First Week Of Testing Ends At Jerez

2013’s contenders for the upcoming Formula One season where wheeled out and pounded round the 2.7 mile Circuito de Jerez in south-western Spain in the first testing week of the pre-season period. The circuit has history as a race venue in F1, hosting races in the 80s and 90s, as well as the 1997 title-deciding race which clinched the one and only championship for Jacques Villeneuve. Following the race, a mix-up during the podium ceremony involving prize-givers resulted in the circuit being temporarily banned from hosting races. the sport has not returned to the venue for a race since, though it has become a familiar and constant venue for testing.

It was for testing which the cars ran round the track over four days that had all ten teams present, although Fernando Alonso was the one driver who did not attend. Williams ran with their 2012 car and did tests on the new-for-2013 tyres as their 2013 car was yet to pass the mandatory crash tests needed for safety clearance.

Red Bull had a trouble-free time, running without some of the troubles which hit their rivals. Sebastian Vettel is aiming for a fourth driver’s championship title in a row and in an statement which few of his rivals would want to hear, declared his RB9 car as an improvement on the machine which won both championships in 2012.

“I think the car’s working very well. Obviously it’s difficult to judge the speed, but it terms of reliability it was good and I feel pretty happy with the car so far,” said Vettel.

“It’s always nice to be on top but if there’s one phase when it matters least, it’s now.

“It’s good for us now to do a lot of laps and to see whether the car’s working.

“It’s an evolution and I think we’ve done another step forward, but that’s all we can say now.”

Ferrari hope to do one better than in 2012

Ferrari hope to do one better than in 2012

Ferrari’s test week got off to a bright start, driver Felipe Massa saying that the new car was some way ahead of the 2012 car which began the year a significant step behind the leading McLarens. Fernando Alonso did not take part at Jerez or attend as he worked on his fitness before he gets his hands behind the wheel at the Barcelona test session next week. Massa’s words will be pleasant for Alonso to hear, as Massa laid out how different the cars of 2012 and 2013 felt.

“I think if you compare to last year it is a completely different planet. Last year I remember we were struggling a lot to drive the car. It was tricky to keep the car on the track, so this year the base on the car is completely different to last year.

“The car is much more balanced. I felt a good direction on the rear of the car as well, with traction. This is a track that is very difficult on the rear, degradation is very high. I would say that the difference to last year is huge.”

Button will have a new team mate this year in Sergio Perez

Button will have a new team mate this year in Sergio Perez

McLaren ended the first day of testing on top of the timesheets. The quickest lap of day one, set by Jenson Button, left Massa amazed as the English topped the day with a time set on a surface which had less grip than it would be expected to set such a time on.

“I still believe his lap was incredible,” said Massa of Button’s effort after the third day of testing.

“On the hard tyres on the first day on the dirty track and everything, it really was a quick lap. I didn’t have the car to do this lap time on the first day.

“I didn’t even try to work for the laptime, but I think it was impressive.

“I think many people are thinking the same about me now, but I think we just improved the car on these days. I think it was a good lap I did, but we can’t say what we’re going to have at the beginning of the championship.

“I have my feet 100 per cent on the ground.”

Lotus appear to have a better baseline than their car in 2012 had

Lotus appear to have a better baseline than their car in 2012 had

Lotus were the only team to end two days with the fastest time on each occasion. Finishing days two and four with the quickest times of the day, the sounds coming from the Lotus garage was pleasing, with the key players all happy. James Allison, technical director of the team, stated that the team has all it needs to compete consistently with the leading teams, now all it had to do was show it on the racetrack.

“I think across the board it is a team that is technically in good shape.

“It is stuffed full of people who know their business, with a lot of experience in the key posts. It is also a team with a lot of young women and men, who are two or three years out of university but very talented and extremely dedicated.

“We have got a lot of nice and good people. We have pretty much the full tool set that a team needs to be competitive, and there is no reason why this team should not compete at the front.”

Sauber set eyes gaping wide with a new colour scheme and aggressive design with slim sidepods, a key area in F1 design. New signing for the team Nico Hulkenberg said that he was pleased with the car’s baseline as he worked to get more comfortable within his new workspace.

“The car performed reasonably well. It’s something we can build on, so I think it’s a good baseline.

“It needs further development. We know in Formula 1 you cannot stop.

“I’ve got a bit more comfortable with the car,” he said. “The first two days in the office, obviously quite a few things and items to get used to.

“My main priority was to come here to make sure I’m comfortable in the car,seating-wise, comfort-wise and obviously with the steering wheel.

“We’ve made some little tweaks and modifications so we’re going the right way.”

Mercedes are one of the teams that there will be a keen eye on as their attempt to give new man Lewis Hamilton a car with which he can and win. Their ambitions were hit by failures for both Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg which limited running on the first two days, but the Silver Arrows made up for it on days three and four, getting in well over 260 laps. Team boss Ross Brawn was hopeful that the team’s recent recruitment of new blood will bear fruit as they look to right the wrongs of past campaigns.

“The step we have to make from the end of last year to this year is pretty substantial and it is a moving target as well,” said Brawn.

“But what I see at the team as a whole is very encouraging. It’s the first [Mercedes] car that Aldo has designed and the aero group seems to be working well, so lots of encouraging signs.

“We know what happened last year, we know what we have to do this year. So we need to quietly get on with it and make sure we don’t panic and make sure we do things in the right way.”

Paul Di Resta was the only Force India race driver to test as the second race seat remains unfilled, but official test drivers Jules Bianchi and James Rossiter were on hand to help. Bianchi is believed to be favourite to secure the second seat and he was hopeful that he would land it.

I do feel ready. I’ve had quite a bit of mileage in Formula 1 now and I feel ready to drive in a race,” he said.

“So even if the plan was to stay a third driver for two years, now the plan has changed and I’m ready.

“I hope by Barcelona it will be decided who the second driver is.”

The biggest problem the Toro Rosso team had in 2012 was being unable to have many options in developing car improvements. This is something which their driver Daniel Ricciardo is sure has been solved.

“We have definitely got a bigger window to work with.”Whether it’s going to be easier or more confusing, we’ll soon find out, but we definitely have got more options this year and that will help us.

“But we’ve got to understand them first because the car is more complex and hopefully we can use this test and Barcelona to understand it all, otherwise it will be a bit of a gamble going for it on the race weekend.”

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