Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Even though we have yet to start the 2013 season, most teams are already looking forward and preparing for 2014 in earnest from now. They have been preparing since it was announced that in 2014 the engine formula will go through a drastic change - from a V8 to a V6 turbo. It is a huge change that will change the whole car, its behaviour and driving characteristics. Which in turn will change how drivers have to drive the car, how teams manage their strategies and ultimately how we enjoy our race as fans.

Here is a Q&A with Rob White, Deputy Managing Director (Technical) at RenaultSport F1. He outlines the challenges they faced as engine suppliers and the end of an engine line that is the RS27 which has been in service for 8 years.

With 2013 being the last year of the V8 engines, what remains to be optimised on the RS27?

2013 will be the last year of the V8 engines that, after eight years of service, will be retired at the end of the season to make way for the V6 in 2014. As a result, the engines, and indeed the engine regulations, are now so mature that changes are only permitted for reliability purposes or to make minor adjustments to take into account the new season’s cars. There is however a new optimum to be found each year in the cars and we have to work with our partners to be able to support them as they seek this level. A good example of this is the Coanda effect exhausts we saw introduced last year; small performance gains can be made through a slightly different use of the engine. It is in these areas that we have worked hardest to get the final tenths and hundredths out of every single part. This is done very much in collaboration with our individual teams, which is why maintaining good relations is even more crucial this season.

Would you say therefore, at this stage, that greater gains can be made operationally rather than technically?

Absolutely. At this stage in the V8 lifecycle there is more to be won by optimising procedures and trackside operations completely, plus working with teams and suppliers in order to be completely prepared. We need to make sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed well in advance of the season to cope with every eventuality. We have worked hard at mapping and calibration for new engines and we have also tried to eradicate our reliability gremlins from last year.

What changes have you put in place, if any?

We are not necessarily making major changes, rather we have an action plan in place to counteract each problem we suffered in 2012. Unlike in previous seasons where we have seen clarifications or tightening of engine rules, there aren’t any major changes for this season, which is positive as it allows us to fully optimise our own performance.

Are we likely to see the same sort of ‘exhaust race’ we have seen in previous seasons?

Not entirely as the four teams have adopted an approach that is conservative and aggressive at the same time. Fundamentally there is the same package, but they need to be aggressive to put through performance enhancements and stay ahead of the competition. Our job is to accompany each team in that direction.

With next year seeing the introduction of the V6 engine, how are you splitting resources between engine projects this year?

The V8 development is limited to preparing the individual GPs we go to and our housekeeping needs to be correct to guarantee the quality is there. Inevitably this is the year that the design and development of the new V6 engines will overtake the resources dedicated to the V8, so we need to ensure a turnkey service right until the Brazilian Grand Prix. The new V6s are the biggest change to hit the engine world in over ten years, perhaps ever, so we need piece of mind that everything is functioning seamlessly this season trackside.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The second winter testing at Barcelona has been done. The picture has gotten clearer although that would be an understatement. As with all F1 testing, different teams have different programs, run different fuel loads at different times with different tires, use different setups, etc. But does that put us F1 fans off trying to understand the order and trying to forecast who is strong and who has the fastest car? Of course not! It just makes us speculate more, forecast, argue and strengthen our opinions of our own favorite drivers and teams.

I'm just like any other F1 fan out there, I'd like to know that my chosen driver and team has got it right. Has got the strongest package, are doing the right things, have the opportunity to test all their theories correctly on the track and dominate long and short runs, low and high fuel loads, hot or cold temperatures, maintain an even pace when the tires drop off. But, we have to be realistic. And base it on facts.

And the fact is, Barcelona was cold, very cold which does not represent most track conditions throughout the season. And on the last day it rained with some hail even. Temperatures were reported at around 6c even. Of course the teams got some good data on wet and cold conditions but a lot of points are going to be fought over in hot track conditions. So hopefully, this week at the third test at the same track, we'll have some nice dry and sunny weather.

Well, at least I know Lewis Hamilton is still good in wet and cold conditions as he set the fastest time on the last day (which was wet and cold). See what I mean by us fans wanting or just seeing what we want to?

So, since we are going to look at the tests from a more informed angle, where do we start and what do we look at? Well, for me there are a few areas we should look at but the most important are:

1. Short runs with tires used
2. Long runs with tires used and the consistency

Short Runs

Short runs tends to tell you how fast the car is on low fuel, which would indicate a qualifying lap. This also tells you which lap the car is able to set the qualifying lap i.e. 1st, 2nd or 3rd and so on. How long the car takes to warm up the tires and get that lap in or how many laps it has before the opportunity slips away as the tires (especially the supersoft or soft) will drop off the cliff after a few laps.

This year we're learning that the tires are dropping of quite aggressively and only gives their best performance in very little laps i.e. 1 or 2. Sergio Perez of McLaren puts it right on the jaw:
“It’s extreme. The degradation is very difficult. It’s a big surprise. Normally in winter testing we see a lot of degradation, but never this much. We are going to have a race here so it’s a bit of a worry. But we are still learning about the tyres and I think once we go racing I hope things will change. I definitely hope it changes, because if we are in this situation in Melbourne we are going to see something like seven or 10 stops."
7 or 10 stops in 1 race? That is a bit extreme then Perez. Maybe 4 or 5 looks more like it if it was based on the results so far.

It has been frequently mentioned that the new tires are degrading at a quicker rate than last year. However, as JA on F1 Technical Adviser Mark Gillan hinted earlier in the week, Pirelli believes that the tires are graining due to the cold track temperatures and believe that once they move to the warmer climates of the season, the tires will be fine once in their operating range. Paul Hembery of Pirelli has this to say:
"The conditions we had in Barcelona are far from typical of the rest of the season, with much cooler ambient and track temperatures than we would normally race in, and even some rain on the final day. This put the tires outside of their usual working ranges, which led to problems such as graining. The conditions were particularly unsuited to the supersoft tire, due to the circuit layout and the roughness of the surface in addition to the cold temperatures.
Coupled with the fact that teams are still making big set-up adjustments to their new cars and trying out our complete range of our tires to optimise the package, we saw levels of degradation that are not typical. Once we get to Melbourne the tyres should be much more within their intended working range, which will eliminate the unusual amount of degradation that some teams have experienced."
Long Runs

Long runs are more interesting. Most people tend to look at the times for the day and make some sort of conclusion that "that car is fast" or "that car has a problem" or whatever. But the races are long where a car needs to last for 50 to 60 laps. So, how a car manages it's tires and how consistently it can maintain the lap times over those 50 or 60 laps is crucial.

We've seen some teams managing quite well on the harder compounds on long runs. So even if they did not set eye popping times at the end of the day, they are quietly showing that they can sustain a long run well which bodes well for races. One example is Mercedes on day 2 with Lewis Hamilton setting the 4th fastest time on the hard tire at the start of a long run with the 3 other drivers in front of him setting better times but on softer tires than him. As James Allen puts it:
"Perez and Vettel both set their times during a one-lap run on the soft tyre, before switching their attentions to extended stints in the afternoon. Whilst Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton behind set their fastest laps on the medium and hard compound respectively, with Hamilton’s lap in particular likely to make the other teams raise an eyebrow as it was set during an eight lap run."
Mercedes (and Lewis Hamilton fans) will be encouraged by the pace and tire management shown by the W04 compared to the previous 3 years when the Mercedes car just seem to chew up its tires easily. Again James Allen makes this point clear on day 3:
"It seems at this point, when comparing long runs on the same tyre, that Mercedes and Lotus are very closely matched. Rosberg looked to be running faster during their stints but Grosjean had a heavier fuel load as he completed his race simulation in the afternoon. When Grosjean came to the final stint of his race sim, and with a lower fuel load, his pace matched that of Rosberg earlier in the day.
That will be pleasing for Mercedes as the W04 has got to grips with this years Pirellis better than it has in the previous two years and they can compete with Lotus, who were particularly good at making their tyres last in 2012."
And the long run form seems to continue even in wet conditions of the 4th day when Hamilton set the fastest time on a sixteen lap run on medium tires, he set his fastest time at the beginning of that lengthy stint. So, yes tests don't reveal much and all drivers and teams like to repeat that. In a way they don't want to show their hands yet and they are always playing minds games with their competition but as fans we know that some things do reveal something.

Consistency is crucial to winning a race and that extends to consistency in development throughout a season in order to win the championship. For a more detailed explanation of the consistency recorded at Barcelona last week, have a look at James Allens' analysis here with the help of former Williams technical director Mark Gillan. The charts they have put up shows what I mean.

Following are the times for all days and the combined times for the whole test. Look at the times, the gaps between drivers, the tires used and the weather when it was set. You may be able to glean some informed conclusion from it but beware that your conclusion will be clouded by your support for a particular driver or team. Of course the point is to realise a car/driver combo is fast or strong even if it is not your preferred driver/car.

This week we will see more clearly as this will be the final test before the first race and everybody will have to test their Melbourne spec cars, as Eric Boullier puts it:
"It's just testing and I know at the next test everybody is going to bring their Melbourne spec [cars], so we will see next weekend how it's going and then you can start to draw some conclusions. But at the end we'll see in Melbourne."
Day 1

RosbergMercedesM541:22.616126.044 mph
VettelRed BullM661:22.9650.349
RicciardoToro RossoH731:23.8841.268
Di RestaForce IndiaM821:24.1441.528

Day 2

PerezMcLarenS971:21.848127.226 mph
VettelRed BullS841:22.1970.349
RicciardoToro RossoM701:23.7181.870
Di RestaForce IndiaM621:23.9712.123

Day 3

AlonsoFerrariS971:21.875127.184 mph
SutilForce IndiaS781:22.8771.002
WebberRed BullM1081:23.0241.149
VergneToro RossoS1061:23.3661.491
Van der GardeCaterhamS931:26.1774.302

Day 4

HamiltonMercedesM521:23.282125.036 mph
VergneToro RossoS801:24.0710.789
BianchiForce IndiaM611:25.7322.450
Van der GardeCaterhamM501:27.4294.147
WebberRed BullM641:27.6164.334

Combined Times

20-FebPerezMcLarenS1:21.848127.226 mph
20-FebVettelRed BullS1:22.1970.349
21-FebSutilForce IndiaS1:22.8771.029
21-FebWebberRed BullM1:23.0241.176
21-FebVergneToro RossoS1:23.3661.518
20-FebRicciardoToro RossoM1:23.7181.870
20-FebDi RestaForce IndiaM1:23.9712.123
22-FebBianchiForce IndiaM1:25.7323.884
21-FebVan der GardeCaterhamS1:26.1774.329

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Monday, February 25, 2013


Testing at Barcelona is done. Barcelona is important as it is a track that is used in the championship, teams will race here later although in warmer weather than it has been at this test. This test at Barcelona is also important as it usually shows up which team will be strong come Melbourne but as always it is very difficult to tell during testing as each team has a different program compared to the rest. Some may be sandbagging or hiding their potential.

The next test in Barcelona as well should tell us more as teams have no choice but to show their hand as Melbourne is so close after that. For this test however, there have already been some good pointers to which team or driver stands a good chance open it's open season. We as fans do have to make our own analysis as best we can, so any and all information is always good.

Below is re-produced an analysis done by Pirelli on their tire range performance so far. This is critical information for any serious F1 fan as we know that tires play a huge role in performance and how a race can pan out. It makes a huge difference between winning and losing.

The Formula One teams encountered wet weather for the first time this year on the final day of a four-day test at Barcelona: the second of three official pre-season tests. The other three days were dry, enabling the teams to run through the complete range of P Zero tires – all of which are new for this year – on a circuit that they are all familiar with. However, some unusually cold conditions restricted the amount of meaningful data that could be accumulated. The final pre-season test of the year also takes place in Barcelona next week, from February 28 to March 3.

Paul Hembery (Pirelli motorsport director) had this to say:
“The teams experienced quite high degradation in Barcelona, and that was really down to the weather conditions. The conditions we had in Barcelona are far from typical of the rest of the season, with much cooler ambient and track temperatures than we would normally race in, and even some rain on the final day. This put the tires outside of their usual working ranges, which led to problems such as graining. The conditions were particularly unsuited to the supersoft tire, due to the circuit layout and the roughness of the surface in addition to the cold temperatures. Coupled with the fact that teams are still making big set-up adjustments to their new cars and trying out our complete range of our tires to optimise the package, we saw levels of degradation that are not typical. Once we get to Melbourne the tires should be much more within their intended working range, which will eliminate the unusual amount of degradation that some teams have experienced.”
Testing Facts

The teams are allocated 100 sets of tires per car per year for testing purposes. After an initial contact with the 2013 range for the first time in Jerez, they again concentrated on expanding their knowledge of the new tire characteristics this year, and how they interact with the new cars, all of which were present for the first time in Barcelona.

Ambient and track temperatures were cool, generally between 10 to 15 degrees centigrade ambient, which was on the whole cooler than the previous Jerez test. This led to some graining, which occurs when a tire slides if it is not up to temperature, with the friction against the track surface tearing off strips of rubber. With most of the initial work on new cars already completed in Jerez, the teams were able to also focus on longer runs and race simulations with varying fuel loads. Between two and three pit stops are expected at the first grand prix in Australia some of the teams that carried out race simulations stopped the equivalent of four times in Barcelona, demonstrating that the ideal target should be met in the more typical conditions of Melbourne.

The time difference between the slick compounds was in the region of 0.5s per lap, but the unusual weather conditions in Barcelona meant that this was not entirely conclusive.

Most laps of Barcelona: V Bottas – 355 laps; F Alonso – 283 laps; M Chilton – 241 laps

The teams sampled the Cinturato Green intermediate and the Cinturato Blue full wet tire for the first time on Friday. The wet-weather tires have a new rear construction this year, which improves traction at the rear in particular and reduces snap oversteer.

The fastest overall time of the test set by Fernando Alonso on day three (1m21.875s) comfortably beat the fastest time during testing last year at Barcelona: 1m22.030s (set by Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus).

Barcelona is an extremely technical circuit that tests most aspects of a car’s overall performance. The most stressed tires at the Circuit de Catalunya are those on the left.

Testing Numbers

Total number of sets brought to Barcelona: 385 sets which equals 1628 tires,

- of which supersoft tires: 24 sets
- of which soft tires: 87 sets
- of which medium tires: 132 sets
- of which hard tires: 97 sets
- of which intermediate tires: 40 sets
- of which wet tires: 27 sets

Total amount of sets used: 303

- of which supersoft tires: 5 sets
- of which soft tires: 53 sets
- of which medium tires: 127 sets
- of which hard tires: 84 sets
- of which intermediate tires: 24 sets
- of which wet tires: 10 sets

Longest Run

24 laps on the hard compound
36 laps of the medium compound
31 laps on the soft compound
16 laps on the supersoft compound
29 laps on the intermediate compound
22 laps on the wet compound

Highest / lowest ambient temperature over four days: 20 °C (Day 2) / 7 °C (Day 4)
Highest / lowest track temperature over four days: 26 °C (Day 2) / 6 °C (Day 4)

Testing Times

Day 1

1. Rosberg, Mercedes 1’22’’616s Medium New
2. Räikkönen, Lotus 1’22’’623s Medium New
3. Alonso, Ferrari 1’22’952s Medium New

Day 2

1. Perez, McLaren 1’21’’848 Soft New
2. Vettel, Red Bull 1’22’’197 Soft New
3. Räikkönen, Lotus 1’22’’697 Medium New

Day 3

1. Alonso, Ferrari 1’21’’875 Soft New
2. Hülkenberg, Sauber 1’22’160 Soft New
3. Grosjean, Lotus 1’22’188 Soft New

Day 4

1. Hamilton, Mercedes 1’23’’282 Medium New
2. Button, McLaren 1’23’633 Medium New
3. Vergne, Toro Rosso 1’24’’071 Soft New

Hopefully with this "official" analysis from Pirelli, we fans will have a clearer picture of our favorite teams/drivers positions going into the final test and the first race. Again, note that although tests are interesting, it is not the final say on the pecking order. That we will only know once we get to Friday practice (at least) in Melbourne. Having said that, tests do show a car's strength and weakness if you look at the numbers in context, which we will do in the next article.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Infographics. Don't you just love them? They tell a whole lot of story in a simple, clear and easy to understand format. Plus they look nice. We all like nice looking things, don't we? I would like to have more infographics here personally, will have to find the time to make them.

Below I have a nice one for you, to start off this season. It was made by my friend Emma from TicketHangar. You can find the link to this infographic here. It is an interactive infographic so if you mouse over some of the elements, there will be extra information that pops out. If you scroll your mouse over the map, it will zoom in and out too.

I hope you enjoy this infographic. Hopefully I will have some more soon. In the meantime, enjoy testing #2 at Barcelona!!

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Monday, February 18, 2013


Pirelli has announced its compound choices for the first four races of the season, with a different selection scheduled for each race.

At the first race in Australia supersoft and medium tyres will be used. A week later in Malaysia medium and hard will be made available. At the third round in China soft and medium tyres will be on offer and in Bahrain soft and hard tyres will be supplied.

The compound choices are as follows:

Melbourne: Supersoft and medium [2012 - Soft and Medium)
Malaysia: Medium and Hard [2012 - Medium and Hard]
China: Soft and Medium [2012 - Soft and Medium]
Bahrain: Soft and Hard [2012 - Soft and Medium]

Pirelli gave the following explanations for its choices:
"In Australia, the P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft tyres will be nominated: 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.
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."
So it looks like Pirelli are really trying to spice up the racing in 2013, as has been requested by Bernie, the teams and FIA. Which is good for us fans as we would like to see more strategies involved and more uncertainty. Although to be honest I don't like it when my preferred driver is leading and there are question marks over his tires but it does make the racing more exciting.

So far we're had thrilling seasons for the past 3 years even though the same driver and team won the championship. Here's hoping to a turn in form for this year, it's about time somebody else won it. James Allen has a detailed analysis of the tires and how it will affect the racing come these 4 races, the analysis assisted by Mark Gillan, former Chief Operations Engineer at Williams. To read that click here.

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Friday, February 15, 2013


P15 y'all. Better get used to it.
P15??!! WTF?? Yeah, I know what you mean. For all those who are not aware yet, I am a Lewis Hamilton supporter. Not a die hard (maybe Bruce Willis) supporter as sometimes he does wrong (he's only human) and I give him his due shit. I met him in 2007 when he was in Sepang, Malaysia for his second race of his F1 career. I got to know his dad, Anthony well. We had "roti canai" on the streets of Malaysia and I drove them around, well mostly Anthony.

So of course I had an interest in his career from the start. The fact that he is a damn fierce racer who throws the car around corners is also the reason why I'm a fan. So yes, I'm surprised as well to see him finish P15. Well, not really. It happens quite a few times with McLaren reliability lately. And with Mercedes, P15 could be his new jam studio.

This is what we F1 fans would know and probably accept. Except some of those zombie die hard supporters out there. Yes you know who you are. Please tone down a bit. Lewis is human after all, he makes mistakes. Lets not turn him into a god and associate the real Creator of the heavens and the earth with anything else. It would be extremely "hot" for you. And that's an understatement.

So what's up with Lewis finishing in P15? Seems he has really planned his move to Mercedes knowing full well all the trappings. In an interview recently, he laid bare his thoughts and they are certainly very interesting.

His first taste of Mercedes vs McLaren machinery, he was pretty frank:
“The McLaren was better, but that’s not a surprise. I could see last year that the Mercedes was often a second off the best; sometimes two seconds. I was prepared for that. I could tell (in Jerez test) that the Mercedes had less downforce than the McLaren. But it’s not catastrophic. I’ve got ideas on how we can improve two or three things."
Of course the McLaren was better, it was the fastest car at the end of last season. But it tended to breakdown quite often, which is not good if you want to win races. Not good for P15 either.

His thoughts on Niki Lauda, his part in getting Hamilton to Mercedes and the wider role at Mercedes:
“I’ve always respected him, but in the last few years he used to criticize me without even knowing me. When we met I wanted us to spend time together in order for him to understand who I was. And on my side, I wanted to know if I was going to like his character. At the end of the day, we have a lot in common. We spoke at length about things with passion and that contributed to my decision (to join Mercedes).”
Not so obvious man!
So the old man did really influence him then. They say wisdom comes with age and so does senility. Lets hope the old geezer still has some tricks up that short sleeve of his. But the most important reasoning, explanation or feeling from his heart and which all his fans would really like to know about is why he left McLaren. Why he had to leave.
“Definitely things weren’t as good as they had been at McLaren; I was driving a competitive car, I could win races, battle with Sebastian Vettel.. But I perhaps stayed there too long. I need new challenges. I can’t stay for 25 years in the same office, doing the same things. And McLaren had become a bit like an office for me; the routine, the same gym, the same factory in which I knew what was in every single corner.”
At the end of the day he is just humans, like the rest of us. Well maybe he is worlds away from us when it comes to fitness, hand-eye coordination and fearlessness of speed but still human. We all need change once in a while. We all need to keep moving, to better ourselves.

I have been prepared to see Lewis start races in the 3rd or 4th rows or even farther back and finish races P10 or even P15. This year is the base building for 2014. I maintain that he made the move to prepare for 2014, where he will get the best chance to win the championship. And with a stable base, mount a string of championship runs.

Go Lewis!!

The interview that Lewis gave was originally posted on L’Equipe but I have not been able to find it and I don't speak french so the L’Equipe website was just mumbo-jumbo to me. The best source of it can be found on James Allen's blog here.

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Monday, February 11, 2013


Watch me and weep Alonso!
It's been a long winter. Almost 4 months of no F1 action is really tough on the faithful. But we survived the cold, boring winter. We made it to the car launches and finally to the first test of the season. The testing sessions, as short as they are, will tell us more of what we want to know. Who will be fast? Which car will be strong? Who will win this year's championship?

So we all want to see all the answers that we possibly can from the first test. Anything that happens at the first test is taken either as a good or bad omen. Red Bull doing plenty of laps without any trouble means we'll have another year of the "finger". Mercedes toasting their car on the first day and shoving it in the barriers on the second is giving second thoughts to Lewis supporters.

But what we've learnt over the years is that even though testing is fun, it rarely is the final word on form. The tests are there to well err...test. All the hard work put in through last year and the winter gets tested on a real track in real conditions. Not on some wind tunnel or simulator with ideal conditions. A test will usually show up weaknesses that needs fixing like what Mercedes found out. Or a strength that can be exploited, like what Red Bull found out with consistent lap times.

Crap! 10% more downforce??
But the problem is we cannot really compare teams as we don't know what fuel levels they ran or what setup was on with which tyre, etc. So even the drivers don't really know..but then again, we know they know. They've been out there so long they can tell. Just like engineers and designers. BBC analyst, former Jordan technical director Gary Anderson went out onto the circuit to watch the cars on Day Four and had this to say:
"I'm out on the track watching the cars and it looks like the Red Bull (Vettel) has 10% more downforce than anything else. The McLaren (Perez) still has constant understeer through the corners, the Mercedes (Hamilton) has understeer on entry and then the rear snaps on exit, while the Lotus (Raikkonen) looks well balanced."
It's never good to hear Red Bull having 10% more downforce than everybody else. They had so much downforce since last year and now they have 10% more? Good thing this is just the first test.


Day 1

1. Jenson Button, McLaren 1:18.861 37 laps
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull 1:19.709 73 laps
3. Romain Grosjean, Lotus 1:19.796 54 laps
4. Paul di Resta, Force India 1:20.343 89 laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso 1:20.401 70 laps
6. Felipe Massa, Ferrari 1:20.536 64 laps
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber 1:20.699 79 laps
8. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1:20.846 14 laps
9. Pastor Maldonado, Williams 1:20.864 84 laps
10. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham 1:21.915 64 laps
11. Max Chilton, Marussia 1:24.176 29 laps

Day 2

1. Romain Grosjean, Lotus 1:18.218 95 laps
2. Paul di Resta, Force India 1:19.003 95 laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso 1:19.134 83 laps
4. Mark Webber, Red Bull 1:19.338 101 laps
5. Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber 1:19.502 99 laps
6. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:19.519 15 laps
7. Sergio Perez, McLaren 1:19.572 81 laps
8. Felipe Massa, Ferrari 1:19.914 78 laps
9. Pastor Maldonado, Williams 1:20.693 71 laps
10. James Rossiter, Force India 1:21.273 19 laps
11. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham 1:21.311 88 laps
12. Luiz Razia, Marussia 1:23.537 31 laps

Day 3

1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari 1:17.879 85 laps
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1:18.766 148 laps
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 1:19.052 102 laps
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus 1:19.200 40 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso 1:19.247 85 laps
6. James Rossiter, Force India 1:19.303 42 laps
7. Jenson Button, McLaren 1:19.603 83 laps
8. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber 1:19.934 110 laps
9. Max Chilton, Marussia 1:21.269 78 laps
10. Valtteri Bottas, Williams 1:21.575 86 laps
11. Charles Pic, Caterham 1:22.352 57 laps
12. Paul di Resta, Force India 1:23.729 7 laps

Day 4

1. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus 1:18.148 83 laps
2. Jules Bianchi, Force India 1:18.175 56 laps
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 1:18.565 96 laps
4. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber 1:18.669 142 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso 1:18.760 92 laps
6. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:18.905 145 laps
7. Sergio Perez, McLaren 1:18.944 98 laps
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams 1:19.851 92 laps
9. Pedro de la Rosa, Ferrari 1:20.316 51 laps
10. Charles Pic, Caterham 1:21.105 109 laps
11. Luiz Razia, Marussia 1:21.226 82 laps
12. Paul di Resta, Force India 1:23.435 49 laps

Combined Times

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.17.879 227 laps Soft
2. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1.18.148 123 laps Soft
3. Jules Bianchi Force India 1.18.175 56 laps Soft
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1.18.218 149 laps Soft
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.18.565 198 laps Hard
6. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1.18.669 252 laps Soft
7. Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso 1.18.760 177 laps Soft
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.18.766 162 laps Medium
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1.18.861 120 laps Hard
10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.18.905 160 laps Medium
11. Sergio Pérez McLaren 1.18.944 179 laps Medium
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1.19.003 240 laps Soft
13.Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1.19.134 153 laps Medium
14. James Rossiter Force India 1.19.303 61 laps Soft
15. Mark Webber Red Bull 1.19.338 174 laps Medium
16. Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1.19.502 178 laps Medium
17. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1.19.851 178 laps Soft
18. Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari 1.20.316 51 laps Medium
19. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1.20.693 155 laps Medium
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1.21.105 166 laps Soft
21. Luiz Razia Marussia 1.21.226 113 laps Medium
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1.21.269 107 laps Soft
23. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1.21.311 152 laps Medium


So what is the verdict so far then? It looks like another close season between Red Bull and McLaren as Button set his best time on the first day when the track was cold and had minimum rubber while Vettel set his time on the same hard tire on a warming and rubbered in day 4. And there's only about 3/10s between them. The interesting thing is Button may have another second up his sleeve if he had been able to drive on day 4. Mark Webber certainly believes so:
"It's a strong lap time. I don't know what tyre he was on or what was going on, but that is certainly not a slow lap around here - a 1m18.8s at Jerez, on Pirellis, is pretty handy."
Next up is the Mercedes. Seems like they were the fastest on the mediums around Jerez. Without their problems on day 1 and 2, they might have been able to put more laps and who knows, might have been able to show something on the hard tires. It may be a blessing in disguide, we'll see. Interesting if expected is to see Perez in the other McLaren just behind the Mercedes, setting his best time on the Medium tire. We might see Perez battling it out with the McLarens this season.

Is something burning??
Lotus and Ferrari seem to be coming after Mercedes, if this testing result is to be believed. Although Massa set a headline time and the only one to do it below 1.18, his times were set on soft tires and on day 3 with lots of rubber already laid. It does bode well for Ferrari though in qualifying.

Ya! Ya! I know what I'm doing!
James Allen has a very interesting piece of information that we fans don't usually get to know about, especially in testing.
"F1 Teams are very regimented, they run 4 fuel levels: 20kg, 60kg, 80kg and 140kg. Most of the running you see at tests is done in 60-80kg loads. The only time they will do 140kg full tank runs is when they do a race simulation. The only time they will do less than 20kg, is when they simulate qualifying prior to the race simulation run."
At the end of the day, all our predictions could just go up in flames and the form book will be re-written again next week at Barcelona. As Mark Webber puts it:
"There are a lot of quick cars out there, and we're mindful of that. Last year we had some very quick cars here in Jerez and they didn't do much in the championship, so let's see."
Barcelona is a more representative track to see the real pecking order and where the power lies. Barcelona is a track used in the championship and the teams have been using it to test there for years. Also the weather is more stable and it can get pretty hot sometimes, thereby simulating real world racing conditions.

Alonso might have a crystal ball tucked somewhere at home for missing Jerez and concentrating on his training. In total, Alonso is scheduled to be in action for just five of the 12 allotted days of winter testing which he believes will pay a long-term dividend as he seeks to avoid burnout from his hectic recent schedule.

As for the last 2 teams at the back of the grid, that is even more a challenge to predict. Caterham and Marussia both now have ERS (previously KERS) but their driver lineups are pretty hard to predict. Only Pic has 1 season's worth of experience. I feel they will fall further behind, that 107% time will be interesting to watch.

Bring on Barcelona!!

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Sunday, February 3, 2013


What a week this has been. 5 formula one teams launched their cars this week, you know what they say - When it rains, it pours. One day you're bubbling from the mouth on the floor with not much F1 news or stories to keep you barely alive, the next you're bleeding at the eyes trying to keep up with the flood.

But as F1 fanatics, we love it and just can't have enough. It's like chocolate or cheese - you can never have enough. So, the teams that launched this week were McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, Sauber and Force India. Mercedes will launch on Monday at Jerez although their online PR stunt to create buzz for the W04 crashed their servers. Not a good omen, someone online posted that maybe their car should be called the "W404". Good one. Their online reveal can be found at

As we all know no F1 team will reveal the exact car that will be having the exact parts they will use in the test so these pictures here will be nice to look at and give a glimpse of changes but will not be the exact specification car at the first test nor the first race.


McLaren launched its 2013 F1 challenger and kicked off a year of 50th anniversary celebrations with a spectacular parade of classic racing cars at the McLaren Technology Centre near Woking. The parade brought to life a string of race- and championship-winning McLarens from across the decades and culminated in the arrival of the team's 2013 race drivers, Jenson Button and Sergio 'Checo' Perez, who had the honours of taking the wraps off the new MP4-28.

The new car is visually similar to last year's MP4-27 and retains the same high nose without a step, but Jenson Button commented that "under the skin this is so, so different." Also noticeable on the car was a pull-rod front suspension similar to the system employed by Ferrari last season.

However, managing director Jonathan Neale said the team is planning significant upgrades ahead of the start of the season with the first package set to be bolted on at the second test.
"We know already that it's not the fastest car we can make," Neale said at the launch. "The car that we take to Barcelona is a good step forwards and there is still plenty of time for us to invent things both in design and aerodynamics to take to Australia. On the one hand we are trying to bring up the assets and the spares, but on the other hand we are trying to upgrade it. But we just have to be consistent."
The MP4-28 looks as good as last year's car and according to McLaren is faster as well, so this will be very interesting at the first test.

For a launch technical analysis of the MP4-28, click here.


McLaren's closest rival for years, Ferrari revealed their car shortly after McLaren. Ferrari’s hopes now rest on its new 'F138' race car, which was unveiled at a ceremony at the team’s headquarters in Maranello, Italy. The “13” in the name signifies the year and the “8” signifies the number of cylinders that make up the car’s engine. Ferrari saw this as appropriate as 2013 marks the end of the V-8 engine design in F1, with next year’s season switching to smaller, turbocharged V-6 engines.

Ferrari’s F138 looks very similar to its outgoing F2012. That’s because the regulations haven’t changed much for 2013. One noticeable difference is the flat nose of the latest race car instead of the stepped nose we saw last year. Other changes include new side pods and a new front diffuser.

According to Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali, the F138 is ‘an evolution’ of last year’s F2012 chassis, and features a raised front nose section, removing the stepped nose that could be seen on its predecessor. Luca di Montezemolo, the President had this to say: “yesterday afternoon, I saw it and I defined it as “hopeful,” because I noted plenty of attention to detail, especially in areas where aerodynamics are key.

For a launch technical analysis of the F138, click here.


Force India launched the VJM06 at Silverstone following on from Ferrari. Force India has opted for a complete redesign of its car for the 2013 Formula 1 season, according to technical director Andrew Green.

While the team enjoyed a strong run-in to its 2012 campaign, scoring points in the last eight straight races and leading 30 laps of the Brazilian finale, Green said increasingly marginal performance gains had prompted a complete redesign over the winter.
"It's a new car, we didn't hold back. Performance gains are getting harder and harder to find given the regulations stability, so we couldn't hold back. We had to redesign basically everything to maximise the potential of the car. The time we took to understand the car at the end of the year actually helped us tremendously with the design of this one."

For a launch technical analysis of the VJM06, click here.


Lotus was the first team to unveil their 2013 car after the wraps came off the Renault-powered E21 in an online launch ceremony broadcast from the team’s UK factory.

With the new machine Lotus aim to build on their successful 2012 campaign, which saw Kimi Raikkonen win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix en route to the team finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship. Raikkonen will again partner Romain Grosjean in 2013.

With only limited changes to the technical and sporting regulations from 2012, the E21 continues the design concepts seen in its predecessor, the E20. However, Lotus say it is pushing last year’s concepts even further as well as incorporating some innovative technical solutions. The new car also features a slightly tweaked livery, incorporating an extra touch of red.

The black, red and gold Lotus E21 decided to remain defiantly immodest, retaining the distinctive step nose of its race-winning predecessor from 2012, although the team did not rule out a future makeover. Lotus technical director, James Allison had this to say:
"There's some neat new ideas in there and a lot of pushing of the same sort of concepts as we've been working on for a few years. The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing car - particularly towards the end of last season - so there is an element of expectation from the E21 and plenty to build upon.”
Allison continued by saying that while the car looked similar to last year's, as ever in F1 the devil was in the detail and "the detail of this car adds up to a significant amount of performance."

For a launch technical analysis of the E21, click here.


Sauber has become the latest team to launch its 2013 car, unveiling the C32 at its factory in Hinwil, Switzerland. It is the first car to be launched under the sole leadership of Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

The two most notable changes have been made on the nose and sidepods of the C32. Sauber, like many others, has opted to make use of the 'vanity panel' to cover up the unpopular nose step. But while McLaren and Ferrari have chosen to use the cosmetic faring, Sauber have what chief designer Matt Morris described as "something in between". The top of the nose still has a step in it but not across its whole width - the sides of the top of the nose feature ridges which mean the step is not visible from side-on.

Meanwhile, the sidepods have been streamlined to extract further performance, a trend which has been seen at previous launches this year. In addition to the design differences from its C31 predecessor, the new Sauber features a heavily-revised livery. The paint job is now predominantly made up of grey, with splashes of red and white to reflect the team's traditional colours.

Explained Matt Morris, Sauber’s chief designer :
“The C31 was an extremely competitive car with many strengths. Our aim was to further improve these strengths and eliminate its few weaknesses. Over the course of last season we invested a lot of time and energy in developing a better understanding of our car. To this end, we focused primarily on the aerodynamic effects around the rear of the car. Our aero experts have done some great work in this respect, the basis of which has been used to develop the C32.”
Sauber finished on the podium four times last year, their best ever record, but were sixth in the constructors' championship. Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said she hoped the line-up of German Nico Hulkenberg and novice Mexican Esteban Gutierrez would improve on that.

For a launch technical analysis of the C32, click here.


Red Bull has launched its 2013 car, the RB9, at its base in Milton Keynes.

The latest Adrian Newey-designed car features a stepped nose like last year's car but without the driver cooling slot, as well as a tightly packaged rear end. Newey said the car does have a vanity panel - a thin carbon fibre fairing that other teams have used to disguise the step (not much of hiding as it can still be seen as a step) - but that "it doesn't extend too far forward as then it doesn't justify it in weight".

The RB9 features a slightly tweaked colour scheme with purple sidepods to promote new title sponsor Infiniti. The Japanese car brand has upped its involvement with the team this year and occupies other sponsorship space on the nose, in front of the cockpit and on the rear wing.

Not much technical details were available as Red Bull is known to be super secretive about their car. Adrian Newey said it wasn't as if his team was being any more secretive than its peers.
"The other teams have only made limited-view pictures available - rather like we're presenting today. It's easy to make big styling or feature changes, but whether that really brings much lap time benefit or not is another matter. Often it's the small details that aren't very clear to a faraway camera that are most significant." 
And those details have to be spotted in the pitlanes of tests or grands prix. They certainly weren't going to be flaunted to the world at this launch. For a launch technical analysis of the RB9, click here.


Nico Rosberg put in the first laps in the new Mercedes W04 just hours ahead of the car's official launch. The German driver, who is entering his fourth season with Mercedes, was in action at the Jerez circuit for promotional work. Starting early this morning, Rosberg climbed into his W04 and begun putting in laps.

However, as testing only begins at the track on Tuesday, the laps were more like tours of the track than flat-out efforts. As for the car, the most notable change to the W04 from last year's car is that it features the vanity panel adopted by McLaren, Ferrari and Sauber.

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Ross Brawn says the new W04 car has a number of significant innovative concepts despite its similarities with last year's version. Although the W04 design looks similar to its predecessor, Brawn hinted as some hidden innovations.
"There are a number of concepts we have looked at, and no doubt when you see all the new cars you revisit some of the concepts, but this car has taken a good step forward in terms of aerodynamic performance. I think there are some innovative things on the car and you probably need to look a bit deeper to see them. We are comfortable with the designs and solutions we have come up with; but we will see the first signs in the next few weeks and certainly at Melbourne. That will be the real test of everyone's concepts and innovations - and that will be the true test."
For a launch technical analysis of the W04, click here.


On the eve of the first pre-season test in Spain, Toro Rosso have launched the car with which they will contest the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. The Italian team’s unchanged driver line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Verge took the wraps off the Ferrari-powered STR8 - the eighth car produced by Toro Rosso - in the Jerez pit lane on Monday afternoon.

The STR8 is the first car to be designed by Toro Rosso’s strengthened technical team led by chief designer Luca Furbatto, who joined the company just over a year ago, while the whole project has been overseen by James Key, the team’s technical director since last September.

Interestingly the team have opted not to follow the example of sister-team Red Bull Racing and have fitted a vanity plate to the nose of the car. The STR8 chassis has retained the heavily undercut sidepods that were featured on both the STR7 and STR6 designs, while a McLaren-style exhaust has been adopted.

Despite testing ahead of the 2013 season not even having started, Team Principal Franz Tost hinted at the launch that the team were already looking ahead to 2014.
"Formula 1 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. 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."
For a launch technical analysis of the STR8, click here.


Caterham Formula One team's 2013 car was unveiled in the pitlane of the Circuito de Jerez on day one of the first pre-season test. The CT 03 was revealed by the team's drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. The car has technical features that distinguish it from its predecessor, CT01, and it will race in an updated livery which sees the team's green and yellow paint-scheme refreshed and lightened for the season ahead.

Technical Director Mark Smith explaining that there have been 'significant changes' to the CT03 said:
"We have made a number of significant changes to the car that takes it from the package that gained us tenth place in the championship in Brazil in 2012 into the CT03," Smith explained on Tuesday morning. "Among the most obvious are around the lower chassis where the sidepods 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 such as the sidepod turning vanes and the lower tea-tray area. 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."
Marussia revealed their 2013 challenger, the Cosworth-powered MR02, to the media on Tuesday morning, at the start of the opening day of pre-season testing in Jerez, Spain. The Russian-owned team say the car is a comprehensive evolution of its predecessor. The biggest change on the car comes from the fact that it will feature KERS for the first time in a move that takes the Marussia squad in-line with the rest of the field

Unlike the MR01, which was conceived solely using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technology, the MR02’s design philosophy has also employed wind-tunnel development, as part of Marussia’s technical partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies.

Team boss John Booth said:
“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.

The incremental steps we were taking in the latter half of last season gave us the confidence to not only fight hard for tenth 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.”
For a launch technical analysis of the MR02, click here.

The first of the pre-season tests have started and day 1 is done and dusted with McLaren leading the pack, 0.8 seconds clear of Red Bull. Still early days, we still have a few days to go to see how the cars stack up against each other. This first test should show some of the strength and weaknesses the teams have. And which will decide how much work there is to be done before the first race.

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