Jerez Testing

The Jerez testing days have been a mixed bag, and so they should be as it’s the first outing for many cars at the beginning of a fresh season. In fact it’s hard to read much into the times offered, firstly due the to the track itself being green, so times would naturally improve over the days (despite the cool temperatures). Secondly, cars are in their infancy, with some teams yet to debut their 2012 version. However, what is more interesting are the reactions from the teams and drivers, some are ‘comfortable’ with their cars already and others are hailing their best ever test session yet. Although some are already lamenting the designs as not being as expected.

Fresh out of the box Formula One cars may have been the star of the show, but they’re not going to get very far without a tyre or two. Actually it’s a couple more than that, Pirelli have supplied 1176 tyres to the pitlane and between them the teams have racked up 3380 laps which equates to 14,949 km. The white marked medium compound were the most popular, followed by soft then hard. Paul Hembery had this to say after the final day of testing, “The tyres performed exactly in line with our expectations here in Jerez, and we’ve had a very positive reaction from the drivers and teams so far, who have reported more grip at the rear, fewer ‘marbles’ and a reduced lap time difference between the compounds as well as faster overall performance – which is precisely what we wanted.”

Looking back to day one, Kimi Raikkonen gave the field a gentle reminder that he was back in business to post the fastest time. And perhaps a welcome boost the flagging spirits down at the newly renamed Lotus team garage. Spending two years off the grid to pursue a career in NASCAR and rallying, his return has the top flight looking over their shoulders as he winds up the pace. Current champions Red Bull and driver Mark Webber had to wait for components to arrive, having been delayed by inclement weather.

The second day saw another former world champion ascend the timesheets, this time it was Michael Schumacher in his 2011 car. Mercedes had previously announced that their 2012 challenger would be arriving onto the scene a little later than the fans expected. What it did provide was a marker for the rest of the field, the closest was Webber in the RB8 but was still 0.5 seconds behind. Raikkonen could not quite leave the rallying behind today as he ran wide, but still managed to put in over a century under his race suit. Jules Bianchi also made quite the impression, slotting his Force India into fourth. Worth noticing is the number of laps Heikki Kovalainen completed, hinting at their further focus on reliability.

Day three was taken by the other Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg now showing the 2012 field what they have to live up to. Current world champion Sebastian Vettel took to the track, but not without a few issues to bring him back to earth. Another returner Romain Grosjean took over down at Lotus, and flexed his muscles into second, unsurprisingly quoted on the day as ‘one of the happiest guys in the world’. Noticeably quiet are the McLaren guys, but all seems to be well at the team with the smoothest nose, Hamilton reporting there have been no ‘nasty surprises’. Rookie Jean-Eric Vergne’s first outing out him in the middle of the pack, with last year’s debutante Sergio Perez reporting back about a difficult day. Bianchi’s mistake cost Force India a day of running when a moment on the gravel caused rear right damage.

The final day eased the tifosi’s panic with their man taking to the top of the timings, questions had been raised regards performance, but when have Ferrari ever shown all of their cards? But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the rest of the teams, Vettel suffered an electrical fault, Bruno Senna brought out the red flag twice and Kamui Kobayashi had a hydraulic leak. Nonetheless Jarno Trulli should be having less steering woes in 2012 as he has said it’s an area they have improved on.

Remembering that this is the first outing for (almost) all of the 2012 entries it is hard to pinpoint anything regards future performance, that is something we’ll have to wait for during the Australian GP. However we look on eagerly for the next testing session in Barcelona 21st-24th February.

Testing results in full, laps completed shown in brackets

*Narain Karthikeyan did not set a time.

Driver

Team

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Alonso Ferrari 1:20.412 [29] 1:18.877 [39]
Bianchi F. India 1:20.221 [46]
Button McLaren 1:21.530 [62] 1:20.688 [85]
De la Rosa HRT 1:23.676 [44] 1:22.128 [64]
Di Resta F. India 1:19.772 [101] 1:20.272 [69]
Grosjean Lotus 1:18.419 [53] 1:19.729 [95]
Hamilton McLaren 1:19.464 [38] 1:19.640 [86]
Hulkenberg F. India 1:19.977 [90]
Kobayashi Sauber 1:21.353 [106] 1:19.834 [76]
Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.178 [28] 1:21.518 [139]
Maldonado Williams 1:23.371 [25] 1:21.197 [97]
Massa Ferrari 1:22.815 [69] 1:20.454 [95]
Perez Sauber 1:20.711 [67] 1:19.770 [31]
Räikkönen Lotus 1:19.670 [75] 1:20.239 [117]
Ricciardo STR 1:20.964 [57] 1:19.587 [100]
Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.219 [56] 1:17.613 [74]
Schumacher Mercedes 1:20.794 [42] 1:18.561 [132]
Senna Williams 1:21.293 [61] 1:20.132 [125]
Trulli Caterham 1:22.198 [117]
Van Der Garde Caterham 1:23.505 [40]
Vergne STR 1:19.734 [41] 1:19.597 [80]
Vettel Red Bull 1:20.154 [28] 1:19.606 [50]
Webber Red Bull 1:20.496 [54] 1:19.184 [97]
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