Testing Day 3 In Jerez and Lotus F1 Launch the T127

Friday began with drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Sebastien Vettel and Rubens Barrichello.

The day started mildly dry and ended in a complete wash-out, so not many teams were able to work on their programmes. But for some inexperienced drivers it was a good opportunity.

Young Spaniard, Jaime Alguersuari, took advantage of the early dry conditions to set the fast time of 1:19.919, which went straight to the top of the sheet and stayed there as the weather worsened. But Jaime stayed out to get more laps in the wet. An impressive machine, I think everyone should be wary of the new STR5.

Hamilton and Massa both had their first days at Jerez, as seen above, McLaren and Ferrari are back on form, even  ‘ They’ say that they are back.

Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion,  used his few dry laps to conduct low-speed aero mapping runs, before the team switched to longer wet tyre runs in the afternoon. Hamilton came 9th with 1:23.985, and completed 68 laps.

Massa had a reasonable day, but could only grasp 20 laps in the dry, and came 4th with a time of 1:21.603. He made 72 laps in total.

Vitaly Petrov made most of the wet weather to get some experience. He made 68 laps with a 1:22.000. Pretty good for a GP2 graduate.

“In the morning we managed to do a bit of dry running and the car felt good and well balanced,” reported Petrov. “Then, when the rain arrived, we did quite a lot of work as it was important for me to understand how the car behaves in the wet conditions and the characteristics of the wet and intermediate Bridgestone tyres. That went well and we also did a lot of practice starts as I learn the procedures and systems on the car.”
Robert Kubica will take over for the final day on Saturday.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and Spanish Pedro De La Rosa are both veterans, and are both, from what we have seen so far, in relatively fast cockpits.

Barrichello made most of the time he did have, both in the dry and wet, and made 120 laps with a time of 1:23.217, but that could only get him 8th.

“We basically only had a few laps in the dry this morning but then the rest of our running was done in the wet, so it was hard to find where the limit was and evaluate our performance,” said the Brazilian. “I’m looking forward to getting back in the car tomorrow and getting some more mileage in.”

As for De La Rosa, he only made 58 laps but clearly the C29 car is fast as his time of 1:20.736, which brought him 2nd just behind his fellow Spaniard, Jaime Alguersuari.

“We managed to do a baseline run in the dry and later focused on balancing the car in the wet. We scanned different set-ups and worked on the brake system. Pedro’s comments on the car were quite positive in the wet. Nevertheless we certainly hope for better and dry track conditions tomorrow.”

Virgin had yet another bad day at the four day test, as the new parts they needed after Thursday’s shenanigans did not arrive in time for the early dry spell, and once they did have the car ready, they could only manage a mere 8 dry laps. The new team will be hoping for a dry day on Saturday, as will everyone.

Adrian Sutil gave the 3 year old Force India team some confidence by setting the 3rd fastest time and continuing their speed from last year, just a little technical glitch stopped them from going any faster.

“The car is good and I think it’s a positive place to start,” said the German. “I’m very confident on the general speed of the car. Unfortunately the rain came in quite early and then it was really waiting for reasonable conditions to go out. We had a problem in the afternoon that caused us to miss a bit of track time, but considering it was so wet it would have been very difficult to get a lot of running in anyway. I’m pleased to at least have had some dry running and some more time in the car and am looking forward to getting started again tomorrow.”

So as some Pedro fans brave the wet conditions, the verdict for Friday’s running has to go to Jaime’s time sheet topping time. None of the other drivers have yet to go that fast; on the last two days the closest was Kamui the day before, only just over 3 hundredths of a second slower than the teenager. As I said earlier, watch out for the Red Bull sister team…

Unofficial Friday times from Jerez:
1.    Jaime Alguersuari        Toro Rosso        1:19.919        76  Laps
2.    Pedro de la Rosa           Sauber                 1:20.736       58   Laps
3.    Adrian Sutil                    Force India        1:21.428        48   Laps
4.    Felipe Massa                   Ferrari                 1:21.603        72  Laps
5.    Sebastian Vettel            Red Bull               1:21.783        59  Laps
6.    Vitaly Petrov                  Renault                1:22.000       68  Laps
7.    Nico Rosberg                  Mercedes GP     1:22.820        53  Laps
8.     Rubens Barrichello     Williams               1:23.217       120 Laps
9.     Lewis Hamilton            McLaren               1:23.985         68  Laps
10.   Lucas Di Grassi             Virgin                    1:37.107         8    Laps

In other news, Lotus F1 launched their 2010 challenger, the T127 – the first Lotus to grace the sport in just over 15 years! With ex-McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen and ex-Toyota driver Jarno Trulli, Lotus showed off their new car in London on Friday. Team Principal Tony Fernandes who is also CEO of AirAsia, was there along with Chief  Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne, who has been working with the Force India, Spyker and Midland teams in the last few years. 

“I’d just love to finish every race,” Fernandes said. “If we can beat some of the other new teams, that would be a fantastic start. If we can beat some of the established teams that would be great. But we’re not here to finish last in every race. We aim to compete with the best, and our ambition is shown by the drivers we have signed.”

I’m just noticing the T127 has a complex Brawn GP style front wing…



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Every time I look at this car I love it more and more, it’ll be interesting to see how it performs.

Gascoyne started work on the design of the car in May, but until 12 September Lotus did not even know whether they would have an entry; as F1 fought a political civil war between the teams and Max Mosley, the then president of governing body the FIA.

“Given the time, I don’t think we could have done a single thing better,” Gascoyne said. “We always said we wanted to produce a good solid, current car – ie, not one that was two to three years old (in terms of technology) – and that is not too far off the back of the established teams. I’m confident we will have achieved that.”

(More at BBC Sport website: including driver interview videos: http://ow.ly/17eyn )

Report from the last day of testing soon. Expect drivers like Hamilton, Felipe, Schumacher, Barrichello, Alguersuari, Lucas Di Grassi, Sutil, De La Rosa, Vettel and Kubica.

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