the sports commercial owners, and Formula One could lose another team next year.

Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t really care, he would be satisfied with only ten teams on the grid, “I’d rather have ten [teams], I never wanted 12. It’s just that ten is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have ten … so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”

It seems former FIA President Max Mosley’s efforts to give other teams a chance in Formula One by restricting the spending of the existing teams, has become a failure. Current FIA President Jean Todt has shelved the RRA (Resource Restriction Agreement), which means the big teams like Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, still spend ten times more than the smaller teams.

Ecclestone already said in 2011 the RRA was doomed from the start, “I think it was probably dead before it started. It is very, very difficult for all these people who are competing with each other to agree [on] anything that’s going to stop their ability to win.”

Pirelli announces tyre choices for first four races of the season

By Berthold Bouman

Pirelli announces tyre choices for first four races of the season - Photo: Caterham F1Pirelli today announced the tyre choices for the first four races of the FIA Formula One World Championship. For the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit, Pirelli nominated the Supersoft (red marked) and Medium (white marked) rubber compounds.

For the Malaysian Grand Prix the Medium and Hard (orange marked) rubber compounds have been nominated and for the Chinese Grand Prix the Soft (yellow marked) and Medium compounds. For the fourth race of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix, Pirelli will supply the Soft and Hard rubber compounds.

In a statement the Italian tyre supplier said about their choice of compounds for the Australian Grand Prix, “The first time that Pirelli has nominated the softest compound in the range for Melbourne. The full step in the compound choice should ensure a performance gap between the cars that allows strategy to come into play.”

Pirelli tyre range - Photo: Pirelli

The statement further read, “The choice of the P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium for Malaysia — the two hardest tyres in the range — will cater for the high temperatures and abrasive surface that is a well-known characteristic of the Far Eastern track.”

“The P Zero White Medium and P Zero Yellow Soft tyres are nominated for China: the best choice for the comparatively high degradation expected as a result of the demanding track layout, which leads to close racing.”

“Like Australia, Bahrain has a brand new nomination this year compared to last year: P Zero Orange Hard and P Zero Yellow Soft. This is designed to ensure plenty of speed in qualifying coupled with the durability needed for the race, which is again often held in high temperatures.”

More about the 2013 Pirelli tyres:  Pirelli aiming for more tyre degradation and more pit stops in 2013

Pirelli 2013 tyre allocations:

Event          P Zero Red    P Zero Yellow    P Zero White    P Zero Orange
Australia      Supersoft     -                Medium          -
Malaysia       -             -                Medium          Hard
China          -             Soft             Medium          -
Bahrain        -             Soft             -               Hard

Mixed feelings for Pedro de a Rosa after Ferrari’s Jerez test

By Berthold Bouman

Mixed feelings for Pedro de a Rosa after Ferrari’s Jerez test - Photo: FerrariAfter the demise of the HRT team, Pedro de la Rosa has found a new job at the famous Scuderia Ferrari as test driver, and on Friday it was his turn to test the Ferrari F138, the Scuderia’s 2013 contender.

De la Rosa will spend most of his time in the simulator this season, but last Friday he was in the real Ferrari F138, as he needs a benchmark for his work in the simulator. Unfortunately, his day was cut short after just two laps.

There was a problem with the gearbox and de la Rosa had to park his smoking Ferrari along the track, the problem was fixed just in time for the afternoon session and he was able to complete 51 laps on the Circuito de Jerez in his native Spain.

“All in all it’s been a positive day for me, I finally got a feel for the car and that will be very important when it comes to comparing the data with the simulator as we develop the car,” de la Rosa commented after the test.

Pedro de la Rosa and Andrea Stella - Photo: Ferrari

Pedro de la Rosa and Andrea Stella – Photo: Ferrari

About his new job at Ferrari he remarked, “We are not yet where we want to be on our simulation and there will be a lot of work to do, but that’s why I’ve been taken on and in my own small way I hope to do my best to contribute to the progress of the Scuderia.”

And he added, “I had a lot of mixed feelings today: I was very excited to drive the car but when I got out after the first two laps I was not exactly happy. All my life I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this and to see it end after just a few corners was definitely not nice, especially because I wasn’t sure that we would be able to continue with the programme.”

The next pre-season test days will be at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on February 19-22, but then Fernando Alonso will be at the wheel of the Ferrari F138.

Brawn confident Hamilton will help Mercedes to move forwards

By Berthold Bouman

Brawn confident Hamilton will help Mercedes to move forwards - Photo: Mercedes-BenzMercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn is adamant his new star driver Lewis Hamilton will help the team to move forwards. The first two test days at Jerez were a disaster for the Silver Arrows team, as testing was halted after they had an electrical problem on Tuesday which caused a fire in the rear section of the W04, while Hamilton crashed the next day due to a rear brake failure.

But Brawn remains confident Hamilton will help his team to make the Mercedes W04 a success, “I think we’ve made it very clear to Lewis that he’s part of the solution. He’s part of the solution to get us where we want to be and he knows that and understands it and I think he’s relishing it.”

“He gives us reference points and helps us understand what we need to focus on … I welcome that approach. It needs to be constructive and it needs to be positive criticism of the right sort and that’s always helpful for the team to drive it forward,” Brawn added.

Lewis Hamilton testing at Jerez - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton testing at Jerez – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Both Hamilton and his German team mate Nico Rosberg have worked hard during the last two days of pre-season testing in Jerez to provide the Mercedes engineers with the car data they so desperately need, Rosberg completed 148 laps on Thursday, and Hamilton completed 145 laps on Friday.

About the time they lost earlier this week Brawn commented, “We had some problems the first two days which were disappointing, but since then it’s been running well. We’ve been learning a lot about the car and about working with Lewis. It’s still very early in terms of understanding what he wants from a car perspective, and of course we’re at one circuit for one day. He’s clearly a person who enjoys being involved at all levels and that’s a great motivation for the team.”

Hamilton was pleased with the Mercedes W04, “We have some work to do but it doesn’t feel like a disaster. I feel like it’s a good platform, a good foundation to work on.”

And he said about his new team, “They are incredibly supportive. They just all want to do right by me. They were caring when I had the incident the other day and were concerned and they don’t really know me that well yet. So already I am building a bond with them and they are working flat-out which is good to see. There’s great motivation in the team.”

Raikkonen fastest for Lotus on final day of pre-season testing at Jerez

By Berthold Bouman

Raikkonen fastest for Lotus on final day of pre-season testing at Jerez - Photo: Lotus F1Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in the Lotus E21 during the final pre-season testing day at Jerez today with a lap of 1m18.148. Felipe Massa was fastest overall after four days of testing at the Spanish circuit, as he was fastest yesterday with a lap of 1m17.879.

Raikkonen was optimistic about the progress he had made today, “We’re at the top of the timing monitors, but that means nothing in testing. Our focus has been testing parts on the car, but I’ve been able to get the set-up more to my liking.”

And he added, “For sure there’s more work to be done in this area, but that’s what we’re here for. The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we’re going with improvements. Let’s see what happens in Barcelona.”

Testing was halted for almost an hour after pieces of the exit kerb of Turn 9 had been ripped off by the powerful Formula One machines. After an hour the problem was fixed and the circuit officials decided to add another extra 30 minutes, and thus today’s testing ended at 17:30 local time.

Kimi Raikkonen talks with the press - Photo: Lotus F1

Kimi Raikkonen talks with the press – Photo: Lotus F1

Surprisingly, Jules Bianchi was second fastest in the Force India VJM06, he was just 0.027s slower than the Finn. Third was Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull RB9, and the triple World Champion was four-tenths of second behind Raikkonen.

Second-placed Bianchi said, “My first experience of the new car was very positive and it’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car.” His mission today was testing the new Pirellis, “I spent most of the time on the medium tyres, but I got a chance to run the softs as well and they offered a lot of grip so I enjoyed that. It was also nice to do some long runs, so I’ve felt the car on heavy fuel, which is good for my experience.”

Vettel, in third place, was especially happy with the reliability of the RB9. “I think for the whole team it’s been quite a good test,” he said. “No problems in terms of reliability and we did a lot of laps, so I’m quite pleased with the results. I feel a bit better than last year. I think we had some issues with reliability then, so it seems we have done our homework well.”

Esteban Gutierrez was fourth for Sauber after completing 142 laps. Like others, he also tested the new 2013 spec tyres, “We did some new tyre runs at mid-day, and then we did some long runs with high fuel in the afternoon, which gave me the chance to try the car in all different circumstances. It was very interesting for me, because I was able to feel very different things, and I learnt how to adapt my driving style to different situations.”

Successful day for Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes Benz

Successful day for Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes Benz

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne again showed the STR8 is fast as he took fifth place, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who crashed on Tuesday, but today was behind the wheel of his Mercedes for 145 laps, and set a fastest time of 1m18.905.

“Today we managed the kind of mileage that the car is capable of and I think we have a good platform to start working from. Now we need to understand the F1 W04 even more: personally, I am learning something with every lap I do and every change I make to the set-up,” Hamilton said. “Overall, I think we are probably at the level we would have hoped to be. The team has done a great job to add downforce to the car over the winter and they now need Nico and me to tell them where we can improve and the direction we need to go.”

Sergio Perez, who took over Hamilton’s job at the McLaren team, was again not really quick and landed seventh place in today’s rankings.

Valtteri Bottas was eighth on his second outing in the Williams FW34. Williams again tested components for the FW35, and Bottas was pleased with the results, ” We have achieved everything we planned this week without any issues, and I’ve really liked how the new technical team have been working. We collected some valuable data regarding some parts for the new car and now I’m excited to go to Barcelona to drive the FW35 for the first time.”

Pedro de la Rosa was ninth after a gearbox failure - Photo: Ferrari

Pedro de la Rosa was ninth after a gearbox failure – Photo: Ferrari

The day started with a lot of bad luck for Pedro de la Rosa and Ferrari, the F138 had a gearbox failure after just two laps, and de la Rosa had to park his smoking Ferrari, track marshals quickly extinguished the fire and the car was brought back to the pit lane. The Ferrari engineers worked hard to replace the gearbox and the Spaniard was able to complete 50 laps today, and finished ninth.

Frenchman Charles Pic was in the Caterham today, and tested the KERS system, and Pic commented, “One key part of this test was to work on getting the most out of KERS and we’ve definitely made good progress on that. There’s still more to come from that, especially maximising its performance under braking, but I’m really happy with what we’ve worked through and can’t wait to get back in the car in Barcelona.”

Luiz Razia was 11th in the Marussia, but 3 seconds slower than pace-setter Raikkonen, while Paul di Resta was 12th and last.

Pre-season testing will resume at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, from 19 to 22 February.

Jerez testing times – Day 4 – February 8

Pos  Driver                 Team            Time                  Laps             
 1.  Kimi Raikkonen         Lotus           1m18.148               82
 2.  Jules Bianchi          Force India     1m18.175   + 0.027     56
 3.  Sebastian Vettel       Red Bull        1m18.565   + 0.417     96
 4.  Esteban Gutierrez      Sauber          1m18.669   + 0.521    142
 5.  Jean-Eric Vergne       Toro Rosso      1m18.760   + 0.612     92
 6.  Lewis Hamilton         Mercedes        1m18.905   + 0.757    145
 7.  Sergio Perez           McLaren         1m18.944   + 0.796     97
 8.  Valtteri Bottas        Williams        1m19.851   + 1.703     91
 9.  Pedro de la Rosa       Ferrari         1m20.316   + 2.168     50
10.  Charles Pic            Caterham        1m21.105   + 2.957    109
11.  Luiz Razia             Marussia        1m21.226   + 3.078     81
12.  Paul di Resta          Force India     1m23.435   + 5.287     49

Felipe Massa fastest for Ferrari during third day of testing at Jerez

By Berthold Bouman

Felipe Massa fastest for Ferrari during third day of testing at Jerez - Photo: FerrariFerrari had vowed not to make the same mistake as they did last year, and today Felipe Massa proved Ferrari is well-prepared and on the pace, as he scored the fastest time at Jerez today with a lap of 1.17.879, the fastest time overall after three days of testing at the Spanish circuit.

Massa was behind the wheel of the Ferrari F138 for the third successive day and tested the different Pirelli tyre compounds, tomorrow freshly recruited test driver Pedro de la Rosa will be in the car for his first taste of the new car.

Felipe Massa and tyre specialist Hirohide Hamashima - Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa and tyre specialist Hirohide Hamashima – Photo: Ferrari

Nico Rosberg made up for the time Mercedes lost during the first two days, and was second after completing 148 laps in the W04. He was pleased with today’s result, “I’m very happy with today and I think it was probably a personal record for me to do almost 150 laps. I’ve never been so well prepared physically as I am this season; I feel on top form and it was no problem to complete the programme.”

The German also practiced his pit stops and in the afternoon he tested a new front wing. Tomorrow his new team mate Lewis Hamilton will be back in the car.

All eyes were on triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel, who had his first outing in the Red Bull RB9, he was third and completed 102 laps today. He was happy to be ‘in the groove’ again, when asked about the new car he said, “The first feeling is good and the car is working well. It’s difficult to judge the speed, but in terms of reliability it looks pretty good. For today we accomplished what we set out to achieve — which was to put a lot of laps on the car.”

And he added, “At this stage it’s very difficult to judge anything else. It could be that there is a favourite after these three tests, but it could turn out to be completely different in Australia because it’s a different track with different characteristics.”

He was certain about one thing, “I expect the championship to be at least as tight as last year, as the regulations haven’t changed so much.”

Christian Horner and Adrian Newey - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner and Adrian Newey – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Another driver closely watched was Kimi Raikkonen, he was fourth today. The Lotus E21 is a fast car, straight out of the box, Romain Grosjean proved that the first two days, and Raikkonen’s achievements today confirm the Lotus E21is fast enough to be at the front of the grid this season.

“The E21 feels quite good so far, even if the balance isn’t quite to my liking yet. That didn’t stop us going through the programme we wanted to do which had a lot of aero runs in it,” said the Flying Finn. He remained optimistic although he encountered a clutch problem in the afternoon, “We know the car can go faster, we were just running through what we needed to achieve. It’s a shame that we had a clutch issue at the end of the day, but that’s why we come testing so we can find these problems and fix them.”

Toro Rosso was again fast, as Jean-Eric Vergne took fifth place on his first day in the STR8, albeit 1.3 seconds slower than Massa.

Force India still hasn’t found a second driver, reserve driver James Rossiter was in the car today, he was sixth fastest in the VJM06 after completing 42 laps. Paul di Resta took over the wheel in the afternoon, but his stint was short-cut due to an exhaust failure, and he was only able to complete seven laps.

Rossiter said about his Force India debut, “It has been four and a half years since I last drove a Formula One car, but with the simulator experience I’ve built up recently it didn’t take too long to get back up to speed. The programme today has been very useful for getting a feel for the car as a reference for the simulator. The cars have changed quite a lot and it was the first time I’ve used KERS.”

First day in the C32 for Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

First day in the C32 for Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

After being fastest on Monday, Jenson Button took it relatively easy today and landed seventh place in the MP4-28. Unfortunately his car stopped on track just five minutes before the end of the session, McLaren did not reveal why the 2009 World Champion had stopped, but mentioned in today’s press release it had been ‘a precautionary stop’.

Esteban Gutierrez had his first taste of the new Sauber today, the young Mexican completed 110 laps on the Circuito de Jerez. “I had the chance to get to know the car  and the tyres that are behaving quite differently,” Gutierrez said, adding, “Because of this it was important to understand the warm-up characteristics and the behaviour on long runs with high fuel loads. It was very interesting to feel the progress — something that gets me up to speed. I’m positive about the new car and I immediately felt comfortable in it.”

Max Chilton leaves the garage - Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton leaves the garage – Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton was ninth for Marussia, and Valtteri Bottas tenth for Williams. Bottas, who made his debut as a Grand Prix driver, said about the Williams FW34, “I had the chance to get to know the car  and the tyres that are behaving quite differently. Because of this it was important to understand the warm-up characteristics and the behaviour on long runs with high fuel loads. It was very interesting to feel the progress – something that gets me up to speed. I’m positive about the new car and I immediately felt comfortable in it.”

Frenchman Charles Pic was 11th for Caterham, “The important thing for the first day was starting to get used to the car, particularly working with KERS and my new team.” And he added, “Obviously it’s important for me to feel comfortable in the car as quickly as possible and we’ve worked through a lot of the normal procedures today so I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved.”

Jerez testing times – Day 3 – February 7

 Pos  Driver               Team            Time                 Laps
  1.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari         1m17.879              85
  2.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes        1m18.766   +0.887    148
  3.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull        1m19.052   +1.173    102
  4.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus           1m19.200   +1.321     40
  5.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso      1m19.247   +1.368     85
  6.  James Rossiter       Force India     1m19.303   +1.424     42
  7.  Jenson Button        McLaren         1m19.603   +1.724     83
  8.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber          1m19.934   +2.055    110
  9.  Max Chilton          Marussia        1m21.269   +3.390     78
 10.  Valtteri  Bottas     Williams        1m21.575   +3.696     86
 11.  Charles Pic          Caterham        1m22.352   +4.473     57
 12.  Paul di Resta        Force India     1m23.729   +5.850      7

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes test crash at Jerez just a ‘blip’

By Berthold Bouman

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes test crash at Jerez just a 'blip' - Photo: Mercedes-BenzLewis Hamilton seems to be unconcerned by the crash he had yesterday when he had for the first time a taste of the Mercedes W04. The 2008 World Champion crashed at Turn 6 and hit the barriers at 60mph, the front of the car was damaged and testing was over after just 15 laps.

According to Mercedes the crash was caused by a rear brake failure, and Hamilton confirmed this. “I hit the brake, and for a split second they worked, but then the pedal went straight down. It wouldn’t work any more. If all the brakes had stopped working then I would have hit the wall pretty bad,” he said.

“After that I just had to brace for impact. It wasn’t a big one. It didn’t feel great initially, but there was nothing much I could do. Because I went in straight my legs took a bit of a thump,” said Hamilton, who escaped unhurt.

Hamilton unfazed by testing problems - Photo: Mercedes-BenzHe wasn’t really worried about the crash, “I’m just glad that firstly I’m safe and that it’s happened now, not when we’re in the season or something. This is what testing’s all about.”

But it did limit his time in the car, wasn’t that a bit of a set-back? “Of course we would love to have done several days and it is disappointing for all of us in the team because everyone has worked so hard over the winter and we didn’t anticipate this, but I’m glad we get it out of the way now so we don’t have to worry about it hopefully in the future,” said Hamilton.

He remained positive, “You can’t get fazed by these days, you’ve just got to keep looking forward and remain positive. The guys in the garage are not trying to have this kind of thing happen, they’re working as hard as they can, and back at the factory.”

“I’m glad that this didn’t happen in the last test at Barcelona — that would really suck — but with having it now we can get it out of the way. If there’s any more problems to come I hope that they come tomorrow and the next day and then we can have a few days after that.”

“Hopefully it is just a blip,” he added. “We have a long way to go until Melbourne.”

Hamilton’s crash and the small on-board fire Rosberg had on Monday, means Mercedes is now behind on their test schedule, as they have only completed 25 laps in the past two days only, while other teams have already wrapped up 150 to 180 laps and collected valuable data about the new Pirellis as well.

Grosjean fastest during second day of testing at Jerez, Hamilton crashes

By Berthold Bouman

Grosjean fastest during second day of testing at Jerez, Hamilton crashes - Photo: Lotus F1Romain Grosjean set the fastest time for Lotus today during the second day of testing at Jerez, the Frenchman put a fastest lap of 1m18.218 on the clock with the new Lotus E21. Paul di Resta was second for Force India, while Daniel Ricciardo took a surprise third place with the Toro Rosso STR8.

Grosjean was optimistic after two test days, “For me, the whole test has gone well which bodes well for the year ahead. My feeling in the car is good and it was great to be at the top of the times. Even if it doesn’t mean anything during testing, it’s still good to be at the front.”

Romain Grosjean leaves the Lotus garage in the E21 - Photo: Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean leaves the Lotus garage in the E21 – Photo: Lotus F1

A productive day for di Resta and Force India, the Scot completed 95 laps, and he commented, “We got through the programme without any issues. We did some more good aero work this morning and then tried some set-up changes on the car.”

And he added, “Testing is a good chance to make bigger changes than you would make during a race weekend and that’s allowed us to really see how they affect the car and has given us valuable data on tyre performance. The handling of the car so far is good and I’m feeling comfortable after two days in the car.”

In the afternoon Force India reserve driver James Rossiter took over the wheel from di Resta, and he finished the day in tenth place.

Paul di Resta second fastest for Force India today - Photo: Force india

Paul di Resta second fastest for Force India today – Photo: Force India

Of course Toro Rosso’s Ricciardo was very pleased with today’s result, “A few more laps today and a bit of a clearer picture of what the STR8 is like. We completed our programme, with short runs in the morning and longer ones in the afternoon.”

And Toro Rosso of course also tested the Pirellis today, “We also tried the medium Pirelli, having only used the hard yesterday, so at least for this circuit, we have established a good compare of the two compounds.”

Mark Webber was fourth in the Red Bull RB9 after he completed 101 laps, almost the race distance of two Grands Prix, but he was over a second slower than pace-setter Grosjean.

Nico Hulkenberg was fifth for Sauber and he was positive about his Sauber debut, “For the second day in a row it was pretty successful. We went through a lot of test items and did a comparison of the compounds — soft, medium and hard — which was quite interesting. Otherwise I was able to continue my familiarisation with the car and I did some long runs. Like yesterday, it was a positive day.”

Plenty of drama for Mercedes in Jerez - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Plenty of drama for Mercedes in Jerez – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Not a good day for Lewis Hamilton, who crashed after 30 minutes in the Mercedes W04. He ploughed through the gravel trap and ended up in the barrier at Turn 6. He was unhurt but the car sustained quite some damage. Not a good start for Mercedes, as the car caught fire yesterday, the fire was caused by a faulty wiring loom.

Hamilton was sidelined for the rest of the day as Mercedes were trying to locate the problem, it later emerged a brake line to the right-rear calliper had broken. Hamilton commented on his unfortunate Mercedes debut, “These things happen and it’s all part of testing. Of course, it’s better that we get these small issues out of the way sooner rather than later, and the guys are working really hard to overcome them.”

About the W04 he said, “From the few short laps that I completed this morning, my general feeling was very positive. I got a good understanding of where the base of the car is and, whilst we need to do work in certain areas, it was good to have some laps to get a feel for what those areas are. I’ve told the guys that we just need to keep pushing and I know that we all will be doing that.”

A bit of a disappointment was Sergio Perez’s debut for McLaren, he finished the day in seventh place with the MP4-28, yesterday his team colleague Jenson Button took the fastest time of the day for McLaren.

Felipe Massa was kind of invisible today, but he duly lapped the circuit and finally finished the day in eighth place with the Ferrari F138.

Williams encountered a clutch problem this morning, but it was quickly fixed and the Grove-based team today concentrated on the Pirelli tyres, Maldonado was ninth fastest today, “We did some good running this afternoon going through our planned tests but there is still a lot to do to understand the tyres even better.”

Giedo van der Garde in the CT03 - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde in the CT03 – Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde was 11th in the Caterham today, he also tested the Pirellis. “In the morning session we ran through a number of aero programs and then switched to comparing setup options on a variety of the tyre compounds. I think we found a good direction in the last run in the afternoon so now the team can keep making progress in the next two days,” he commented.

And 12th and last was Luiz Razia, who jumped straight into the Marussia MR02 after the Anglo-Russian team confirmed earlier today the Brazilian had joined the team. Unfortunately he still needs some time to get used to the car, as he was 5.319 seconds slower than pace-setter Grosjean.

Jerez testing times – Day 2 – February 6

Pos  Driver                Team          Time                 Laps
 1.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus         1m18.218              95
 2.  Paul di Resta         Force India   1m19.003   + 0.785    95
 3.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso    1m19.134   + 0.916    83
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull      1m19.338   + 1.120   101
 5.  Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber        1m19.502   + 1.284    99
 6.  Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes      1m19.519   + 1.301    15
 7.  Sergio Perez          McLaren       1m19.572   + 1.354    81
 8.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari       1m19.914   + 1.696    78
 9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams      1m20.693   + 2.475    71
10.  James Rossiter        Force India   1m21.273   + 3.055    19
11.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham      1m21.311   + 3.093    88
12.  Luiz Razia            Marussia      1m23.537   + 5.319    31

Luiz Razia to race for Marussia this season

By Berthold Bouman

Luiz Razia to race for Marussia this season - Photo: Marussia F1Marussia today announced Liuz Razia will partner Max Chilton this season, the 23-year old Brazilian will already get his first taste of the Marussia MR02 today as the second day of pre-season testing gets underway at the Spanish Circuito de Jerez.

Team Principal John Booth was pleased to finally complete his 2013 driver line-up. “Luiz isn’t new to our team of course, having been reserve driver in our debut season in 2010 and part of our Young Driver Programme. It is therefore very pleasing to have not one but two graduates of that Programme driving for us in 2013, and also very exciting, since both Luiz and Max demonstrated a great deal of potential competing alongside each other in GP2 last season,” Booth commented.

About Razia he said, “When Luiz moved to GP2 in 2011, we had every expectation that he would progress to the extent that he has. He is a very quick and tenacious driver who battled hard to the runner-up spot last year. Together with Max, we are fielding a young but incredibly ambitious pairing and we look forward to seeing what they can achieve.”

The Marussia MR02 at Jerez with Chilton at the wheel - Photo: Marussia F1

The Marussia MR02 at Jerez with Chilton at the wheel – Photo: Marussia F1

Razia said about his new position as racing driver, “I am very proud to take the step up to a Formula One race seat, particularly with the Team I began this journey with, since they helped show me what it takes to progress to the highest level.”

And he added, “This coming season will be all about rewarding the faith the Team have shown in me. I am looking forward to beginning that process in Jerez where we are testing the MR02 for the first time.”

“I am also looking forward to the first race in Melbourne and I’m excited to be racing alongside Max, who I competed ‘against’ last season.”

Timo Glock left the team two weeks ago, as Marussia indicated that they needed a paying driver this season. Whether this was a wise decision or not remains to be seen, neither Chilton nor Razia have any real experience racing a modern Formula One car, and yet they will be responsible for setting up and developing the new Marussia MR02, thus putting Marussia’s future in their hands.

Button tops time sheets for McLaren after first day of testing at Jerez

By Berthold Bouman

Button tops time sheets for McLaren after first day of testing at JerezAlthough plagued by technical problems, McLaren set the pace today at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain during the first day of pre-season testing, as Jenson Button took the fastest time overall with a lap of 1m18.861. Second was Mark Webber in the Red Bull, while Romain Grosjean was third fastest for Lotus.

The new McLaren MP4-28 suffered from a fuel pump failure this morning, limiting the 2009 World Champion’s number of laps, but he nevertheless scored the fastest time of the day during the final minutes of the first day.

Button fastest today for McLaren - Photo: McLaren

Button fastest today for McLaren – Photo: McLaren

Button commented, “To be fair, I was surprised when I saw it on the dash, but it doesn’t mean anything. The important thing is there’s a nice feeling in the car and lap times mean nothing right now. They don’t even mean anything at the last test, it’s when you get to the first race that we’ll have a very different car, as every team will, and that’s when we need to really show how quick we are.”

Australian Webber was the first to drive the Red Bull RB9, he completed 73 laps. He said about the new car, “It was pretty good. As Adrian said at the launch, there haven’t been big changes to the regulations this year and the car is an evolution of the one we finished with last season, so there were no big surprises.”

He also tried the new Pirellis, “We started understanding the tyres and there were a lot of positives. The car feels similar to last year’s, so the main difference is the tyres.” And he added, “With these tyres you’re always on your toes.”

Mark Webber happy with new RB9 - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber happy with new RB9 – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Grosjean tested the Lotus E21, and he was satisfied with his findings, “The feeling is good from the E21; it feels very similar to the E20 from behind the wheel, even if it does look different from the outside. Once again Enstone has produced a car that is quick from the very first lap.”

Also Lotus’ Technical Director James Allison reckoned it had been a good day, “Everything has looked positive so far. The feedback from Romain has been encouraging and on the engineering side there have been no particular dramas of note. Overall it was a promising first day for this car and we hope to continue in this vein for the next days of testing.”

The Force India piloted by Paul di Resta was quick and the Scot took fourth fastest time in the VJM06. He was satisfied with his first day of testing, “A positive first day and we managed to cover lots of laps — so that’s the most important thing. I felt very comfortable all day and we managed to get through the programme as we focussed on collecting aero data and understanding how well the car correlates with our simulation tools at the factory.”

Force India of course also had their first taste of the new Pirellis, and asked how they compared to last year’s compounds he said, “The new compounds are quite different with the new construction and I’ve already felt a difference with the balance of the car in the low and high-speed parts of the lap.”

Felipe Massa on a different planet - Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa: New car is on a different planet – Photo: Ferrari

Felipe Massa will be doing most of the test work at Jerez this week, and the Brazilian completed the usual installation laps before he started the important job of data acquisition, he completed 64 laps and finished the day in sixth place, some one and a half second off the fastest time set by Button.

Massa commented about the new Ferrari, “If you compare to last year it’s on a completely different planet. Last year I remember we were struggling a lot to drive the car; it was difficult to keep the car on the track. So this year the base on the car is completely different to last year. The car is much more balanced, I felt a good direction at the rear of the car as well in terms of traction.”

Also problems for Nico Rosberg who was eighth fastest today, as his Mercedes ground to a halt due to an electrical problem, there was a small fire and, after a thorough investigation, Mercedes later stated the fire originated from a faulty wiring loom. Rosberg, however, remained optimistic and said, “These hiccups are just part of the game. During the laps I completed this morning, I had a good feeling with the car and it felt solid.”

Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes FW03 - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes FW03 – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Pastor Maldonado completed 84 laps today at Jerez in the old FW34 car, today Williams basically tested the new systems for the FW35 and also tested the new Pirellis to gather data for the FW35 development program. Technical Director Mike Coughlan commented, “We concentrated on running some new systems in preparation for the FW35, as well as some planned set-up changes. It was also interesting to see the new Pirelli tyres in action and having the FW34 here helped us to really understand how the tyres are working.”

Two rookies made their debut today, Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde. Dutchman van der Garde completed 64 laps in the Caterham and took tenth place. “Day one is all about making sure everything in the car works as it’s supposed to and apart from a couple of minor issues with the floor we didn’t really have to make any changes to the car straight out of the box,” van der Garde commented.

About the new car he said, “It’s obviously far too early to make any judgements on the performance levels we can expect from the 2013 package but compared to the car I drove in Brazil it feels like we’ve made some good progress over the winter.”

Chilton caused a red flag after he went off at the end of the back straight and ended up in the gravel. The culprit seemed to be the right rear suspension, apparently it had broken and Marussia is currently investigating the matter.

“I’m sure the team will get on top of the suspension issue very quickly so we can all pick up where we left off and start putting some more miles on what is obviously a very promising package,” Chilton said.

Team Principal John Booth added, “In terms of the specific issue we encountered this afternoon, we will naturally ensure we conduct a thorough inspection of the component in question and see what solution we can bring to recommence our programme.”

Jerez testing times – Day 1 – February 5

Pos  Driver                Team          Time                Laps
 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren       1m18.861             37
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull      1m19.709   + 0.848   73
 3.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus         1m19.796   + 0.935   54
 4.  Paul di Resta         Force India   1m20.343   + 1.482   89
 5.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso    1m20.401   + 1.540   70
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari       1m20.536   + 1.675   64
 7.  Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber        1m20.699   + 1.838   79
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes      1m20.846   + 1.985   11
 9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams      1m20.864   + 2.003   84
10.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham      1m21.915   + 3.054   64
11.  Max Chilton           Marussia      1m24.176   + 5.315   29

Marussia introduces MR02, new car boosted by KERS

By Berthold Bouman

Marussia introduces MR02, new car boosted by KERSAlso Marussia introduced their 2013 challenger, the MR02, today at the Spanish Circuito de Jerez. One of the main changes is the introduction of the Williams’ designed and supported KERS system which should make the car quicker.

The car is an evolution of the MR01, and Marussia will continue their partnership with Xtrac and Cosworth this season. In a statement Marussia said, “The MR02 will be powered by Cosworth’s CA2013K power unit this season. Our transmission technology partner Xtrac brings an evolution of the 2012 gearbox design, with particular attention paid to increasing the installation stiffness of the suspension.”

The team also continues their partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies, ‘to provide some of the tools which allow us to design and develop an increasingly competitive race car, in particular the use of wind tunnel and simulator’.

John Booth, Marussia’s Team Principal today commented on the new car, “We embark on the first pre-season test of 2013 feeling very positive about our new car — the MR02 — and what lies ahead in this next important chapter in the development of the Marussia F1 Team.”

Marussia Team Principal John Booth - Photo: Marussia F1

Marussia Team Principal John Booth – Photo: Marussia F1

“Whilst we have experienced some changes over the winter, the one area of stability we have enjoyed is the one that is most important to our progression from here, the design of our 2013 race car, led by our Technical Director Pat Symonds.”

About last season Booth said, “The incremental steps we were taking in the latter half of last season gave us the confidence to not only fight hard for 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship, but to feel encouraged by our overall design direction, which was the basis for the car we are fielding here in Jerez today.”

And he added, “It is early days in our pre-season development programme but there is a great deal of optimism amongst the Team for what lies ahead. With that in mind, we all look forward to seeing the MR02 make its on-track debut later this morning.”

Marussia has only confirmed one driver for this season, the 21-year old Max Chilton, who will take the car through its paces today. Chilton was already test driver for the Anglo-Russian team in 2012 and also drove for the Marussia Carlin GP2 Team, and finished in fourth place of the 2012 GP2 Championship.

All Photos: Marussia F1

Caterham launches CT03 at Jerez, milestone in development of the team

By Berthold Bouman

Caterham launches CT03 at Jerez, milestone in development of the teamA busy day at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today, as it is the first day of the first pre-season testing days, but early in the morning, before testing officially started, Caterham revealed their 2013 contender, the CT03, to the public.

According to Technical Director Mark Smith, the CT03 is the first car produced in the Leafield Technical Centre, and therefore ‘marks an important milestone in the development of the team’. As all other teams, Caterham also had to work on their 2014 car, and therefore decided the CT03 would rather be more an evolution of its predecessor, and not a completely new designed car.

Smith commented about the changes of the 2013 design, “Among the most obvious are around the lower chassis where the side pods have been significantly undercut to improve airflow to the rear of the car. The diffuser, engine cover and cooling exits have also seen major changes and there are more subtle improvements to other areas of the car, such as the sidepod turning vanes and the lower tea-tray area,” Smith said.

All Photos: Caterham F1

But he’s already thinking about the future development of the car, “This is the package we will take to race one in Australia and as part of the 2013 upgrade program we will then bring new front and rear wings and a new diffuser soon after the start of the season.”

Cyril Abiteboul, who was appointed Team Principal last year, commented, “This is the first car we have produced since I joined the team so this is a proud day for me. I am very pleased that we have been able to allocate our resources and budgets as efficiently as possible to produce a car that will allow us to consolidate our position in Formula One whilst also starting work on the 2014 car as early as possible.”

The CT03 has a slightly different livery this season, and Abiteboul said, “From the outside, the most obvious change to CT03 car is the livery. Whilst retaining the green and yellow paint scheme that has become synonymous with our team since 2010, we have refreshed both colours to enhance their visibility on track and give them what will be, we believe, one of the best looking liveries in the pit lane.”

He’s also happy with the choice of drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. “Charles and Giedo are both young and dynamic and we expect that their enthusiasm for the sport and the team will be fuelling our growth. Additionally, they provide clear proof of our dedication to developing young driver talent and now, any aspiring driver who dreams of F1 can see that there is a clear route to the F1 grid under the guidance of the Caterham Driver Development Program, the 2013 format of which will soon be presented,” he said.

Tony Fernandes, Co-Chairman of the Caterham Group said, “Having stepped up to the role of Co-Chairman of Caterham Group I will be playing less of a day-to-day role with the team but I am delighted that we go into our fourth season in such a strong position.”

And he added, “I am realistic enough to know that we still have a long journey ahead of us, but the dream is steadily coming true. We have invested in the long-term, not taken any short-cuts and we have everything in place to keep moving forwards.”

Formula One launches uncovered – What teams don’t want us to see

By Berthold Bouman

Formula One launches uncovered - What teams don’t want us to seeNot only the fans are looking forward to the 2013 car presentations, the teams are also looking forward to it, but then of course, they are curious about the cars of the rival teams. Last year Red Bull even covered-up the rear of the car when it entered the pit lane during testing to prevent other teams getting a peek at the new car.

Keeping novelties a secret has been part of the sport for as long as it exists, in 1978 Lotus boss Colin Chapman covered-up the rear of the Lotus 79 to mislead his rivals, it took weeks before the others finally realised the rear wasn’t the secret of the Lotus 79, but the floor, as it was the first ground-effect car using a reversed wing-shaped floor.

410 Ferrari Uncovered 02

410 Ferrari Uncovered 01

Ferrari F138

Today, teams still play hide and seek. Ferrari covered the rear of the F138 with a piece of carbon fibre so the diffuser doesn’t show, and a lot of black paint, which is also heat-resistant as the exhaust gasses are led through the rear of the car by the Coanda-style exhaust outlets, does the rest. The carbon parts are also black which adds to the confusion. It’s almost impossible to see the details but with a little Photoshopping we can reveal some details.

410 Lotus Uncovered 02

410 Lotus Uncovered 01

Lotus E21

Same applies to the Lotus E21, although they didn’t really hide anything, the whole car is black which makes it very difficult to photograph the details. But after enhancing the contrast, the complete rear section of the car, including the structure of the diffuser, is revealed.

410 Force India Uncovered 02

410 Force India Uncovered 01

Force India VJM06

Force India is the only team that took their car out on the circuit for a spin as well, but again due to the black paint on the rear parts of the car it is difficult to see the details, again enhancing the contrast reveals more of the details.

410 Mcaren Uncovered 02

McLaren MP4-28

410 Sauber Uncovered 02

Sauber C32

McLaren and Sauber didn’t, very conveniently, publish any detailed photos of the car, or only published photos taken under a certain angle in such a way the details stay hidden. Playing around with Photoshop does make the rear of the McLaren more clear, but the crucial parts, like the diffuser, stay hidden.

410 Red Bull Uncovered 02

410 Red Bull Uncovered 01

Red Bull RB9

Red Bull kept everything hidden as well, and didn’t allow photographers to make their own pictures, though there is very little to see at the rear of the car, the exhaust looks similar to the 2012 version.

410 Toro Rosso Uncovered 01

Toro Rosso STR8

Mercedes was even better in hiding the goodies, there is no single picture that discloses the secrets of the W04. Toro Rosso didn’t publish very detailed photos either. There is not much to see in the rear, and the exhaust is not really special either.

410 Caterham Uncovered 02

410 Caterham Uncovered 01

And last is the Caterham CT03, a beautiful car, Caterham has nothing to hide, nevertheless, a bit of Photoshopping reveals even more details, like all teams Caterham have worked hard on the rear of the car, with the Coanda-style exhaust outlets, and the very smooth rear section with diffuser.

Toro Rosso unveil STR8, aim to improve on last year’s results

By Berthold Bouman

Toro Rosso unveils STR8, aim to improve on last year’s resultsAlso present in Jerez, Spain, today was Red Bull’s Italian sister team Toro Rosso, who unveiled their 2013 car, the STR8. Toro Rosso finished in ninth place of the Constructors’ Championship last year, but are this season aiming for more podium places.

The STR8 features a so-called vanity panel to hide the stepped nose, and has a similar exhaust system as the 2012 car.

Team Principal Franz Tost believes his team is ready for the future, “Formula One is approaching a new era, specifically in 2014, and, at Toro Rosso, we have already made significant changes to our structure both in terms of manpower and facilities, to be ready for that.”

And he added, “We believe the changes made will also help in the short-term for this coming season and, combined with the fact that Daniel and Jean-Eric are more experienced, now that they have a season with us under their belts, we start winter testing in a mood of justified optimism.”

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo embark on their second journey with the Italian team, last year they finished in 17th and 18th place respectively of the Drivers’ Championship.

All Photos: Toro Rosso

Frenchman Vergne is going into his second full Formula One season and commented, “Going into this season is a completely different experience to this time last year, when I had to deal with a lot of unknowns. I had to learn the majority of tracks, understand so many details about Formula One and adapt to working with the team.”

But he’s adamant this season will be different from his point of view, “This year, I will still be learning — you never stop in Formula One — but the basics are there and I will be able to focus on more important aspects of the job. In general, I sense a new philosophy within Toro Rosso: I wouldn’t say people are working harder, but maybe they are going in a better direction.”

Ricciardo enjoyed a holiday in his native Australia, where the first race of the season also will take place on March 17. He too, has learned a lot, “The 2013 version of me is a more confident person and driver, with more self-belief than last year. I’ve always had the desire and determination to succeed and now I’m ready to reinforce that and let everyone see what I’m all about.”

And the Australian driver added, “I spent most of the winter Down Under and when I came back into the factory in Faenza, I could feel a very positive atmosphere with everyone excited about the new car. The target for us this year is very simple: to improve on last year!”