Mugello test crucial for Ferrari’s championship chances

2012 F1 testing

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In-season testing in F1 has largely been consigned to the history books.

But for this year the teams agreed to move three days of pre-season testing into the gap between the opening ‘flyaway’ races and the start of the ‘European season’.

Starting tomorrow the teams will be running at the Mugello circuit outside Florence in Italy.

It’s home ground for Ferrari – less than two hours’ drive from their factory – and the Scuderia have a lot of work to do to get on the front runners’ pace.

The F2012 has been 1.5% slower than the fastest cars over the four races so far this year, which translates to around 1.2 seconds for a lap of Mugello. At best they appear to have the sixth-quickest car in F1 at the moment.

Last week team principal Stefano Domenicali said not all the changes that will be on the car at the next race in Spain may be run at Mugello. It is likely the changes will include revised exhausts aimed at improving the flow around the rear of the car to increase downforce in a manner already being exploited by other teams.

Ferrari know the test is a precious opportunity to turn their season around. Fernando Alonso has done sterling work to stay within ten points of the leader in the drivers’ championship, but a major step forward in performance is needed if he is to remain a title contender.

Other teams have expressed doubts about the value of the test, particularly as Mugello offers few similarities with many tracks on the F1 calendar. McLaren are not sending either of their race drivers and Jenson Button said they will not be bringing major improvements for the MP4-27.

Lotus, Force India, Williams and Caterham will also use the opportunity to give their test drivers some running.

Red Bull made a breakthrough with their exhaust set-up in Bahrain and further developments in this area are likely for the world championship leaders.

For Marussia the session offers them the first chance to test their MR01 outside of a race weekend. However HRT will pass on the opportunity, saying last week they were too busy moving headquarters to attend.

As always F1 Fanatic Live will be running throughout the three-day test.

Mugello test driver line-up

Team Tuesday 1st Wednesday 2nd Thursday 3rd
Red Bull Mark Webber Mark Webber/Sebastian Vettel Sebastian Vettel
McLaren Oliver Turvey/Gary Paffett Gary Paffett Oliver Turvey
Ferrari Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa Fernando Alonso
Mercedes Nico Rosberg/Michael Schumacher Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Lotus Jerome D’Ambrosio Kimi Raikkonen Romain Grosjean
Force India Jules Bianchi Paul di Resta Nico Hulkenberg
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi Kamui Kobayashi Sergio Perez
Toro Rosso Jean-Eric Vergne Jean-Eric Vergne/Daniel Ricciardo Daniel Ricciardo
Williams Valtteri Bottas Pastor Maldonado Bruno Senna
Caterham Rodolfo Gonzalez Vitaly Petrov Heikki Kovalainen
HRT n/a n/a n/a
Marussia Charles Pic Charles Pic/Timo Glock Timo Glock

Mugello circuit

There are 15 turns on the 5.245km (3.259-mile), clockwise track.

The quickest lap of the circuit by an F1 car is Rubens Barrichello’s 1’18.704 in a Ferrari F2004 in 2004.

The last F1 test with current machinery was in January 2009, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa driving for Ferrari. The test was wet for the first three days before drying on the final day, allowing Massa to set a quickest lap of 1’23.981.

Later that year Schumacher drove a 2007-specification Ferrari at Mugello (pictured top) as he considered making a return to the team to replace the injured Massa.

Mugello test weather forecast

Temperatures are forecast to rise from the low to mid teens during the three-day test. There is a chance of rain on the first day of the test but the following days are expected to stay dry.

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Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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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...

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31 comments on “Mugello test crucial for Ferrari’s championship chances”

  1. It’s amazing that Ferrari still have a chance despite how dreadful their car has been so far. It’s going to take a small miracle to be able to jump to the front but stranger things have happened. I’m nowhere near ready to give up on the hopes for a title yet despite how much of a challenge they’ve got on their hands. I must thank Mclaren though for giving Ferrari hope when they should be running away with it, and Red Bull for such a slow start to the season- thanks for the hope guys! :P

    In all honesty though, I’m more concerned about Ferrari in the long run. This is the second poor car in two years, the F10 was good but development stalled at some parts of the season and the F60 was absolutely dreadful. I hope Ferrari can start designing good cars from the get go. It’s okay saying “we need a radical car” but this is a radical car and it hasn’t worked so far.

    1. It’s amazing that Ferrari still have a chance despite how dreadful their car has been so far. It’s going to take a small miracle to be able to jump to the front but stranger things have happened. I’m nowhere near ready to give up on the hopes for a title yet despite how much of a challenge they’ve got on their hands.

      Couldn’t agree anymore. They do not even have to jump the front runners… they just have to be able to compete with the top 2 teams. Alonso looks like he could deliver a title with even a sliver of a chance right now.

      They need to get their Mugello updates to work perfectly though. Another setback, and the season is as good as over.

  2. Mugello test crucial for Ferrari’s championship chances

    I’d say it’s crucial for everyone. The top four teams have been consistently inconsistent all year for various reasons. Right now, I’d argue that Lotus are the best-placed team, since they seem to be the only ones who are getting better race in and race out. Ferrari stand to gain the most here, but i’d say McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull also all have their work cut out for them.

    1. @prisoner-monkeys

      Ferrari stand to gain the most here

      Hence the headline.

      1. Its not about Mugello or even Ferrari, its just that Ferrari has the most to win, any team with the resources Ferrari has should improve the most, still if they remain focusing on the F12 they have no chance.

    2. The top four teams have been consistently inconsistent

      Very indeed.

  3. matthewf1 (@)
    30th April 2012, 11:29

    Ferrari’s website says that Alonso will be running on Tuesday and Thursday, with Massa on Wednesday.

    1. @matthewf1 Have updated the table, thanks. Interesting that Alonso is now bookending the test – I wonder if they’re not expecting to get some new parts until the last day?

  4. dysthanasiac (@)
    30th April 2012, 11:34

    Why on Earth is the notion that McLaren and Button have questioned the value of this test still being bandied about as if it’s a reflection of reality? They’ve questioned the value of race drivers testing at Mugello, because there’s no need whatsoever for race drivers to develop an intimate knowledge of this circuit, as it doesn’t host a race, nor is there any reason for them to further familiarize themselves with a car that’s not scheduled to undergo any major changes. Otherwise, test drivers are perfectly capable of testing the cars. In fact, that’s why they’re called test drivers.

    At any rate, this test is, in fact, make-or-break for Ferrari. I’d like to see them somehow put the right pieces together to transform the F2012 into a competitive package, but I don’t know that I see it happening. They have too many issues in too many places governed by too many restrictions. If the predicted improvement doesn’t come to fruition, my hope is that the team will allow this test to give them some sort of permission to pull the plug on this year’s car a spend their energy and resources on getting their house in order.

    1. @dysthanasiac Here’s a quote from McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe in last week’s Autosport:

      Quiet honestly, we don’t really need this test and I’m not sure it will survive [after] this year.

      That is a senior McLaren person questioning the value of the test. I’d like to know why you think it’s not an accurate “reflection of reality”?

      1. A senior McLaren person is defending his team interest’s that’s not reflect the real value of the test we all know that Mclaren’s approach in building F1 cars isn’t based on testing (unlike Ferrari)

        1. The test could have some use if teams didnt knew already that its all about the tyres, since Mugello doenst belong to the calendar, theres nothing to win.

      2. dysthanasiac (@)
        30th April 2012, 18:43


        That’s fair enough. I had not seen that quote, only Button’s. But, I tend to agree with Tifoso1989 in that Lowe’s position is much likely based more on his desire to restrict the other teams’ chances for improvement than anything else. The McLaren is the best car on the grid. Why would they want to give teams a chance to catch up?

        Either way, all testing is beneficial, no matter where it takes place. That’s why teams carry out straight-line tests, even though F1 is not drag racing.

    2. As far as racing drivers testing, note that McLaren is the only team without a race driver testing. So, apparently, Button and McLaren’s logic is lost on the rest of the field. In any case, the purpose of a test is not to learn how to be quick on the test-circuit; it is to examine the effect of potential design and set up changes on car behavior, against a baseline of performance for that circuit. In this regard, it seems elementary that the people who will be racing the car will want to giving feedback to the team on how changes affect the car. After all, we well know that just because certain mods are faster “on paper” and just because one driver likes them, does not mean that it will be faster for a particular race driver. Ask Mark Webber.

  5. For those who hope to see the F2012 B in Mugello they will remain disappointed ,only few updates will be mounted on the car.Very unusual for Ferrari not to bring all the updates because they have a grate opportunity to test them on the track (their favorite approach) & Mugello test track is the ideal circuit to test their weakness (traction & top speed)
    Maybe they have something to hide (unlikely to happen) or that the components are still in construction phase or that they are waiting the test to verify something that has not yet convinced

  6. @tifoso1989

    Mugello test track is the ideal circuit to test their weakness (traction & top speed)

    It’s got a decent straight but not that many of the kind of low-speed traction zones most F1 tracks have. Compare it to the track they’ve just come from, for example.

    1. If you look to the layout you might think that the long corners are of the “fast” nature they aren’t the track is pretty slow just like Jerez.

  7. I absolutley love Mugello! I really think it deserves a place on the F1 calender, perhaps as the European Grand Prix? Well, Bernie wants rid of the Euro GP and two more Euro races altogether! He is the greediest man alive.. My history teacher seems to think it is because of the tabacco ban on advertising, I guess he is correct.

    1. Lothario* T and R are too close..

  8. So mclaren the only team not use its current drivers, I really dont understnad this decision from mclaren why would the driver not want more mileage to get to grips with the tyres (no pun intended).
    Lewis stated that he wanted to take part in the testing to gain more knowledge of the tyres yet he is not.
    Could it be the case that lewis was not allowed to test as button is not so that parity is maintained. Mclaren have been well wary of parity since button joined.

    The one good outcome i suppose is that by giving the test drivers mileage will give them a better understanding of the car so therefore better correlation with the sim

    I just feel that its a missed oportunity with all other race drivers taking part in the test.

  9. At best they appear to have the sixth-quickest car in F1 at the moment.

    So that would be:
    McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Lotus…

    And whom?
    I’m flicking between Sauber and Williams.

    1. @cg22me – Either, depending on the weekend :-p

  10. Since this testing session is “in-season” do the teams have to use one of the eight engines they have to use for the season races or race weekends?

  11. I believe that instead of Mugello, they should have stuck to Valencia or even better, Barcelona itself. I mean back in 2007, we used to have tests on the same track before the GP itself. ex. Malaysia 2007 and Belgium 2007.

    I don’t seem to get the logic of Mugello or should I read Ferrari?

    1. Ferrari have offered this track free of cost for the teams to test thus helping to have in-season testing rather than pay money for some other circuit.

  12. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
    30th April 2012, 23:27

    This test could end up being very embarassing for Ferrari if they are humilated in lap times around their own circuit. And yes, I know test times don’t really mean anything however the mental mindset of the team would surely be affected if other teams could come to their track and beat them around it. Especially if they beat the lap record.

    1. @jarred-walmsley I was about to correct you but it seems you are right, Ferrari do own the track! I didn’t know that.

  13. All I’m hoping is for McLaren to do about 100,000 pitstops tests.

    1. Probably why Button and Hamilton aren’t bothering. They can just take a nap at home.

  14. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Then again, everything is interesting in F1!

    It would be good to see Ferrari get on top of their troubles but equally so, I don’t really want the season to die down from now on in. 4 different race winners from 4 different teams so far sounds good to me. I’m not one to usually complain about this sort of thing, but it’s just too good at the moment!

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