Testing Day 4 In Jerez

Saturday, the last day of the first session of testing at Jerez, once again started wet. Some drivers bothered to go out for some installation laps but apart from that the track was dead. Even Michael Schumacher was keeping himself warm!

 The teams just waited for the Spanish track to dry out, and dry out it did, so they started to brave it out, running their programmes.

Ex-Brawn GP driver Rubens Barrichello, had a good day in the seat of the Williams FW32; he kept posting fastest times throughout the day until he came across an issue with the gear-box which ended his day early, but still a good day.

“The car has performed well these past two days and we’ve discovered some interesting things which will help us move it forward,” said the Brazilian driver. “I was hoping to go for a performance run at the end of the day because the car felt good, but unfortunately my session was cut short. There’s work to do in terms of improving performance, but I’m happy with the results that are coming out.”

Kubica set out to improve the R30 on Saturday, and that’s what they did. To me, the new Renault (I know it’s early days) seems quite slow compared to the Sauber or even the Toro Rosso, but Saturday was a turning point for the wasp-like car.

“We were unlucky again with the weather this morning but it was dry in the afternoon and we managed to improve the car quite a bit,” said the Pole. “Each day of testing the car feels better and the progress we have made this week confirms that we are moving in the right direction.”

Brazilian Felipe Massa focused on long runs and tyre comparisons and made the most laps of 160, a record this week.

“I never drove as many kilometres as today, either in an F1 car nor anywhere else.” said Massa.

Red Bull worked on the new RB6 with Sebastien Vettel in the seat. A fuel pump failure cost them three hours in the day, but Vettel still  made 90 laps on the way to 6th.

“It’s been a productive first week with the RB6, despite the weather and lack of dry conditions.”  said the team’s Head of Race Engineering, Ian Morgan. “We’re pleased with the car overall, it’s showing a lot of promise.”

But it was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who stole top spot in the last few moments in the dry. The 2008 Champion, set out with brand new dry tyres near the end of the session and posted quickest time after quickest time on the way to 1st with 113 laps under his belt.

Lewis should drive the new MP4-25 on the first two days of the next test at Jerez on 17th and 18th of February, according to McLaren’s website. Team-mate Jenson should take over on the last two days.

Virgin finally got some running without any wings falling off in the dry – did they drink any Red Bull I wonder? Anyway, GP2 graduate, Lucas Di Grassi was in the cockpit for this opportunity.

“The car was behaving much better after the work we did since yesterday and I think what we have achieved today is a very good start for our team.” said the Brazilian rookie.

Michael finished his tea and came out on track to set the 5th fastest time.

“We completed everything that we wanted and were able to increase our understanding of the car a step further so overall it’s been positive,” stated the German. “It’s very tough to understand the order of the teams just yet as everyone can play so much with the fuel loads. So there is a lot of speculation going on but it’s very interesting!”

New Sauber driver Pedro De La Rosa made a time of 1:22.134 which gave him 8th.

“In the morning we started with a long-run of 20 laps on intermediate tyres,” explained Giampaolo Dall’Ara, the team’s head of track engineering. “We then worked on the mechanical set- up of the car. Around half past two we swapped into a tyre comparison programme and in the end we carried out some aero tests. Because of the difficult weather situation this week in Jerez we are a little below expectations in terms of mileage but we still managed to cover all our topics and had no major technical problems.” The Spaniard made 105 laps.

Time sheet topper from Friday, Alguersuari, finished slowest on Saturday, but the young Spanish driver was content with the two days.

“I’m pleased with how these two days of testing went,” said Alguersuari. “It was very useful to drive the car with different fuel loads and in different track conditions, in the dry, in the wet and ‘intermediate’ conditions. Overall, it has been a positive week for me and also for the team.”

Unofficial Saturday times from Jerez:
1. Lewis Hamilton                  McLaren              1:19.583      113      Laps
2. Adrian Sutil                         Force India        1:20.180       84      Laps
3. Rubens Barrichello          Williams               1:20.341       90      Laps
4. Robert Kubica                    Renault                1:20.358       86      Laps
5. Michael Schumacher      Mercedes GP      1:20.613        84     Laps
6. Sebastian Vettel                Red Bull                1:21.203       90     Laps
7. Felipe Massa                       Ferrari                  1:21.486      160    Laps
8. Pedro de la Rosa                Sauber                  1:22.134      105    Laps
9. Lucas Di Grassi                   Virgin                    1:22.912       63      Laps
10. Jaime Alguersuari          Toro Rosso         1:24.072      98      Laps

These are my thoughts on this test session:

McLaren: Jenson seems happy with the car now that he is comfortable in the seat! Lewis is going well and stamped his foot down on Saturday.

Ferrari: Felipe Massa doesn’t look in bad shape considering his crash at the Hungaroring last year in Hungary. New team-mate Alonso seems happy enough in the F10, setting quick times and long runs.

Mercedes GP: Nico Rosberg looked quick in the Silver Arrow, when setting the quickest time on Wednesday. 7 time World Champion Michael Schumacher, looks just like he never left the sport, as he sets quick times also.

Red Bull: The team keep their bad luck with Mark Webber having a oil leak on Thursday and Vettel having a fuel pump failure on Saturday. But they are going strong with developing the new RB6.

Renault: Robert Kubica seems to be working well with the French team, after his bad season with BMW Sauber. Vitaly “Rocket” Petrov, is going well with his first taste of F1 power.

Sauber: De La Rosa and Kobayashi are both doing their team proud while setting quick and consistent times throughout the test. Watch out for the white car….

Force India: The team were looking to keep up their form from 2009, and they are doing exactly that. Liuzzi looked quite fast but was dampened by the wet conditions. Adrian Sutil made sure of 3rd place on Friday with a quick time in the dry.

Williams: The team-up of expert Rubens Barrichello and new boy Nico Hulkenberg for the new season, seems a good choice in my eyes. Barrichello was setting quick times throughout Friday and Saturday, while Nico did well with his first days in a F1 car.

Virgin: The team didn’t really get off to a good start by not making many laps on Wednesday, a front wing failure on Thursday, and some new parts didn’t arrive in time for dry running on Friday. But GP2 graduate Lucas Di Grassi got the only long runs of the four days. Ex-Toyota driver Timo Glock was unlucky and will have to wait for next week’s test on Wednesday.

Toro Rosso: Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi are doing the ex-Minardi team proud by setting quick times and topping the time sheet on Friday.

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