Teams’ last chance to prepare in pre-season testing

2013 F1 season

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Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013The final four-day test ahead of the 2013 season gets underway at the Circuit de Cataluna tomorrow.

Trying to get a read on the performance of each of the teams from testing is fraught with problems. At this stage the top teams appear to be close on pace – perhaps even closer than last year.

And nobody appears to be going through the trauma that gripped Ferrari 12 months ago, when Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa discovered the F2012 was well off the pace.

As is always the way in F1 testing, no one will show their hand until they feel they have to. Keep an eye out for teams to start running their aerodynamic packages for the first race towards the end of the test.

“When you’ve got a new car you obviously aim for the last couple of days in Barcelona should be running Melbourne-spec,” said Williams technical director Mike Coughlan at the track last week.

In recent years we’ve become used to seeing Red Bull go to considerable lengths to cover up their car when they start running their new aero parts, ducking behind carefully-arranged screens.

This year they’ve had the screens in use since the first test at Jerez. Photographers who creep too close can expect a glowering glare from team manager Jonathan Wheatley, followed by a readjustment of screens and personnel to obscure their view.

But it’s not just the world champions who are under scrutiny from their rivals. McLaren mechanics were spotted shooing away a Lotus team member as he snapped pictures of the rear of their MP4-28.

McLaren produced the quickest time of last week’s test, Sergio Perez setting a 1’21.848. That was just 0.027s faster than Ferrari’s best effort.

Headline times like these can be misleading: The troublesome F2012 was the second-fastest car at last year’s Jerez test. Yet there is a sense of relief at Ferrari that the F138 is clearly a better base to build on than its predecessor, and an expectation that they can have a much better season.

Lotus, too, appear confident in their E21. Their testing has been hampered by a few technical and operational problems, but providing these are ironed out in the next few days they look set for a good start to the season.

Kimi Raikkonen has been disproportionately affected by this – he is the only driver to have covered less than 1,000km over four days, and team mate Romain Grosjean has managed almost 500km more. However Raikkonen is probably the last driver on the grid who would be concerned about missing a chance to go testing.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Mercedes have also had a few glitches with their W04. The car appears to be quite conservative but after their recent efforts that may well prove to be a benefit. They did little running on the soft tyres last week and so their performance is likely to be better than the lap times indicate.

Sauber are Toro Rosso are plugging away with cars which are much-changed from their predecessors. Caterham and Marussia still look to be a second or more off the midfield pace.

The teams’ attempts to perform long run tests have been frustrated by the cool conditions and the levels of degradation experienced with the new 2013-specification tyres. However that is expected to be less of a problem once the season begins.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery explained: “At this stage of testing it is always difficult for the teams and drivers to know what to expect from the first race as conditions are not always representative.

“Past experience from the last two years shows a big reduction in tyre degradation over the course of the season: roughly half the degradation seen in winter testing. This year, we think that degradation will be higher than it was in 2012, and we estimate a degradation rate of around 0.15 to 0.18 seconds per lap in race conditions for the hard compound in Barcelona.”

While most teams are concentrating on tyres and car development some are still trying to sort out their driver line-up. The late completion of the 2013 driver line-up, along with the disappearance of one team over the winter, is another sign of the sport’s poor financial health.

Whoever Force India choose to put in their car this year they will have spent at least two of their twelve pre-season test days running a non-race driver. Although some of that was given to simulator driver James Rossiter, it is still less than ideal.

The situation at Marussia is also uncertain. Luiz Razia was announced as Max Chilton’s team mate but didn’t turn a wheel last week amid rumours over his sponsorship package.

Final decisions on who will be driving for those two teams can’t be left much later. The final test begins in less than 24 hours.

Once again, F1 Fanatic will be there to bring you coverage direct from the track.

2013 testing statistics

Barcelona test one fastest times by team

1McLarenSergio Perez1’21.8480.000Soft
2FerrariFernando Alonso1’21.8750.027Soft
3SauberNico Hulkenberg1’22.1600.312Soft
4LotusRomain Grosjean1’22.1880.340Soft
5Red BullSebastian Vettel1’22.1970.349Soft
6MercedesNico Rosberg1’22.6110.763Medium
7WilliamsPastor Maldonado1’22.6750.827Soft
8Force IndiaAdrian Sutil1’22.8771.029Soft
9Toro RossoJean-Eric Vergne1’23.3661.518Soft
10MarussiaMax Chilton1’25.1153.267Soft
11CaterhamGiedo van der Garde1’26.1774.329Soft

Barcelona test one fastest times by driver

1Sergio PerezMcLaren1’21.8480.000Soft
2Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’21.8750.027Soft
3Nico HulkenbergSauber1’22.1600.312Soft
4Romain GrosjeanLotus1’22.1880.340Soft
5Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’22.1970.349Soft
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’22.6110.763Medium
7Kimi RaikkonenLotus1’22.6230.775Medium
8Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1’22.6750.827Soft
9Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’22.7260.878Hard
10Valtteri BottasWilliams1’22.8260.978Soft
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’22.8400.992Hard
12Adrian SutilForce India1’22.8771.029Soft
13Mark WebberRed Bull1’23.0241.176Medium
14Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1’23.3661.518Soft
15Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1’23.7181.870Medium
16Paul di RestaForce India1’23.9712.123Medium
17Max ChiltonMarussia1’25.1153.267Soft
18Esteban GutierrezSauber1’25.1243.276Hard
19Jules BianchiForce India1’25.7323.884Medium
20Giedo van der GardeCaterham1’26.1774.329Soft
21Charles PicCaterham1’26.2434.395Medium
22Felipe MassaFerrari1’27.5635.715Medium

Distance completed by driver

DriverTotal lapsTotal distance (km)
Esteban Gutierrez4161,879.276
Paul di Resta3841,733.040
Valtteri Bottas3671,667.979
Jean-Eric Vergne3631,649.586
Nico Hulkenberg3571,621.429
Sergio Perez3531,602.582
Sebastian Vettel3481,574.994
Max Chilton3481,595.651
Mark Webber3461,571.132
Pastor Maldonado3331,514.930
Lewis Hamilton3331,513.795
Nico Rosberg3241,471.446
Charles Pic3171,437.953
Romain Grosjean3091,404.572
Felipe Massa3071,377.556
Daniel Ricciardo2961,343.149
Giedo van der Garde2951,338.721
Fernando Alonso2831,317.365
Jenson Button2611,187.715
Kimi Raikkonen210949.629
Jules Bianchi117531.923
Adrian Sutil78363.090
James Rossiter61270.108
Pedro de la Rosa51225.828

Distance completed by team

TeamModelTotal lapsTotal distance (km)
Red BullRB96943,146.13
Toro RossoSTR86592,992.74
Force IndiaVJM066402,898.16

2013 F1 season

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Images ?? Lotus/LAT, Jamey Price/James Moy

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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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  • 26 comments on “Teams’ last chance to prepare in pre-season testing”

    1. Anthony Bosley (@)
      27th February 2013, 10:35

      Gutierrez has done more than 400 laps already?
      Well thats a grueling introduction to F1, especially considering the lack of testing.

    2. Force India must display “This could be you” “This is a cool spot” on their second car

    3. Marussia say Max Chilton will be in the car for the first day of testing tomorrow. No word yet on when (or if) Luiz Razia will run.

    4. McLaren produced the quickest time of last week’s test, Sergio Perez setting a 1’21.848. That was just 0.027s faster than Ferrari’s best effort.

      Headline times like these can be misleading.

      Certainly. Andrew Benson has predicted Jenson Button on pole at Melbourne and Gary Anderson has predicted that Sergio Perez will win the title.

      1. @craig-o

        Link to the relevant piece about Gary Anderson on Perez winning title please.


          The title on the homepage says “Perez for the title?”

          1. If I know what a title is, and I should certainly hope I do, that’s not the title. :)

            This is title:
            Number crunching gives early F1 form guide – Gary Anderson

      2. 1. In the article you linked – which is two weeks old – Anderson did not tip Perez for the title. He merely pointed out that, adjusting for fuel, he scored the best time at Jerez.

        2. In Anderson’s latest article – here, written yesterday – he discusses each team and spells out his thoughts on Perez, saying he is a “dark horse.” This means he thinks Perez is a decent ‘outside bet’ and is under-rated… but is not one of the favourites.

        1. Interesting read! Anderson also states that he can’t be sure of some teams, like Mercedes or red Bull – so I’m still afraid for Vettel domination…

    5. This week could be the making of breaking of Sutil’s or Bianchi’s career! ?

      1. Sutil has had his chance, and he has been slow when compared to anyone with talent. FI would be better off with the best driver they can get who might just bring them in more cash through better results – radical plan, I know, but this is F1 where conservative just won’t do and the best drivers always get the seats…

        I’d go for Kobayashi – he is awesome. Attack the japanese hard for support, and if Honda is making a comeback he might be worth having on board as FI might then be able to get honda engines on the cheap (I know I’m guessing here but who knows???). Glock could also be an option, or one of the ‘lost’ McLaren drivers like Paffet or Green – lots of testing miles over the years and worth a crack. If Bianchi is not getting the drive as FI want him to do a year testing then why go back to a hack like Sutil? Hell, if you’re going to do that then give Rubens or Ralf a call eh?

        1. @clay

          Why do these people matter ? It’s too late now, and I doubt any of them would like to join a midfield team like FI.

          I can’t wait till the bloody team makes a press statement. They’ve updated their Facebook page saying they’d come out with the news everyone’s been waiting for soon. Soon by their standards could be 2 weeks though -_-.

        2. @clay – sadly just because Kobayashi is “awesome” does not make him a suitable choice. Glock isn’t an option, as he is driving in DTM and the McLaren test drivers wouldn’t be a sensible option as they don’t know the team: Bianchi or Sutil would make more sense.

          There are really only two candidates, and out of the two I think they should give the younger a shot.

          1. @vettel1 It’s going to be Sutil.

    6. I think Williams will be the surprize of the season. I predict them to be in the top 3 in Melbourne and maybe even fighting for the championship.

      1. It’d be an interesting suprise if that happens. I’m still hoping for Hamilton to pull a 2012 Alonso and wrestle an inferior car to the podium, feel both drivers deserve more championships for such a degree of talent.

        1. Totally agree. It would be such a shame if the left the sport with 1 and 2 championships respectively. I know there are a lot of laps left in them both but Red Bull are just on such form that it might not matter. If Vettel is to break Schumachers records like people say he will, then drivers like Hamilton and Alonso will have to loose.

    7. It will be a busy weekend. Rain for tomorrow and friday :(

    8. I read that Nicolas Todt has said that Adrian Sutil will partner Di Resta at Force India but I don’t know how reliable it is. Seems like nothing is officially confirmed yet.

      1. And Vergne tweeted that its a shame his mate Bianchi won’t be in F1 too. But nothing is official quite yet.

        Also interesting to see what happens at Marussia

        1. @BasCB Hopefully they don’t do to Razia what Caterham did to Trulli before the start of last season: be contracted for the upcoming season yet have that contract suddenly broken and replaced by Petrov due to – you know what…

          1. I guess its mostly dependent on the money transfer from Razia’s backers now. But I would hope to have him confirmed tomorrow. I had been curious to see how he would develop in F1.

      2. Plus Nicholas Todt is Jean Todt’s son as well as Massa’s manager I believe.

        So in terms of reliability I’d say – pretty high!

      3. I’m disappointed at Force India’s decision, if indeed the rumours are true. It appears to me they have take the safe option at a time where they could use taking risks, with the state of Mallaya’s airline which I fail to believe isn’t affecting Force India. Sutil is a known quantity, and it is known that although he is a consistent performer he is not anything outwardly special, whereas Bianchi could potentially turn out to be a very good driver.

        1. I agree, out of Sutil and Bianchi I was hoping to see Bianchi in the car.

          On a more positive note, it’s only 17 days, 2 hours and 40 minutes left until the first race!

    Comments are closed.