Valencia Test: Final Analysis, Times and Coverage

What Happens When the Big Thing is the Access, Not the Times

1:20pm EST — The first test of 2010 was very important, and not necessarily for those things that happened on-track.  Virgin Racing launched a car and no-one could get the online feed, Red Bull didn’t show up, Renault and Sauber launched from the pit lane, and fans found more access to previously difficult-to-see events on the F1 calendar.  Still, the first thing to talk about is always the times set by the drivers in their brand-new cars.  Whether these times have any bearing on the rest of the season is up for discussion, but, as it always the case, when we have lap times to discuss, they are the thing to talk about.  To begin, Alonso set the fastest lap of the three-day session, with a 1:11.470 on Wednesday.  Each day’s individual times are below.

1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:12.574, 102 Laps
2. Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:12.784, 74 Laps
3. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:12.947, 40 Laps
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:13.543, 39 Laps
5. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:13.846, 86 Laps
6. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:14.449, 75 Laps
7. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:14.762, 18 Laps
8. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:15.000, 69 Laps

1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:11.722, 124 Laps
2. Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber, 1:12.056, 96 Laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:12.256, 108 Laps
4. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:12.426, 119 Laps
5. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:12.899, 119 Laps
6. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:13.377, 102 Laps
7. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:13.823, 107 Laps

 1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:11.470, 127 Laps
2.  Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:12.094, 80 Laps
3.  Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:12.438, 82 Laps
4.  Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 1:12.576, 97 Laps
5.  Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:12.951, 82 Laps
6.  Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:13.097, 75 Laps
7.  Nico Hulkenberg , Williams, 1:13.669, 126 Laps

The immediate determinations on Monday were quite simple.  Standing out was the speed of previously injured Massa and the pace of the Sauber.  Schumacher looked quite quick for a man who had not raced an F1 car in three years. However, it was far too early to make any sort of conclusion.  Testing is not the same a race conditions. 

On Tuesday, the picture was a bit more clear.  The standings remained about the same as they did for Monday’s final testing times.  Ferrari then Sauber (despite the switch from Pedro de la Rosa to Kobayashi at the latter team) with two or three tenths between them as the top two as the same.  However, Hamilton’s times were a bit higher in the standings than reserve driver Gary Paffett’s were Monday, and 1.6 seconds faster. 

All of the times dropped for the second day, such as the  nearly 2.6 second faster lap time set by Kubica Tuesday as compared to Monday.  The Mercedes, only driven by Rosberg on Tuesday, found more speed, but not as much as the other teams while Buemi’s Toro Rosso improved greatly but remained slowest.  The Williams appeared to continue to under perform, but an official Twitter feed from the team stated, “Rubens is only doing long runs today on heavy tanks for race simulation work so don’t expect any really fast times!”

In new information, on Wednesday the lap times had continued to drop, but not with the alacrity that they did between Monday and Tuesday.  Alonso set his fastest lap (and the fastest lap of the entire session) before lunch.  The Williams remained near the bottom of the time sheets in the hands of rookie Nico Hulkenberg, who had a run-in with de la Rosa on-track.  Similarly, the McLaren appears to have early speed issues (or a very heavy fuel tank) as Button, Hamilton, and Paffett as a whole remained nearer the bottom than the top of the times posted. 

I submit that it is more of a developmental problem, as McLaren continued to develop the 2009 car throughout the season, throwing fixes at it to the end, where the Ferrari team stopped working on the 2009 car to concentrate on the 2010 car nearly halfway through the season.  It was just that sort of program that developed the 2009 championship winning Brawn in 2008. 

While the times posted, laps run, and the new looks of the cars are fascinating, one of the most heartening things about this test session was the up-to-the-minute details provided online by teams and journalists alike.  While a twitter account (or access to James Allen’s newest creation) is necessary to see the details, the bitesize continuous coverage of the event was a step forward for a sport often lacking in fan access skills. 

Stay tuned for more testing beginning (and including some new teams) February 10th from Jerez.


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