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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mark Webber & Red Bull fastest on Test 3, Day 1, Barcelona

At the end of a day which saw rain from the start and gave all the teams the opportunity to test out all of the tyres Mark Webber put in a late lap on the Pirelli Soft tyres to go quickest with a 1m22.693s lap, over 1.5 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton in second place on a 1m24.348sec. Lewis's time was set on a medium set.

Lewis and Felipe Massa did the most laps on the day, Mercedes doing 113 laps versus Ferrari's 112.  Felipe's day was cut short in the drying afternoon with what was either a planned fuel run out or a problem.  Certainly the Ferrari driver did not look happy upon his return to the pits and the left front tyre seems to have flat spotted.

Of other interest was the fact that Luiz Razia once again failed to take up his seat at the test.  Today was intended to be Razia's day in the car but Max Chilton once again went out and pounded the circuit, aiming to become the most experienced driver of a 2013 F1 car by seemingly doing all of the Marussia testing on his own.

In terms of times however, the day did not bode well for the Marussia team until very late on in the session when Max "powered" in a lap that put the team just under half a second ahead of the Caterham of Charles Pic.

Slowest of the day was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus with a 1m34.928sec lap, set in wet conditions.  One of their tweeted photographs showed a sneaky attempt on the teams part to pretend they were running their DRD, using sellotape to cover the air intakes rather than the usual red covers

Tweeted by @Lotus_F1Team

Either they planned to run it but rain interfered with the plan and they had forgotten the covers or they were trying to pull the wool over their opponents in the pitlane.

If it were McLaren, Ron Dennis would have insisted on a heat seal option (with a McLaren symbol cunningly watermarked into it) so that, should the trick be discovered, the car would still look thoroughly professional and not ad hoc in any way.

Hard luck guys,  caught you out.

The teams will have loads of data on the full wets and intermediate tyres after the days action, but with the temperatures less useful data will have been garnered on the slicks.

Sutil confirmed as second Force India Driver

The team finally confirmed their 2nd driver choice for 2013 during the lunch hour at Barcelona in the midst of some very heavy rainfall which has limited the usefulness of testing anything other than wet set-ups.

While this was the expected result the team have taken their time over the announcement.  Their press release was expected over the course of today and Sutil's confirmation was widely reported as awaiting the return of VJ Mallya from abroad.

The announcement completes the driver line-up for 2013 subject, of course, to Luiz Razia's backers paying Marussia to enable the rookie to drive.

The press release simply states:
Sahara Force India is pleased to announce that Adrian Sutil will complete its driver line-up for the 2013 season.
The 30-year-old German will race alongside Paul Di Resta, recreating the successful partnership that raced together during the 2011 season.
The 2013 campaign will be Adrian’s fifth racing season in the colours of Sahara Force India and his sixth year of Formula One competition.
Adrian will test for the team this week in Barcelona, driving on Friday and Saturday. Paul Di Resta will be back in the car on Sunday.

Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “The decision over our driver line-up has not been an easy one and we have given it great consideration over the last few months. It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge, and will provide us with the best possible chance of realising our ambitions for the coming season. If he can rediscover the exceptional form he showed in the second half of 2011, I’m confident that we can pick up where we left off at the end of 2012. As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future Grand Prix driver.”

Adrian Sutil: “I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well. I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One. Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit. Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Parties with Responsibilities" kept Razia from Marussia Test last Week

I'm assuming this means that all of his funding has not yet been paid and the team won't let him race without all the money in their bank account.

This may be rather short-sighted of Marussia, though, on the other hand there would appear to be a number of paying drivers available to take up the seat should the Brazilian's contract not be fulfilled.

Bruno Senna, a compatriot of Razia's, has a few million, though he may not want to bring them to the Marussia table.

Kamui Kobayashi also has a few quid raised in a fruitless attempt to try to keep his seat at Sauber, which was always going to the Mexican bidder.

Robert Frijns may not have Razia's cash but he can bring a couple or three millions to a drive.

The Brazilian paper Folha de S. Paulo says (via the horrible but understandable Google translator):
At least one company that has pledged to support the pilot did not deposit the money combined with Marussia...Asked if these "conflicts" were the reason the tests have been withdrawn, he was peremptory: Exactly

Confusing, Compelling and Counterproductive

Below are a number of different statistics based on the 8 days of testing we've experienced.  The data is interesting but as always relatively useless.

Photograph © Lotus F1 Team/LAT Photographic

have come out today to dismiss their laptimes as a false dawn that should not be taken as a serious indicator of where they are, however we can assume that they have a quick car.  These times have all been achieved without their passive DRS system so we can expect that there's more to come in qualifying and race trim - maybe a couple of tenths extra.  If they thought it wouldn't work it wouldn't be creating extra bumps on the car!

Photograph © Mercedes AMG Petronas

is another team that it's difficult to call, they too are downplaying the laptimes and yet you can sense a little bit of excitement in each of their interviews.  It's almost as if they are so excited that they feel they must downplay their own expectations.

Photograph © Scuderia Ferrari

Apart from Felipe Massa's stunning 1m17.879s lap of Jerez on Day 3, Ferrari have been hiding their speed to a large degree.  Alonso went fastest yesterday but second fastest overall.  I feel there's no conscious effort being made to squeeze a lap out and they are happy concentrating on the innate speed and balance of the car.  It will be interesting to see where they come out in the mix because they are always there or thereabouts, never too far back, and seem to be relatively content.

Checo Perez at Circuito de Jerez
photograph © Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

I am unsure about.  The talk, as with all of the teams, is cautious and also optimistic.  It is as if they feel they have taken a small step back but sense they have a car that will be capable of huge development over the season which will put them ahead of the others on the grid.  Yet they too seem relatively strong on laptimes, capable of mixing it up with the front runners if they wanted to.

Do not download directly from image, use link above
Photograph © Getty Images

Red Bull
are talking evolution.  They say the car is a few steps up from Brazil 2012. The same Red Bull with a slight modification.  I simply can't believe that.  The idea that Adrian Newey would sit back and allow an evolution to occur without sticking an AN2013 brand on the new car is unthinkable.  I get the impression that tinkering with designs is what he does instead of crosswords.  To have two months to play with this car must have produced something which he just hasn't shown us yet.  The basics may be on show but I expect something special to appear in Melbourne next month.

Then we come to the Midfield.  I know that technically Mercedes is the midfield but I've included them above simply on the sense of their repressed excitement.

I expect Force India, Sauber, and Williams to be fighting over 5th and 6th.  Even though testing is meaningless, for assessing Williams it is even more so in that they only launched their 2013 FW35 on Tuesday last, missing the first test completely with the new car.

Photograph © LAT Photographic/Williams F1 Team

I have to confess I'm a big fan of Williams and hope they do well this year.  Impartially it is interesting that they brought the old car to Jerez just to use it to assess the new Pirelli tyres, no other reason.

I find that very intriguing and hope that it has provided them with an insight that will put them up at the front over the first four races.  If they can start well on the fly aways then the motivation will be there to continue that run of form.  The other thing is that they are saying that 80% of the car is new, not evolution.  That too shows that they intend to make a strong assault on the top 5 this year. I hope they can achieve it.

Photograph © Sauber Motorsport AG

The Sauber looks like a very neat package and all of the commentators are Oohing and Ahhing over it, in particular those extremely narrow sidepods and Nico Hulkenberg, if he can mine the rich vein of form which saw him lead, on merit, in Brazil last year could show himself to be the driver that Michael Schumacher has always said that he was.  It was not for nothing that Schumi gave Nico his old neck training device  when he decided to pick up a new one when joining Mercedes from retirement.

Photograph © Sahara Force India F1 Team

Force India
Difficult to know what Force India is doing, from second drivers all the way through to just what the car is going to be like.  I don't like the design for this year and I'm not just talking the paint job! I know that it's every team's job to get as much money on the car as possible but most cars alter their paint jobs somewhat to accommodate the sponsors.  When the team owner is the sponsor I guess you can leave it green white and orange and just slap on the names of your beer, spirits, etc. without worrying about how it all looks - like the north end of a southbound mule. It's like they don't even try.

For them though the up side is that nobody can look at the car for more than a few seconds at a time so its quite likely that underneath it's a tasty little package, we just don't hear too much about the car design because it looks so damn ugly. I mean think about it, no-one really mentions the Force India car, they talk about the drivers and the times that the car did, but not about the actual car itself.  It even got lost in the car launch season by virtue of the fact that Ferrari launched on the same day with the McLaren the day before.  Is it a tactic or just a sheer lack of appreciation of any advertising nous?

Do not download directly from image, use link above
Photograph © Getty Images, Courtesy Scuderia Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso
Is it me or does this year's Toro Rosso actually look good in testing?  In average times over both venues it has outperformed at least two or three other midfield teams.  Only in terms of fastest laps at Barcelona last week has it shown itself in its usual position behind everyone other than Caterham and Marussia, two teams it is well ahead of.  Either it will be a surprise package or it has been running light over the entirety of the testing regime.  Only Melbourne will tell.  The real question I have is how many bits has it nicked from last year's Red Bull?  I'll have to do a side by side on it for my next post.

Photograph © LAT Photographic, Courtesy Caterham F1 Team

Caterham & Marussia
At the back, and on the back of the performance of the Marussia toward the end of last season I don't think we can separate the two teams making up the last two rows on the grid.  Where are Caterham and Marussia in comparison with the rest of the grid?  The answer is nowhere.  It looks, based on testing times, as if they have remained firmly rooted some 1.5 to 2 seconds behind the cars ahead.  Marussia look to have made some progress in catching up to Caterham but Caterham do not appear to have progressed to any extent which would see them racing with Toro Rosso.

Teams Barcelona Test Days 1-3 (Day 4 WET)
(Average laptime based on fastest laps per day)
Photograph © Lotus F1 Team/LAT Photographic

Lotus - 1.22.502
Mercedes - 1.22.651
Ferrari - 1.22.691
Red Bull - 1.22.728
McLaren - 1.22.944
Williams - 1.23.323
Toro Rosso - 1.23.656
Force India - 1.23.664
Sauber - 1.23.830
Marussia - 1.26.013
Caterham - 1.26.651

Teams Jerez Test Days 1-4
(Average laptime based on fastest laps per day)

Photograph © Lotus F1 Team/LAT Photographic

Lotus - 1.18.840
Mercedes - 1.19.063 (3 days)
Red Bull - 1.19.166
Force India - 1.19.206
McLaren - 1.19.245
Toro Rosso - 1.19.385
Ferrari - 1.19.661
Sauber - 1.19.701
Williams - 1.20.745
Caterham - 1.21.670
Marussia - 1.22.552

Average Laptime over both venues
Photograph © Mercedes AMG Petronas

Lotus - 1.20.671
Mercedes - 1.20.857
Red Bull - 1.20.947
McLaren - 1.21.094
Ferrari - 1.21.176
Force India - 1.21.435
Toro Rosso - 1.21.520
Sauber - 1.21.765
Williams - 1.22.035
Caterham - 1.24.160
Marussia - 1.24.282

Fastest Laps Jerez
Photograph © Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari - 1.17.879
Lotus - 1.18.148
Force India - 1.18.175
Red Bull - 1.18.565
Sauber - 1.18.669
Toro Rosso - 1.18.760
Mercedes - 1.18.766
McLaren - 1.18.861
Williams - 1.19.851 (FW34)
Caterham - 1.21.105
Marussia - 1.21.226

Fastest Laps Barcelona
Checo Perez at Circuito de Jerez
photograph © Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

McLaren - 1.21.848
Ferrari - 1.21.875
Sauber - 1.22.160
Lotus - 1.22.188
Red Bull - 1.22.197
Mercedes - 1.22.611
Williams - 1.22.675
Force India - 1.22.877
Toro Rosso - 1.23.366
Marussia - 1.25.115
Caterham - 1.26.177

Laps completed
Photograph © Sauber Motorsport AG

Sauber - 773
Red Bull - 694
Toro Rosso - 659
Mercedes - 657
Ferrari - 641
Williams - 632
McLaren - 614
Caterham - 602
Force India - 565
Lotus - 519
Marussia - 461

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New FW35 Launched in Barcelona

The Williams F1 Team launched its 2013 race car the FW35, at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain today.

Mike Coughlan, Technical Director at Williams says that the team have made good gains over last years design:
It’s a better, more refined Formula One car than the FW34 and I think everyone involved in the project can feel proud of the work they’ve done
The Press release says that the car has a new gearbox, new rear suspension, new radiators, a new floor, new exhausts, new bodywork, a new nose and a significant weight saving.  In total the team say that over 80% of the car is new, a concept which reflects the McLaren approach to car design this season rather than the evolutionary approach of many of the teams.

As with the vast majority of the teams, Mike Coughlan says one of the main areas open for exploitation is the area around the exhaust and rear bodywork:
The Coanda effect is going to be a big thing for us, There’s been no rule clarification concerning this area of the car, so we’ll work closely with Renault to maximise the available gains. Use of the DRS is more restricted this year, so we’ll take some resource away from that and focus on other areas.
Sir Frank Williams, The Boss, hopes this will bring more success to Grove and is anxious to push the team forward:
We will have to wait until Australia to truly see what we have, but we believe it is step forward from last year’s car which was also a very competitive vehicle...Williams has been at the top many times over the last 30 years. It’s the nature of the sport to have ups and downs, but when we are down we always fight our way back.
Praising the team behind the design of the FW35, which is the last car to be launched this season, and from my personal perspective, the most anticipated, Frank made the following comments about his drivers:
I’m hoping that with the current team we have in place, our new FW35, the combined talent of Pastor, Valtteri and Susie,and the continued support from our partners; we will be in a position to challenge the very best...Pastor is a delightful character who is a massively determined racer, whilst Valtteri is quieter but still waters run deep and he is a highly gifted driver
Pastor Maldonado must make finishing races his priority this year:
Consistency will be our aim to close the gap to the teams in front
While Valtteri Bottas is just waiting for the moment where his F1 career really starts:
We have a busy test programme ahead but I’m really excited. The moment the start lights go out in Melbourne is a moment I have been building towards my whole career

Susie Wolff, the first person to drive the FW35 last week at Idiada, would appear to have been unofficially promoted to third driver duties:
I’m incredibly proud and excited to have increased my role with Williams this year. It’s been a busy start for me as we awaited the arrival of the FW35 but I highly rate Mike Coughlan and his team and they have done a great job. Being the first to get behind the wheel of the FW35 at Idiada was a real honour. It was a special feeling to drive the FW35 out of the garage for the first time and successfully complete its first kilometres in front of many of the team who have put so much effort into the design and build
All Photographs © Williams F1

Monday, February 18, 2013

Did Force India give "verbal commitments" to Alguersuari?

Jaime Alguersuari says he had a verbal contract with a team that "usually scores" and that he turned down offers in other motorsport championships because of his belief that it would happen.

No from Force India - the former Toro Rosso driver disappointed
Copyright: Getty Images
"I’ve looked in faith and longing that the value of my sporting career, and the verbal commitments received, would materialize with my return to F1 in 2013. This has not happened. Those who committed themselves with me have given me reasons that I must accept, but that I do not share. F1 has become an auction".
While the team is not named the above quote rules out the front running teams of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus, none of whom have paying drivers, so commercial concerns do not apply.

It also rules out Williams as they were never going to give up a race-winning, cash-rich, Pastor Maldonado, and they let Bruno Senna go in favour of a non-paying driver in the shape of Valtteri Bottas.

I think we can also say for sure that Red Bull and Toro Rosso are off the table given the fact it was reported last year that that Adrian Newey made the decision to get he and Sebastian Buemi out of Toro Rosso in favour of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.  They were unlikely to come calling.

That's seven out of the eleven teams off the list.  Then we have his statement that the team "usually scores" so we can rule out Caterham and Marussia. That leaves us with two teams, both of whom went "commercial" this year: Sauber and Force India.

I consider the timing of the statement is important.  Sauber identified Nico Hulkenberg at the close of last season and announced Esteban Gutierrez in November last year.  If they had been in discussions with Alguersuari his announcement would have come a lot earlier than this.  This is implicit in his statement that he turned down other opportunities for this season in other Motorsporting Championships. He would have had plenty of time to find another drive if Sauber were the team.

This leaves one team. Word must have reached him last week from Force India that a decision had been made and this has led to the issuing of his press release.

The sad truth is that, at 22 years old, he relied on what he felt were definitive talks that secured his future.  This shows his naivety. The F1 paddock is not called the "Piranha Club" because of its cute, cuddly and trustworthy nature; to survive you need to have the right people on your side.  Jaime's Management team should never have risked everything on a verbal gambit.

Jaime Alguersuari wants to go racing and it is the job of his management to point out the realities of his options in a way that gives him as sense of what is practical and likely; not the dream of what might possibly, maybe happen were all of the stars to align and Marussia build a car which would only win championships with Jaime behind the wheel.

Sadly, that is what appears to have happened.  I don't know who manages him but they have obviously given him unrealistic expectations, even if that is simply by not spelling out how worthless a verbal agreement is in the real world.

He convinced himself last year that his knowledge of the Pirelli tyres would get him a seat this year, whilst also referring to his unhindered access to every team in the pitlane thanks to his job with BBC Radio 5's F1 coverage. The two jobs have not provided him with the opportunity he had hoped for.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sutil/Bianchi may share Sahara Force India seat?

On foot of the news that Adrian Sutil is to have a seat fitting with Force India for a potential outing in Barcelona and having seen Jules Bianchi take the car out in Jerez the intriguing possibility has arisen that the two drivers could share the seat at Force India in the coming season.

The fact that Sutil has a criminal conviction which might prevent him travelling to certain destinations on the Formula 1 calendar such as the US, China, Australia and Canada would leave open the opportunity for Jules Bianchi to deputise at certain locations as Driver 2A.

Were Adrian Sutil to be unable to enter certain countries he might benefit from sharing his seat with Jules Bianchi
Copyright Sahara Force India F1 Team
Given that the teams are entitle to have a third driver nominated who can drive the second car should one of their two race drivers be unable to do so I don't see any impediment to the proposal.

The Formula 1 Sporting Regulations state:
19.1 a) During a season each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Changes may be made at any time before the start of the qualifying practice session provided any change proposed after 16.00 on the day of scrutineering receives the consent of the stewards.
Additional changes for reasons of force majeure will be considered separately.
Any new driver may score points in the Championship.

b) In addition to the above each team will be permitted to run additional drivers during P1 and P2 provided :
- the stewards are informed which cars and drivers each team intends to use in each session before the end of initial scrutineering, changes after this time may only be made with the consent of the stewards ;
- no more than two drivers are used in any one session ;
- they carry the race number of the nominated driver they replace ;
- they use the engine and tyres which are allocated to the nominated driver ;
- they are in possession of a Super Licence.
c) If one of the team's nominated drivers is unable to drive at some stage after the end of initial scrutineering, and the stewards consent to a change of driver, the replacement driver must use the engine, gearbox and tyres which were allocated to the original driver (see Articles 25.4, 28.4 and 28.6).
The only beneficiaries are likely to be Sutil & Bianchi in that they both get Formula 1 drives and, of course, Force India in that the team would get money from Adrian Sutil and a cheaper Ferrari Engine deal for 2014 courtesy of Jules Bianchi.  The only downside from the teams perspective is a lack of continuity, unless both drivers show equal aptitude.  It's not as if Force India believe they are chasing the Constructors Title this year.

I don't know whether a German Citizen requires a Visa to enter countries such as Malaysia or Singapore but if it was the case that he did then it is likely that his conviction may present a problem there also.

Jules Bianchi could share a seat with Adrian Sutil
Copyright Sahara Force India F1 team
If this were to be the case it would well be that Jules Bianchi would undertake the first three flyaway races:

  • Australia,
  • Malaysia,
  • China

with Sutil taking over for

  • Bahrain,
  • Spain, 
  • Monaco

handing back to Bianchi for

  • Canada

Sutil then drives the European races in

  • Britain,
  • Germany,
  • Hungary,
  • Belgium,
  • Monza

before handing back to Bianchi for

  • Singapore,
  • Korea,
  • Japan,
  • India 

Sutil drives

  • Abu Dhabi


  • USA

and the driver with the most championship points then finishes the season with an extra drive in Brazil

This would mean that each driver would drive 9 Formula 1 races and the winner gets the 10th race and a guaranteed race seat for the following year.

Given that the teams are entitle to have a third driver nominated

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pirelli announces nominations for start of 2013 season

For the start of the 2013 Formula One World Championship season, Pirelli has nominated its slick P Zero compounds for the first four races in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain.

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.
The rules stipulate that under normal circumstances each team will receive six sets of the harder compound and five sets of the softer compound for the race weekend. Pirelli will also bring its Cinturato Green intermediate tyre for damp track conditions (four sets per driver) as well as the Cinturato Blue rain tyre (three sets per driver) to each race.
The tyre choices so far:
 P Zero RedP Zero YellowP Zero WhiteP Zero Orange
AustraliaSupersoft Medium 
Malaysia  MediumHard
China SoftMedium 
Bahrain Soft Hard

Monday, February 11, 2013

Marussia is an economic sitting duck

This year, after the demise of HRT F1 team, the question of economic viability hangs over the Marussia Team. They are the only team on the official 2013 entry list that has yet to be offered a new Concorde Agreement deal. Marussia, Caterham and HRT F1 formed the “Column 3” group within the agreement whereby each were guaranteed an income of $10 million each year for a period of 3 years to help them establish themselves.

The 3 year period ran out at the end of the 2012 season and, with HRT F1’s demise and Caterham’s inclusion in the Column 2 group, which resulted from that team retaining 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship, Marussia are, to date, without any income from Formula One Management (FOM), the top ten finishers being the only recipients of the lucrative financial benefits which make up a large percentage of their annual income from the sport.

Marussia operates on the smallest budget of the remaining 11 F1 teams on the grid, estimated to be in the region of £38 million per annum ($60 million).

In general terms the operational budget of an F1 team tends to be split between sponsorship which brings in about 48% and the other 52% is brought in from that slice of F1 profits distributed to the teams by FOM based on their finishing positions in the World Constructors’ Championship.  These figures appear to be borne out by the income generated by the sponsors of the team's two rookie drivers.

Marussia’s exclusion, due to their finishing position outside the top ten makes it likely that their operational budget is made up of sponsorship and the money brought in by their two paying drivers, Max Chilton and Luis Razia.

The MR02 was launched at Jerez on February 5th with few visible sponsors.

Maz Chilton brings a reported £5 million sterling while Luis Razia's sponsorship is reported as $15 million or £9.5 million sterling providing a total income for the team of around £15 million sterling.

In terms of Outgoings the team are reported to be paying McLaren and Williams some £6 million a year for the McLaren Applied Technologies technical tie-in/Windtunnel use and the Williams KERS system.

No figure exists for the Cosworth engine deal but this is likely to be of the order of between £5 - £8 million per year, leaving the team with a total remainder of the order of only £1-4 million to go racing, should they not have access to the remaining £20 million needed to run the team.

Without income from FOM they are reliant upon being able to increase their existing debt, which appears to be growing year on year.

It was reported in the Guardian Newspaper in October last year that Marussia had recorded a loss of £49 million over the course of the 2012 season, bringing their total debt to around £80 million. That article valued the team at around £45 million, meaning that, even should the team be sold its sale price would not be able to service the debt.

It was further reported that to the end of 2011 the turnover of the team from sponsorship and prize money declined by 5% to £28.6 million while the running costs rose by 11% to £70 million. The gap between income and outgoings reaching £41.4 million.

While they appear to have cut costs from 2011 to much reduced levels in 2013 the fact is that the debt mountain is growing and will eventually become unsustainable without a serious cash injection.

LDC, one of the names visible on the front wing nose section of the MR02 stands for Lloyds Development Capital, a branch of Lloyds Banking Group which owns 29.4% of the team. In 2011 LDC loaned the team £38.4 million, bringing its total loans to the team to £77.7 million. £61 million of that fell due at the end of 2012. The LDC shareholding is only worth £13.2 million based on the estimated value of the team.

If the team had finished 10th in the WCC in 2012 they would have been in line for a payout of around £25.6 Million from FOM. The fact they finished 11th meant that Timo Glock had to be replaced (a reputed saving of £1.9 million per year)

All that is clear at the moment is that the team is working under a massive level of debt; debt which the team cannot repay without some form of cash injection. Their debtors may hold off on calling their money in until they see how the team do in the early races of the season but, if the team do not begin to achieve results soon, how long before their banker’s patience runs out?

It seems unlikely that the team is going to make the leap up the grid in 2013, even though there is no question but that the MR02 looks like a much improved design over last year’s car and has KERS for the first time. If they are not on the pace of the Caterhams by the time they reach Spain serious questions will have to be asked as to the teams future.

The bank will only bankroll the team for so long on the strength of a shareholding which is not worth the money being provided. Remember Lloyd’s Banking Group is owned by the British Government and I’m pretty sure the Government wouldn't enjoy answering questions as to why they are financing an ailing Formula 1 team to the tune of £80 million.

What Pirelli brought to Jerez

We and the teams got our first impressions of the 2013 Pirelli compounds in Jerez last week.

Pirelli brought 385 sets of tyres to the test of which 251 sets were used.  The interesting statistics, which are not broken down into teams show that:

  • of 7 sets of supersoft tyres, 3 sets were used, but no timed lap was set on them
  • 42 sets of intermediates were brought and 35 sets of wets and, even though the weather was dry for the four days 3 sets of inters were used and 1 set of wets (someone trying to work out how quickly they went off on a dry line perhaps?

The other interesting factoids were that Jenson's time on the hard tyre does remain very impressive being set on day 1 on a totally green track.  Nobody else beat his time on a hard tyre until Day 4 when Sebastian Vettel bet it by 3 tenths of a second.  By that stage the track had been run on for three days solid, some teams running 2 Grand Prix distances per day.

Felipe Massa set the best time on the soft tyre:     1m17.879s

Nico Rosberg set the best time on Medium tyres: 1m18.766s

Sebastian Vettel set the best time on hard tyres:    1m18.565s
I think we can discount the Medium Tyre Time given that the Medium sets seem to have done the most of the grunt work over the 4 days.  157 sets of mediums were brought tothe test and the teams got through 137 of those.  That would put the difference between the hard and soft tyres at around 7 tenths of a second per lap. Factor in the mediums in the middle and we're talking 0.35s between compounds.

Pirelli were expecting 0.5s between compounds at their launch so, unless the figures in Jerez are underestimations and can be blamed on poor track conditions, the difference is a lot less than they anticipated.  They said in their press release that:
With the conditions and track layout at Jerez not really typical of anywhere else this year, the time difference between the compounds is not expected to be completely representative of the rest of the season.
Paul Hembery, of Pirelli, summed up the four days as follows:
The four days spent at Jerez, with most teams running their new cars, gave us all a good general impression of the characteristics of our 2013 tyres on track, with completely new compounds and construction. It seems that we are very much on the right road and the changes we wanted to see are all there: the tyres are faster than their equivalents last year, and they have a wider window of peak performance. Conditions at Jerez were not ideal this year however, as it was an extremely abrasive track – the most abrasive of all the circuits we visit all year – and consequently it was hard to draw any proper conclusions, given that the surface had actually become even more abrasive than last season. We came away with plenty of data for the hard and medium tyres, very little for the soft tyre and none for the supersoft. Now we look forward to the next two test sessions at Barcelona, which will provide another very valuable opportunity for the teams to extend their knowledge of this year’s tyres.
The new Pirelli Tyres have softer sidewalls this year which means that the teams either have to run at a higher ride height to compensate for the movment within the tyres themselves or have to run a stiffer suspension.  The stiffer suspension may resulted in the tyre degratdation I described the journalists saying about the new Ferrari.  a stiffer suspension means the car hurts over the kerbs and bumps on the track and that wears the tyres out and cuts them up more quickly than the adjustment in ride height.

Any increase in ride heights will however mean that the car will lose downforce, so the pay-off has to be determined by each individual team.

As I was discussing the cars in my last post it's worth pointing out that all of the commentary in respect of front end grip, loss of back-end grip, lack of downforce, single line cars, etc. could all be symptomatic of the teams making these decisions and then trying to address the shortcomings which arise as a direct consequence.

The surface of the track was also extremely abrasive according to Paul Hembery and this brings its own characteristics in that the tyres go off more quickly but there is also more grip available within the operating window.

The fact is that every issue which has been attributed to the cars could result from the teams compromising the cars set-up to account for the characteristics of the tyres and the track itself.

I take back everything I learned reading the accounts of the tests last week.  We are no better off than we were after the car launches.

I refer you to my recent post in respect of the Pirelli Tyres; The cold weather in Barcelona will not provide enough data for the teams to understand these tyres until they get back to Europe.  Even Pirelli are saying that they will only understand what's going on by China at the earliest, that's three races into the calendar - it'll take the teams at least two more before they are comfortable in deciding race strategies.

Last year that was a surprise, this year I think we can expect a conservative approach to the first five races by the front runners and this might give the midfield a chance to snatch surprise podiums and perhaps a surprise win should they make a more daring strategy work.

What is sure is that Jenson Button is going to have to come out of the box strongly if he is to avoid the problems he had last year.  A great race driver, he needs to get comfortable with the tyres quickly to make sure he keeps Sergio Perez in check.

Has Jerez taught us anything?

4 days of testing over and apart from the thrill of seeing pictures of new cars on an old track we are getting updates on a daily basis from the F1 teams once again.

This is enough to keep us, the fans, happy.  We can now almost touch the new season and testing serves to sharpen our appetite and make us guys in Europe plan for a couple of early mornings in March and April. But can we take anything away from testing other than the anticipation factor?  We spend hours poring over the data made public, analyzing the comments of the Drivers, Team Principals, and various other experts, reading the Journalists perspective on what they hear and see and yet we still don't really know where anything stands.  Everything we hear and read has to be taken with a pinch of salt.  The teams are using new elements, differing fuel loads, various exhaust layouts, different floor elements.

It is all quite confusing and quite frustrating.

I have to admit that by day three I was beginning to suffer from an overdose of speculation and by Day Four all I was hoping was that some of the teams would put on the supersofts and try to put in a qualifying run.  None of them did.  The biggest news on Day Four, apart from Pedro de la Rosa in the Ferrari, was the appearance of a pothole at Turn 8 or 9 that halted running while a temporary fix was put on it.

A couple of interesting bits and bobs did come out amidst all of the vacillation and misinformation.  for instance the teams began to show the actual car, not the launch version which is just a stripped down basic idea of what you'll see on the Melbourne grid, but the actual cars, with all of the aero bits and chassis bits and exhaust layouts and wing elements get the picture.

And this is where my real interest in testing lies.  While the times can be informative, particularly in relation to the difference between the front and back, it is what the teams have found on an evolution of last years car that is really interesting.

Sauber, for instance, had lots of interesting little bits on it.  Apart from its very narrow sidepods you can see below that they have incorporated much large sidepod wing elements than the other teams.  Not being an expert on these matters (as I will probably keep saying) the purpose of these wings on the other cars would seem to be to channel the air spillage from the intakes as much as possible along the bodywork back to the rear of the car.  In all of the other cars the sidewing element is quite tight to the bodywork while, if there is an overwing on the sidepod it too is located millimetres above the top of the sidepod bodywork.

So the question is what is the purpose of the Sauber design? I'm wondering if the extra width allows the car to catch the dirty air from the front tyres and accelerate it around the sidepods towards the rear on the premise that the faster it travels around the car the greater the downforce created.
It is quite extreme in comparison to all of the other cars and, because the car itself is so neat and tidy looking I think they must improve the airflow over the car to provide some gain, no matter how small.  The same is true for the ridges running along the front nose of the car which serve to channel the air over the top rather than allowing it to spill over the sides and disrupt the flow at that point.  All little gains but every little gain is important in F1, particularly when the Regulations are relatively static year-on-year.

A lot of the people in Jerez seem to be wondering how they've made the sidepods so narrow but there seems to be an extra intake spot behind the driver alongside the engine intake which the experts speculate is providing cooling to whatever parts which have been relocated out of the sidepods.

large wings appeared on the test Sauber

Sauber incorporated lots of little changes to the car since the Launch
Copyright Sauber Motorsport AG

All of the reports from Jerez were massively positive about the Lotus car.  The Journalists were all impressed with its consistency and its handling over the entire four days. The consensus was that it was running well, doing good times, turned into corners well and was well balanced in all of the turns.  This culminated in Kimi Raikkonen setting the fastest lap on the final day of the Jerez test. 

A consistent and well balanced car let Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on Day 4
Copyright Lotus F1/LAT Photographic
Nobody has pointed to any one thing on the Lotus which is making it such a tidy car to drive but they were all pretty impressed with it.  Over the four days I didn't see one bad word said about it.  There was one point of interest though; it was agreed by most of the observers that Romain Grosjean ran with very light fuel loads on Day 2 of the testing when he set his 1m18s laptime which makes me wonder if Kimi's 1m18s on Day 4 was set under similar circumstances.

The McLaren was another car which didn't attract too much criticism over the course of the Jerez test, neither did it attract too much comment other than the fact that they had added a few of the bits which they had deliberately left off the car at the launch.  Nobody was salivating over it the way they were the Lotus but the overall verdict was that the car looked good, all the bits added onto it were "effective" and the car was consistent over the course of the four days.  At the launch it was made clear that a lot of changes had been made and it was a completely new car "under the skin".

Jenson Button at Circuito de Jerez
While no one thing was highlighted the impression of the McLaren package was very positive
Copyright Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Ferrari have obviously produced a much more predictable car this season.  Felipe Massa was very positive about it in every press report over the course of testing while the tech experts were saying the saw a lot of bits on the car which amounted to a step forward.  It looked pretty good but one issue which appeared over the test was that it didn't seem as kind to its tyres as some of the others and it seemed that if it missed its turn in point the driver couldn't get it back.

In terms of its consistency the reports would have me believing that they may have cured the qualifying issues in that everyone seems to think the gap between Pole position and the Ferrari positions in and around 7th has contracted.

Visible tearing up of the front tyres of the Ferrari and graining of the rears in Jerez
Copyright Ferrari F1 Team
The Red Bull, as per their launch car, doesn't seem to have made many changes to last years car design wise, but, as I was positing after their launch, it's likely that Mr. Newey will only bring out the good stuff at the last test when other teams will have no time to copy and test it before Melbourne.  For example, the BBC were reporting last week that Red Bull were planning to bring a rear bodywork upgrade to the last test.  The purple sidepods are narrower and higher which seems to have left a large gap between the bottom of the sidepod and the floor of the new car.

Narrow purple "Infiniti" sidepods and a large area between the bottom of the sidepod and the floor make for the most interesting change between last year and the new season.
Copyright Infiniti Red Bull Racing/Getty Images
 The reports suggested that the Red Bull, like the Ferrari, was a car that, if it missed its line found it harder to recover the lost momentum.  REd Bull, like Sauber have incorporated ridges along the edge of the chassis to stop air spillage over the sides of the car and clean up the accelerated flow over the bodywork to improve downforce.

The Mercedes Team were under terrible scrutiny from the press at the Jerez test and they were not helped by problems encountered on the first two days of running which saw photographs of Nico Rosberg's car on fire and a video of Lewis Hamilton crashing into the tyre wall.  These two problems prevented running on the first two days of the test: Nico's car suffered an electrical fault, the flames coming from unburnt fuel in the exhaust; Lewis suffered from a rear brake failure; neither driver error but it certainly ramped the pressure up and all of the journalists were looking closely at the car over the final two days.

It's primary fault appears to be that it suffers from a lack of downforce far in excess of the cars in front of it on last years grid.  The knowledgeable guys out there reckoned it could be losing up to 0.8 seconds per lap if they don't fix it.  A new front wing was attached to the car on the final day of testing to address this problem but this was assessed as being overkill in that it was overprovided with wing elements inside the tyre area which would result in a loss of downforce through the corners.

The new front wing was thought to be overcompensation, but still an improvement.
Copyright Mercedes AMG Petronas
I have no idea why this is but the new wing was considered to be an improvement in downforce over the element used in the first three days of testing (even though the first two were abortive).

It was difficult to take anything from the Williams test as they have yet to reveal their 2013 car.  I'd say that there were some new elements on the 2012 car, but the primary focus of their first test might well have been all about trying to understand the new Pirelli tyres and to give Valtteri Bottas time in the car.  While I'm having problems getting to grips with the new Williams website which has impacted on my ability to download photographs other than from the first day of testing this is what Williams themselves said about their Jerez experience:
We have gone through a complete programme testing various parts that will be used on the FW35. This compliments our current philosophy of using rigs to pass off systems before running them on the car. The drivers have enjoyed themselves running through tyre comparisons and set-up changes that you would be reluctant to do at a race meeting due to time constraints
Pastor on track
The FW34 with 2013 parts.
Copyright (assumed from last year) Williams F1/LAT Photographic
Once again not a lot was said about the Force India but it lapped consistently and Jules Bianchi got time in the car, though, if rumours are true he may be out of the running and we may be looking at Narain Karthikeyan in the second driver's seat rather than any of the primary candidates, courtesy of increased sponsorship money from Tata and the desire to have an Indian F1 driver in an Indian F1 team to increase Indian interest in the Indian GP.

Courtesy of Sahara Force India Formula One Team
The rumour mill is saying that Narain was offered the position of test driver with the team but turned it down, and in their desperation for sponsorship not directly associated with VJ and Sahara, Tata are able to call the shots on this one.  Watch this space...well not THIS Space but rather the space forward of the engine and behind the nose of the second Force India VJM06.

Of the final three on the 2013 grid not a lot needs to be said really.  Toro Rosso feel they've made a step, but they still don't seem to have cured the nervousness of the rear under a fuel load, something which was evident at a lot of the circuits last year.

The Caterham team went about their merry way without too much fuss but, once again it looks like they'll be consigned to the back of the grid alongside, or just in front of the Marussia's, based on their best lap time of 1m 21.1 seconds.

I've spent a lot of energy discussing the future of the Marussia Team who have been very positive about the new car, but if, as they are saying, the biggest change has been their KERS then they might find themselves alone at the back, without the safety net of HRT F1 behind them.  Their times have remained stubbornly in the 1m21.2's whilst the other teams, apart from their nearest and dearest, have all tended to breach the 1m 20s barrier over the course of the 4 days.


As usual with testing no-one really knows under what conditions are the cars are running.  It has always been the case that some teams run their cars very light in order to make headlines in respect of their laptimes.  This is used to attract sponsors, to keep them happy if they appear for the tests, or simply to focus the attention of the pitlane reporters on their team.

Other teams run artificially high fuel loads in order to throw off attention from their rivals or deflect from the efficacy of their new aero elements.  Whatever the case it is likely that the teams themselves will have a good idea of who is doing what and, where something of interest is discovered on a rival car there you will see Adrian Newey with his notebook, the F1 photographers, pit spies, and rival team principals showing off their new sponsor's whilst also getting a quick shot of something they shouldn't!

Ross Brawn plugs his new Blackberry whilst (probably) sneaking off a photograph of a rival's car
Copyright Mercedes AMG Petronas 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Teams will not understand Pirelli's until Spanish GP

Back at the launch of the Pirelli 2013 F1 tyres in late January the company stated that they expected all the teams to have a good idea of the tyres from the first race of the season.
Pirelli launch their 2013 range with the help of Jean Alesi
Copyright Pirelli F1
In a post on 25th January 2013, having asked Pirelli a couple of questions, I said:
just as last year, they will be testing them in European late Winter/early Spring conditions.  I'm going to assume that this will once again lead to a lottery in Australian, Malaysian, Chinese and Bahrain weather conditions which are likely to see temperatures significantly higher than the teams experience in their February pre-season testing...lack of continuity in the tyre compounds may well mean that, for the second season running we don't see the best cars battling it out at the front as tyre strategies are likely to determine the early race outcomes once again
Much as I like to harp on about my great insight into the sport I have to say that my only expertise in this area is from watching races and listening to F1 teams and drivers discuss the problems they are encountering with the tyres, particularly at the start of last season.

It appears that I was absolutely right.  Paul Hembrey of Pirelli (I presume, in conversation with journalists in Jerez as I haven't received any press release from Pirelli, nor have they put one on their website) is quoted on F1Fanatic as saying:
"here it’s really still quite chilly in the air which suggests that going further north again we’ll have the issues we had last year of being very cold, particularly in the morning and even when you get past midday we were finding large parts of the track were in the shadow in Barcelona and you’re going from warm to very cold...I think we’d all say in the team that it’s until we get to probably China in particular that we think we’d have a good indication when we get to a faster track, a track where we’ve got more downforce, downforce is more important in the corners, high speed corners, that’s when we’ll really get a better idea of what the season’s going to look like"
What he would appear to be saying is Pirelli themselves won't really know what's going on with the tyres until China.  If that's the case we can't really expect the teams to understand them until Spain again this year.  So we can look forward to a lottery amongst the top four or five teams for the first four races, look for another Williams win in Barcelona, another Webbo win in Monaco, and then the teams can begin to approach the rest of the races in a strategic manner, with some understanding of the tyres.

Last year after Jerez Pirelli said the following:
But as the temperatures in Jerez were very low and the teams have also concentrated on other areas than tyres, it’s too early to draw any detailed conclusions. We’ll see more tyre development work at the next test in Barcelona, as together with the teams, we fully understand the implications of the latest rules

After the first Barcelona test last year they said the following:
It was an extremely productive four days, and we were helped by temperatures that – at least in the afternoons – were more representative of what we will expect to see during the season...we got plenty of work done and we’re satisfied with the levels of degradation and performance seen so far, as we head now into the final test again at Barcelona next week. It’s only then that we will see a more accurate picture of the relative performance of the teams, but from our point of view we are meeting our objectives.

And finally after the second test at Barcelona last year Pirelli said the following:
A key part of preparing for the races is understanding fully how the latest P Zero tyres behave with the new cars. A car that is kind to its tyres has more flexibility when it comes to race strategy, which can give a decisive advantage...The teams are rapidly extending and refining their knowledge of our 2012 tyres, seeing how long they can make them last over the course of race simulations, both on full and lighter fuel tanks. This is going to be key to the strategy in Australia...they are also pleased by the way that the tyre’s behaviour has become more linear and predictable. However much you test though there is no substitute for actual racing, which is why we’re all now looking forward to seeing the real picture emerge in Australia
Now, as we know, none of the teams managed to refine their knowledge of the 2012 tyres before Australia, the tyres didn't behave in any linear or predictable way and no accurate picture emerged from the preseason testing of the relative performance of the teams.

What we had last season is seven different winners in seven races with numerous upsets to the natural order purely based on a distinct lack of understanding of the 2012 tyre compounds.  These compounds have been altered for 2013 in order that they degrade more than last years.

So far Pirelli, in Jerez, is blaming the serious degradation being experienced on the surfacing of the track, saying that there's no bitumen in it, that the track is down to rock in places.  given the colder weather being experienced it's unlikely that any track would be provide a prime surface for testing, however, F1 tyres are supposed to be able to cope with all those surfaces encountered.

Remember that last years tyres were less degradable, allegedly, than this years so hopefully the problems being experienced in Jerez do not follow the tyres to Barcelona, though Pirelli would appear to be hedging their bets from what Paul Hembrey is saying today.

I'll sign off using Pirelli's words from this time last year
"Its too early to draw any detailed conclusions (Jerez 2012),  It’s only  then (Next Week) that we will see a more accurate picture of the relative performance of the teams (Barcelona test 1)we’re all now looking forward to seeing the real picture emerge in Australia (Barcelona test 2)"

While I'm at it I think I'll buy a lottery ticket.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Everyone loves a Bad News Story

Lewis Hamilton crashed his new car after completing 15 laps of the Jerez circuit on the second day of preseason testing.

Apparently he locked the brakes going into the hairpin and went through the gravel trap into the tyre barrier. There's reported damage to the front wing and possibly to the front suspension.

As the title says, everyone loves a bad news story -  the decision of Lewis to leave McLaren for Mercedes has been the cause of many column inches and as much opinionated criticism of the driver.  I have to say that I thought it was a good decision for him as a person and as a driver but, with Button having set the fastest lap yesterday after limited running, obviously  Lewis and his new car is the focus of microscopic scrutiny.

The 2013 Mercedes is having a baptism of fire, if you'll pardon the pun, as Nico Rosberg only managed to complete 11 laps yesterday before an electrical problem brought him to a halt.

Unburnt fuel in the exhausts went on fire after the engine was shut off providing for some spectacular Twitpics.

Marussia Confirm Luis Razia as second driver

Marussia this morning, just before testing, confirmed that Luis Razia, the GP2 runner up last year, would take up the position of race driver with the Marussia F1 Team for 2013.

The announcement, which has been expected for some time, was made just before he sat in the car this morning to take the new car out for an installation lap.

Razia was part of the young driver's development programme for Marussia and was their reserve driver in 2010.

With Max Chilton in the other seat the Marussia team are fielding the only rookie pairing on the grid for the coming season.

Razia ruined the surprise a week and a half ago when he put the news up on his website that he had secured the seat.  It remained there for long enough that every F1 news website had the story.

Of his appointment he said,
I know this Team rewards determination and success in its young drivers
They weren't in a position to reward the success of their older driver Timo Glock, letting him go in order that they could get the money to continue in the sport for another year.

As I was saying yesterday it is unclear whether they will be able to generate a budget of a size to enable them to complete the season.  With most teams getting a slice of the F1 profits by way of the Concorde Agreement, Marussia was excluded this year as they finished outside the top 10 in the WCC.  The only operational cash to which they can lay claim therefore is the paying driver and sponsorship.

In general terms it is accepted that sponsorship brings in about 48% of the operational budget of the team.  The other 52% is brought in from the profits made by F1 over the course of the season.  Marussia would appear to be operating on 48% of its necessary budget this year.

This is not simply ranting on my part, last year it was reported in the Guardian in November 2012 that the previous 2012 season had seen Marussia record a loss of £49 million, bringing their total debt to around £80 million.  The team itself is valued at around £45 million, about a quarter of the value of Williams F1 Team.

To the end of 2011 the turnover of the team from sponsorship and prize money declined 5% to £28.6 million (£10 million of that coming from the 3 year Concorde Agreement structure put in place for the 3 new teams which, in their most recent guise were Caterham, Marussia & HRT F1). The team's running costs rose by 11% that year, 2011, to £70 million.

Lloyds Banking Group own 29.4% of the team with Marussia owning the remainder of the group.

The Guardian reported that the team currently "finances its operations with debt from Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), the [British] Government owned bank's private equity arm" and said that "Last year [2011] LDC handed the team £38.4 million bringing its total loans to £77.7 million".

£61 million of that fell due at the end of 2012, however the team would appear to have been relying upon a cash injection from FOM of around £25.6 million for coming in 10th in the WCC.  As we now know, that never happened, with Caterham taking the place back in Brazil, and the team has to date received no money from FOM.

To progress, this car needs to start scoring points from early on in the season, otherwise, the future does not look bright.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

McLaren Jerez Report

The morning’s running was compromised by a mechanical fuel-pump issue, which cost a couple of hours’ track-time, but the problem was quickly rectified and the team was able to run productively for the remainder of the afternoon.
Jenson spent the first part of the day’s programme running a lower-lip rake to complete some aero mapping work. The end of the day saw the team evaluate the effects of a series of mechanical set-up changes, using both the Supersoft and Hard Pirelli tyres.
Both the aero mapping and the balance changes fell in line with the team’s pre-test expectations. Jenson set his fastest time of the day on the Hard compound.  

What’s next

Sergio Perez gets his first opportunity to drive a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car tomorrow (Wednesday). The knock-on effects of this morning’s fuel-pump issue mean that he will begin his day by continuing today’s initial aero and balance checks.

The aim for tomorrow afternoon is to conduct a series of longer runs – possibly incorporating live pitstops into the mix if the team is satisfied with the day’s initial progress.

Force India Jerez Report

Sahara Force India was back in action today as Paul Di Resta completed a busy first day of testing in the VJM06 in Jerez, Spain. Paul completed 89 laps with a best time of 1:20.343 to finish fourth on the timesheets.
Day One Statistics:
Chassis: VJM06-02
Laps: 89 laps
Mileage: 394 km
Fastest lap: 1:20.343
Classification: P4 of 11
Paul Di Resta: “A positive first day and we managed to cover lots of laps – so that’s the most important thing. I felt very comfortable all day and we managed to get through the programme as we focussed on collecting aero data and understanding how well the car correlates with our simulation tools at the factory.  We also started trying to learn as much about the tyres as possible so that we can carry that into tomorrow and optimise the set-up. The new compounds are quite different with the new construction and I’ve already felt a difference with the balance of the car in the low and high speed parts of the lap.”
Jakob Andreasen, Chief Race Engineer
“As first days go, we are pretty satisfied with how things went today. From the install lap onwards we managed to keep to the programme, even with the disruptions for the red flags. In the morning we focused on aero data collection before moving to baseline set-up work just before lunch. For the afternoon Paul completed some longer runs as we started to get an understanding for the 2013 tyres, especially the medium compound, and how they perform. All the while we made good progress with our system checks and we are in good shape ahead of tomorrow.”