FEBRUARY 20, 2010
Jerez Test, Day 4
Jenson Button made the most of the perfect weather conditions that greeted the teams on their final day of testing in Jerez de la Frontera to set the best time of these two weeks and confirm the view he expressed on Friday, when he said, "the car feels pretty good over a quick timed lap as I can attack with confidence now." He was able to show this on a couple of occasions when McLaren sent the current World Champion out for shorter runs with the different compounds Bridgestone brought to this second test, as Button was capable of setting quick times immediately.
His pace on the long runs, though, reflected what he had said the previous evening, when he confessed, "I cannot attack one hundred per cent over a Grand Prix distance because the set-up is still not perfect to have the car at its best throughout the whole range of fuel loads we'll have during the 300 kilometres of a race." That was clear when he couldn't keep the lap times as stable as he would have liked on the longer runs, and there was also the subject of graining that affected most teams during this week.
Robert Kubica finally ran with low fuel levels and the Pole promptly responded by setting the second quickest time of the day, just over 0.3s away from Button's new 2010-spec cars' record. With the weather conditions helping, Kubica used all three compounds available in Jerez and tried them with all sorts of different fuel loads, in what was more a data gathering exercise than an attempt to go for lap times. The R30, lacking in downforce. wasn't easy on the tyres and Kubica's lap times on the longer runs tended to drop off by nearly two seconds, showing there is further work to do before the team can compete at the top.
Kubica said, "It was a good day and we tried a lot of different things, which has given us lots of useful information. To begin with we did some evaluation with different fuel loads to check the balance of the car and then in the afternoon we did long runs with heavy fuel to simulate a race distance. We completed most of the programme and I was pretty happy with the car."
Renault's Chief Engineer, Alan Permane said, "Another solid day of work as we made the most of the good weather. We ran the car with varying fuel loads this morning to see how it reacted and we were pleased with the results. Then we attempted a race simulation and, although it was interrupted, we still managed to cover the required number of laps. Later in the afternoon we concentrated on some set-up work and found a good direction with the car."
After Sauber sorted out yesterdays problems with the fuel system, Kamui Kobayashi had a much better day with the Japanese driver managing to turn competitive times and had a couple of very good runs, including ten laps run in the 1m19s bracket. Kobayashi said, "I'm really happy with our final day of testing in Jerez. It was a perfect day for us. The conditions were ideal and the car ran trouble-free, so we were able to complete 117 laps and gather a lot of data. We made some progress with the set- up of the car. We will now analyze the data and draw the relevant conclusions for the next test in Barcelona."
It was also a good day for Force India, as Vitantonio Liuzzi confirmed the VJM03's speed with a lap in 1m19.650s early in the session. The young Italian tried a variety of set-ups with different fuel loads and also found the softer compounds were graining after 10 or 12 laps. Luizzi said, "We covered 80 laps without any issues and got through our program of test items for this week. Everything went pretty well - we worked on understanding the car's performance with different fuel loads and ran through some set-up changes and the car is responding well. We still need to work on the tyres over the longer runs and will continue this at the next test in Barcelona. Overall I think we can be very satisfied with how this test has gone and can look forward to another good test next week."
Chief Race Engineer, Dominic Harlow said, "A good day to finish the eight days of testing in Jerez. Tonio completed a broad programme of set-up tests and we are satisfied with what was learned. We've made good progress this week, having tidied up some reliability issues, and developed our set-up options with the VJM03. The team has begun its race preparation in earnest and we will head to Barcelona to continue this work over the final test before the first race of 2010."
Nico Rosberg had a positive day with Mercedes covering 130 laps but didn't run with low fuel loads and ended up with the 5th quickest time. The German focused on long runs with the two softer compounds and was not able to run in very consistent times with the softer one. He worked hard on trying to get rid of the persistent understeer the Mercedes has had since the first day, seeming happier with the way things are going at the end of the day. Rosberg said, "We've made some good progress on our set-up comparisons and learnt a lot which will be useful to prepare for the final test in Barcelona. Being able to get the laps in dry conditions has been very helpful for me to get used to the car and systems."
Ross Brawn said, "The past two weeks in Jerez have seen an intensive period of testing for the Mercedes GP Petronas team and it is very pleasing to have ended the test programme with two days of very valuable dry running for Nico and Michael. Although the conditions haven't been ideal over the two tests, we have been able to make good progress on the set-up of the car and completed a number of our systems evaluations. We still have a great deal of work ahead of us in Barcelona next week but overall we're looking in good shape for the start of the season."
Fernando Alonso also had a good day on Saturday even though the Ferrari driver was only the 6th quickest at the end of the day. He did a total of 137 laps and brought Ferrari's total for the week to 432 laps - just over 1900 kilometres - as the F10 has been, by far, the most reliable car in the field.
Ferrari didn't focus on going to for fast laps, but instead concentrated on longer runs, between ten and 36 laps, and once again the Spaniard impressed with the consistency of his lap times. The F10 is not only quick over one lap but also gentle on the tyres, and for the first time Alonso was not so cautious with his words when he spoke to the Spanish media at the end of the session: "As of today, this is the best car I've had! If I was driving for another team I would keep an eye on Ferrari because everything we're doing is coming out the way we want and there's not the slightest sign that could make us a bit pessimistic right now."
"It was a very positive day, as we could confirm the reliability of the car and validate out set-up on long runs. It was also good to see other teams going for a time this week, like Red Bull, Renault and McLaren, so we know where they stand and we feel we're standing in a good position right now. We have yet to show our game, so I'm quite happy with the way things are going."
It was another productive day for Toro Rosso as Jaime Alguersuari covered another trouble-free 139 laps, showing the reliability of the STR5. That including a Grand Prix distance in which he used the soft and intermediate compounds available in Jerez, and if the lap times were never too competitive they were at least consistent as the Italian car doesn't seem to have a big drop off in lap times. Alguersuari said, "The most important aspect is that the car ran reliably, which was our main target here in Jerez. It puts us in good shape to tackle the final test in Barcelona."
Red Bull focused on long runs and Mark Webber wasn't able to repeat his strong showing on Friday. An engine failure stopped the Australiajn out on the track around 11:30am and kept him in the pits for two hours. He resumed in time to complete a number of good runs with relatively competitive times, but the lack of dry running has not allowed Red Bull to catch up yet with the teams that tested in Valencia, and next week in Barcelona will be crucial for the team heading into the first race.
Webber said, "The weather was a lot kinder to us on the last two days and we learned a hell of a lot, no question about it. We did a lot of stuff with Renault and also leaned about the aerodynamics and the chassis - there were lots of things we kept throwing into the fire and we kept learning, so that was good. We need a nice clear run in Barcelona and a little more reliability there and we're ready to go racing.""
Williams also managed a lot of running as Nico Hulkenberg completed no less than 137 laps in his final day of testing, including a full Grand Prix distance. The German impressed once again with his consistency over long runs, but the FW32's pace is not yet where the team was hoping to be and there will be work to be done in Barcelona to get Williams closer to the front of the field.
Virgin had another day disrupted by consistent hydraulic problems and even with the experienced Timo Glock back in the car - as di Grassi had to sit out for the third time in four days - couldn't manage more than 28 laps. The team will be fitting a new hydraulic system in time for the test in Barcelona, but did little running in the eight days spent in Jerez, achieving just 235 laps.
In perfect contrast with Virgin, Lotus had a very productive day as Jarno Trulli finally tried the new T127. The veteran Italian driver completed 141 laps - the most for the day - and showed the new car is already very reliable. A brake change and the need to fit a heel rest were the only extra work the mechanics had all day as Trulli concentrated on set-up work and made a lot of progress during the session and even though he ended up with the slowest time of the day he was feeling good. Trulli said, "I'm really happy about my first day testing with Lotus Racing and I was very lucky to have everything right on the car today with no major issues. We were able to put a lot of mileage on the car and get a lot of information out of it. I had the chance to start developing a real feel for the car and it's good to be here."
The eleven teams now move up to the Circuit de Catalunya, on the outskirts of Barcelona, for the final pre-season test session. Testing will resume next Thursday and will carry on until Sunday, giving the teams their last chance to prepare their cars before the start of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship.
1. Jenson Button (McLaren MP4-25-Mercedes), 1m18,871s (108 laps)
2. Robert Kubica (Renault R30), 1m19,114s (117)
3. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber C29-Ferrari), 1m19,188s (117)
4. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India VJM03-Mercedes), 1m19,650s (80)
5. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes MGP W01), 1m20,061s (130)
6. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F10), 1m20,463s (137)
7. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso STR5-Ferrari); 1m21,053s (139)
8. Mark Webber (Red Bull RB6-Renault), 1m21,194s (87)
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Williams FW32-Cosworth), 1m21,919s (137)
10. Timo Glock (Virgin VR-01-Cosworth), 1m22,433s (28)
11. Jarno Trulli (Lotus T127-Cosworth), 1m23,470s (141)