Day 8 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Afternoon Report

Circuit de Catalunya

Welcome back to the second part of our coverage and there’s no other word to say it – the distribution of information at Barcelona is currently a shambles really. Every two minutes the information from two minutes before is revised and completely changed.

Just to give you the idea:

At 13:20 word was, that Aloso was airlifted to hospital, with screens being help up to hide as he was carried from the medical center to the heli, reminiscent of the scenes we’ve seen after Schumacher’s crash in Silverstone 1999.

At 13:25 that was we were informed that the tranfer to the hospital was merely precautionary an that Alonso was conscious, alert and has spoken to the doctors.

At 13:29, at least the ‘alert and conscious’ part was now finally and officially confirmed. Until we get anything that someone vows for, it is best we keep ourselves out of the speculation.

One thing doesn’t need to be confirmed though: For McLaren things go from bad to worse. As if their huge technical problems weren’t enough, they have now a damaged car and an – at the very least – very rattled star driver at hand.

13:45

Confirmation has come directly from McLaren that Fernando Alonso has suffered no visible injuries, but has been airlifted to hospital solely as a precautionary measure.

A first image has cropped up

It seems to confirm inofficial eyewitness accounts that Alonso seemed to have whacked the car sideways into the wall on the inside of the corner, as if on purpose. Two possible reasons would be either a substantial failure in the steering system, leaving the car out of Alonso’s control or a break failure with the driver attempting to deccelerate the car. Neither of which can be confirmed or denid from the sparse information available and McLaren refuses to comment until final medical all-clear has been signaled by the hospital.

So all we can do at the moment is look at the current order and wait for new information to come in.

DRIVER TEAM CHASSIS TIME DIFF. #
1. Spain Sainz jr Toro Rosso STR10 renault 1:25.605 59 Super Soft
2. Germany Vettel Ferrari SF15-T ferrari 1:26.312 +0.707 59 Soft
3. Germany Hülkenberg Force India VJM07 mercedes 1:26.591 +0.986 33 Soft
4. Germany Rosberg Mercedes AMG W06 mercedes 1:26.782 +1.177 67 medium
5. Spain Alonso McLaren MP4-30 honda 1:27.956 2.351 19 Medium
6. France Grosjean Lotus E23 mercedes 1:28.029 +2.424 40 Medium
7. Russia Kvyat Red Bull Racing RB11 renault 1:28.149 +2.544 38 Medium
8. Finland Bottas Williams FW37 mercedes 1:28.171 +2.566 52 Medium
9. Brazil Nasr Sauber C34 ferrari -:–.– 3 Medium

Meanwhile the helicopter is back and Sebastian Vettel, who was right behind Alonso at the time confirms that it did not look like an accident, but as if Alonso veered right and nerfed it into the wall on purpose or at least to prevent worse.

2pm (>>)

Even though the helicopter is back, race control has delayed the restart until 2:15pm local time, which is 15 minutes from now. With that final information, I hand over to my colleague Adam Macdonald.

Good afternoon all, glad to have you with us for this final installment of the first Barcelona test of 2015.  Fresh from the sherry and robes of Jerez we will see how much is added to the 370 laps so far for the day.

A somewhat strange event in the morning session for the 05/06 World Champion, as AMus reporter Tobias Grüner points out…

A reminder that it had been Jenson Button who was scheduled to take over from the Spaniard this afternoon.  This seems highly unlikely now, which given all that mileage is everything in a new car/powertrain combination this will hurt even more.

The green flag is waved and immedaitely it is Lotus and Romain Grosjean who head out for what the team say will be a race simulation, Rosberg, Bottas, Kvyat and the Spanish protege Sainz Jr are circulating.

Those of a jealous disposition should look away now; the blue skies are a distant memory for anyone stuck in blighty at the moment…

Even for testing this is a poor turnout at testing - especially when we consider it is a weekend

Even for testing this is a poor turnout at testing – especially when we consider it is a weekend

The Williams and Mercedes are both lapping very consistently as they settle in the race simulation. Out on the soft tyres for the afternoon his lap times are now jumping up to the 1:33s and now 1:36s, as Felipe Nasr emerges from the garage to crawl around the track once before returning to the pits.

Grosjean is now forced to bin his tyres and opt for a set of mediums.  Rosberg returns to the garage once more and Sauber tweet about “general issues” with the C34 curtailing running this morning.  Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn spoke in Jerez to me about how she had expected more from the winter, even with all the plaudits that were being offered about her team – being part of an F1 team must be a thankless task at the best of times.

The low 12°C make tyre running all but impossible as it will be tricky to maintain any kind of temperature in them. Grosjean is now lapping in the 1:31s which should remain slightly more consistent now.

A 1:31.906 is Nasr’s first timed lap of the day as the Hinwil team look to make up for lost ground.  A word to the wise for the rookie Brazilian – avoid the other cars on track this time…  He follows this up with a 1:27.366 to slot into 5th place on the time charts.

Valtteri Bottas pits after 16 laps out there, with the FW37 seemingly able to maintain those PZero tyres far better than the Lotus challenger.

After the Williams not sounding too healthy it has returned to the garage, completing just 17 laps here.  Hardly the ‘race sim’ TJ13 was informed of. Now just Grosjean left out on track as Sainz and Nasr also return to the pits.

A last lap over 2 minutes for Romain Grosjean with an extremely slow middle sector, although he chose to continue out there.

3pm

A busy first hour after lunch here in Barcelona – a much better structure to the day having a lunch hour as it saves the long periods of inactivity where there is a less formal arrangement in Jerez.

Green in sector 1, green in sector 2 and now the Red Bull of Kvyat slots in 5th in the timing charts with a 1:26.935. After a cool down lap the Russian sets an identical lap time to the thousandth – precision driving from the Russian Rocket.

McLaren have issued a statement regarding the accident Alonso suffered earlier:

Today at 12:35 CET, while testing at the Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona), during the fourth and final day of the current test, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda car left the track at Turn Three, causing the right-hand side of his car to strike the wall.

“Fernando was driven to the circuit’s medical centre where the circuit’s doctors gave him first aid. He was conscious and spoke with the doctors. However, as per usual procedure in such circumstances, he was then airlifted to hospital where he is undergoing precautionary checks. We will issue a further update in due course.

Felipe Nasr emerges from the pits once more. I was pleasantly surprised after interviewing the Brazilian in Jerez, his cool and relaxed demeanour hid the rookie status he enters the team with.  He sets a 1:26.121 to move into second place.

Interesting offering from Trident GP2 driver on Twitter about the nature of Alonso’s earlier crash…

https://twitter.com/RMarciello_/status/569501126502060032

Red Flag: A rare sighting Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India before he scurries back to the pits.  When he attempts to run again he brings out the red flag after stopping at turn 1. Smoke coming out of the car the German stands by his car awaiting recovery.

3 red flags in a day as we await the green flag to restart proceedings. The VJM07 continues to cook itself under the Spanish sun – at least it’s a 2014 car and not one of the 2015 edition.  As TJ13 exclusively reported, this was only released after a lengthy delay by Formaplex due to non-payment.

At least for Lotus, Williams and Mercedes they have substancial running in already today – 84 laps, 83 laps and 83 laps respectively. A good day so far for the Mercedes power (apart from the smoking Force India of course).

Green Flag: And we are underway once more!  Bottas and Gorsjean are out soon after. Kvyat joins soon after and leaps to the top of the charts with a 1:24.941 of the soft tyre.

Felipe Nasr now heads back out to get amongst the action.

Red Flag: Grosjean on a quicker lap but is forced to abandon it after the session is once more brought to a halt.

4pm

Reports in the German media that the warning light on Alonso’s MP4-30 was on to signify the impact was over 15G. He will be kept in for observations over night to assess his condition.

Sainz has stopped at turn 3 after losing control, spinning across the gravel into the tyre barrier.  Another pause means a quick opportunity for a cup of tea.

So nobody has broken the 100 lap barrier here with Rosberg on 95 and Bottas on 94 for the day. The Ferrari of Vettel has only managed 10 laps since lunch – a problem or part of the plan?

A much lower windspeed should help maintain track temperatures this afternoon and also make the cars more stable in the braking zones.  Both factors should make long runs more consistent.

Andrew Benson of BBCF1 reports “Scans taken at the hospital show that Fernando Alonso has no injuries, a McLaren spokesperson says.”

Green Flag: Kvyat, Gorsjean and Bottas all return to the tarmac almost immediately.

Red Flag: No sooner had they rushed out did they see red again. It looks to be Bottas who has caused this one, although unconfirmed reports say he has made it back to the pits by his own accord. As the timing screens update it shows he is in fact stopped out at turn 4.

After a quick visit to the medical centre Carlos Sainz Jr returns to the Toro Rosso garage

After a quick visit to the medical centre Carlos Sainz Jr returns to the Toro Rosso garage

Hardly shocking news, but McLaren confirm there will no more running today.

Green flag: Grosjean out there others and the Frenchman immediately goes top of the time charts with a 1:24.681. Even after arriving late in Jerez, the change in the team was evident with the new Mercedes powertrain.  As long as they can keep their finances on track then surely a very positive season is in order for the Enstone squad.

Felipe Nasr goes for a quick lap but cannot go second, 0.15s short of Kvyat in second with a 1:24.956. When he tries again he misses out by half a second, showing just how short the life of these tyres are in such cool ambient temperatures.

Only Kvyat and Rosberg remain out there now as the German edges ever closer to a triple digit lap count. Slow and steady wins the race, so what would the expression be for Mercedes so far in winter testing?

Empty grandstands as shown by the video below – if that were England people would be out sunbathing in it…

Nasr currently lapping relatively quickly sets a 1:25.1 last time round. The Lotus E23 emerges once more with soft tyres on and immedaitely goes fastest with a 1:24.067.

A lull on track as Bottas is left out there for a while.  We now approach the final hour as Grosjean and Rosberg rejoin the Finn on the asphalt.  Can we see the 1:24.000 barrier broken before the end of the day as the track temperature remains constant? Rosberg is shaving time off his best, but is lapping some 2 and a half seconds slower than our leader’s best time.

5pm

The RB11 of Kvyat and rookie Nasr both go out as we count down an eventful first test here in Catalunya.  Favourite or most interesting moment for the 4 days anyone?

TJ13’s always eagle-eyed Matt Trumpets suspects a problem with the rear brakes caused Alonso’s shunt earlier as there was a lot of work done altering setting of power delivery to the rear wheels.  This would be consistent to the description of the accident we heard from Sebastian Vettel as well.

Lotus settle into a race simulation now which is believed to be a 2 stopping soft/hard/hard run.

Rosberg out on the medium tyre sets a personal best first sector to slot into second place with a 1:24.584. Following that qualifying simulation, on a compound two grades different to that which the Lotus set their best time on, the Mercedes W06 finally flexes its muscles…on day 8 of testing.

With Pirelli stating that the difference in compounds is worth around 1.5 – 2 seconds it is back to the drawing board for all the others as that lap from Mercedes was HOT HOT HOT!  Back to the men vs boys analogy from 2014 then…

Another poignant part of that lap time from Rosberg:- The interesting part about the time from Rosberg was that it was set with 5 laps of fuel onboard and not on an empty tank.

Kvyat joins the action with medium tyres on, presumably to try and similar qualifying simulation – just under half an hour to go now.

First Bottas improves to a 1:25.345 and then Rosberg again improves, AGAIN on the medium tyre – 1:24.321 now. Patience running out or just fancied the opportunity to reward those back in Brackley with a quick time?

At just short of 3 hours without being sighted on track Vettel, in the prancing horse, returns.  15 minutes to set a comparative lap time, although it will have to do something pretty special to outdo that of the Mercedes. Lotus now call it a day, but have they spoken to soon in calling that the fastest time we will see today…?

Red Flag: And just as in Jerez the Sauber stops on track bringing out the red flag, in the final minutes of the final day of the test. Nasr had been circulating in the 1:29s and Vettel in the 1:30s, but that looks to be the end of any running.  After an encouraging first test in Jerez, it has been a tougher time for the Swiss team here in Barcelona.

The Sauber is recovered at turn 6

The Sauber is recovered at turn 6

Speaking of Carlos Sainz’s off earlier, Franz Tost had this to say, “We are still going through the data to understand the cause, so it’s a bit early to conclude; however, it is fair to say that the winds have been extremely high and gusting today, and we have seen a few other cars have offs as well.

Green Flag: With under a minute remaining…surely nobody is going to venture out for a stroll around, are they? Williams tweeted to say they would, but this is unconfirmed before the chequered flag falls. It’s lights out, all out – a gold star for anyone who can recognise that TV reference.

Fat Hippo has reaffirmed his bold call on the podcast, communicating with the rest of the TJ13 crew he doesn’t see a non-Mercedes powered car winning a race this year. Anyone care to disagree?

Well that is the end of proceedings here folks. Thanks for joining us here in the courtroom.  We’re looking for contributions so describe testing in 3 words below please…

6pm

Hi there, Hippo again. Thanks, Adam, for covering the afternoon for us and we’re left with a rather sobering experience. Not only because of the Alonso crash, but also because, by the look of things, Mercedes have crushed that fragile flower called hope, that this season could be closer than last year’s.

As the nasty wind from the morning finally settled at lunch time we also saw something resembling quick lap times after the sometimes comically slow times that marked most of the first four hours of the day.

The many PU problems – Ferrari, Toro Rosso, Force India, Sauber – were not neccessarily surprising, considering that at the end of four days of hard running, the engines come close to what each of the four alloted PU’s for the season are supposed to endure. And on top of it this are still early season evlutions.

So, with a last look at the final standings we bid thee farewell. Watch this space for more testing coverage and or Daily News & Comment. Goodbye.

DRIVER TEAM CHASSIS TIME DIFF. #
1. France Grosjean Lotus E23 mercedes 1:24.067 111 Medium
2. Germany Rosberg Mercedes AMG W06 mercedes 1:24.321 +0.254 131 medium
3. Russia Kvyat Red Bull Racing RB11 renault 1:24.941 +0.874 104 soft
4. Brazil Nasr Sauber C34 ferrari 1:24.956 +0.889 73 Supersoft
5. Finland Bottas Williams FW37 mercedes 1:25.345 +1.278 129 soft
6. Spain Sainz jr Toro Rosso STR10 renault 1:25.605 +1.538 88 Super Soft
7. Germany Vettel Ferrari SF15-T ferrari 1:26.312 +2.245 76 Soft
8. Germany Hülkenberg Force India VJM07 mercedes 1:26.591 +2.524 36 Soft
9. Spain Alonso McLaren MP4-30 honda 1:27.956 +3.889 20 Medium
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21 responses to “Day 8 #F1 2015 Winter Testing: Barcelona, Afternoon Report

    • Have seen three different suggestions for the crash, either car failure, loss of driver consciousness or possibly electrocution. The latter would definitely go a long way to explaining why so much precaution has been used with regards his medical care, but I’m not so sure this gets my full support.

    • @DudeTuna – You’re correct… TBI / concussion per McLaren’s PR today.

      Looking forward to learning about the cause, if it was a car failure.

      Really bad conclusion to this week’s tests for McLaren:
      * Thursday’s program -> “mechanical balance changes” only 3 runs
      * Friday’s program -> “time-intensive bigger set-up changes… to (learn more) about the car’s balance” full day, 59 laps. “have a long list of systems checks (yet) to evaluate… too soon to go into a race simulation.”
      * Saturday’s program -> “aerodynamic testing”, rain prevented other test programs, and another MGU-K seal failure.
      * Sunday’s program -> Program was “…long list of systems checks to evaluate… performance in race conditions.”

  1. Re- Lotus Tyre warm up
    Looks like the Enstone Team have produced another car that is kind to its tyres given the warm up issues in the cold conditions they have experienced. They do have a history of producing tyre friendly cars and I just hope they can qualify well so they can make the most of being able to do 1 less stop as they did in 2012 and 13.

    • I am highly suspecting they went back to their 2013 design philosophy and adapted it to this years regulations. If so, they could be back in the running as the 2013 car was rather brilliant at certain tracks. Won’t be close to Mercedes, of course, but they could certainly trouble everyone else.

  2. Mercedes are just playing with everyone, given the compound step and the fuel on board, Rosberg could possibly have been in the very low 1.22’s, now that is something for the rest to go home and think about, wouldn’t you say?

    • I’m not so sure anyone needs to think about that. They’ll have to endure it for an entire year. That’ll help them not to forget it…

  3. Note that McLaren’s PR included this, “…as per usual procedure in such circumstances, he was then airlifted to hospital where he is undergoing precautionary checks.”

    So it’s no surprise that we learn (per Mr. Hippo, the German media did the legwork), that the G-force alarm was fired off inside Alonso’s car.

    As we have learned from Gary Hartstein, and others, there is a very specific protocol to follow in these situations, all oriented toward treating TBI, (traumatic brain injury, concussions).

    Let me note two important things about this incident. First, Alonso has a history of TBI in F1. Incidents include a huge shunt in Brazil in 2003, and just 15 months ago he appeared to have a TBI incident during 2013 Abu Dhabi GP (he took a few days to recover from that one).

    The 2nd, perhaps more disturbing thing is that AutoSprint Live tweeted that Alonso’s trainer, Fabrizio Borra, said immediately after the incident that Alonso was agitated and was therefore medicated. Agitation is one of the signs of TBI that the doctors look for.

    • Here is McLaren’s statement:
      http://www.mclaren.com/formula1/inside-the-mtc/statement-mclaren-honda/

      Here is an amazing account of Alonso’s TBI by one of the doctors who stabilized him on the track, Gary Hartstein. Note that amongst the TBI symptoms, Alonso was agitated. https://formerf1doc.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/medical-car-on-scene-first-medical-contact-2/

      This site was one of the few that noted the TBI symptoms and tests of Alonso after the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP: http://thejudge13.com/2013/11/11/daily-f1-news-and-comment-monday-11th-november-2013/#Alonso%27s%20Medical%20Exam

      Here is the quote of from Fabrizio Borra at the time of today’s incident: https://twitter.com/autosprintLIVE/status/569470519571046400

      • Nice to see that McLaren / Eric Boullier are being explicit and candid that ALO is concussed in this PR: http://www.mclaren.com/formula1/car/report-barcelona-test-day-four/

        I believe the primary weakness to Alonso’s racing career is his susceptibility to concussions.

        TBI is strange, as some people are more susceptible (fragile) to these injuries than others. And one can come become more susceptible to them after each incident.

        ALO’s last TBI incident was just 15 months ago, (November 2013) at the Abu Dhabi GP. It took him many days to recover from that, and he nearly missed the following GP two weeks afterwards due to that injury. (The team he was with then failed to describe the incident as TBI.)

        • Thanks VM, worth noting that Rosberg set both his fast times on the same set of Mediums, the first coming on a stint of 7 laps to RG’s 4. Roughly 1.8s faster according to AS, personally I tend to think of it as Merc being an entire compound ahead of the rest of the field at this point.

          • Probably even more than that considering he ran not as low fuel as others and both drivers aren’t 100% fit.
            The reliability of the Merc is ominious too. It’s come to the point where their drivers break before the car does…

          • Hard to say at this point, but Mercedes does look like they may continue from where we left off last season. That was the general consensus at the end of last season, so it will be surprising if it’s not true.

            While I haven’t researched all the teams’ testing programs for this week (most publicly declare them in general terms), some teams (if not all) were just testing their various systems this week, and haven’t focused yet on race pace work. Next week we can expect most to have Melbourne spec cars, (or near to it), and teams will focus on race tuning. Things are still fuzzy now.

            Lotus and McLaren are the two anomolies. Lotus because they want to sell themselves to another owner, or a new big sponsor, or both, so they’re wasting valuable testing by aiming for fast laps (super softs again and again). They’re doing what they have to do.

            McLaren are very aggressive in their design (size zero!), and Honda is having issues too, and so the team failed to perform most of their test programs. If both McHonda’s see the checkers in Melbourne it would be impressive from where they are right now.

          • Aside from general set up we know Lotus was aimed at lap times, Merc not so much. Grosjean ran 4 laps to Rosbergs 7 so if anything Merc was sandbagging on fuel a bit. W/R/T Lotus at least it seems to be a fair comparison at this point.

      • Corrections to my post above:

        “Here is an amazing account of Alonso’s _2003 Brazilian GP_ TBI by one of the doctors…”

        “the TBI symptoms and tests of Alonso after the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP” should be “2013 Abu Dhabi GP…”

        As a writer, that is like missing two different braking points in the same lap! (Embarrassed)

    • Eric Bouiller told Sky F1 that Alonso passed MRI and CT tests but will stay in the hospital overnight as a precaution. Which is another very strong signal that there were signs / symptoms of TBI.

      The FIA has particular procedures for TBI, which may come in to play here. The immediate concern would be Return To Competition criteria (RTC). Gary Hartstein detailed the RTC that he used when he was the F1 doc in this excellent blog post here:
      https://formerf1doc.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/what-about-return-to-competition/

      Most likely Alonso will be OK to participate in next week’s testing and the OZ GP. But… Magnussen is their reserve driver…

      • Gary Hartstein had a “Return To Competition” system, but it’s not clear that system is being used now by FIA.

        Alonso’s last concussion / TBI symptoms lasted for roughly one week, from Sunday, Nov 3rd through the following weekend. He passed an FIA test on 9 days after the incident on Tuesday Nov 12th.

        Dr. Gary Hartstein, and others, note that the danger to a TBI patient is very high if they suffer a second TBI injury while their brain is still recovering from the first TBI. So we should not be surprised if Alonso does not return immediately to the cockpit.

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