Sunday, 3 March 2013

Catalunya (Test 2, Day 2) - further rain causes issues

Further rain on day two clouds the conclusions we can take away from testing. However on a day of variable conditions the Mercedes shone the brightest. I've taken the same approach as yesterday and broken the day into 10 periods of 10 to 25 minutes where activity on the track was highest.

I found breaking the day into specific periods to be advantageous as it has enabled me to compare the cars during similar conditions. This analysis offers an interesting view of the testing but like yesterday cannot be considered entirely reliable due to the variance in testing programmes and baseline fuel levels.

The average results calculated over the 10 periods can be seen below. 


Despite posting only the 10th quickest lap, Rosberg again showed that the Mercedes is very quick in the colder, damp conditions. As shown (results table) Rosberg had an average median position of 2nd, consistently posting times near the top of the leaderboard. However this may have been a skewed result as most of these times were posted on 15-16 lap stints, so most likely on relatively low fuel. The sounds coming out of Brackley are positive (Autosport - Rosberg Comments) but they are keen not to put a time value on any improvements. Still I feel the improvement is visible as Mercedes have stood out this pre-season, with only Lotus equalling them on speed and tyre consistency.

The fastest outright time went to Grosjean with a lap of 1:22.716. This adds to the series of fastest laps for Lotus that we saw last week. Overall Grosjean seemed to be happy with the result -

“Even though the weather was far from ideal it was a pretty good day for us and it’s certainly a better feeling to end the session with the fastest time on the board rather than the slowest!" ( - Day 2 Summary).

Still concerns can be raised in the drop-off time Grosjean experienced on the tyres after that lap. 4.5 seconds were lost on the soft tyres in a mere 2 laps. Nor was this a random occurence as the same rate of degradation was experienced in a later stint. Similar examples throughout the field. This shows that the tyres are very sensitive in these conditions, even for Lotus who were the most consistent performers in last weeks test analysis.

Vettel had a mixed day. Despite an early incident where he was seen running off the circuit he went on to set a series of consistent lap times. The general consensus is that the Red Bull is shaping up very well especially in the damp conditions. Though conditions were too adverse to gather useful data Vettel expressed happiness with the car stating that -

 "It does what we expect and it seems to behave. If you compare I think it is a better starting point than what we had last year." (Autosport - Barcelona F1 Testing)

Following on from Mark Webber's eye-catching performance yesterday, Vettel's day was fairly understated. Clearly there were no attempts at low fuel runs. The degradation during stints was better than other teams, in particular a 4-lap run starting on his fastest lap (1:23.743) where the drop-off was only 2.8 seconds. When you compare this to Grosjean's stints mentioned above and the Sauber and McLaren who lost 4 seconds on similar stints (starting on 1:24.497 and 1:23.924 respectively) this is looking great for the Milton Keynes based team.

 Other Observations

  • Ferrari completed some very consistent long runs towards the end of the day, reducing fear over degradation I've raised previously.
  • Marussia once again proved they're looking in better shape than the Caterham as they were consistently faster throughout the day.
  • Force India mostly concentrated on short runs and looked in reasonable shape. Still there was nothing spectacular to report and they're looking near the bottom of the midfield.
  • Williams focused on short stints but there was one longer stint with great consistency in the 1:31s when conditions were less than ideal.
  • Toro Rosso had an understated day and are looking in reasonably good form.

Overall Conclusions


  • Mercedes continue their strong form, its hard to draw too many conclusions but the signs are very good for the season ahead 
  • Lotus and Red Bull are the other standout performers.
  • Ferrari and McLaren are carrying out their programmes but their form is currently hard to judge.
  • The ordering of the midfield teams is still very difficult to work out given the varying conditions experienced in the last two days.  

"We are pleased in general. It has been a good winter. We've gone through the whole winter, but I don't want to speak about any performance level, or where I think I am or where others are.
It is just not possible to know at the moment really. I think the way you can describe our winter is 'pleased' and that is it." - Nico Rosberg

All pictures copyright of Autosport and Skysports. No copyright violation intended. 

Here are some of the crucial activity periods during the day:


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