Ferrari have confirmed Valentino Rossi lapped quicker than any of the F1 cars during last year’s race during his test in an F2008 today.
He was 0.8s quicker than the best lap set by Rubens Barrichello during the 2009 Grand Prix.
But an F1 car with 2008 levels of downforce and running slick tyres (even GP2 ones) should be quicker than a 2009-specification car – so should we be excited about Rossi’s lap?
Here’s how Rossi’s time compared to recent F1 laps at the track:
|Private Ferrari test, January 2010||Valentino Rossi||1’21.900*|
|Spanish Grand Prix, May 2009||Rubens Barrichello||1’22.762|
|Spanish Grand Prix Q2, May 2009||Rubens Barrichello||1’19.954|
|Spanish Grand Prix, May 2008||Kimi Räikkönen||1’21.670*|
|Spanish Grand Prix Q2, May 2008||Felipe Massa||1’20.584*|
*Lap time set in a Ferrari F2008
From the picture above it’s clear Ferrari are pretty happy with Rossi’s lap time. But trying to make an objective call on how good it was is difficult because there are important things we don’t know.
Ferrari pointed out Rossi’s time was better than Barrichello’s during last year’s Grand Prix at Spain. But was Rossi running a race stint simulation, or a one-lap low-fuel run?
We don’t even know if Ferrari were running the F2008 in a race-legal specification – it could have been ballast-free and under the minimum weight limit. But let’s give them credit that they wouldn’t waste time doing something like that just to bolster his ego.
There are also important technical differences between the 2008 and 2009 cars to consider. The F2008 has higher levels of downforce than the BGP 001. And Ferrari were running the car on grippier slick tyres. It’s difficult to put a time-per-lap estimate on the advantage this gave Rossi, but we’re surely looking at whole seconds.
To give Rossi credit, he set the time at a test session where his was the only car, so the track won’t have benefitted from being rubbered-in as it would in the late stages of a Grand Prix.
And most importantly, he is not a full-time Grand Prix driver – he plies his trade in an entirely different discipline of motor racing.
Luca Baldisseri pointed out that Rossi continued to better his times during his two days and reckons there is more to come from the eight-times Moto GP champion:
We tried different set ups and he improved a lot: this means that the driver learns quickly and has room for improvement.
Regardless of how well he goes in these occasional tests it seems Rossi is not looking beyond motorbike racing for anything other than the odd race at the moment. A pity, because there’s room for a driver with his personality and massive popularity in F1.
We should get a better guide for how fast his time was when Felipe Massa takes to the track in the same setup tomorrow. I hope it stays dry…
See pictures and video from Rossi’s test here: Massa joins Rossi at Ferrari’s Barcelona test (Video and pictures)
Image (C) Ferrari spa