Jerez test team-by-team review

2013 F1 testing

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All 11 teams were present at the first test session of 2013 last week. Here’s how each of them got on.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Jerez, 2013After giving the world a fleeting glimpse of the RB9 at a launch at its base in Milton Keynes, the reigning champions whisked their chassis off to Jerez in time for it to hit the track two days later.

As ever Red Bulls keeps its cards close to its chest. Later in the week the team began hiding the car behind screens whenever it came into the pits. Nothing unusual has been spotted on the car – so far – but remember this is the team which tested a Double DRS at Singapore last year without anyone noticing.

By the end of the test they had set their quickest time on hard tyres but the reliability of the RB9 impressed Sebastian Vettel more. This was a notable weakness of its predecessor.

“Looking ahead, I think the Barcelona test will maybe reveal a bit more, but just because people are running more and teams will play around a bit more there,” said Vettel. “So if you keep your eyes open you might spot some stuff.”

“However, as I?ve said before, we just focus on what we do. In Barcelona we?ll learn more about ourselves and maybe a little bit about our rivals. It should be interesting.”

Team mate Mark Webber said he was suffering no after-effects from his operation over the winter to remove a metal rod from his right leg, which he injured in 2008.


Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Jerez, 2013Despite spending three days in the F138 Felipe Massa covered fewer laps than some drivers who did two days. He clearly had some misgivings over the arrangement when he spoke to media on Thursday.

Massa said he’d had no further explanation from team mate Fernando Alonso about his absence from the Jerez test. The team took the unusual step of announcing its arrangements for all three tests in advance, claiming that Alonso was missing the first of them to work on his fitness. They denied rumours he had picked up an injury while karting pre-season.

The team’s running with the new car got off to a slow start as they had to fix some cooling problems on Tuesday. Comparing different exhaust specifications was the main job for Wednesday.

On Massa’s final day in the car he set the quickest time of the test. His 1’17.879 on soft tyres was over half a second quicker than the best time set by a 2012 car at this test last year.

The team’s objective for the final day of running was to give new test driver Pedro de la Rosa some time in the car to help develop their simulator – a weakness of theirs in recent years. The plan was disrupted when a gearbox problem caused a fire on his second lap.

Fortunately they were able to get the car back on track in the afternoon and a disruption due to a hole appearing on the track meant running was extended by half an hour.

De la Rosa is taller than both Alonso and Massa so he found the car somewhat uncomfortable to drive, but was grateful for the chance to have one of the team’s precious days of pre-season running.


Jenson Button, McLaren, Jerez, 2013McLaren ended 2012 with a car that was quick but prone to breaking down. The early signs from the MP4-28 is little has changed.

Worryingly for them it was a mechanical fuel pump failure which disrupted Jenson Button’s first day in the car, forcing much of his aero testing workload to be passed on to Sergio Perez the following day.

But encouragingly Button was also able to turn a quick time out of the box – a 1’18.861 on hard tyres. He was stopped again on Thursday when his right-rear wheel became loose.

Button dismissed the relevance of his Tuesday time but pronounced himself pleased with how quickly the new tyres came up to temperature and how well the simulator version of the MP4-28 correlates to the real thing.

Perez stressed he had a lot of work to do in getting used to McLaren’s way of working, saying he needed to start from scratch in learning how to set the car up.


Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Jerez, 2013“We’ve been chugging around with a fair amount of petrol on board and it seems reasonably swift,” was Lotus technical director James Allison’s verdict on the performance of the E21. Lotus topped the times on Wednesday and Friday.

Allison also pronounced himself “delighted with the basic reliability of the E21”. The team lost some time on Kimi Raikkonen’s first day at the wheel due to a clutch problem.

The car also stopped on track late on Wednesday but this appeared to be a scheduled fuel run-out test.

This time last year Lotus suffered a setback when a suspension problem appeared in Barcelona on their second E20 chassis. This cost them four days’ running and forced them to redesign and strengthen one of their parts.

Allison said steps have been taken to prevent that happening again: “Once we realised our error we redesigned the joint so that the glue lines were capable of delivering the required strength without any scatter from chassis to chassis. On the E21 we?ve paid particular attention to this area so we?re not expecting any repeat dramas.”


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jerez, 2013Managing expectations was the name of the game at Mercedes when they revealed their W04 on the day before the test began.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were quick to point out how far off the pace the team was at the end of 2012. But at the same time Hamilton said: “We’re ahead of where they were this time last year.”

There were some worried looks as the car proved unco-operative at first. It stopped while Hamilton was driving at the end of the filming day – he said this had been a fuel run-out test – and early on during both of the first two days.

A wiring loom fault halted Rosberg after 14 laps on Tuesday, and unburnt fuel caused a fire. Then Hamilton suffered a rear brake pipe failure and crashed at speed at Curva Dry Sack on Wednesday.

After those troubling but unrelated problems there was obvious relief when Rosberg and Hamilton completed almost 300 laps over the remaining two days. A new front wing appeared on the car during the test and they appeared to be running a passive DRS at one point as well.


Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Jerez, 2013Besides its striking new colour scheme a focal point of the new Sauber C32 was its aggressively slender sidepods.

Nico Hulkenberg said the cooling on them “worked well” and the team will surely be aware that the cool temperatures of Jerez will not correlate to what they find at Sepang or Singapore later in the year.

The car ran reliably – it stopped due to a planned fuel run-out on Wednesday. New driver Esteban Gutierrez did the most laps of any driver and the C32 already has more than 200km more on the clock than any of its rivals.

Force India

Jules Bianchi, Force India, Jerez, 2013Force India remain the only team yet to confirm their drivers for 2013. Jules Bianchi is in the hunt for the seat and got a run in the car whereas Adrian Sutil – who is believed to be the other main contender – did not.

The team’s simulator driver James Rossiter also drove, getting his first taste of a real-world F1 car since 2008. Unfortunately he knocked one of his pit crew over during the test but happily there were no serious injuries.

As was to be expected the running was not trouble-free but the VJM06 never stopped on track, including on Thursday when Paul di Resta suffered an exhaust problem. “Good work by the engineers using the telemetry meant the damage was only superficial,” said chief race engineer Jakob Andreasen.


Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Jerez, 2013Williams were the only team using a 2012-specification car at the first test. They said this was to allow them to get a handle on the 2013-specification tyres with a reliable car they already understood.

The value of that was undermined somewhat when the car stopped on Wednesday due to a clutch problem.

By the end of the test Sauber, Red Bull and Force India had covered more ground with their new cars than Williams had with their old one.

The team did run some new parts on the FW34 including a sloped 2013-style nose. The final car will be seen for the first time a week tomorrow when the second test begins.

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Jerez, 2013Toro Rosso has a reputation for being tough on its young drivers. But when the team launched its new car on Monday at Jerez team principal Franz Tost made it clear that they need to give them the equipment they need to compete in 2013.

“It’s more in the hands of the team to provide the drivers with a competitive car,” said Tost.

Jean-Eric Vergne described the changes on the STR8 as “massive” and they don’t stop with the car. Both drivers have new race engineers: Daniel Ricciardo is now paired with Marco Matassa, who was his data engineer last year, and Vergne’s new engineer is former Renault man Phil Charles.

Given all these changes a less than smooth week night have been expected. But the car looked stable and quick on track and only stopped twice during the test.


Charles Pic, Caterham, Jerez, 2013Caterham whisked the covers off their CT03 just 15 minutes before the first test of the year began. Aside from an attractive new paint job it looks outwardly similar to the one they campaigned last year – they are one of few teams to retain a stepped nose.

The car ran well but did stop on Thursday shortly after leaving the pits. Nor are there yet any signs the team has been able to bridge the gap to the midfield.

There will be no major changes to the car before the first race but technical director Mark Smith said new front and rear wings and a new diffuser will follow once the season has begun.

For Charles Pic the test almost meant getting to grips with using KERS for the first time. He said he still needs to spend time getting to grips with how to recover the energy during a lap.


Luiz Razia, Marussia, Jerez, 2013Marussia were yet to confirm the identity of Max Chilton’s team mate when they revealed their 2013 car, so the MR02 was unveiled by two other team members.

The following day Luiz Razia was finally confirmed as their second driver an hour before running resumed.

There was some teething trouble with the new car: A suspension failure triggered a crash from Chilton on Tuesday, Razia’s engine failed the following day and Chilton was delated by electronic problems when he returned to the car.

Despite that Chilton was happy with the progress the team made with KERS, which it is using for the first time. And team principal John Booth pointed out they are well ahead of where they were 12 months ago:

“Perhaps the most satisfying thing about this week?s test is the fact that we are in completely different shape to how we were this time last year. Heading into Australia we had just 100km of mileage to our name, whereas we leave Jerez tonight having achieved almost 1000km of running and a good deal of data for the engineers to pore over next week.”

2013 F1 season

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Images ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Williams/LAT, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Mercedes, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Getty Images/Red Bull, Sahara Force India F1 Team, Sauber F1 Team, Caterham/LAT, Marussia

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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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44 comments on “Jerez test team-by-team review”

  1. Have to say, looking at them all lined up here makes you realise just how good the grid looks in 2013!

  2. This is the first time I’ve heard of a ‘fuel run-out test’. While its probably a valid test, its a bit cheeky on the count that they deliberately run out of fuel, cause a red flag and interrupt other people’s running.

    Nice round up tho. Coverage has been awesome so far.

    1. Filming day, clever use of a non test day.

    2. many teams did ‘fuel run-out test’ when refueling was banned cause it was necessary for team to understand how much fuel they needed to carry for the race & qualifying. now that the regulations have not changed much i fail to understand what they could gain by this test.

      1. They gain the same thing – based on this they can tell how much fuel the car is spending and can check they fuel models as F1 doesn’t have a fuell empty lights on the wheel.

      2. So do I. Theoretically, knowing the exact point at which the fuel pump stops being able to pump any more fuel out of the system is useful since it allows the teams to work out exactly how little fuel they can get away with for qualifying. But practically I’m surprised that this isn’t either a) so dependent on conditions, circuit G-forces, suspension setup etc. that measuring it once or twice is actually meaningful or b) sufficiently predictable they don’t need to measure it at all. Since the teams all do it, though, either it must be the case that it’s easy to work out variation between circuits but difficult to find out where the stopping point is, or it’s one of those things that all the teams do because it’s one of those things that all the teams do. Most fields of human activity contain pointless things that are done because that’s the way they’ve always been done.

        1. @ilanin – I imagine it will be some sort of measurement of how much fuel is left in the tank when the pump no longer keeps working otherwise I can see no benefit: the teams absolutely have to carry enough fuel to make it back to the pits with a one litre fuel sample otherwise they will be excluded from qualifying (as Vettel & Hamilton were last year). So running near-empty will be of no benefit – they would just be disqualified and end up last.

          1. What about the race then?
            And even so, it is only necesary to provide 1kg samlpe if I am not mistaken. And there is no guarantee that they put in what they need for out, hot and in lap + sample +error of margin and the system will not fail to pick up the last 1.3kg…. Stop on track-DSQ’d

          2. @mateuss

            I believe there is a flaw in the regulations as they specify 1 litre, not 1 kg. It would be better if they have specified the weight, as it is not dependent of the temperature and pressure.

            To your other question, all teams underfuel their cars on race day, and they hope there will be a safetycar periond in which they can save fuel. If there is no SC they have to change enginmodes to save fuel while trying to put in fast laps. The difference between the race and qualy is, that on race day they have the required distance to manage the the fuelload, while on saturdays, there is only a handful of laps to do it.

      3. I wonder if fuel run-out tests are not only for purpose of calculating fuel load for qualifying, but also for determining the behaviour of the car and checking out procedures in case that there really is no fuel left. I imagine that teams want to know if the engine, electronics, hydraulics, etc. all shut down correctly if such thing happens.

        1. Im struggling to understand the fuel-runout test on-track.

          1. Test the run-out failure
          They can do that on a bench

          2. See how much fuel is consumed?
          Consumer-grade flow meters are capable of measuring how much liquid has passed through over a given time, and Im sure these sensors are already in place on modern F1 cars.

          3. Effects of Gforces, etc.
          Here again, they have a “rumble bench” that does similar to test the suspension setups and strength.

          Being Track Test time is the ONLY thing teams cant buy, I am suprised they would spend any of it on something that seems so testable in other ways…

          1. Why are so many upset about Fuel run out tests? The teams will only do a test if they need to, so there must be some important reason to do it. Track test time is to evaluate how the car functions and if that includes evaluateing when the car will run out of fuel. who are we to question that?
            Its pretty simple to understand whay they do it.

          2. the mistake is in your first assumption @javlinsharp. Teams are not able to do 1 on a bench – its still a bench test, not a real life try out of the conditions on track.
            Sure enough teams do a lot of bench testing with the car before taking it on track, but ultimately they want to compare that with the reality.

      4. Never mind the fuel consumption. How much fuel you put in and how much of it you can get out while at race speed is not the same thing. And in a new car with new design, layout and probably fuel tank that equation is obviously new, and to gain data and make sure their models correlate and they don’t end their first race prematurely they need to…

        A certain bottle shaped container holds 1kg of ketchup of certain viscosity, how much of it will get out while secured up side down in the van driven by Sabine Schmitz around the Ring? This is kinder garden stuff in comparison to the above mentioned.

  3. Great read Keith but I think you missed the little wing in the Caterham exhaust that they ran with until the last day. It caused the first official technical row of the season.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      11th February 2013, 13:58

      Lol I never would have picked Caterham to cause the first technical row, or at all for that matter. Haha

    2. @force-maikel – It’s good to see one of the smaller teams stirring up some controversy; good on Caterham I say!

    3. @force-maikel Good point. Caterham denied breaking rules but they removed that piece of bodywork anyway. Did they clarify why exactly?

      1. According to racecar engineering:

        “Caterham has responded to the comments made by Lotus with team boss Cyril Abiteboul stating to Autosport magazine that “My understanding is that it is within the regulations, we tested it last year and nobody made any remark about it. We are quite flattered that James Allison is paying attention to what is happening at our exhausts. There are different ways of looking at it, and definitely we are outside of the cone. The purpose of testing is to test and to understand what is happening. One of the areas that everybody is looking at is to understand how the exhaust effect is working, and where it is going. Therefore anything that helps you better measure that is welcome, at least for the tests. We will see whatever clarification is made before the first race.””

        So nothing unexpected, they’ve defended it and have said they believe it confirms to the regulations while taking a thinly veiled dig at Lotus!

  4. Everyone on the technical forum are arguing like crazy about this vent under the Ferrari nose.

    1. Interesting, I wonder if it is acting as a duct rather like the Red Bull RB8’s except obviously on the underside as appose to the top?

      1. on a side note…. that explains the different paint scheme on this year´s car… if it had been all red, it would have been easy to spot… but it´s black on it is hard to notice it at plain sight…. I also find it awkward they didn´t take a head on picture of the car when they released their official pics…. they did it last year… seems they really are hiding something!! Yay for Ferrari!!!

      2. Probably, as openings are only allowed for so many purposes.

    2. @vettel1
      Didn´t Sauber have something similar on their car last year??? If I remember correctly they did and nobody said anything about it…
      I guess it´s “ventilation” for the drivers?? at least that´s what RBR said about their “slot” on the RB8´s stepped nose…
      Either way… it´s nice to see Ferrari finally being sneaky about things! hehee

      1. The 2012 Ferrari had a vent under its nose as well and it is still there. This one is in front of that, so I dont believe it is for cooling.

        According to a user named “Shelly”, Bigois and David Sanchez are now at Ferrari. Bigois is the guy who pioneered the DDRS at Merc and David was apparently the one who came up with the idea for the F-Duct at Mclaren. This could very well be their creation.

        Shelly says that he believes it to be a part of a “fluidic switch system”.. what ever that is.

        1. A ‘fluidic switch’ is the terminology for the redirection of air as it moves through a duct (or vents) depending on air pressure, resistance and guiding tunnels/vains inside the duct.

          Here’s a rough animation of how it works –

      2. @catracho504 – They did, but again that was on top of the nose, not bellow. That’s really what’s interesting me right now as I don’t know what the regulations regarding under-nose ducts are like, so they could be doing some aerodynamic wizardry there.

    3. It makes the Ferrari look like a Wells Catfish with a mouth like that. Catfish Ferrari

      1. Wels Catfish*

        1. @sjm
          Wel I hope it´s a fast fish then! lol!!

  5. Have to agree. Aside from the Red Bull (which is a car I really don’t like the looks of) the whole field is much more attractive. Especially Ferrari has come back with a beauty and they finally have a car I wouldn’t mind seeing on the top of the podium a lot ;)

    1. Red Bull are just sandbagging I think, I doubt Newey hasn’t come up with a way to circumvent the intention of the rules with an aerodynamic modesty panel (or so I hope – it’s not a looker I agree)!

  6. In his analysis at James Allen’s web site Mark Gillan mentiones “a DRS booster system using a Fluidic Switch”. I’m pretty sure it’s this duct right there……

    1. He means the Passive DRS that Mercedes and Lotus trialled last year.

  7. I love this part of the season. New cars (better looking this year), and the speculation about who is hot and who is not that won’t end until Melbourne. Particularly this year I have high hopes of the midfield springing some surprises.

    With regard to Red Bull sandbagging/playing their cards close to their chest, I read an interesting piece of information on James Allen’s blog today. According to Mark Gillan: “F1 Teams are very regimented, they run 4 fuel levels: 20kg, 60kg, 80kg and 140kg.” Let’s say, for the sake of speculation, that Vettel did his 18.5 on 60kg of fuel, and Felipe Massa his 17.8 on 20kg; taking out 40kg of fuel would win Vettel around 1 second, so he would do a 17.5 on the harder tyre…

    1. For sake of speculation, Red Bull could have been running 20kg and Ferrari 140kg.

      Honestly, to speculate is madness and/or a flame-bait argument waiting to happen.

  8. Early test review from Gary Anderson:

    Hmmmmm :]

    1. Saw that but there are so many other factors to take into account. The test wasn’t about pace in lots of cases- it was about learning the car and setting it up.

      Red Bull won’t have the 4th fastest car.

      1. Yeh cant see Redbull being that far down, plus i dont think he took tyres into consideration, or track temps/contition/rubber buildup, wether driver was usin KERS/DRS on their laps etc

  9. Interesting that jakob andreason is now at Force India. It’s surprising, given how technology-dependent f1 is, that engineers moving teams isn’t terribly widely reported.

    A small team like FI aren’t going to lure Hamilton from McLaren, but they might lure a couple of engineers with the prospects of better promotions or money, with more benefit at a fraction of the cost…

    1. @hairs I thought he moved there last year?

    2. jakob andreason joined them at the start of 2012 when dominic harlow moved to williams. not sure if he is loaned to them by mclaren or is on force india payrole.

  10. @Keithcollantine he probably did, but I remember when button moved to McLaren they did a feature on the race engineers. jakob seemed tipped for big things. I just wonder how things go on behind the scenes with engineers and how the movements represent a loss or gain to a team. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that will be easy to find out though.

  11. Caterham whisked the covers off their CT03 just 15 minutes before the first test of the year began. Aside from an attractive new paint job it looks outwardly similar to the one they campaigned last year – they are one of few teams to retain a stepped nose.

    That’s kind of a hard sell when it’s accompanied by the most vulgar and unflattering picture of the car that I’ve seen to date.

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