Ferrari look to have made a clean break from their disappointing 2009 campaign after lapping quickest on all three days of the first F1 test.
The early signs are BMW Sauber are closest to them on performance, with McLaren not far behind as well.
We’ve been used to seeing the first days of testing thwarted by repeated red flags as cars grid to a halt in clouds of smoke. But there was little of that this week and drivers were regularly able to log over 100 laps’ running per day.
And the teams will have breathed a sigh of relief that the weather was kind to them, especially those who were at last year’s rain-lashed test at Portimao in Portugal.
Apart from minor niggles, the kind of things that usually crop up at the time of year, all seven cars ran well. Only Toro Rosso lost any serious time with car trouble, suffering a gearbox glitch on Monday. Mercedes cut their final day short when Schumacher experienced a hydraulic problem on his car.
As teams ran to different plans the variation in their lap times was noticeable – sometimes the same car would suddenly be four seconds per lap slower, presumably when it was full of fuel.
There seemed to be more heavy-fuel runs happening on Wednesday, which partly explains why no-one apart from Fernando Alonso was able to beat Felipe Massa’s besst time from Tuesday.
At this stage we can only draw general conclusions about which cars are fastest, and it’s worth remembering the teams only had the soft and super soft tyres to use at the test.
Williams were especially keen to stress that their low place on the time sheets was a reflection of fuel load and not performance.
The first F1 action of 2010 also provided a few blooper reel moments. Williams rookie Nico H?â??lkenberg and BMW Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa managed to crash into each other and had to pit for repairs. And Nico Rosberg became the first person to accidentally park outside his former team’s pit.
The test drew a surprising amount of attention from fans and the media. Ferrari reported a 4km long queue of cars trying to get into the circuit to see Alonso make his debut for the team today, and perhaps also to catch a glimpse of F1’s two other Spanish drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Pedro de la Rosa.
Inevitably it was the returning Michael Schumacher who stole the show, particularly in the dying moment of Monday when the timing screen briefly reported he gone fastest by four seconds – it later turned out he’d cut part of the track.
The seven teams who participated in the first test have already logged over 1,000km each (apart from Toro Rosso) and between now and the next test will be able to take advantage of the new data they’ve compiled and run it in their simulators to work out how best to develop their cars.
The next test begins one week from now at Jerez, where the teams are expected to be joind by Red Bull, Force India and Virgin Racing. You can find all the dates for testing and the remaining 2010 F1 car launches on the F1 Fanatic Google Calendar.
Who do you think looks strongest after the first F1 test of the year? Have your say in the comments.
|Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F10||71.47||0|
|Felipe Massa||Ferrari F10||71.722||0.252|
|Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari C29||72.056||0.586|
|Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari C29||72.094||0.624|
|Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25||72.256||0.786|
|Robert Kubica||Renault R30||72.426||0.956|
|Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W01||72.438||0.968|
|Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR5||72.576||1.106|
|Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W01||72.899||1.429|
|Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25||72.951||1.481|
|Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth FW32||73.377||1.907|
|Vitaly Petrov||Renault R30||73.582||2.112|
|Nico H?â??lkenberg||Williams-Cosworth FW32||73.669||2.199|
|Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR5||73.823||2.353|
|Gary Paffett||McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25||73.846||2.376|
Total laps and distance covered
|Driver||Total laps||Total distance (km)|
|Pedro de la Rosa||154||616.77|
|Model||Total laps||Total distance (km)|
|Engine||Total laps||Total distance (km)|
Valencia test in pictures
2010 F1 testing
- F1 testing pictures: February 3rd
- 2010 F1 testing: February 3rd
- F1 testing pictures: February 2nd
- 2010 F1 testing: February 2nd
- 2010 F1 testing: February 1st
Images (C) Bridgestone, Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Mercedes GP, Renault/LAT, Williams/LAT