Who’s fast and who’s not? A closer look at the lap times from Jerez testing

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the final day's testing at Jerez

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the final day's testing at Jerez

F1 Fanatic has obtained detailed breakdowns of the fastest lap stints and lap times down by each of the cars in the most recent test at Jerez.

What can they tell us about which teams are quick and who’s off the pace? Find out below.

The problem with testing

Using test times to work out which teams are competitive has always been tricky. It’s harder than ever this year for two reasons.

The race refuelling ban means teams are now testing their cars with anything between a few laps’ worth of fuel and 200kg for a full race distance.

The teams have also become more reluctant to issue lists of lap times. While it was often possible to obtain these in recent years, at Jerez they were not being distributed.

In order to obtain the data for this article, I made notes directly from the timing screens in the media suite. Of course, this is very restricting and time-consuming, so I decided just to follow the dry part of the final day’s testing in the hope it would provide the most recent and reliable information. Ideally, I would have also got the data from the warmer dry running on Thursday, but I wasn’t able to.

McLaren

Driver: Lewis Hamilton
Best time: 1’19.583 (lap 3 of a 5-lap stint)

The most interesting exercise of the final day at McLaren was Hamilton’s long run around midday, just as the track had finished drying out. It was interrupted by a red flag caused by Michael Schumacher, but Hamilton seemed to resume his stint where he left off once the track went green again.

He did 25 laps at first, beginning in the 1’24s and working his way down to the high 1’23s. After the interruption he did a further 11 laps, peaking at a 1’23.4. This was 3.1s off the fastest lap of the day at that point. However it was done on a fuel load good enough for at least half a race distance and on tyres that had covered over 30 laps in cold temperatures.

Although Hamilton was languishing at the bottom of the fastest lap charts at this time, his pace was good given his likely fuel load. Later in the day McLaren went to the opposite extreme, sending Hamilton out for a five-lap run when the track was most rubbered-in. Here’s what he did:

1’19.952
1’19.684
1’19.583
1’28.133
1’19.992

His 1’19.583 was the fastest time of the four-day test, nearly six-tenths quicker than anyone else on Saturday. Only McLaren know how much fuel was in the car, but it’s another persuasive sign the MP4-25 is on the pace.

Force India

Driver: Adrian Sutil
Best time: 1’20.180 (lap 2 of a 9-lap stint)

On Saturday evening Adrian Sutil insisted his best time was representative of Force India’s true performance. It was set during a nine-lap stint, which was typical of what other teams were doing. Here are his times from that stint:

1’20.253
1’20.180
1’20.573
1’22.007
1’21.543
1’22.035
1’22.492
1’23.169
1’23.875

The stint was towards the end of the day’s running (though not as late as Hamilton’s) when the track conditions were most favourable. He did one more stint after this and his times were:

1’24.970
1’23.663
1’23.749
1’24.014
1’24.362
1’23.808
1’24.980
1’25.196
1’25.422
1’26.045

Sutil was still running when the chequered flag came out and this looks like a heavy-fuel run which could have gone on longer. His last four laps show a clear lessening of pace, a reflection of the graining problems he talked about afterwards.

He may have ended the day with the second-fastest time but looking at what the other teams did I suspect Force India are actually in the middle of the pack.

Williams

Driver: Rubens Barrichello
Best time: 1’20.341 (lap 3 of a 10-lap stint)

Barrichello set his best time two hours before the end of the session, early in a fairly consistent ten-lap stint. It was the fastest time of the day at that point, improving on Schumacher’s mark by three-tenths of a second:

1’27.014
1’21.768
1’20.341
1’20.469
1’20.443
1’21.017
1’21.147
1’21.66
1’21.755
1’22.305

He only did one more stint after this run before being stopped by a gearbox problem, costing them valuable dry running. The team also had a hydraulic failure to fix earlier on in the test.

The shortage of data makes it difficult to make a call on where Williams are. But there’s nothing to suggest they’re very far off the pace and the early speed trap figures from the Cosworth CA2010 were encouraging.

Renault

Driver: Robert Kubica
Best time: 1’20.358 (lap 1 of a 5-lap stint)

Unusually, Renault spent most of the dry part of Saturday running doing short stints – nothing longer than six laps. Kubica set his best time in a stint which ended when the chequered flag came out:

1’20.358
1’20.544
1’28.227
1’21.05
1’27.319

His 1’20.385 was a 1.2s improvement on his previous best time. It looks as though Renault either unlocked some performance on the R30 late in the day or ended the test with a run on a decent set of tyres without too much fuel.

I suspect the times Kubica was doing before this late run, which were in the high 1’21s and low 1’22s, are a truer reflection of the R30’s pace.

Mercedes

Driver: Michael Schumacher
Best time: 1’20.613 (lap 4 of a 10-lap stint)

Schumacher set his best time of the day earlier than anyone else – when the track was cooler and had less rubber on it – suggesting the car’s headline performance may be rather better than his fifth place on the times sheets at the end of the fourth day indicates.

I was watching at turns two and three during this stint and Schumacher was visibly pushing the car’s performance under braking, occasionally pushing it too far and gathering it up again by steering into the slide.

Shortly afterwards the Mercedes W01 rolled to a halt on the back straight. Unconfirmed reports suggested the team allowed the car to run out of fuel to work out how far they can push fuel mileage under race conditions. Whatever the problem was, it was remedied quickly enough to have him back on track again shortly after the session resumed.

On later stints he never got within 1.3s of his best time, suggesting he was working on heavier fuel loads. His times were consistent and all the signs are Mercedes have got a solid platform to build on and are among the front-runners.

Red Bull

Driver: Sebastian Vettel
Best time: 1’21.203 (lap 4 of a 10-lap stint)

The RB6 made its first appearance at the Jerez test and was in a less developed state than rival cars. The team were still having some reliability problems including a fuel pump problem which sidelined the car for three hours on Saturday.

Vettel must have had a reasonable fuel load in his car when he set his best time of 1’21.203 because it came during a ten-lap stint followed by a brief visit to the pits, during which time it appears no fuel was added, before returning to the track for another ten laps. Here’s his times from the first part of the stint:

1’21.427
1’21.423
1’31.349
1’21.203
1’21.656
1’21.980
1’22.230
1’22.174
1’22.193

Red Bull appeared quite a long way down the list of overall best times from the test but it’s early days for them and I believe they’ll be up there with McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes in the later tests.

Ferrari

Driver: Felipe Massa
Best time: 1’21.486 (lap 2 of a 10-lap stint)

Massa’s car came to a stop twice during the final day test yet the driver completed more laps than anyone else – a mammoth 160 totalling 708 kilometres, more than two Grand Prix distances.

The team did not disclose why Massa’s car stopped the first time other than to state somewhat enigmatically on Twitter:

Maybe Felipe’s issue was the same experienced by many other drivers during these days of testing…

This could an an allusion to the widely-held belief that some teams were allowing their cars to run out of fuel on purpose. Massa’s car came to a halt at the hairpin leading onto the pits straight, allowing him to pull into the pit lane entrance where he was collected by his crew.

The huge amount of running clearly didn’t cause any problems for Massa, who did his best time of the day on his 151st lap:

1’21.509
1’21.485
1’21.851
1’22.73
1’22.991
1’22.883
1’23.258
1’23.531
1’23.954
1’25.859

This wasn’t all that much quicker than Massa has been lapping earlier on in the day, so I do expect these times were set with a fair amount of fuel on board. I certainly don’t think Ferrari are two seconds off McLaren’s pace as the fastest lap times of the day suggest.

BMW-Sauber

Driver: Pedro de la Rosa
Best time: 1’22.134 (lap 2 of a 7-lap stint)

Pedro de la Rosa did a lot of short runs in the afternoon as the team carried out aerodynamic tests. He set his best time in the longest of them, a seven-lap run. Here’s what he did:

1’22.273
1’22.134
1’22.29
1’22.796
1’22.847
1’23.135
1’23.211

On the face of it the team are probably in the lower half of the top ten on performance.

Virgin

Driver: Lucas di Grassi
Best time: 1’22.912 (lap 1 of a 5-lap stint)

After losing so much time with their wing failure on Thursday, Virgin were eager to get all the dry running they could on Saturday. The team stressed that they were concerned with ensuring the car worked as expected and suffered no further problems rather than looking for fast lap times.

Di Grassi’s quickest time was 3.4s off Hamilton’s best and was set during a short run around two hours before the end of the session:

1’22.912
1’23.608
1’23.902
1’23.224
1’23.611

It’s impossible to judge them against their target of being best of the new runners because the rest haven’t made it to testing yet. That will change next week when Lotus join the action at Jerez.

Toro Rosso

Driver: Jaime Alguersuari
Best time: 1’24.072 (lap 2 of a 7-lap stint)

Underlining the difficulty of interpreting test times, Alguersuari was fastest on Friday (with a 1’19.919) and slowest on Saturday. The STR5 was often near the top of the times sheets on the earlier days, but not on the last day as the team did aerodynamic comparison work. Alguersuari’s best was a full second off anyone else’s.

Notes on the data

A ‘stint’ here refers to the number of flying laps done, for example a five-lap stint comprises an out-lap, five complete laps and an in-lap.

Over to you

What’s your analysis of the Jerez test? Whichteam do you think has the upper hand at the moment? Have your say in the comments.

2010 F1 testing

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135 comments on Who’s fast and who’s not? A closer look at the lap times from Jerez testing

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  1. beautiful analysis Keith .. hats off to you man
    It’d be really interesting to see which of them improve in the coming sessions after all each of the teams will observe others and would want to get in improvements

  2. Great work Keith!
    I was at the 4 days test myself and i agree with your description, however i think Ferrari were the heavier car in the last day, followed by McLaren!
    It will be good to see the times in a proper race!

  3. Great piece of detective work!

    Glancing over the times it looks like that apart from a couple of random laps, the Red Bull & Mclaren seem to be able to lap consistently within a narrower time range than the others.
    This could mean they are suffering less from tyre wear – undoubtedly a major factor for this season given the fuel they’ll have to carry, or it could easily be nothing – that’s the great thing about these testing sessions.
    This cat & mouse game played by all the teams is all part & parcel of the pre-season, and until the clock starts ticking for the Q1 in Bahrain no-one can be sure.

    And I for one can’t wait!

    Keep up the good work Keith!

  4. It’s so hard to tell. One retired engineer who is friendly with teams has apparently said Ferrari and McLaren are at the front with Redbull and Mercedes a little behind them.

    I don’t think the Redbull is as fast as people think. It might be just higher expectations but we will find out.

    There is also the issue that a lot of the cars will have new parts for Bahrain so what might be true now might not apply when we get to race 1.

    I’m looking forward to the first race.

    • Scribe said on 15th February 2010, 15:05

      Redbull, I think seriously suffered from it’s engine debacle. They may well be slightly behind at this stage.

      That and Newey is truly at his best when there is a bit of the shake up in the rules. Redbull has become the new Lotus of the grid, with Newey as it’s Collin Chapman, never far of the pace an occasionaly introducing something radically new, shark fins, return of pull rod, high v nose etc which ends up on everyone’s cars pretty soon as they chase the genius an then use superior man power and recources to perfect his designs.

      As long as Newey stays there they’ll never be far off the pace. An I think every once in the while, he’ll think up something new and build the fastest car, hopefully win a few seasons too but he does build fragile cars. Sure you can blame the Renault engine but it worked fine in the Renault.

      I think they’ve got a better chance in 2011. Especially considering how fast the RB5 was compared to the other non-DDD cars.

      • Ludolf said on 16th February 2010, 11:50

        Colin Chapman was technical and commercial groundbreaking and won 7 constructors titels. I think Newey is really great but a new Chapman….

  5. James Carruthers said on 15th February 2010, 11:50

    Very interesting Keith – but don’t you think that fastest laps mean very little? As they need race pace on a tank full of fuel just as much as at the end?

    Imagine a car that is 1-2 seconds quicker with fuel – this could quite easily be a car that is slower with less fuel?

    Guess it’ll be a balance.

  6. David B said on 15th February 2010, 11:50

    I really appreciate, this, Keith.
    But even with this great piece of information, I think it is really hard to understand where they are. Not to say that Jerez has some peculiarities (as any other tracks), so being fast there wouldn’t necessarily mean being fast somewhere else.
    Barcelona should be more indicative, by that point of view.

  7. sato113 said on 15th February 2010, 11:50

    the big four have all the resourses and more talent, so I expect them to be fastest come Bahrain. a bit optimistic, but a four team battle for the championship would be amazing.

  8. Christoferek said on 15th February 2010, 11:55

    Thank You for a pretty much time you devoted to analyze times but ,probaly most of the peoples who will be reading it to negate conclusion that Renault is 2 seconds slower than McLaren means that we still dont know what is the pecking order right now.
    Kind Regards

  9. Bullfrog said on 15th February 2010, 12:02

    Schumacher deliberately getting a session stopped? Surely not.

    The great thing about the new rules is this (and free practice) is the only time we’ll have to guess at fuel loads. When it really matters – in qualifying and the race – everyone will be more or less equal, and the green stripes will make their tyre choice plain to see.

  10. i think force india would be d dark-horse this season ….as d brawns were last season…dey have the potential to srprise us dis season….wit der gr8 aero efficiency….merc engine….and also der performane on lower downforce circuit has increased..so dey r an allround outfit…to look for dis season….

    • paul barton said on 15th February 2010, 14:18

      has your keyboard broke?

    • Christian said on 15th February 2010, 14:43

      Come again?

    • Although his English isn’t that brilliant, he makes a good point. I’d say Force India are the so called “dark horses” of this season.

      • Mike-e said on 15th February 2010, 23:41

        i think mr patel’s just being patriotic…..
        would be nice to see tho.

        • gpfan said on 16th February 2010, 0:05

          I wanted to make the obvious “dark horses” and “come again” jokes. But, I won’t. Sadly. LOL ;)

        • James said on 16th February 2010, 0:28

          Mr Patel might be, but I’m not. I always liked the Spyker and Force India team, but only because they were the minnow that never said no and never gave up. Now they’re midfield! They have a good team behind them and a great partnership with Mercedes and Mclaren.

    • thanks for commenting people. but i don’t agree on the english part. i do know it well but i was tired of writting the correct spellings !! and yes the people who do not consider force-india to be one of the front-running teams are definately going to be surprised. remember my words now and then ‘me’ after the season. being a small team doesn’t mean you cannot do better then the ferraris or the mclarens. mr.vijay mallya has not ventured in f1 for his passion or something. he is a true-blooded businessman and mind you Indian know their business well and consequently the field of their business. he knows what he is doing. and that must will be clear to you all from his steady business relations with mercedes and mclaren and also his decision making abilities when he chose the mercedes engines. and also with a very small budget then that of the oher teams it is no joke to give competition to the other racing giants. F.I are going in the right direction. keep it up F.I. and someone commented of me being patriotic well in that case ” I AM PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN ” and as far as F.I. are their i will only support them.

  11. and also d higher and medium downforce circuits…

  12. Hi, Keith. I found some data:

    http://f1around.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/jerez-day-4-lapchart1.pdf

    It is not complete, but can give some help!

  13. FLuidd said on 15th February 2010, 12:10

    I’ve read every single word of this article and I agree with most it , but I find it hard to believe that Mclaren on the pace. From my point of view Hammy’s flying lap it’s the equivalent of last year’s flying lap of Alonso in the Renault and we all know how they performed in the championship.

    “He did 25 laps at first, beginning in the 124s and working his way down to the high 123s.” on the other hand Massa ran 30 laps in the 1’22s.

    Bmw-Sauber performed the same as Mclaren but from where I am standing they seem to be more on the pace.

    • Scribe said on 15th February 2010, 15:27

      Yeah but you’ve proved yourself to be vehmantly anti-McLaren, and a Sauber fan. Your also yet to provide any actual prrof that McLaren arn’t very quick, despite many paddock sources including thems at Ferrari saying they’re probably one of the fastest if not ahead by a smidgen.

      So you would say that. An while I’m a McLaren fan, I’m also a Kobayashi fan, an I don’t think there is a chance they’re currently as fast as McLaren, or Ferrari or even Redbull an Mercedes. I think there well in the midpack, may well have a good season, chance of a victory in a chaotic race but not on pure pace.

      Now this is testing an I may be completely wrong but what it seems to have shown is their are groups developing. 4 Contenders, 6 Middlers, this group will presumably have an order which we cant yet establish, an the new teams. It’s also known to be very close, so over the season, it’s likley that development will change the order.

      The only way it’s hard to belive McLaren are off the pace is by ignoring pretty much every single professional opinion out there.

      • ElChiva said on 17th February 2010, 21:07

        FLuidd based his argument on facts and times. Scribe you based yours in perception and terrible spelling, borderlining glibberish.

        On and end note a chaotic race win is a good race if you are a fan of the sport not a fanboy.

  14. FLuidd said on 15th February 2010, 12:10

    I’ve read every single word of this article and I agree with most it , but I find it hard to believe that Mclaren on the pace. From my point of view Hammy’s flying lap it’s the equivalent of last year’s flying lap of Alonso in the Renault and we all know how they performed in the championship.

    “He did 25 laps at first, beginning in the 124s and working his way down to the high 123s.” on the other hand Massa ran 30 laps in the 1’22s.

    Bmw-Sauber performed the same as Mclaren but from where I am standing they seem to be more on the pace than the Mecca.

  15. Fantastic article Keith!

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