FEBRUARY 18, 2010
Jerez Test, Day 2
More rain sums up how things have gone so far in the second week of testing in Southern Spain. The forecast wasn't good for Thursday but was quite accurate for once, much to the disappointment of the eleven teams running in Jerez de la Frontera. The track was damp all during the day, with a couple of strong showers, one at 10am and the other shortly after 3pm that ensured that the session was never dry.
Given the circumstances there was no point for the drivers and teams to work on set-up and most of them resorted to working on different programs: Ferrari, Williams, Renault, Mercedes and Toro Rosso did quite a few practice pit stops, and Sauber went one step further by sending Pedro de la Rosa out for just two runs and then closing down for the day. Sauber's Beat Zehnder said, "as we have enough data in this sort of conditions and there was no point in running just for the sake of it".
Conditions were quite treacherous with five red flags due to incidents on the track. Timo Glock went off early in the morning and than close to the end of the session without damaging his Virgin VR-01. Sebastien Buemi and Rubens Barrichello each went off once but they returned to the track without assistance, but dragged so much gravel back on the track with them that practice had to be stopped to clean up.
The only serious incident of the day occurred around 1pm when Heikki Kovalainen went off at Turn Three and hit the end of the short run off area head on. He said, "it was my mistake. I went a bit too aggressively on the power coming out of Turn Two, the rear end of the car got out of shape and when I corrected it, it just snapped and I went straight into the tyre wall. That was it and even though there was not a lot of damage we couldn't return to the track."
Lotus didn't have a spare front wing at the track, as the team just rushed the car out to get some running without bringing a lot of spares to Spain. Technical Director Mike Gascoyne said, "Unfortunately a small off and a lack of spare parts curtailed the amount of laps we were able to do today, but fortunately we've got spare parts arriving this evening. Up to that point we had got on top of some reliability issues from the previous day and the car was running very smoothly. Although we have lost some track time, the changing conditions made it very difficult, so we haven't lost too much and we'll be ready to continue with Heikki in the morning."
Lotus also had a problem was in the hydraulic system, "as some air got into it and we needed a couple of runs to get it working properly", a consequence of a mistake while fitting the power steering system that arrived overnight at the circuit.
Heikki Kovalainen said, "My initial feeling from the car is good - it fundamentally feels right. I'm disappointed the day came to an early end, but feel good about the team and I'm looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow."
Team Principal Tony Fernandes said, "Still a great day in many ways. You get the highs and the lows and you get the reality but overall I'm happy. The team is very motivated, there's a lot of good morale and, while it's unfortunate Heikki went off, these things happen. Something else I'm very pleased with is the reaction from the public to Lotus Racing. We're going out there to tell the world what we're up to and, judging by the phenomenal Twitter response we have had, we have already made an impact on the fans."
By being out on the track when conditions were more favourable Rubens Barrichello and Vitaly Petrov ended up with the two fastest times of the session but none of them gave any relevance to their lap times.
Williams Technical Director Sam Michael said, "Rubens finished off another wet day in Jerez having covered a lot of mileage for reliability. He also completed some systems checks and carried out a programme of pitstop practice. All the pitstops were done under wet conditions and we're working on some refinements for tomorrow when Nico will take over."
Barrichello said, "All I could do was continue systems checks and put more mileage on the car and the engine, plus getting used to the pit stops with my new team."
As for Vitaly Petrov, his running was again limited when the track was very wet, but he got some more running in the afternoon, practicing pit stops and also getting used to run with the intermediate tyres on a drying track. Petrov said, "It was cold and wet once again today, but we still did some useful work in the wet conditions and practiced pit stops, which is good experience for me. I'm now hoping that the final test in Barcelona will give us better weather so I can do some dry running before we arrive in Bahrain."
Renault's Chief Engineer Alan Permane said, "It was another frustrating day with the changeable weather, but we made the most of it to run both the wet and intermediate tyres. In the afternoon, when the track was damp, we chose to carry out some procedural work, including practice pit stops. Overall Vitaly was quite happy with the car and showed good pace today."
Championship contender Sebastian Vettel was third quickest and did a couple of long runs again, on what his final day of testing in Jerez, "Where is the Spanish sunshine?", he asked at the end of the day. "Of course it's the same for everybody so there's no point in complaining but it would have been nice to have a few runs in the dry. We did some long runs when conditions were stable, but then it rained again and there was no point in pressing on. The car feels good, very reactive to the set-up changes we've done, but let's hope Mark (Webber) gets some dry running on the next two days so we can try some new set-ups and validate the new parts we already had here."
Felipe Massa also left Jerez at the end of Thursday practice, without having the chance to drive in full dry conditions: "The only positive thing is that as all teams are here, no one will have an advantage over the others. I'm the driver who got more laps in the dry in Valencia and last week here, so I don't feel I'm lagging behind. In the wet the car also feels good but I'm not in a position to say if we have the best car or nor. We certainly have a good, competitive car that is pretty well balanced, but I cannot compare it with the others as conditions haven't been stable and with fuel loads and tyres being different, I guess only in Bahrain we'll all know where we stand."
Paul di Resta was given another half day of running with the new Force India VJM03, as the bad weather conditions wouldn't help the race drivers to find a better set-up for the car and did another 33 laps before handing the car over to Vitantonio Liuzzi. The Italian only had time for 23 laps, as both completed systems' checks for the team.
Paul di Resta said, "I was back in the car this morning to get a bit more running. Unfortunately the weather was again very bad, but at this stage any running gives me more experience of the car and how the team works. I ran with the intermediate and wet tyres over the morning, which at least means I have got some solid experience of wet running and it won't be such a novelty when I am faced with similar conditions in places such as Malaysia."
Tonio Liuzzi said, "The weather was so difficult today with the constantly changing conditions. It seemed to rain every hour and then dry, but it never reached a stable level: it was either too dry for wets or too wet for dry tyres so you couldn't get a consistent indicator of the performance. We did a few pit stop simulations and runs to get a bit more information and the car still seems to be responding well to changes. In these conditions though it's very difficult to get a good understanding of what's going on but everyone has the same weather, we just have to do what we can."
Force India's Chief Race Engineer, Dominic Harlow said, "The poor weather continued today with gusting wind and heavy showers. Accordingly we worked on general race preparation and some fuel system and hydraulic system tests. Paul took the car for the morning, this time handing over to Tonio who finished up this afternoon. With the track as it was we didn't have a chance to use dry tyres properly, but are hopeful for better conditions for the rest of the week."
Timo Glock managed to get another 72 laps with the Virgin VR-01, the most the new team has done in six days of running. But the German was caught out twice during the day, spinning off on Turn Two early in the morning and going straight in Turn One with less than half a hour to go. But he didn't damage the car, so the Virgin mechanics were looking for a less troublesome night shift after the car was plagued by technical problems in the previous sessions.
Lewis Hamilton completed his programme for McLaren, running with a high fuel load for most of the day. The former World Champion completed one long run and did other extended stints without any problem, but conditions didn't help him work on the set-up of the car and now it will be up to Jenson Button to try and develop the MP4-25 as he takes over for the last two days of testing.
The situation was the same for Sebastien Buemi, who finished his testing with the Toro Rosso STR5 and headed off to Milton Keynes to work on the team's simulator for the next two days. The Swiss was stopped for three hours because of an hydraulic problem, but still was happy with his day. Hamilton said, "Given the weather we did the best we could do. I completed a long run with the extreme wets in consistent and quick lap times and the car felt very good even with a high fuel load. I think we're heading in the right direction, we're quick, consistent and the car is reliable, so with some dry running done in the next two days by my team mate and in Barcelona next week we should be well prepared for the start of the season."
1. Rubens Barrichello (Williams FW32-Cosworth), 1m27,145s (97 laps)
2. Vitaly Petrov (Renault R30), 1m27,828s (56)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB6-Renault), 1m28,162s (70)
4. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes MGP W01), 1m28,515 (70)
5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari F10), 1m28,879s (91)
6. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber C29-Ferrari), 1m29,961s (8)
7. Paul di Resta (Force India VJM03-Mercedes), 1m30,394s (33)
8. Timo Glock (Virgin VR-01-Cosworth), 1m30,476s (72)
9. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India VJM03-Mercedes), 1m30,666s (23)
10. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4-25-Mercedes), 1m30,979s (55)
11. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso STR5-Ferrari) 1m32,678s
12. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus T127-Cosworth),1m33,554s (30)