Less than a second covers 2012-spec cars in Catalunya test

2012 F1 testing

Posted on

| Written by

The teams have looked close in pre-season testing

The ten teams running new cars were covered by less than a second in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Over the eight days of testing at the track 0.902s covered the fastest laps set by the ten 2012-specification cars.

Although not all the teams will have revealed the full potential of their cars yet – notably Red Bull – it bodes well for the competitiveness of the season ahead.

In testing at the same circuit last year the top ten were covered by 2.3 seconds, with one second covering the fastest six.

Toro Rosso chief engineer Laurent Mekies said: “It is going to be very tight in the midfield and being at the front or the back of that group will be down to very small differences between the car packages.”

Fastest laps Circuit de Catalunya in 2012 testing

Here are the fastest times for each car in the eight days of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya:

Team Driver Time Gap
1 Lotus Kimi Raikkonen 1’22.030
2 Sauber Sergio Perez 1’22.094 0.064
3 McLaren Jenson Button 1’22.103 0.073
4 Toro Rosso Daniel Ricciardo 1’22.155 0.125
5 Ferrari Fernando Alonso 1’22.250 0.220
6 Williams Bruno Senna 1’22.296 0.266
7 Force India Nico Hulkenberg 1’22.312 0.282
8 Caterham Heikki Kovalainen 1’22.630 0.600
9 Red Bull Mark Webber 1’22.662 0.632
10 Mercedes Nico Rosberg 1’22.932 0.902
11 Marussia Timo Glock 1’26.173 4.143

2012 car testing mileages

This table shows which cars have covered the most distance in pre-season testing:

Team Model Total laps Total distance (km)
Williams FW34 1163 5,329.55
Ferrari F2012 1087 4,994.04
Sauber C31 1072 4,922.74
McLaren MP4-27 1065 4,881.87
Force India VJM05 1045 4,794.33
Toro Rosso STR7 1000 4,583.27
Caterham CT01 990 4,527.18
Red Bull RB8 939 4,308.74
Mercedes W03 835 3,886.93
Lotus E20 772 3,501.95
Marussia MVR-02 338 1,568.74
Mercedes W02 348 1,540.94
HRT F111 108 0,478.22

McLaren have covered a third more distance with their new car this year than they managed last year. The troubled MP4-26 logged 3,601km in last year’s tests.

Caterham also ran longer than they did in 2011, managing 800km more. This was despite the teams having fewer days available for pre-season testing last year.

No-one got close to the near-7,000km Ferrari covered in 2011.

The busiest driver was Nico Rosberg, who did almost 3,000km. However some of that was in Mercedes’ 2011 car.

Lewis Hamilton did the most distance exclusively in a 2012 car, with 2,662km, 9km more than Felipe Massa managed in his Ferrari.

The teams will have a further three-day test at Mugello in May.

2012 engine testing mileages

Renault, who are supplying four teams this year, logged the most engine mileage.

However Cosworth, who are supplying just two teams, neither of which have run their new cars yet, covered less than 500 laps in testing.

Engine Total laps Total distance (km)
Renault 3864 17667.419
Mercedes 3293 15104.07
Ferrari 3159 14500.049
Cosworth 446 2046.959

2012 F1 season

Browse all 2012 F1 season articles

Image © Pirelli

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

60 comments on “Less than a second covers 2012-spec cars in Catalunya test”

  1. Why does the fastest times table start with Lotus as number 2?

    1. lol. I was going to ask the same thing!

      How very strange :P

      1. Changed it, thanks.

    2. HRT will make P1 tomorrow

    3. 1 was unconditionally reserved fro Vettel :D !!!

  2. The busiest driver was Nico Rosberg, who did almost 3,000km. However some of that was in Mercedes’ 2001 car.

    Is that meant to be 2011?

  3. Even though testing means little, this is very encouraging to see.

    Mercedes’ 2001 car

    Sorry Keith, but I think you either mean BAR’s 2001 car, or Mercedes’ 2011 car. :)

  4. We go on about not making any forecasts based on testing results, but having 10 teams within .9 seconds of one another after 8 days of running in Barcelona has to be a good sign.

    1. @schooner You’d like to think so. I guess it largely depends on if there’s any major difference between how (and what) the tests were conducted.

      I’m pretty confident things will be closer though.

  5. So we haven’t learned much except how unusual the nose on the cars look. What will the history books say about this? I sure hope this trend doesn’t find its way into other series. The cars look ridiculous.

    1. I doubt it. No other form of motorsport is as aero dependant as F1.

  6. Alex Wurz prediction: My F1 Pecking
    order: 1.RedBull, 2.McLaren,
    3.Mercedes, 4.Ferrari, 5-9.
    Sauber/TorroRosso, 10+ rest

    1. Tom Haxley (@)
      4th March 2012, 17:57

      really sticking his neck on the line there!

  7. Oh my, so if it both were true, meaning Ferrari’s problems AND very tight grid, it can be a disaster.. Q3 could become a very tough task. Would you believe it? Alonso being backmarker in a Ferrari… This doesn’t sound right.

    My very light headed 2012 pecking order would be:

    1. Mclaren/Lotus
    2. Red Bull
    3. Mercedes/Force India
    4. Toro Rosso/Sauber/Williams/Caterham
    5. Marussia/HRT

    1. Oh snap, add Ferrari between 3rd and 4th. Make that 3.5.

      1. Well over the course of the year it will change drastically. We saw how strong Reno where at the start of 2011, and how after only a few races they were nowhere. The top 3 tend to gain most of their edge during in-season development.

        1. I’d say top two. Red Bull has a habit of getting caught somewhere into the season, although not soon enough. So in terms of in-season development they are yet to achieve the potential of Ferrari and the undisputed number one in this category the McLaren.

  8. The times mean nothing really, apparently neither Mclaren or Redbull have done low fuel runs, Whitmarsh has said they havent run a qualy test, so Im eager for Melbourne to see whose got the best car.

    Speaking of which,


    Makes for some very interesting speculation, whether people agree or not is up to them, but aside from a few things, I agree with its author.

    1. Very interesting read, thanks for that. :)

    2. Thanks for the link

    3. They should make him cheif F1 writer fro the BBC a far more sensible article than the tosh Andrew Benson comes out with….aknowledging that any attmept at disntiguishing performnce via misguided average lap times will do no good whatsoever….

      1. Agreed, Benson’s recent articles have been ridiculous, the numbers he’s been crunching have been way off the scale, one example being an average lap time from BOTH Jerez and Barcelona. Any explanation on how you can average out lap times from two different tracks and come up with a valid result. I think not!

  9. why is there only 3 pre season tests this year? last year there were 4.

    1. @sato113 Because they’ve moved three days of pre-season testing to the three-day Mugello test in May.

    2. They’re doing another test in Maranello after the season has started.

      1. Urgh. Mugello of course, not quite in Ferrari’s backyard in Maranello.

        Well, not literally anyway.

      2. There isn’t any track at Maranello… if it was and testing would be held either there or Ferrari’s standard testing track at Fiorano, trust people to shout out without much ado: FIA stands for Ferrari International Assistance.

  10. I think it’s strange that RB did so few laps, they must be struggeling with something…?

    1. Gearbox change and Vettel broke the front wing by going off track

  11. Fry pessimistic about F2012

    1. It will utter crap if Ferrari arent ready to fight at the front come Melbourne. I hope there is a degree of Sand Bagging going on. If it does turn out that Ferrari really have a dog of a car, at least they’ll be one step ahead compared to last year where they only realized that they had a truck on their hands at Melbourne. This year, they’ve known throughout testing their car is bad

  12. I personally think, for the start of the season, this will be the order:
    1 Red Bull
    2 McLaren
    3 Mercedes
    4 Lotus
    5 Ferrari
    6 Force India
    7 Toro Rosso
    8 Sauber
    9 Williams
    10 Caterham
    11 HRT
    12 Marussia

    1. I’d say that is a good estimation…

      1. I know testing times do not speak much… but how do a team which has consistently finished on the wrong side of the top 5 with their 2012 challenger, hope to beat a team which has topped four out of eight sessions of testing?

    2. sid_prasher (@)
      5th March 2012, 18:10

      Fixy I have a feeling it will be somewhat like that (at least at the start of the year) with perhaps merc not so high but still ahead of ferrari. Patrick fry has already given up on a podium in Melbourne.
      But I believe lotus and merc won’t be able to keep up with the pace of development by mclaren and ferrari.

    3. HRT better than Marussia? What the..How did you come-up with that crazy scenario?

  13. Pat Fry was bearish after what I’d call Ferrari’s best day… I hope he’s just being pessimistic and Ferrari is fast enough to fight for the podium in Australia .

  14. altough we can’t tell anything from these “public laptimes”,we can expect big surprises and an exciting season. (Hopefully a more interesting than it was lasty year)

  15. One thing for sure: It will be interesting!
    Hard to tell the order of fastest cars… It is obvious that McLaren’s redesign makes more sense and produces better results then RBR’s, and they were close prior to that. Although, Lotus is my favorite team, my opinion is that Macca is the quickest car for now. We won’t know the answer ’till the first race.

  16. I wouldn’t mind Red Bull having some troubles, it is escential for the other teams to break the Red Bull/Vettel dominance. Not that i don’t like them but i just can’t live with another 2011 season. That would be like watching a re-run.

    1. While I enjoy learning about the aero & mechanics of the cars and want to see innovation from the engineers, I am really glad that field seems to be more close this year. It means that we have the possibility of closer, more exciting racing, where driver skill and/or strategy can really make a difference. And it will still allow all the ppl at the factories to scramble to gain more precious tenths of a second, as if they do, there could be massive rewards. Now surely as F1 fanatics, that’s what we all want.

    2. @force-maikel I wouldn’t say one season of dominance is representative of what’s to come. 2010 was incredibly close and 2009 RBR only really started to hit the ground running. IT’s a fact of the sport that some years, one team/driver will truly break the mould.

  17. Will you post the race simulation comparison between the cars like last years?

  18. If I was supposed to guess the pecking order I would say it’s something like Red Bull with McLaren very close, then a bit of a gap, Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes (the former I think is not as bad as some say, the latter is not as good as people see it to be) with Force India very very close. Then I’d put Williams on par with Sauber and Toro Rosso and Caterham a bit behind, not as much as last year, not as close to regularly take the fight to the midfield in normal circumstances. Then Marussia and HRT, provided the latter will actually start the season.

    1. I would tend to agree with most of that. As we saw last year with Maclaren and Ferrari, although they had terrible cars at the beginning they were still fast enough to compete for podiums. I therefore do not think Ferrari will be falling into the midfield very easily although they may find it very hard to keep up with Maclaren and RB and will possibly be struggling to beat Merc. Currently it looks like Maclaren may have the fastest car but it is too hard to tell for sure as no one knows what Maclaren and RBs test configurations were, but it does look like RB are playing catchup on the rear end design judging by their complete redesign for the last 2 days (an not really running for one of those days).

      I would be massively excited about the coming season if it were not for Sky :-(

  19. I would like to think that it is going to be close and that at least two teams (would be great to have more) car performance are evenly matched say RB and Mclaren, . (Like season 07 & 08 when the ferrari and mclaren were pretty even)

    But honestly I still think RB will be out in front, Im expecting them to lock out the front row come Aus. I know testing is hard to read but many are saying the RB still the team to beat which they are bound to be. (RB have had the best car for 2 half years)
    Will be well unhappy if RB have a car advantage again just want it to be a real close battle,

    I hope im wrong about RB would be great for first race to have some other team on pole

  20. I think its just too early for anyone to speculate. Last year we saw Ferrari being very positive about their pace and race wins etc and Mclaren looking gloomy. Its a little different this year in testing but the times and laps dont tell us anything. Also, last year we did see Renault then hitting the top of the time sheets with Ferrari right up there as well.

    Ferrari’s statement in fact comforts me a little (Ferrari fan). There is a little discrepancy between what Pat is saying and what the drivers have said thus far. During the Schumi/Brawn/Todt era, they use to play down their times significantly. Only the race, and not even qualifying mattered. I’m hoping that mentality has returned.

    However, all this speculation is fun and it keeps you desperately on the edge of wanting to watch the first race. I only hope that this season becomes something of what we saw in the 2007, 2008 and 2010 seasons where a number of drivers were fighting for the top post and it boiled down to the last race as a decider.

    1. I wonder if at Ferrari what we are seeing/hearing is that with this departure of a car from last year’s, it’s ‘simply’ that they need more time to truly understand it. They’ve tried to follow what Red Bull is currently doing with their exhaust and aren’t yet that happy with the result, so may have to revert back to the exhaust they had.

      But all in all my point is I wonder if the pessimism we might be sensing at Ferrari is just coming from the fact that they appear not to be able to topple Red Bull quite yet. That may have been their ultimate goal with this departure of a car, not just to progress from last year. So to them that might be disappointing. But they might well still be starting this season stronger than they did last year, even if they are internally disappointed that they have found time to be their enemy for now and haven’t had a better handle on the car out of the blocks. Doesn’t mean to me that they won’t get a handle on it.

      They might be looking at it as being a close season amongst perhaps 6 teams so starting off on one’s hind foot can be more detrimental than some other years, and therefore they are disappointed not to be a little further along with a little more understanding of what they have. They will still be learning a lot on Friday in Australia whereas some teams may already know somewhat moreso what to expect.

      I just can’t imagine that they didn’t expect a few more headaches in dealing with a car that is a departure, and could only have hoped but not necessarily expected that it would have been easier to understand it quicker, and what team doesn’t always hope and find much greater ease when a car is great right out of the box. But that is usually the exception, not the rule.

  21. Obviously it’s very difficult to read anything into testing, as there is very little information to go on. But if I had to take a guess, then my pecking order would probably go something like this:

    1. Red Bull/McLaren
    2. Ferrari/Mercedes
    3. Lotus/Force India
    4. Sauber/Toro Rosso
    5. Caterham/Williams
    6. HRT/Marussia

    I’ve grouped them together for the sheer fact that I think they’ll be too close to call. I’m sure I have probably got it wrong, and it will no doubt change over the course of the season, but some things do look right.

    For example, Ferrari do look a little worse for wear in testing, and Mercedes are looking a bit better (despite tyre wear issues). McLaren look stronger than last year, and seem to have a solid base to mount a full challenge.
    Force India (although having a bad start last year) have improved year on year, and if their drivers can be consistent, I expect them to challenge Lotus – who have lost out on valuable testing time.

    To me, Sauber and Toro Rosso are a bit unknown. I have a feeling that Sauber could have some reliability issues this year, but both could well spring a surprise.

    Williams, even though it would be nice for Senna to have a good car (I don’t care for Maldonado), I don’t think that they’ll have a significantly better car this year. Whereas, Caterham will benefit from the banning of EBD, and bringing KERS to the team, so I wouldn’t mind betting that they are challenging for Q2, and getting their best results yet this year. It could well be a tough fight for 9th and 10th in the Constructor’s.

    I think it’s obvious that HRT and Marussia will be at the back. No testing on their new cars, and I will be surprised if they make the 107% in Melbourne. I’m not in any way negative towards these teams – what they are doing is great, but it’s going to be a tough year for them.

    1. I think I agree quite a bit with your pairings. I think if you are wrong it will not be by much and as you say may change throughout the season, but I don’t think it will by much.

      I think Ferrari will be no worse than 3rd and they will potentially only get stronger the more time they have with the car. And I think Merc should be at least a strong 4th if not a weak 3rd. Lotus and Force India have shown ‘strength’ too, in that at least they have not been hovering at the bottom of the time sheets, so there seems potential there too, as in, closeness…

  22. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    5th March 2012, 13:23

    I’ll start to believe Lotus can challenge RB this year, or is it?

  23. The Marussia has finally unveiled its car…and it does not have a stepped-nose. With the technical partnership with McLaren, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence.


  24. With a lot of people believing the field is going to be a lot tighter this year I can’t wait to see the effect of DRS. Imagine 2 maybe 3 drivers over taking each other lap after lap through out the race. Only because they are evenly matched and just get the advantage of DRS when they are behind. Or maybe 4 drivers. Could be fun and could call for ban on DRS becouse it could get pointless and funny as well as some drivers may just follow closely waiting to pounce on the last lap. But wait then the guy in front may go slower to allow guy behing to go ahead so he can pounce on the last lap. It just may happen.

  25. That's right
    5th March 2012, 14:44

    1. McLaren
    2. Redbull Racing
    3. Mercedes
    4. Lotus
    5. Ferrari
    6. Scuderia Torro Rosso
    7. Force India
    8. Williams
    9. Sauber
    10. Caterham
    11. HRT
    12. Marussia

  26. themagicofspeed (@)
    5th March 2012, 15:36

    This is going to be another year to forget for Ferrari. Even Pat Fry has said they are nowhere near where they expected to be. The drivers were gagged at the last test, members of the team are admitting (if you read between the lines) that the new car is slow, over complicated garbage. They have spent all winter trying to come up with a car as radically different as possible but instead have ended up with a car that is radically slow, riddled with ‘innovations’ and ‘aggressive developments’ that even they dont understand, and dont work, and a woefully under-developed car. Oh dear oh dear. Unfortunately their efforts to build a good car have only amplified their incompetence for all to see. As a Ferrari fan, i’m not surprised as all i have come to expect since Schumacher retired is constant dissapointment, and thats what ive got. Sadly i’m not at all bothered about the first race, or indeed the whole season.

    These are my 10 predictions for this season:

    1. Vettel will repeat his snore-fest from last year and the championship will practically be signed and sealed by Monaco.
    2. Ferrari will be an embarrasment to themselves (again) and will sink lower into the midfield.
    3. Williams will fall apart at the seams as a result of lack of sponsors, and Frank Williams relinquishing more control of the team to some spanner called Adam Parr.
    4. Raikkonen’s comeback will be not even a tenth as good as he expected it to be, leaving him demotivated and at loggerheads with Eric Boullier.
    5. McLaren will once again be the only team who can stop Red Bull winning every race, as the most competent of the ‘also rans’ behind Red Bull.
    6. Mark Webber will have another lacklustre season and will retire, having been totally destroyed by Vettel for the second season in a row.
    7. HRT will continue in their role as the laughing stock of the grid.
    8. Williams will regret not keeping Barrichello as they sink further into anonymous oblivion.
    9. The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead, although boycotted by western fans.
    10. The US GP will be cancelled and re-arranged for next year due to the americans being too interested in suing each other to get on with building a racetrack.

    1. Wow…seems to be a lot of reading between the lines with a lot of pessimism when you say “members of the team are admitting (if you read between the lines) that the new car is slow, over complicated garbage.”

      “They have spent all winter trying to come up with a car as radically different as possible but instead have ended up with a car that is radically slow, riddled with ‘innovations’ and ‘aggressive developments’ that even they dont understand, and dont work, and a woefully under-developed car.”

      Sure maybe this departure of a car hasn’t been a Red Bull trouncer right out of the box like some may have hoped for, but I think it is more normal for a departure of a car to require that some kinks be ironed out.

      And I’m not sure the alternative might have been any better, nor kept their critics at bay, that being to try to further develop a car that was obviously lacking last year. Seems to me a few safe tweeks of last year’s car was not going to do anything, and I’m sure they are looking at Red Bull as a competitor that has required that they attempt a leap in performance, not just a slight improvement of last years 3rd place in the WCC.

      So anyway, as unhappy as you seem that Ferrari didn’t do the rare thing of making a departure and nailing it right out of the box, I think sitting on their hands and trying to somehow make last year’s car into a 2012 Red Bull beater would have garnered as much if not more criticism from the likes of yourself.

      1. I agree. If Ferrari had of made an evolution of last year’s car in a ‘safe’ way and not been as quick as Red Bull or McLaren, then the critics would have been all over them.

        So instead, Ferrari have tried their best to throw everything at bringing something new and innovative to see if that works. We don’t know as yet if it is good or bad, but if it is bad, then it’ll just be a continuation from last year.

        The bottom line is that Ferrari probably needed to do something different, but from doing that, they’ve probably learned a lot, and will continue to learn a lot about what does and doesn’t work for the future.

        We know that Ferrari were a little behind on the Aero side, and although this might not be a Championship winning car this year, it might help them towards making the right steps in future.

        1. Also agreed…I think they at least deserve more time, especially since it keeps being hammered home that we shouldn’t put too much stock in the testing times and I am going to assume that they made the decisions they made for very good and sound reasons that saw them move away from last year’s car completely and look to the future. Again, and as we both have said, I think they had no choice but to start with a clean slate for this car…no way last year’s car was going to be tweeked to beat a 2012 Red Bull, nor a 2012 Mac. Otherwise, all we are seeing here is that F1 is hard, and you don’t just snap your fingers, redesign a car, and start winning immediately. Not usually anyway. Ferrari fans, especially the one’s who saw them go through a 21 year WDC drought, should know that of all people. MS/Ferrari, the last time themagicofspeed wasn’t disappointed in Ferrari, took five years to win the WDC.

  27. I just read the analysis on the Sky Sports website and it sounds as if we’ve got a really good season in store. As long as Red Bull haven’t been sandbagging all pre season.

    They reckon, with good reasoning that we’ve got
    Red Bull
    Mclaren very close behind
    Toro Rosso/Force India

    Absolutely buzzing, hurry up Melbourne!

Comments are closed.