Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015

Grosjean leads, Rosberg impresses, Alonso crashes

2015 F1 testingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Lotus headed the testing times for the third time in four days in Barcelona thanks to Romain Grosjean. But a late lap by Nico Rosberg hinted at the ultimate potential of the Mercedes.

Grosjean’s lap of 1’24.067, set on Pirelli’s revised super-soft compound, was the quickest of the test and over a second faster than last year’s pole position time at the Circuit de Catalunya. However Rosberg lapped within three-tenths of a second of it using medium compound tyres which should be considerably slower.

Rosberg began his day with a minor spin that resulted in little damage. However the incident suffered by Fernando Alonso in the McLaren was more serious.

Alonso was on his 20th lap when he lost control of the McLaren and struck a wall at turn three. He was taken to the medical centre for checks and then to a nearby hospital. McLaren did not run again for the rest of the day.

But he wasn’t the only driver to find the barrier: Carlos Sainz Jnr also crashed the Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg had a limited first day of running in Force India’s 2014 chassis, coming to a smoky stop after just 36 laps. Valtteri Bottas was also forced to stop due to a technical problem on his Williams, but returned to the track late in the day to set the fifth-fastest time.

Driver Car Best time Laps Difference Tyres
1 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes E23 1’24.067 111 Super-soft
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes W06 1’24.321 131 0.254 Medium
3 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault RB11 1’24.941 104 0.874 Soft
4 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari C34 1’24.956 73 0.889 Super-soft
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes FW37 1’25.345 129 1.278 Soft
6 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault STR10 1’25.604 88 1.537 Super-soft
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF15-T 1’26.312 76 2.245 Soft
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes VJM07 1’26.591 36 2.524 Soft
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda MP4-30 1’27.956 20 3.889 Medium

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62 comments on “Grosjean leads, Rosberg impresses, Alonso crashes”

  1. Ferrari doesn’t look so majestic suddenly!

    1. They never push hard today, do you really believe the Sauber driven by a rookie is 1.4 second faster then the Ferraris? Please…

      1. You know they weren’t pushing, because…?

        1. Seriously? Even when Vettel was wearing softs, he barely improved his time on the mediums and was a second slower than STR on the same compound. Ferrari didn’t try fast times today at all and then spent half a day in the garage.

          1. @lancelot Vettel and Kyviat set their times at the same time/conditions, on the same tyre and in a similar stint and the Redbull was miles ahead. Just sayin’…….

          2. @blackmamba What are you talking about? Vettel wasn’t even on the track when Kvyat did his fastest time. Vettel barely ran after the lunch break.

        2. @jules-winfield: It’s fairly simple: Räikkönen was already doing 1:24.584 on Friday. Unless anyone here not questioning the lack of low-fuel running, wants to imply that Vettel is almost 2s slower than Räikkönen…

    2. The person who has been saying that Ferrari’s pace is not for real and that it’s just testing is suddenly taking into account the times when Ferrari are down the chart?

      Nice move. If it helps you sleep at night, so be it.

      1. Nobody’s times are for real. This is testing, where everyone can go crazy with fuel loads, ERS settings, fuel flow and basically anything imaginable. Force India took part with a car that wouldn’t even be allowed to race in 2015. So what reason is there to assume that everything is 100% according to the rules under the hood? Teams will do whatever it takes to reach fulfill their objectives: Testing parts under extreme circumstances, acquiring sponsors, you name it.
        Mercedes has been sandbagging, Ferrari might be performing some sort of exorcism, where everything suddenly is perfect after getting rid of the scapegoat. Neither team’s times should be taken at face value.

  2. Hope Alonso’s OK. McHonda certainly have their work cut out for them… hopefully they’ll have a productive final test.
    And as suspected, Mercedes are in a class by themselves. Been saying it all along.

  3. From what I read on Autosport live, Pirelli says the Super Softs are 1-1.5s faster than Mediums.
    With reliability sorted out, Mercedes might set a new record for most wins in a season. For other teams, they have to be satisfied by third place on the podium. But we can expect a good fight for 2nd place in WCC.

  4. Sky’s Fastest laps chart for the Barcelona Test:
    Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:24.067, Supersofts, Day Four
    Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.321, Mediums, Day Four
    Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1:24.438, Supersofts, Day Three
    Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:24.574, Softs, Day Two
    Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.584, Softs, Day Two
    Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:24.672, Softs, Day Two
    Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:24.702, Supersofts, Day Two, 2014 car
    Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:24.739, Supersofts, Day Three
    Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:24.923, Mediums, Day Two
    Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:24.941, Mediums, Day Four
    Felipe Nars, Suber, 1:24:956, Mediums, Day Four
    Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:25.556, Mediums, Day Two

    What can we conclude from this (if we can something lol) is that Mercedes still in the front (maybe 1 to 2’s faster) and we have a nice battle for the 3rd between RedBull, Williams and Ferrari. It looks better than last year at this time in terms of entertainment during race weekends!

    1. So:

      1 = Mercedes
      2 = ???
      3 = Red Bull, Williams or Ferrari

      1. Oh, you meant driver places, not team places. Apologies.

        1. Yeah, 1 and 2 I think it’s between Nico and Hamilton. They are just in another league again this year.

    2. Mercedes still in the front (maybe 1 to 2’s faster) and we have a nice battle for the 3rd between RedBull, Williams and Ferrari. It looks better than last year at this time in terms of entertainment during race weekends!

      If you’re correct it sounds basically identical to last year – which wasn’t terribly entertaining.

      1. Well Ferrari was more 7th and 8th.. and didn’t have an impressive race performance to battle for 3rd unlike Williams and RedBull that were a little more equal, at least Ricciardo with Bottas and Massa.

        I think this year it will be a little more equal between everyone behind Mercedes, just that.

      2. No, maybe not, but those who had yelled for 2-3 years about RBR domination was boring got what they wanted – sort of;-)
        I think Merc must be allowed to harvest the benefits of performing their homework before last season, i.e. no stupid rule changes in order to break their dominance. The other teams must do their technical develepment work to recover. And the entertainment must then be to watch which teams recover fastest and to see if Nico can keep up some sort of fight against Lewis and if then how will Mercedes as a team cope with it. I can hardly wait – as always.

        1. I think Merc must be allowed to harvest the benefits of performing their homework before last season, i.e. no stupid rule changes in order to break their dominance. The other teams must do their technical develepment work to recover

          You don’t notice the contradiction in saying that Mercedes “must be allowed” to retain their edge while also insisting that other teams “must do their technical develepment work to recover”? Which is it? Must the Mec advantage be hardcoded in the rules or must other teams be allowed to catch up?

          those who had yelled for 2-3 years about RBR domination was boring got what they wanted

          They got to see what genuine domination looks like. As was obvious all along, their problem was never with “domination” (a term which generally did not apply to the years Red Bull won) but with who was winning.

          1. What he is saying is that there shouldn’t be a knee jerk rule change just to allow the other teams to catch up. Merc did a great job, and should be allowed to reap the benefits. The others need to work to catch up. Fairly simple.

  5. Remember last year when Lowe said that Mercedes set as its goal to win every race with a one-two as no one thinks it could ever be done before?
    I suspect that the goal is still the same for this year but with a more reliable car.

  6. Wow so Mercedes engines did 406 laps today, that is some data.

  7. McLaren looks to be in serious trouble. IMO, McLaren built a good (tightly packaged) car and it’s fast. Honda should sort out the problems quickly, they need some good mileage in the next test.

    1. Honda’s problems might in fact be caused by McLaren’s good, tightly packaged, car. Just like last year’s Renault PU, that hardly survived the outlap onboard a (sorry, could not resist) tightly packaged Red Bull, but was undefatigable when powering a Caterham.
      Reliability issues are hardly ever single-handedly caused by the manufacturer. Most of the time, it’s the integration into the customer’s product that leads to problems. The tighter the package, the bigger the problems.

      1. By which I’m not saying that Honda’s not to blame at all. But I think it’s safe to assume that their PU works just fine on it’s own. They wouldn’t equip an engine that doesn’t run smoothly on the dyno into a racecar. It was to be expected that the integration was going to cause trouble, like it did in many cars in 2014, but these problems are of course exacerbated when the car the engine is being fitted into was designed with a zero tolerance philosophy in mind.
        The car might turn out potentially brilliant, but dead last.

  8. Mercedes are looking ominous. No other team got into the 1:24’s today on Mediums – They all did it on the Softs and Super Softs. Even Lewis did a 1:24.9 on mediums whilst being sick a a dog. 2015 is going to be a bloodbath IMO of laptimes; unless Merc show some modesty.

    1. Kimi did 1:25:2 on mediums day 1

      1. Which is not into the 24s.

        1. which is not on day 4 i.e. rubbered-in track

  9. As much as I want to try and draw some positives for McLaren from this test, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a disaster. Losing time when you find a fault is one thing, but to lose half a day following a crash is a big blow. I’ve no doubt they’ll get the car running properly eventually, but the chances of it really being ready in time for Melbourne are becoming slimmer and slimmer. They have a huge hill to climb, and being the only car running the Honda PU, they need to be clocking up as many laps as possible.

    Of course, as bad as it is for them, Force India are yet to even put in a lap.

    1. Force India are yet to even put in a lap

      What? They’ve been doing laps all week.

      1. Yes, in last year’s car. The car they intend to run for 2015 hasn’t done a single lap.

        1. There’s no real difference allowed in the chassis, other than cosmetic ones surrounding the revised nose. The real change for this year is in the power units, which were frozen at the start of last season and are now getting a slew of updates. And FI are running the 2015 PU.

          1. The bulkhead height for this year is different which affects the entire aero concept. And they’ve been running the 2014 PU not the 2015 one. There’s almost no benefit in running their old car at all. And no matter how you slice it, for them not to be in a position to even put their new car on the track, when there are just a few short weeks before the start of the new season, bodes very badly for them.

          2. they’ve been running the 2014 PU not the 2015 one

            That’s not what I’ve heard.

          3. Got a link? I’ve seen nothing anywhere to say that they’re running a 2015 PU. To do so they’d need to re-engineer their old car, which seems a bit of a waste of time. They said they were just going to run their old car so that they could gain some data on the 2015 spec tyres.

          4. @rm they definitely ran with the 2014 PU. Wehrlein was specifically asked about it after spending half a day in t FI and Merc. You can read it here, among other sources: http://www.f1today.net/es/noticias/199079/extra-power-in-new-mercedes-v6-noticeable–wehrlein

          5. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Nose changes cosmetic? Changes to the front end impact almost everything behind it. Not testing the new nose/wing is a serious drawback!

  10. Mercedes time was really impressive – 1:24.3 on mediums. I think it was quali simulation on low fuel. However, Ferrari did 1:25.5 on hards earlier this week, which is quite impressive time. I think Ferrari should be within half a second from Mercedes. Red Bull haven’t shown their hand and won’t show until qualifying in Melbourne. I think Williams is strong but will fall a little back and should be 4th fastest team. Others will be fighting in the midfield, however Lotus looks much improved and could be a surprise of the season.

    1. Both of Rosberg’s times came at the start of 7-8 lap runs. Nobody has done anything like a low fuel qualifying simulation. The times are still completely meaningless at this point.

  11. McHonda must be an interesting lesson in how to be oblique at the moment as two cultures that are very bad at saying what they actually mean most likely collide behind the scenes.
    McLaren, “This was not quite what we were hoping for”.
    Honda much sucking in breath through teeth, shaking head, and no words.

  12. F1 Fanatic may want to check those tires because today Vettel’s time was not set on softs! You can check F1Today or Sky to see it was hards, just say’in. Ferrari just used hards today.

    1. According to Pirelli he set his best time on softs.

      1. Strange, when others sites doing livestreams said hards. But hey, Pirelli must known better :P Thanks.

  13. I don’t think Mercedes will be anywhere near as dominate this year as they where last season. The freeze on the power units basically gave them an advantage all year. During the entire year Ferrari and Renault didn’t just sit around they completely changed the motor and I am willing to bet nearly eliminated any major advantages Mercedes had in power and packaging. The Aero gains from the packaging alone will make other teams run very close to the front. I think the McHonda might be alright if they can sort the power unit issues before the freeze.

    I think its going to be a much more interesting year then last year. I expect williams to be mid pack at best this year.

    1. During the entire year Ferrari and Renault didn’t just sit around

      Your point only works if you think that Mercedes have been sitting around doing nothing, if you listen to the reports Mercedes have found just as much power from their engine as others have, so that advantage is still there, We also know based on what Mercedes have said that they along with others are saving some tokens for development later in the season, of which they hope will bring more gains than earlier development. We do know that Ferrari were late starting their 2015 car and as was reported late 2014, their engine development was already behind schedule. Another of the major reasons they and Renault pushed so hard on the unfreeze.

      they completely changed the motor

      That’s simply not allowed, they can also change as much as the regs allow and this isn’t 100% of the engine.

      I am willing to bet nearly eliminated any major advantages Mercedes had in power and packaging.

      Again if you listen to reports they most certainly haven’t eliminated the power deficit they have.

      The Aero gains from the packaging alone will make other teams run very close to the front.

      If we go by what the teams have been saying, they first of all have to find aero points that were lost over last year with some small updated regs (those noses for example), once they have found that they can look at other gains, but with no major chassis and aero reg changes, this would make such gains extremely unlikely.

      At this point we really don’t know where the teams stand, any times from testing can be taken with a pinch of salt. We will know a little bit more when the lights go out in Melbourne, but even then like last year we probably wont know the whole story.

      1. Ferrari and Renault have adopted the Mercedes layout which has made for much tighter packaging of the car. This is a major step forward for aerodynamics and in Ferrari’s case its a big step forward in power as they are able to enlarge the compressor housing from the 2014 car making more power an absolute. The internal motor certainly has alot to do with power/efficiency but Turbo layout and size was the silver bullet last year. I expect they will have lost most of the advantage they enjoyed all last year.

        1. But we already “know” based on reports what engine manufactures have managed to get from their engine so far over the winter and they have all moved along as pretty much the same rate. So I’m not sure what you mean when you say you think they will have lost most of the advantage they enjoyed last year. Ferrari looks to be a much improved car over last year but their has been no real evidence so far of any teams true pace, The Ferrari is also able to put in a fast single lap but are they able to put in consistently fast long run times that their ERS system just simply couldn’t handle last year, if they can’t then being fast over one lap in completely meaningless.

        2. AFAIK, Renault have stuck with their engine layout.

        3. Keep dreaming. Mercedes killed everyone today with setting that time on medium tires, that are supposed to be 1-2 seconds slower than super softs.

  14. All the worries about Verstappen being too young for F1, and yet Sainz has now spun off twice this week. Whereas Verstappen has been faultless.

    1. The problem isn’t whether Verstappen can drive a car around the track really fast– that’s “easy” (I couldn’t do it, but I’m not a paid racecar driver). Maldonado is ridiculously quick, Grosjean is fast, and Vettel was fast his rookie year.

      The problem is a lack of maturity, not age. Vettel rear-ending Webber in Fuji, or sideswiping him in Japan, Grosjean in Spa (2009 or 2012), Maldonado just about every time he gets in the car– Speed isn’t everything.

      In theory, last year, Nico Rosberg was “faster” than Lewis Hamilton, and out-qualified him 11-7– But Rosberg only converted 4 of those poles to wins. Hamilton converted 6 of his own poles to wins, and 5 of Rosberg’s poles to wins (2 of which were mechanical failures for Rosberg).

      Until we see Verstappen (or Sainz) in the middle of a pack of cars hurtling into turn one at Melbourne, we have no idea what kind of F1 driver either one will be.

      1. Let’s not forget that – while I’m all for criticising Vettel – the incident at Fuji 2008 was really caused by the erratically slowing Hamilton, who, for no reason at all, suddenly pulled to the side, dropped back and caused Webber to slow down as well, causing a chain reaction with Vettel, who was driving in the spray, at the losing end.
        Ironically, the spray didn’t count as an excuse when Vettel was penalised after the race – but had a comeback as a mitigating circumstance when evidence blaming Hamilton surfaced. He who was driving behind nothing more than the safety car with its closed wheels and meaningless diffuser, was acquitted, while Vettel, who drove behind two very spray-prone cars, would not’ve been.

        1. So @nase, the pace car doesn’t have to clear water with its tyres? That’s amazing! Those guys at AMG, seriously…

          It was 2007 and it’s not really an opportunity for bashing Hamilton, who was in his first ever wet race and trying to maintain his tyres and brakes as any F1 fan should know. The point was experience and maturity and it’s a sliding scale, with young Max setting a new end point.

          In Fuji 07 both Hamilton and Vettel were young and inexperienced, and the combination caused the accident.

          The point was there’s a lot more to F1 than being fast on a lap, and it’s a point well made.

          1. @lockup:
            Sorry about that typo. I thought I had written 2007, but it turns out that I didn’t.

            Your sarcasm is however less adequate. The point I was making was not that the Safety Car doesn’t produce any spray, but does so in a very different way from an F1 car, especially compared to the spray experienced by someone who is closely following a Safety Car and two other F1 cars.
            Here’s one of the many videos of the incident, where you can clearly see the differences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srZsbnGxu1A
            For the reasons I mentioned (wheels and diffuser), the Safety Car tends to displace the water to the sides, creating a relatively spray-free slipstream. F1 cars, on the other hand, transform the displaced water into a veritable spray cloud that is worst when following it on the same line.

            This leads me back to the starting point of my argument:
            The reason for not penalising Hamilton was that, although he clearly breached the rules, his vision was supposedly affected by spray.
            This had, however, not played any role in the initial penalty for Vettel, whose vision was indeed quite heavily affected.
            This defies logic.

            Also, I didn’t “bash” Hamilton. I simply stated that he drove erratically, slowing for no reason, and thus caused the accident. My grudge is with the stewards, who took the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.

          2. @Nase The stewarding of a 2007 race isn’t hugely relevant to Max Verstappen’s suitability for F1 is it? Nor is all the smoke and mirrors about spray when what Hamilton was doing was creating space, so he could accelerate and brake behind the SC. Why did you claim it was “for no reason at all”? No need to answer dude ;)

            He was trying to keep his tyres and brakes in, thinking only of himself and doing a ‘bad’ job as Webbo said of leading the train of cars. Inexperience. Add in Vettel’s inexperience looking sideways at him (not really to do with spray either) and there was the accident. I agree Vettel shouldn’t have had a penalty fwiw.

            So the point is that Max has a lot less experience even than Lewis and Seb then.

  15. Impressive time from Rosberg, yes. However, I am mildly positive in regards to others.
    For example, Ferrari. After all, the car last year was not too bad aero-wise, but it was hampered by the underpowered engine. It seems they made some serious gains in that area, which is evdent by the resurgent Sauber. I actually feel bad for Manor – if they do manage to make it onto the grid, with the 2014 spec Ferrari engine it’s not going to be anything but embarrasing. Although with no Caterham on the grid it doesn’t matter much.
    Same applies to RedBull. After all, they had the best chassis last year, hamstrung with the same problem as Ferrari. I’m sure Renault made sure there is a massive improvement in that department.
    Williams – they didn’t need to invent anything radical and from the way it looks it seems they didn’t. Good on them, because they do have a habit of making a very good car one year and then the worst ever one for next. However, since they had less room to improve, I expect them to be battling it out with RB and Ferrari.
    Lotus… is a bit of a dark horse. From their long runs, I’d say they’re about a second behind RB and Ferrari. Of course, we don’t know their fuel levels and we do know that now they have the best engine. However, I do think they will be a bit behind the other 4.
    TR and Sauber. Dunno.. but I think they will be battling each other behind the back of the rest, ready do lurk into points when vacancies appear in the pack ahead of them.
    Overall, I can’t wait for Melbourne. I think this season is going to be one hell of a ride. Even if Merc is untouchable (although I hope it won’t be)

    1. How did Red Bull have the “best chassis” last year?? Why do we keep perpetuating these myths? If anything, the RBR chassis was equal with that of the W05; and that is being complimentary. Mercedes had the best chassis last year. Have a look at ALL the sector times for ALL the races.
      Red Bull ONLY won the races where Mercedes tripped over themselves.

      1. Yep, you just have to look at the other Merc powered teams last year. If it were just the PU, Merc powered teams would have been 1, 2, 3, 4. I think it’s safe to say that both Merc and RB had the best chassis last year, and Merc had the better overall package.

        1. Ok I can concede to that =)

  16. I can genuinely see Mercedes winning every race this year. I think the gap will be smaller in performance to the other teams than last year, but if your seconds faster or tenths faster as long as you get the operations nailed you will dominate.

    Mercedes seemed to have no interest in soft tyre runs, they likely know they have qualifying sown up.

    People will complain it’s boring, but honestly I’m looking forward to seeing if they can do it, and the scrap behind them is set to be a good one.

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