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F1 Test 2013 Jerez – Day 4 Summary, Raikkonen rounds out Day 4 on top in the Lotus E21

Life in the Pit Lane – Is F1 Safety good enough?

F1 has a habit of focussing on car and driver safety for obvious reasons and quite rightly so, it also has an obligation to meet the Mandatory FIA crash safety regulations before cars are declared safe to run.

However safety in the pit lane does not seem to get the same intense focus and the question that needs to be asked is – ‘is F1 getting complacent over pit lane safety’. There have been a number of incidents in the pit lane over the past few seasons resulting in minor injuries to team members and this was brought into sharp focus again at the opening F1 test of the 2013 season at Jerez. this week. The Force India VJM06 of F1 rookie James Rossiter arrived at the pit box too fast and hit the front jack man, knocking him off his feet and necessitating a hospital visit. Fortunately on this occasion the team member was just shaken and bruised but it could easily have been far worse.

Is it really still sensible to drive a Formula 1 car travelling at between 50-60 kph head on in the direction of a team member i.e the front jack man? The braking of contemporary F1 cars is such that the speed is only dissipated at the last moment and this potentially introduces an unacceptable risk. How long will it be before the ‘big one’ happens and then it will be too late.

No one wants to see the spectacle of F1 diminished and sanitised too much and for sure pit stops in F1 are spectacular in the extreme. But would it really matter if a pit-stop was increased by 3-4 seconds if the same rule was applied to all of the teams, I don’t think so, but what do you think?

F1 Test 2013 Jerez – Day 3 Summary, Massa and Ferrari up the tempo

For the F1 teams running at Jerez, Day 3 was the busiest so far with 923 laps and over 2,500 miles covered. The Mercedes F1W04 of Nico Rosberg was the high miler today, no doubt to the relief of the team he covered 148 laps compensating them to a certain extent for the problems they have experienced over the previous 2 days. Rosberg was also well up the order in terms of pace, lapping in 1m 18.766s the second fastest time of the day and third fastest of the test overall.

It was the Ferrari F138 though of Felipe Massa that upped the tempo and finished his days work comfortably the fastest driver, eclipsing Rosberg with a lap in 1m 17.879s some 0.887s to the good.

There was drama in the Force India pit early on in the day when Rookie test driver Max Chilton arrived at his box too fast hitting the front jack man and launching him into the air in what could have been a very nasty incident. Fortunately the mechanic was released from hospital following a checkup just shaken and bruised but otherwise OK. Rossiter went on to complete 42 laps and ended up 6th fastest of the day.

World Champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both had their first taste of the 2013 spec F1 cars today with Vettel completing 102 laps and finishing the day 3rd fastest in the RB9. Raikkonen did less, driving 40 laps in the Lotus E21 and ending in 4th place on the time sheets. The third driver to complete in excess of 100 laps today was Esteban Gutierrez in the Williams completing 110.

For the three days of the test so far the highest mileage has been covered by the Sauber F1 team whose new C32 has put in 288 laps equating to 792 miles. Overall the teams have completed a total of 2,436 laps, 6,701 miles.

Despite the number of miles covered an update from Pirelli at around midday summarised the tyre test data so far by saying that it was hard to draw any real conclusions!

F1 Test 2013 Jerez – Day 2 Summary, Grosjean and Lotus top the time sheets

Image Courtesy Lotus F1 Team

The F1 Teams were hard at work again at Jerez today with some serious mileage covered. Mark Webber put 101 laps on the new Red Bull Racing RB9 totalling some 278 miles in the Spanish sun, more than any other driver and he ended the day 4th fastest. Lewis Hamilton had his first serious drive behind the wheel of the Mercedes F1W04 but unfortunately it didn’t last too long with the car suffering a problem with the hydraulic brake line connecting to the right rear caliper. The failure caused Hamilton to go off track and hit a tyre barrier causing damage to the front left suspension and associated aero parts but happily a bang to his legs no injuries to the driver. The Mercedes Team was unable to carry out the investigation and repairs to the car in time for Lewis to rejoin the session and as a consequence he was only able to complete a total of 15 laps as the accident happened at just before 10.00 am CET. That brings Mercedes total lap tally to just 29 after Rosberg’s problems yesterday and has taken a significant chunk out of their development time for the week, but perhaps more significantly out of the time they have available to get to get the measure of the new Pirelli P Zero tyres.

The man at the top of the time sheets for most of the day was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E21. Grosjean ended the day comfortably fastest with a lap time of 1m 18.218s undercutting Jenson Button’s best time in the McLaren MP428 from day 1 by 0.643s and clear of today’s second fastest driver Paul Di Resta in the Force India VJM06 by 0.785s. In all today an impressive 856 laps and 2,355 miles were covered by the 12 drivers running in the session. Grosjean’s fastest lap equates to 203.8 kph.

In total 1,513 laps have been completed over the 2 days so far with over 4,100 miles covered, amazing how fast it builds up at F1 speeds over a few days.

Tomorrow and Friday will see Kimi Raikkonen taking over the driving for Lotus and Nico Rosberg first in the car for Mercedes. Triple world champion Sebastian Vettel will take over from Mark Webber for the next 2 days in the Red Bull RB9.

Times for today’s session are shown below:

Driver Team Pos Time (sec) Diff Tot Diff Laps Miles
Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 1 78.218 95 261.345
Paul Di-Resta Sahara Force India F1 Team 2 79.003 0.785 0.785 95 261.345
Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso 3 79.134 0.131 0.916 83 228.333
Mark Webber Infiniti Red Bull Racing 4 79.338 0.204 1.120 101 277.851
Nico Hulkenberg Sauber F1 Team 5 79.502 0.164 1.284 99 272.349
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG F1 Team 6 79.519 0.017 1.301 15 41.265
Sergio Perez Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 7 79.572 0.053 1.354 81 222.831
Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari 8 79.914 0.342 1.696 78 214.578
Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Team 9 80.693 0.779 2.475 71 195.321
James Rossiter Sahara Force India F1 Team 10 81.273 0.580 3.055 19 52.269
Giedo Van Der Garde Caterham F1 Team 11 81.311 0.038 3.093 88 242.088
Luiz Razia Marussia F1 Team 12 83.537 2.226 5.319 31 85.281

F1 Test 2013 Jerez – Day One Summary, Jenson Button and McLaren show the way

Image Courtesy Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 Team

Amid great excitement and anticipation F1 2013 winter testing got underway at Jerez today. It all started with early launches by Marussia unveiling the MR02 and Caterham unveiling the CT03. Both were out from the covers before 09.00 CET this morning.

There were eleven drivers on track today and between them they covered a total of 654 laps which equates to almost 1800 miles with Paul Di Resta completing the most with an impressive total of 89 in the Force India VJM06.

At the end of the days proceedings it was the McLaren MP4-28 of Jenson Button that set the fastest time at 1m 18.861s. A total of 5.32 seconds separated the fastest car of Button from the slowest of Max Chilton. Both Button and Chilton suffered problems today with Button’s car having a fuel pump failure after only three laps in the morning session and Chilton’s Marussia MR02 going off track following a suspected mechanical failure to the rear suspension. There was also a drama for Mercedes when Nico Rosberg’s F1W04 suffered a fire at the rear end of the car after just 14 laps.

Formula 1 testing is notoriously unreliable as a means of judging future performance as there are way to many variables at play in uncontrolled sessions, as the teams experiment with chassis and aero settings, tyre choice, fuel loads etc, it really is at best vaguely indicative in terms of lap time but can be more so in terms of reliability.

Just for the record however the key details are shown below:

Driver Team Pos Time (sec) Diff Tot Diff Laps Miles
Jenson Button Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1 78.861 37 101.787
Mark Webber Infiniti Red Bull Racing 2 79.709 0.848 0.848 73 200.823
Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 3 79.796 0.087 0.935 54 148.554
Paul Di-Resta Sahara Force India F1 Team 4 80.343 0.547 1.482 89 244.839
Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso 5 80.401 0.058 1.540 70 192.57
Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari 6 80.536 0.135 1.675 64 176.064
Nico Hulkenberg Sauber F1 Team 7 80.699 0.163 1.838 79 217.329
Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG F1 Team 8 80.846 0.147 1.985 14 38.514
Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Team 9 80.864 0.018 2.003 84 231.084
Giedo Van Der Garde Caterham F1 Team 10 81.915 1.051 3.054 64 176.064
Max Chilton Marussia F1 Team 11 84.176 2.261 5.315 29 79.779
654 1799.154

Caterham F1 Team unveils CT03 as F1 testing 2013 commences at Jerez. Video and photos.

The Caterham F1 Team has unveiled its 2013 challenger the CT03 minutes before the opening F1 test at the Jerez circuit.

The new CT03 was unveiled by its new driver pairing of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. The familiar green and yellow livery of the car remains although it has been  refreshed and lightened for the new season. The new CT03 does still feature a stepped nose design.

As has been a familiar pattern with other F1 teams so far Caterham F1 has described the new car as an evolutionary design rather than a complete redesign allowing the team to focus on areas of improvement that will deliver the biggest return while allowing them to also focus on the sweeping regulation changes coming in 2014.

Key changes from last year’s car are in the side pod area around the lower chassis at the rear where undercutting has improved airflow to the rear of the car. there have also been major changes to the diffuser, engine cover and cooling exits and other more subtle improvements to other areas of the car.

Tony Fernandes Co-Chairman Caterham Group commented “For me this is going to be the story of the 2013 season – every team wants to be as competitive as possible this year, but with such fundamental rule changes next year resources and budgets dictate that there will have to be a cut-off point in the development of the current season cars so focus can be switched to 2014. We will bring updates to the car after several races and I am happy that the plan we have for 2013 will give us the chance to fight this year, but, importantly, will allow us to take full advantage of the new rules in 2014.”
ct03_1_600400 ct03_2_600400 ct03_3_600400 ct03_4_600400
All images and video courtesy and © Caterham F1 Team