Valencia Test, Day 2

Felipe Massa, Valencia testing

Felipe Massa, Valencia testing 

 © Grandprix.com, Photo: Andrew Hone

The second day of Formula One testing for 2010 continued today at Valencia, where Felipe Massa once again dominated the test sessions, setting the fastest time of the day. The Brazilian was the only driver to break the 1m12s barrier in the 2010-spec F1 cars around the Circuito Ricardo Tormo. But the most impressive aspect of this first pre-season test was the reliability of the cars, as only Kamui Kobayashi failed to hit the 100-lap mark and the seven drivers in action completed no less than 775 laps in what was the second day of running of their cars.

There were a couple changes in the driver line-up from Moday, with Lewis Hamilton taking over from Gary Paffett at McLaren, Kobayashi replacing Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber and Nico Rosberg having a full day of testing after sharing the car with Michael Schumacher yesterday.

Massa's Ferrari led the time sheets once again, from very early in the day, coming down to the 1m11s bracket before noon in a day in which set-up work and comparison of the handling of the car with very different fuel levels was on his program.

The Brazilian was impressed with, "the level of downforce this car generates, as it's already more than what we had at the end of last year and we're just at the star of the development of the F10. I don't want to get carried away and we are keeping our feet on the ground, but all the signs we are getting from the new car are very positive. We worked through a wide range of fuel loads, as you could see from my lap times and the car handled always well. But we have to keep in mind that we're running with very low temperatures and that the tyres are not being stressed nearly as much as they will in the first four, hot, tracks where we'll be racing in March and April."

With all of the cars showing tremendous reliability we had the unusual sight of cars completing race simulations in what was only the second day of running of the new cars.

Massa did one race distance in the afternoon, as did Rubens Barrichello in the Williams, while Hamilton and Rosberg also completing very long runs and experienced what is it like to driver a F1 car with 150 kilos of fuel on board.

In the end both were pleasantly surprised with how their cars handled at the start of the runs. Rosberg said, "The car behaved quite well and felt good, not at all what I was expecting with 150 kilos of fuel on board. Of course it felt heavier but the handling characteristics didn't change and that was a good thing."

As for Hamilton, the former World Champion explained, "it didn't feel much different from what it was with a normal fuel load. The only reason I say that is because the car feels quite comfortable with that fuel load. I am looking forward to the next couple of tests that we have just to get some more running, more longer runs, and to really see the behavior with the tyres."

The 2008 World Champion was quite happy with his first day of work with the new car, and relieved he didn't have to face the same struggles experienced last year: "It was a night and day difference feeling compared to the first lap in the first test day in 2009. That gives me a positive feeling. Obviously I have kept a close eye on the development of this car, and the results we got at the end of 2009, seeing the car evolve, and having input into it, I was very excited to get into the car today to see just what parts we have improved. Hopefully we will have got rid of a lot of the bugs that we had in the previous car. And we got in today and it felt good. I got out smiling, and all the problems I had in generally in the last car I don't have with this one. But there are still a lot of areas we can improve on."

Robert Kubica had a much better time than on Monday when the car was understeering too much. The team managed to dial it out and found a good basic set-up that allowed the Polish driver to complete long runs in reasonably competitive times, before trying the super-soft tyres in the last two runs to get to the middle of the 1m12s bracket.

That was still far away from Massa's times, but Kubica was encouraged by the progress made, "After checking the systems on the car yesterday, we spent today trying to understand the car a bit more especially to see how the balance reacted to some set-up changes. It's quite different to what I have been used to, so it was important to get a good feel for how the car behaves. We did one very long run, which went pretty well, and there have been no problems, which is a good sign for our reliability."

The Sauber team impressed again, with Kamui Kobayashi setting the second quickest time of the day, after improving more than 0.7s from the time set by team mate Pedro de la Rosa on Monday. The young Japanese driver was happy with his progress, "It was definitely a good day. We had no problems with the car and covered a lot of mileage. The car felt good. I enjoyed driving a lot and also working with the team. It was a difficult winter for everyone but they seem to have done a good job; I want to thank them for that. Now it is important to keep working hard for the remaining test opportunities."

Down at Mercedes GP, Rosberg didn't improve his lap times when he used the super-soft compound at the end of the day and was a bit puzzled with that, "We did struggle a bit with the super-soft tyres, possibly because the track temperature was coming down and we couldn't make them work properly. But that's something we'll have to look at with the engineers."

"At the end of the day I couldn't see much out of the car, so the team checked my seat and found it was 1.5 cm lower than it had been at the start! Michael had a similar problem yesterday, so that's something we'll have to fix. Apart from that, it was nice to have a complete day of running to start feeling at home with all the systems, the steering, the brakes and things like that. So from that point of view it was good I could get into it and attack."

Rubens Barrichello ended the day with the sixth quickest time for Williams, but never ran with lower fuel loads and couldn't make the most out of the super-soft tyres when he tried them at the end of the afternoon.

It was a much better day than Monday for Toro Rosso, as the gearbox problems were cured and Sebastien Buemi could complete more than one hundred laps. His fastest time came when the track was already losing grip, so the young Swiss driver was happy with the way things had gone for him, "We have collected a lot of data that will help us understand the car and that made this a positive day. The car felt good, but it's difficult to compare it with last year's car, because the new front tyres are different and the fuel loads were also different from what we used to run. All in all, it was a good day for us."

For the last day of testing on Wednesday all of teams will change drivers. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Vitaly Petrov (Renault), Nico Hulkenberg (Williams) and Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) will have their first runs of the year, while Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) will return after having one day off.

Best Lap Times:

1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari F10), 1m11,722s (124 laps)

2. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber C29-Ferrari), 1m12,056s (96)

3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4-25-Mercedes), 1m12,256s (108)

4. Robert Kubica (Renault R30), 1m12,426s (119)

5. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes MGP W01), 1m12,899s (119)

6. Rubens Barrichello (Williams FW32-Cosworth), 1m13,377s (75)

7. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso STR5-Ferrari), 1m13,823s (18)

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