Pedro de la Rosa: “Just like in Barcelona, I’m really looking forward to racing in front of our home fans in Valencia. At the Valencia Street Circuit we will encounter high air and track temperatures so the brakes will be put through their paces once again, but we’re confident we can make the necessary modifications to overcome the problems we experienced in Canada. Valencia has long straights but overtaking isn’t easy and it is a high-downforce track. I think we can do quite well here, although it’s not as favourable to our car as Canada, because there are a lot of braking areas and slow corners which are good for us. We’re looking forward to putting in a good performance in front of our fans and we want to continue with our progress from the last few races, where we’ve been at a good standard, but here we want to confirm this improvement in the race.”
Narain Karthikeyan: “Valencia will be our third street circuit in a row, and our team’s second home race. It is our second visit to Spain in just about five weeks but the circuit is as different as it could be compared to Barcelona. It shares some characteristics with Montreal and Monte Carlo, like emphasis on low-speed traction so I expect our car to do well here. Apart from that, it is a beautiful place and weather is pretty hot, just like India, but the track itself isn’t a huge challenge. Yes the walls are close but the adrenaline factor isn’t close to Monaco or even Montreal. But on the back of the promise we showed in Canada, I’m looking forward to the race and hopefully we’ll have a chance to build on it this time.”
Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: “We’re looking forward to racing in Valencia, as it will be the second time we do so at home this season. In Canada we were quick and performed well but were unable to finish the race. In Valencia we want to confirm this progress and achieve a good result, plus doing so in front of the Spanish public is even more special. I think that the characteristics of this circuit adapt well to our car and I hope we have good reliability and finish the race with a positive result.”
Marussia will mis the last pre-season test, after their car failed the last of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests. That means the team will arrive in Australia (assuming they can correct the issue and pass the test) with absolutely no mileage on their car.
Driving a Formula One car is dangerous at the best of times. The acceleration, braking, and corning abilities of the cars are staggering. The very idea of participating in a session on a grand prix weekend in a car that has never hit the track is ridiculous. At best, the car will be slow. At worst, it is a death trap.
A slow Formula One car is about the most dangerous thing imaginable. The closing speeds of the cars under braking are mind-blowing. A Red Bull could be braking 80 metres later than a Marussia in Melbourne in three weeks time. The potential exists for accidents like that of Mark Webber at Valencia in 2010, where he ran into the back of Kovalainen’s Lotus because he was surprised by how early the Lotus had to brake.
This is not the first time that a team is arriving at the first race with no testing. HRT have done it for the last two years. In 2010, they ran their cars for the first time in qualifying for Bahrain. In 2011, with the 107% rule re-introduced, they failed to qualify for Australia, to the surprise of no-one.
The regulations do not require a car to run in testing before it can take part in a grand prix weekend. In that regard, the regulations are woefully indequate. The FIA needs to wake up and realise that, by allowing this to happen, they are deliberately creating an unsafe environment for racing. Formula One is dangerous enough already. Why make it worse?
12 Formula One teams will be in Barcelona in the first week of March, for the final four day pre-season test of 2012. It will be the first time that all 12 teams run their 2012 cars at the same time.
We can look forward to two more launches as HRT and Marussia reveal their 2012 challengers to the world. It will be the first time HRT take part in a pre-season test with their current car. They were in Jerez a few weeks ago, but with their 2011 car.
The up-coming test should see the return of Lotus, who pulled out of last week’s test after identifying an issue with their chassis. After a week or so back in the factory, they should be good to go.
In terms of what the teams are likely to be testing, there should be upgrades on some of the cars. Often the teams will start testing with a fairly basic car, and then bring a significant upgrade to the last test in preparation for the first race. So there could be some slightly different looking cars. Any changes to exhausts will be followed closely by all of the teams. Although it is no longer legal to run the exhaust through the diffuser, the teams have now learned that exhaust gases can play a part in producing downforce. Some teams will doubtless be testing exhaust-related solutions on their cars.
There should be quite a few race simulations. Now that reliability issues have mostly been resolved, the teams will want to concentrate on tyre and fuel management over long runs. Performance over long runs will be interesting to watch, as the teams start to find the performance in their cars. Pitstop practice could become more common, as the pit crews fine-tune their skills in anticipation of the start of the season. We will hopefully see some qualifying simulations. Although the teams will not want to give away too much of their true pace, they will also want to gather as much data as they can about low-fuel setups.
The pecking order will only become clear in Australia. In qualifying, we will find out who is the fastest. In the race, we’ll find out who has the best all-round package. Until then, we can only speculate.
Formula1.com reports that the new HRT has failed two of the FIA’s mandatory crash tests.
For 2012, new regulations require that cars pass all crash tests before they may be used on track. This means that HRT’s new car may not currently be tested. HRT had planned to launch the F112 at the next test in Barcelona on 21 February, but it seems that they will have to delay until the last test, starting on 1 March.
This is a setback that the team certainly did not need. After two seasons of struggling at the back of the grid, the Spanish team needs all the testing time it can get.
Michael Schumacher topped the time sheets on the second day of pre-season testing at Jerez, Spain. The seven-time World Champion completed 132 laps with a fastest time of 1m18.561s, more than a second faster than yesterday’s quickest lap by Kimi Raikkonen.
Heikki Kovalainen made up for Caterham’s limited running yesterday by completing 139 laps today, more than any other driver. It was a significant day for Caterham, as KERS was used for the first time on the CT01. The team formerly known as Lotus did not use KERS in 2011.
Kovalainen was upbeat, saying: “I feel very happy with the work we have completed today. Yesterday we had a problem that was nothing to do with the car so today was our first real day of testing and we had a trouble free day, completing most of what we wanted to on day one and day two and working through a variety of setup changes. We ran on each of the tyre compounds and I’m really starting to get a feel for the car. Basically it’s good news because it confirms what I thought yesterday. This car is a lot better than the 2011 car, it’s quicker and everything works as we want it to. We’ve made very solid progress and I feel really good physically, so I think there’s a lot more to come.”
The day was mostly without incident. Kimi Raikkonen had a couple of off-track excursions, the first of which brought out the red flag while marshals cleaned gravel off the track. There was only one other stoppage, when some loose concrete was removed from behind a kerb.
Raikkonen entertained with some aggressive driving throughout the day, and Schumacher gave an overtaking masterclass when he ended up behind other cars at several points in the afternoon.
Today was the last day of the first test for HRT, who will bring their 2012 car to the second test in Barcelona in two weeks time. They ran their 2011 car for two days in order to gather data on the new Pirelli tyres. All of the other teams, except Marussia, will be in action again tomorrow morning.
Laptimes for the day are as follows:
|1||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W02||1m18.561s||132|
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull RB8||1m19.184s||97|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso STR7||1m19.587s||100|
|4||Jules Bianchi||Force India VJM05||1m20.221s||46|
|5||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus E20||1m20.239s||117|
|6||Paul di Resta||Force India VJM05||1m20.272s||69|
|7||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F2012||1m20.454s||95|
|8||Jenson Button||McLaren MP4-27||1m20.688s||85|
|9||Sergio Perez||Sauber C31||1m20.711s||106|
|10||Pastor Maldonado||Williams FW34||1m21.197s||97|
|11||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham CT01||1m21.518s||139|
|12||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT F111||1m22.128s||64|