Monday, March 11, 2013


I'm the fastest!!
Ok, winter testing is over. It came and went so quickly like it never came. Just 12 days to iron out the kinks and make the design work, plus understand new tires. the weather didn't help much with 2 days of rain and cold but the last 2 days was better with dry and sunny conditions. So now, we're all pumped for the first race, I'm especially looking forward to the first Friday session in Melbourne as so far most of the top teams especially red Bull has not shown their hand. But sooner or later they will have to and Friday in Melbourne will be it.

Again, it is difficult to see who will be fast come race day in Melbourne. Testing times are compromised due to different teams running different fuel loads, different settings, different tires. Even though we may speculate that they are running about the same things, the weather changes affects the running as each team might have been running equal setups but at different times of the day, hence different outcomes.

After much more thought and feedback, I have come to my senses and realised that Red Bull will be in front, the team to beat. Whether you like it (if you are a Red Bull fan) or not (if you're not a Red Bull fan), they will be in front. It's ridiculous to wish them to suddenly fall 2 or 3 seconds behind from last season. The fact is they are hiding their potential. 

An analysis done by James Allen using lap graphs shows as much, which you can find here:
Vettel’s graph shows consistency, with shorter runs. In the morning the team was working on its passive DRS system as well as trying different floors and in the afternoon a development passive DRS, according to sources. This is consistent with this kind of run plan. At no stage do they show their hand performance wise, because they are working on trying out different things.
This shows two things: they are pushing hard to get the passive DRS working, as they clearly see significant gains from it, but also it shows that they are confident their basic car is fast enough to compete in Melbourne. For all that Vettel said it hadn’t been a great test, this run plan looks like a team that feels it has a good car to start the season, but is pushing the envelope hard for the future.

Matt Sommerfield of Pitpass had this to say:

The RB9 continues to be an evolution of the original 2009 RB5 concept and uses the foundations laid down by the championship winning RB8. From the outset the '9' appears to have had little more than a lick of paint and a dash of additional Infiniti logo's placed on the car but although it shares the same DNA the team have once again pushed the car's development forward.
Red Bull has never been a team willing to show its full hand in pre-season testing but it is clear from its times that the team is once again consistent and arguably the team to beat.
We know the RB8 was not the fastest car at the end of last season, that honor belongs to McLaren. But the RB8 was fast and stable in the turns due to it's awesome downforce capabilities. But the killer app for the RB8 was it was able to maintain this consistency lap after lap. That makes it hard to beat when setting qualifying times or even during the race.

No, it is me!

Ex-F1 racer Christian Klein had this to say:
Maybe Ferrari looks a little closer than it was this time last year but I think Red Bull is holding something in reserve. They seem to be focusing on long runs, which will hide their true speed a little bit. McLaren is also looking strong, so there's no real change at the top.
BBC technical analyst Gary Anderson, who has been watching the cars through the high-speed turns of Barcelona believes the Red Bull to have the most downforce and be the most planted of the 2013 cars. From looking at their long run pace, we do know Red Bull run quite a lot of fuel in the car throughout testing.

Obviously they are very confident in their car, so confident that they didn't bother to test it on a single qualifying run. It's like 2 years ago when Vettel was so dominant in qualifying that he only does a single banzai lap in Q3 and still takes pole (that was quite annoying really).

So I know the RB9 will be fast in Melbourne, that's for sure. How fast? I don't know. Not too fast I hope. What about Mercedes then? Rosberg set the fastest time in the whole Barcelona qualifying. And Hamilton blitzed the times on day 3 with his usual style. Matt Sommerfield makes an interesting case:
The runs that featured the quickest times were extremely short stints with massive time drop offs after the quick laps, suggesting that they had destroyed the tyres in doing the runs which were also done on Soft tyres (equivalent to last years Super Softs) which by Pirelli's reckoning should be good for a gain of 0.5-0.8 second gain per lap.
Furthermore I'd expect all of the teams to be able to lap in the region of 2 seconds quicker than their respective 2012 runs as that's the sort of time the teams will be looking to gain over a season. We, of course, have to factor in the loss of unlimited DRS usage when compared to the 2012 times but whilst Mercedes used DRS during these runs in the designated zones it appears some of the other teams weren't (as they weren't doing qualifying simulations).
If he is right, then Mercedes either went for a glory run or showed their hand at qualifying. If we were to assume that others did not go for a flat out run, then Alonso being 3/10s away is worryingly quick. And Vettel being 2.067s away with 2 seconds in hand is even more scary.

Dude, you know it's me!
I'm not going to speculate this and that because there are a million ways it can go in Melbourne. What we can be happy about is that most of the cars are reliable, that means less chances of a breakdown spoiling our opening race of the season in Melbourne. How fast each of them will be, we will find out on Friday. Even though people always tell me Friday practice sessions don't mean anything, it usually points to how the weekend is going to turn out. Not always accurate but at least an indication of direction.

You all got it wrong, you'll see soon..muahahahaha!
And although every driver for every team will not tell you if they have any problems or worries, they actually know how is their car doing (whether bad or good). And they also know how the other teams are doing as well. Experienced F1 people such as Gary Anderson knows by just looking at different cars going through the same corner which one is better and will be fast.

Christian Klein again:
A driver knows if a car is good or bad within the first few laps, but it is almost impossible for us to know. The teams will all say their car is strong and they expect a good season because they have to keep their sponsors happy.
Most won't yet be running everything they will take to Melbourne; the bigger teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull will bring little bits and pieces for this test, and again for the next test, but will only show their true speed in qualifying in Australia.
But being a fan, of course I can't help but hope as well. Of course I'm hoping that Mercedes has true pace as showed by Rosberg and Hamilton. I'm not sure whether Vettel was playing mind games when he said Mercedes are "dangerous" or when Button was "impressed" by Mercedes's pace. But I hope it is true. The best quote I've heard so far about Mercedes is from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner:
Mercedes have recorded some head-turning times with the programme they have been operating to. Their car looks quick, and with Lewis joining the team they will naturally take a step forward. He is worth lap time, which is why they signed him.
So, fans of the fastest cars on the planet, where do we stand? The first race of the season beckons us in about 10 days time (after 4 months off our diet we need it now!!). Who will be on pole in Melbourne then? Who knows? That is what makes it so exciting. Of course that doesn't stop us from willing on our chosen warrior to take pole then the win. Go! Go! Go!

Woo Hoo!!!
Following are the times from the second Barcelona test for your viewing and dissecting pleasure. Derive what conclusion you may from it.

Day 1

WebberRed BullS901:22.693125.926 mph
VergneToro RossoM591:25.0172.324
Di RestaForce IndiaM571:27.1074.414

Day 2

GrosjeanLotusS881:22.716125.891 mph
VettelRed BullM651:23.7431.027
SutilForce IndiaM621:24.2151.499
RicciardoToro RossoS611:25.4832.767
Van der GardeCaterhamM481:26.3163.600

Day 3

HamiltonMercedesS1171:20.558129.264 mph
SutilForce IndiaS1091:21.6271.069
WebberRed BullS591:22.6582.100
VergneToro RossoS1141:23.2232.665
Van der GardeCaterhamS1261:24.2353.677

Day 4

RosbergMercedesS1311:20.130129.954 mph
Di RestaForce IndiaS1121:21.6641.534
VettelRed BullS1001:22.5142.384
RicciardoToro RossoS911:23.6283.498

Combined Times

03-MarRosbergMercedesS1:20.130129.954 mph
02-MarSutilForce IndiaS1:21.6271.497
03-MarDi RestaForce IndiaS1:21.6641.534
20-FebVettelRed BullS1:22.1972.067
02-MarWebberRed BullS1:22.6582.528
02-MarVergneToro RossoS1:23.2233.093
03-MarRicciardoToro RossoS1:23.6283.498
02-MarVan der GardeCaterhamS1:24.2354.105
22-FebBianchiForce IndiaM1:25.7325.602

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