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
By Berthold Bouman
With less than four weeks to go before pre-season testing starts at Jerez, Spain, the 2013 driver line-up is almost complete, only Caterham and Force India both have still one vacancy. It is certainly not easy to get into Formula One, but staying there is almost as difficult, as Swiss media reported Sebastien Buemi will again sign as Red Bull’s test and reserve driver after being ousted from Red Bull’s Italian sister team, Toro Rosso, in 2011.
It is highly likely it is all over for the Spanish HRT team, according to veteran driver Pedro de la Rosa, and therefore only 22 drivers will be on the grid when the season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.
Red Bull Racing
After winning his third consecutive title Sebastian Vettel is confirmed for 2013, while Mark Webber will be the number two driver for the Austrian team, as he recently signed a one-year contract. The pair will drive for the successful team for the fifth consecutive year, but team advisor Helmut Marko is not happy with Webber’s last year’s achievements and has threatened to dump him next year.
Of course championship runner-up Fernando Alonso will stay with the Maranello-based team, he has a contract until 2016. Not much to choose, and also not much to lose either is what Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo must have thought when he signed Felipe Massa for another year. Massa had a bad start of the 2012 season, but wrestled his way back into contention during the second half of the season, and helped Ferrari to clinch second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
After many mechanical failures, bad pit stops and other disappointments, Lewis Hamilton left the team he grew up with and Jenson Button is now the number one driver, at least for this season. Sergio Perez will drive alongside the Briton, but whether the Mexican driver, who started his career at Sauber, is up to the job remains to be seen. Although he can be very fast, he lacks some experience and often makes mistakes that cost him dearly.
By Berthold Bouman
Sauber has signed Mexican Esteban Gutierrez as their 2013 race driver, and he will be racing alongside Nico Hulkenberg who will leave the Force India team at the end of the season. The 21-year old Mexican will succeed his compatriot Sergio Perez who will move to McLaren in 2013.
Gutierrez was already test and reserve driver for the Swiss outfit, and Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn summed up his career, “Esteban has already been part of the team for a long time and we have followed his career very closely. In 2010 we signed him up as an affiliated driver, and in 2011 and 2012 he was our test and reserve driver. We mapped out his path to Formula One step by step. Esteban has great talent and now he’s ready to take the leap.” And she added, “We are in no doubt we have a strong driver pairing in place for the 2013 season with Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.”
Gutierrez thanked Sauber for giving him the opportunity to become a Formula One driver, “After three years working with Sauber I feel very grateful for all the attention I have received from everyone in the team and for all their input, which has allowed me to develop into a Formula One driver in a very progressive way.”
“Now, after experiencing other categories of racing as an introduction to Formula One, this is the start of the real challenge to succeed at the pinnacle of motor sport,” he added. About his team mate Hulkenberg he commented, “It will be a great pleasure to be racing in the same team as an experienced driver like Nico Hulkenberg. He will be a good reference point for me and will push me to adapt quickly to F1 competition so we can develop the car together with the team in the best way.”
Gutierrez last drove the Sauber C31 during the Young Driver Days at Abu Dhabi, and so did Dutchman Robin Frijns, who has now been promoted to test and reserve driver. Frijns is actually just a few days younger than Gutierrez, and also has an impressive race C.V.
“Monitoring Robin’s racing career“, said Frijns’ team boss Kaltenborn, “makes it easy to spot his potential. This was the reason we gave him the chance to drive the Sauber C31-Ferrari at the Young Driver Days in Abu Dhabi. He managed this very well. We will now carefully guide him to Formula One. This is a long way, but Robin has got the skills to do that successfully.”
Frijns, who also tested for Red Bull at Abu Dhabi, said, “I’m very happy the Sauber F1 Team has given me this opportunity. I would like to thank Monisha Kaltenborn and Peter Sauber for their belief and trust in me by signing me to join their team as a test and reserve driver.”
Of course the young Dutchman is already looking forward to the 2013 season, “With this opportunity I will try to help the team as much as possible and get the chance to learn how Formula 1 works in an extremely professional environment. I am already very much looking forward to getting the 2013 season started and working together with the team.”
Unfortunately this announcement also means Kamui Kobayashi will have to find a new race seat for 2013, and Kaltenborn thanked the Japanese driver for his time with the Swiss team, “This has not been an easy decision for us to take, but we have committed ourselves to a new beginning and our time with Kamui will come to an end after the final race of the season. We wish Kamui all the best for the future.”
Robin Frijns, Sauber’s new test and reserve driver
By Berthold Bouman
Sauber is well-prepared for the penultimate round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship, the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. The Swiss outfit has done a lot of work on the simulator at their base in Hinwil, Switzerland, to prepare for the unknown.
Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara said ahead of this weekend, “Along with all the other teams we have been supplied with the relevant data about the Circuit of the Americas. We implemented a simulation for the aerodynamic configuration of the car, gear ratios, braking systems and, more generally, for a baseline set up.”
But he thinks the Sauber C31 will suit the new circuit, “The lap begins with an uphill straight leading to corner one and then to a number of high-speed corners. This part, I think, should suit our car best. After a very tight left-hander we will have a long straight followed by a couple of slow speed corners and a multi apex long right-hander before arriving back on the start finish straight.”
For Kamui Kobayashi, the circuit will be a new experience, as he hasn’t even seen it on the simulator. “This is another new Herman Tilke circuit and he always gives us exciting tracks to have nice races. I have not seen the circuit on a simulator and, in fact, have no idea what it is like,” said the Japanese driver.
But that won’t be a problem at all, as he added, “However, it will be okay and a surprise for me. I shall walk the track when I first get there. I don’t know how many laps it will take to learn it, as it very much depends on the track. It can take three, ten or more laps.”
Sergio Perez has other reasons to exited about this race, “I think it is the closest race for eight years for me to my home town of Guadalajara. I expect many Mexican Formula One fans to attend and this, for sure, will give me an extra boost!”
The Mexican driver is aiming for a good result this weekend, “I have no issues about learning new tracks quickly. In my first Formula One season, which was only last year, I had many tracks to learn. I am sure we will have a good crowd there and I definitely want to put in a strong result for both the Sauber F1 Team and myself.”
Sauber is currently sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, but are targeting fifth place as rival Mercedes is only 12 points ahead of them. Perez is tenth, and Kobayashi is 11th in the Drivers’ Championship with 66 and 58 points respectively.
By Berthold Bouman
Sebastian Vettel was again fastest during the second free practice session for the Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit this afternoon, but he was now closely followed by his Australian team mate Mark Webber, who was 0.118 seconds slower than the German 2010 and 2011 World Champion.
Red Bull showed their supremacy again as third fastest driver Fernando Alonso was almost six-tenths of a second slower, which is bad news for Alonso’s and Ferrari’s title aspirations, as 0.6 seconds is almost an eternity in Formula One, if Red Bull can maintain the same pace the remaining title contenders will have a hard time keeping up with both Red Bull drivers during Sunday’s race.
Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and fifth, but the damage was even worse for McLaren, as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were sixth and seventh, but nine-tenths of a second slower than Vettel.
This time Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest Force India driver, he was eighth, while Paul di Resta was 11th after completing 32 laps. Difficult times for the Force India team, team owner Vijay Mallya was again prominently absent as his Kingfisher airline is in deep financial problems and he perhaps did not want to face his employees who wanted to confront him during his home Grand Prix.
Romain Grosjean was ninth for Lotus, both Lotus drivers significantly improved their pace compared to this morning’s session, Bruno Senna completed the top ten but was one and a half second off the pace. Pastor Maldonado was just like this morning again way off the pace and was 17th in the second Williams.
A big surprise as Sergio Perez jumped into his Sauber again after he had skipped the morning session due to a severe cold, and was the fastest Sauber driver in 12th place. His team mate Kamui Kobayashi was 0.277 seconds slower and the Japanese driver took 16th place.
Two seconds slower than his compatriot Vettel, Michael Schumacher took 13th place in the second Mercedes, the again-to-retire seven-times World Champion was 1.2 seconds slower than Rosberg.
Except the huge advantage Red Bull seems to have at the Indian track, there were no other surprises this afternoon, except perhaps Felipe Massa who was again very disappointing — and after he had spun twice and complained about the balance of his car, landed 15th spot this afternoon.
Daniel Ricciardo was 13th for Toro Rosso and Jean-Eric Vergne was 18th. Again the same names further down the order, Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen was back in the car after Dutchman Giedo van der Garde had borrowed it this morning, and the Finn took 19th spot, ahead of Russian Vitaly Petrov in the other Caterham.
Pedro de la Rosa made progress compared to the first session, he beat his team mate Narain Karthikeyan who took 23rd place, but also beat both Marussia drivers, as Timo Glock was 22nd and Charles Pic, who was 24th and last this afternoon.
Tomorrow morning all drivers have a last chance to find some more speed during the third and final practice session, and prepare themselves for the qualifying session in the afternoon.