By Berthold Bouman
After a three-week break all Formula One teams have arrived at the Shanghai International Circuit for round three of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Chinese Grand Prix. It will be the tenth time the race is held on the 5.451 km long Shanghai circuit, which is similar to the Malaysian Sepang circuit, but the weather conditions are expected to be much cooler this weekend.
Pirelli has nominated the Medium (prime, white marked) and Soft (option, yellow marked) tyres for China: the first time that this combination makes an appearance this year. According to Pirelli, the flexibility of the new 2013 tyres means ‘that several strategies are open to the teams’.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery explained, “China has often produced some of the best races of the year, where strategy has been at the forefront of the action. With all our compounds having got softer this year the degradation is deliberately more extreme leading to increased performance, but history has shown that it never takes too long for the teams and drivers to get on top of the tyres.”
Webber not happy with Vettel’s actions in Malaysia – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Unfortunately, the fast degrading tyres are the reason why teams opt to save tyres during qualifying in order to have more fresh sets during the race. Drivers stay in the garage for most of the time, which of course does not contribute to the show on Saturday afternoon. Tyre degradation also played an important role in the hottest story of the season so far.
The team that made the headlines in the past three weeks was of course Red Bull, the rivalry between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel has been re-ignited after Vettel ignored team orders to let Webber win the race at Sepang. Red Bull was afraid both drivers could ruin their tyres and therefore the decision was made to let Webber finish the race ahead of Vettel. Better safe than sorry was the motto.
But according to Red Bull Advisor Helmut Marko, the feud is over. “They don’t have to be completely on the same page but it must be a solid working partnership,” he said. “Sebastian apologised in the press conference and I think that was the first correct step to make. There was a debrief afterwards with the relevant discussions about the race and then there was a handshake between the two drivers. For us now the issue is settled.”
Kimi Raikkonen won the first race of the season – Photo: Lotus F1
A pleasant surprise at the start of the season, this time Lotus won the 2013 opener at Albert Park in Australia, but the second race in Malaysia was a bit of a let down for the Lotus fans, as Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen finished the race in sixth and seventh place respectively.
Nevertheless, Lotus’ Team Principal Eric Boullier was happy with the result of the Malaysian Grand Prix and said, “I think we can take some positives from Malaysia. We’ve made a step forward with the car in terms of single lap pace, but still the race pace looks strong as well.”
Lotus will have some significant updates ready for China and Boullier said, “For China, Romain will have the upgraded exhaust and bodywork package which Kimi ran in Malaysia, plus there will be a few additional parts arriving so it’s going to be quite interesting.”
According to Lotus’ Technical Director James Allison, the tyres will again be the deciding factor at the Shanghai circuit, “Some of the lower speed corners are also extended in their radius, even with tightening arcs. This provides quite a stern test for the tyres, as you have a significant excess of torque over grip making it very easy to wreck a set of rear tyres rather quickly.”
Fernando Alonso – Photo: Ferrari
Ferrari is currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, in Australia Fernando Alonso was second, but at Sepang he hit the rear of Vettel’s Red Bull and when his damaged front wing got wedged under the car, he crashed and his race was over after just one lap.
Alonso has spent some time in the simulator during the break, but he’s worried about the very fast degrading tyres. “Shanghai is a very nice track with a variety of corner types and fast straights, so you definitely need a car that works well in the fast sections, but you also need it to have plenty of downforce to deal with the tighter turns. We can expect to see quite high tyre degradation, especially on the fronts,” the Spaniard said.
Also Felipe Massa is upbeat ahead of the race on Sunday. “I know we have only done two races, but I have a good feeling so far this season. The work we did with the F138 over the winter has taken us in the right direction and the car has much more potential,” the Brazilian said.
Lewis Hamilton on the podium – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Lewis Hamilton moved from McLaren to Mercedes, and already scored his first podium place for the German team in Malaysia. Nico Rosberg scored his maiden win, and so far the only victory for Mercedes, during the Chinese Grand Prix in 2012, but it will be difficult to repeat that according to Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff.
“Like they say, yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games, and that’s definitely true for us. We start again from zero this year and need to work hard to adapt the car to suit the circuit and the tyre compounds we have available, in the conditions that we find on track this weekend. Then we will see where we stand relative to the competition,” the Austrian said.
Team Principal Ross Brawn is confident ahead of the race, but there is still a lot do, and he commented, “Our season has started well, perhaps better than we expected, however we’re fully aware that there is still a gap to close and that we must keep up the pace of development. A lot of hard work has taken place at our factories over the last two weeks to do just that and I look forward to seeing how that translates to track performance.”
Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India
Force India is fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, and the return of Adrian Sutil was the best decision they’ve made this season, as he led the Australian Grand Prix for almost 30 laps. But in Malaysia everything went pear-shaped, and both Sutil and Paul di Resta had to retire as there were problems with the wheel nuts.
But team owner Vijay Mallya is adamant the wheel nut issues have been solved, “We’ve had three weeks to understand what went wrong and have worked hard fix the root cause of the problem.” Sutil is confident of a good performance this weekend and the German said, “The layout is not too different to Sepang, so it should suit us again and I hope we can be strong there.”
And he added, “Also, we know there are lots of areas where we can improve because we have learned a lot from the first couple of races. The other teams will not stand still so we need to keep pushing hard and keep up this momentum.”
Sauber had their ups and downs, in Australia Nico Hulkenberg couldn’t start the race due to problems with the fuel system, but he hopes to do better in China. “I have a better feeling now I have driven my first race in the C32, especially because we were able to collect a lot of information. In Malaysia we scored points and that is also my goal for China,” Hulkenberg said.
Sauber will also bring some new parts to China, and they will be tested during the free practice sessions. Tom McCullough, Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering said, “We analysed the data that we collected in Malaysia and found interesting directions for the development of the car, therefore we will bring several test parts to Shanghai. Having secured our first points of the season in Malaysia, we are eager to add to them as soon as possible.”
Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren F1
While Ferrari is now up to pace compared to the start of the 2012 season, it seems that McLaren now is the top team that has fallen behind, as they are only seventh in the Constructors’ Championship with just four points. Both drivers have struggled with the new Pirellis, and Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh is certainly not happy with seventh place.
“Clearly, our performance in Australia and Malaysia fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect at McLaren,” said Whitmarsh. McLaren made good use of the break and are aiming to improve their performance this weekend, and Whitmarsh added, “We have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso managed to score one point in two races, courtesy to Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished tenth in Malaysia. Plenty of rivalry at Toro Rosso as well, Daniel Ricciardo promised to ‘trash’ his team colleague this season, but Frenchman Vergne has so far beaten the Australian driver, who is also aiming to replace Mark Webber at sister team Red Bull in 2014.
Two retirements for Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1
Also a very difficult start of the season for Williams, last year they were very quick and even won the Spanish Grand Prix, this season Pastor Maldonado retired from both races, while Valtteri Bottas finished just outside the top ten.
Like other drivers, Bottas reckons managing the Pirelli tyres will be the key to success, and he remarked, “Getting the tyres to work will be the biggest challenge facing all of the teams, as the temperatures are often low and the smooth track surface is quite different to what we saw in the first two races.”
Surprisingly, Marussia has beaten Caterham during the first two races, and the Anglo-Russian outfit has even managed to produce a few car updates during the break. Team Principal John Booth explained, “The cars were freighted directly to China, so while we would not call the upgrades we have for this race comprehensive, they are still significant. We will be running some new suspension parts that we proved out in testing but delayed until we had some further race distance experience with the MR02. We also have some new front and rear brake ducts.”
Caterham has been struggling due to massive understeer. “On Friday and Saturday morning we’ll also be working on several performance areas that the team has been looking at since Malaysia, particularly around dialling out the understeer issues I had in Australia and Malaysia,” said Charles Pic.
Dutchman Giedo van der Garde is confident his team will solve the problems and said, “We had oversteer issues on entry into the corners in Malaysia and Australia and that definitely hit my race pace, particularly as it was impacting on tyre degradation levels, so we’ve done a bit of work on that with Pirelli in Milan and back at Leafield since Malaysia so we’ll see what we’ve achieved when we get to Shanghai.”
Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix will start at 15:00 hrs local time and the race on Sunday starts at 14:00 hrs local time.
By Berthold Bouman
McLaren have apologized for Mark Webber’s starting problems during the Australian Grand Prix, Webber had already indicated it was a software-related problem, and today McLaren said in a statement that the ECU (Engine Control Unit), produced by McLaren Electronic Systems and supplied to all Formula One teams, caused the problem that cost Webber at least five places during the start of his home Grand Prix.
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh yesterday said he would look into the matter. “We’ll put our hands up if it’s a fault that’s derived from the hardware or the BIOS,” he said, adding, “You can also inflict ECU problems on yourself by how you set it up, but I will look into it.”
But today McLaren said in a statement, “The electronic units themselves ran without incident in Melbourne, but there was a software-related issue that meant that Mark Webber’s Red Bull Racing car’s garage data system had to be re-started during the formation lap. That disrupted his preparations for the start of the race, for which Mark and the team has our apology. We are working together with them to prevent any recurrence.”
About his unfortunate start Webber later commented, “It wasn’t a good start, and we’ll look into why that happened. But when you find yourself in the middle of the pack and you don’t have KERS [in this case the ECU shut down KERS as well], you’re in a really hard place. You can’t attack and it’s hard to defend through the DRS zones.”
Sixth place for Webber during his home Grand Prix – Photo: Red Bull Racing
“My goal was to finish on the podium, but things went against me from the start: we had no telemetry on the grid, we had no KERS for the opening 20 laps and the car fell off the jacks at the first pit stop, costing me time.”
A new revised standard ECU was introduced this season and during pre-season testing there were already a few software problems which meant several teams were not able to properly record the stream of car and engine data the ECU produces.
According to McLaren, “An ECU comprises several thousand parts, tens of thousands of solder connections and hundreds of thousands of lines of software. It is a very complex piece of equipment that controls the powertrain and DRS, and acts as a car’s primary data system.”
The standard ECU was introduced by the FIA in 2008, and the old version ran four years without problems. The new version will also power the 2014 V6 turbo-charged hybrid engines, the new control units are not only used in Formula One, but also in the NASCAR and IndyCar series.
By Berthold Bouman
Teams, drivers and fans are looking forward to the first race of the year: the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. After 12 days of pre-season testing the status quo of the 11 teams is still somewhat nebulous to say the least, one thing is certain, the Pirelli tyres will be different from last season, and the Italian tyre manufacturer has predicted at least two pit stops per car this season.
In today’s preview: McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso.
5. Jenson Button
6. Sergio Perez
Last year Lewis Hamilton left the British team, and this year Jenson Button will be the number one driver, while Sergio Perez will replace Hamilton. Mixed results for McLaren during testing, but it seems the MP4-28 needs more development before it will be a real title contender.
While it has the right speed, the MP4-28 seems to have serious understeer problems, and to add to McLaren’s problems, the car is very harsh on the tyres, which results in massive tyre degradation. But McLaren is still confident about the 2013 season, as there is plenty of room to develop the car.
Plenty of testing problems for McLaren – Photo: McLaren
Button refused to make any predictions for this season. “This year, I don’t think any team really knows or understands the competitive order, it’s been an extremely hard-to-read winter but that’s part of the game,” he told the BBC. “You can have a terrible winter of testing, then turn up at the first race and be competitive. Equally, you can look impressive in winter testing and be nowhere in Melbourne.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted his team encountered many problems during winter testing, “At Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we’ve faced a challenging few weeks prepping our new MP4-28 for the 2013 season.”
“The often cold and sometimes wet conditions we experienced during pre-season testing in Barcelona and Jerez made it difficult to operate the tyres consistently within their optimal performance window. That issue, combined with a handful of typical testing setbacks, gave us a few headaches.”
But he confidently added, “We’re still working tirelessly to bring more pace to the MP4-28’s performance envelope, and I believe we’ll arrive in Australia in decent shape. the MP4-28 is a new and uncompromising design, and I have great confidence that our design, development and engineering teams will work tirelessly to shave tenths off its lap-times for Melbourne, and for Sao Paulo, and for everywhere in between.”
7. Kimi Raikkonen
8. Romain Grosjean
Lotus also decided not to change their driver line-up, star driver Kimi Raikkonen will stay for another year, and despite his on-track escapades, Romain Grosjean has been given another opportunity to impress his manager and Team Principal Eric Boullier.
During testing Lotus encountered many reliability problems, and both drivers spent a considerable amount of time in the garage. “For sure, we haven’t completed all the laps we wanted during pre-season, but that is often the case. We’ve found a few issues and we have solutions for them, which is positive,” Raikkonen said after the last test day.
Romain Grosjean gets a second chance in F1 – Photo: Lotus F1
Grosjean, who was fastest on his final day of testing, is confident ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, “The E21 feels good in all conditions, which is very promising for the season ahead. Of course, I wish I could have more time in the car before the season starts, but if we’re in the same position on the monitors when we get to Australia I’ll be very happy indeed!”
Also Boullier admitted Lotus had problems during testing, “Pre-season testing was not perfect for us but we are confident in what we have seen from the E21. We had glitches and we didn’t complete as many laps as we wanted, yet we still completed most of the assessments we required and have a good platform heading to the first race of the season.”
And the Frenchman added, “It’s certain going to be a highly competitive season but I’m confident that we’ll be right in the battle at the front.” And indeed, although Lotus has encountered several technical problems, the times they produced were consistent, and the black and gold Lotus was always in the top five.
Add Raikkonen’s magic, and the Lotus E21 can become a real winner this season, while Grosjean has shown he is certainly fast enough for a podium place, all he now has to do is make sure he gets to the finish line.
9. Nico Rosberg
10. Lewis Hamilton
Also Mercedes encountered technical issues that kept the car and drivers in the garage during testing, but there is certainly no doubt about the pace of the new car.
Nico Rosberg scored an impressive fastest lap during the last test day at Barcelona, but team mate Hamilton warned there’s still a lot of work to do. “It is important to bring everyone back down to earth and realise we still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
Lewis Hamilton joined Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes Benz
“It’s everything to play for still. We won’t know until the first race but don’t be surprised if we get to the first race and were not at the front. We have got through everything and we are not in deep, deep trouble. We’re going in the right direction.”
Rosberg agreed with his team mate and said, “I have the general feeling that we are in a better position than in the second half of last year but this is testing not racing, of course. The conditions in the first race will be completely different to here as it will be much hotter in Melbourne and Sepang so we need to wait and see.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn was pleased with the progress the team has made, “We have achieved our objectives for the test programme and the mileage that we have been able to complete has been very satisfying.”
With only one week to go Brawn commented, “We now have one final week back at the factory to complete our preparations; both drivers will be at the factory this week and, as always, there is a lot of work to do in a short space of time. We’re realistic about our performance here and our position once we get to Melbourne, and we look forward to the challenge of a new season ahead.”
11. Nico Hulkenberg
12. Esteban Gutierrez
Two new drivers at Sauber, Nico Hulkenberg left Force India and will be their number one driver, while rookie Esteban Gutierrez will make his Formula One debut for the Swiss team this season. Sauber didn’t produce any spectacular results during testing, and like the other teams, they had their share of technical problems during testing.
Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport
Hulkenberg is a very talented driver who has won all the series he has participated in, and there is no reason to doubt the young German’s abilities. After the last test day he commented, “We have some potential left with the balance of the car and some homework to do before Melbourne. But I think that we found some interesting directions, and overall I’m quite satisfied.”
About the new Pirellis he said, “I’m satisfied with the pace we had in dry conditions, however, we need to do more work on the intermediate tyres, where we have definitely more potential to exploit.” Gutierrez agreed with Hulkenberg’s assessment and added, “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.”
Last year Sauber was the surprise of the season, they had a fast car straight out of the box, it will be difficult to repeat that this season, but Hulkenberg is a skilful driver, he confirmed that during the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, perhaps he will be the one to give Sauber their first victory ever.
18. Jean-Eric Vergne
19. Daniel Ricciardo
The last team on the list, Toro Rosso, also continues with the same driver line-up, both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will represent Red Bull’s Italian sister team in 2013. No spectacular test results, but the STR8 is a stable and reliable car, however, it needs some more development and set-up work to make it a top ten finisher.
Jean-Eric Vergne – Photo: Toro Rosso
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso’s Head of Vehicle Performance said after completing 12 test days, “As the STR8 is fundamentally a new car, with plenty of crucial changes for example on the suspension, on the aero side and in terms of the architecture of the car, we had a very big work load to tackle this month in Spain.”
Also Toro Rosso struggled to understand the Pirellis, “Apart from our car, the other new element was the Pirelli tyres, which have different characteristics to last year’s. Getting a full understanding of how the new rubber works is something that will take longer than we had expected.”
Ricciardo is of course looking forward to his home Grand Prix, “I’m still very happy to be in Formula One, but it’s not enough now. I want to get as much as I can out of it, so the confidence I have now is higher and for those reasons I really believe I can make the results and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do that. If I’m just racing but not doing anything spectacular it’s not enough.”
And he added, “If we can consistently finish in the points that would be a good start. In the points you are really racing for something and when you’re racing for 15th and 16th for sure it’s not as fun. When there’s a prize on the line it makes it more exciting!”
By Berthold Bouman
After 12 pre-season testing days at Jerez and Barcelona, the real test for all teams and drivers will be the first race of the season: the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne. Only 11 teams on the start grid this season as the Spanish HRT team ceased to exist due to financial problems.
Is it possible to make a prediction about the Australian Grand Prix? It’s difficult to predict anything in Formula One, but a few things are certain. There have been very few regulation changes, but they nevertheless could make the difference.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, has banned the use of the active Double DRS system, a clever device that stalls the front wing when DRS is operational, as used by Mercedes last year. The use of the normal DRS system has been restricted for safety reasons, and the drag reducing device can this season only be used during the race, and not during practice or qualifying.
To make the sport even safer, tougher tests for the roll structures and the survival cell have been introduced, in addition, all survival cells will be subjected to static load tests. Flexing bodywork has been an area of concern in the past, again the FIA tests will be more stringent to lessen the possibility of using flexing bodywork to enhance the aerodynamic performance.
Melbourne the first real test of the season – Photo: Caterham F1
Almost all teams are still developing the Coanda-style exhaust outlets, exploiting the Coanda effect, the phenomenon that air ‘sticks’ to nearby surfaces, to the fullest. Williams came up with an idea that looked promising, they divided the exhaust outlet with a piece of carbon fibre in two apertures, which is prohibited.
Williams Technical Director Mike Coughlan made a tiny slot in the carbon piece, which according to him made it legal, but after a meeting with FIA’s Technical Delegate Charlie Whiting it was removed again. It is expected more teams will try such designs and other tricks to guide the air around and under the car, as it can deliver more downforce, and downforce is, even after more than 60 years, still the holy grail of Formula One.
The FIA has also extended the personnel curfews, the period team members are not allowed to be present in the paddock. The curfew on Thursdays has been extended from six to eight hours, while the number of occasions teams are allowed to break the curfew has been reduced from four to two.
The minimum weight of car and driver has been increased from 640 kg to 642 kg, to compensate for the increase in weight of the Pirelli tyres. Pirelli has announced they are aiming for more tyre degradation and therefore more pit stops. In general, the rubber compounds will be softer compared to last year, the structure of the tyres will be more flexible, and the tyre ‘shoulders’ have been reinforced. All this will result in more thermal degradation, which is good for the show.
Fernando Alonso testing the F138 – Photo: Ferrari
Pirelli is now aiming for two to three stops per driver per race, which would make races even more attractive, they also promised to be more aggressive with the tyre allocations towards the end of the season. Also new is that the sidewall of the hardest tyre will be orange marked, instead of silver, which will make it easier for the fans to spot the difference with the medium compound, white marked tyres. For the Australian Grand Prix, Pirelli has allocated the super soft and medium compounds.
During the last four test days in Barcelona, teams have been testing parts for Melbourne, but when one takes a closer look at the lap times, it is impossible to tell who will be the fastest this season. Red Bull Racing, despite their average test results, is still the favourite for this year’s title. Mark Webber has recorded the fastest time only once during a total of 12 days, but Red Bull is renowned for hiding their true pace during testing.
Neither Webber, nor triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel have given any clues or hints about the true speed of the RB9, but the Austrian team occasionally issued statements in which they mentioned ‘Red Bull is not the only fast team in 2013’. Mr. Red Bull, Helmut Marko, the stubborn advisor of the team, has also been very quiet during the first two months of this year, normally he’s the first to make some controversial comments about Red Bull’s opponents, when he’s silent, that is considered to be suspicious.
Lewis Hamilton moved to Mercedes – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Ferrari were determined not to make the same mistake as last year, when they had to play catch-up for most of the season, and it seems they’ve succeeded. The F138 is fast straight out of the box, and both drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were quick during testing. If they keep developing the F138, Ferrari will be a fierce contender for the 2013 crown.
McLaren lost their star driver to Mercedes, but the Woking-based team has contracted new race talent Sergio Perez, who was a bit disappointing during testing. Button will be the number one driver, but whether he has the same ‘drive’ as Hamilton remains to be seen, as the 2009 World Champion has a more conservative approach.
For Mercedes 2013 will bring the decision whether the team will stay in Formula One, as more and more Mercedes-Benz CEO’s refuse to back the very expensive Formula One adventure. New managers like Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda should help the Silver Arrows team to find their way to success, which could be profitable as well.
On Saturday and Sunday Grand Prix Journal will discuss all eleven teams more elaborate in the big 2013 preview, and from Monday on we’ll bring you the usual team previews.
By Berthold Bouman
Sergio 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 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 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
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