Hello and welcome everybody to The Judge13’s coverage of the final day of the second winter testing period on the Circuit de Catalunya in not-so-sunny Spain.
Our Chief Editor Andrew Huntley-Jacobs is having a well-deserved rest day and his place is taken by pitlane-mole extra-ordinaire Adam McDonald. For those of you, who don’t know him, that’s the man, who, together with aforementioned chief editor, made a biblically good job of looking ridiculous in a bathrobe during our Jerez Testing Review on TJ13 TV.
Adam is joined by TJ13’s equivalent of Antarctica. Nobody knows what it is good for, but it’s quite large – it’s the Fat Hippo from Germany.
Before we do a short recap of what happened yesterday, let’s have a look at what lineup we’re expecting today:
|—||Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||RB11||-:–.–||0|
|—||Sainz jr||Toro Rosso||STR10||-:–.–||0|
Before 9am (>>)
What a day it was yesterday. The Judge himself wanted to give it his seal of approval, but it was broken. We are shipping in a new one as we speak.
Yes, we are taking the mickey out of poor Honda, but seriously, what was their Managing Director of seal manufacturing thinking? He had one job: Make a new seal that doesn’t have this here flaw we found. Well, as we by now know – he failed.
One can only hope they remember that the Samurai is driving today. These bad boys have a very unique way of voicing their displeasure.
While yesterday was mainly dominated by long runs, it will be interesting to see if Mercedes and/or Ferrari will let their hair down today. They more or less hid their speed behind endless long-runs, although the eagle-eyed folk were easily able to see how ridiculously much faster on average Hamilton’s Merc was in comparison to the Ferrari. We’re talking over a second here.
One can only hope that some of that was down to Vettel taking it a tad easier, after he had made a bit of a fool of himself by rushing out of the pitlane right to the scene of the crash in under 90 seconds.
Little Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat did a mighty good impression of energyzer bunnies, both collecting a lot of laps. Max even ended up on top of the time sheets for most of yesterday until dislodged by Pastor Maldonado, but it was a lap run on Pirelli’s superglue-tyres, so it had little importance in the grand scheme of things.
Toro Rosso still insisted on buying Max a beer until they noticed… um nevermind. They bought him a glas of milk instead and called it the ‘Indianapolis celebration’.
We were left scratching our heads long into the night what the heck Williams were all about, until our resident rules guru Matt Trumpets offered the theory that by doing their repetitive pitstop routine, they got quite some running in without having to reveal any lap times. Pretty clever or maybe Williams were just daft, or punishing their mechanics for some sort of misdeed.
Wehrlein and Force India? I think they’re still looking for him…
As we prepare for the start of the morning session, we’re greeted by sunny skies, but chilly air of only 7°C. The track temperature however starts out slightly higher than yesterday, but still, Seb, careful on that first lap, will ya?
It’s like old coming home week for the Germans with three of them running today and the Spanish fans have something to cheer for as well, with the entire Iberian contingent in action today.
McLaren meanwhile report they will share the day between Alonso and Button, since the Brit was now sealed twice and lost out on a lot of running. I hope they let Jenson out first, just in case, y’know…
Red Bull is reported to have carted off most of their pitstop kit and all the pitwall gadgetry – looks like no longruns for Kvyat today.
And we’re off!
Most drivers go out and the first news of the day is, Vettel hasn’t binned it yet. Ferrari mechanics are seen putting the shovels away in a jolly mood. There is no sign of a McHonda yet. McLarens are yet to be seen as all other teams have started their day’s work.
Niki Lauda is celebrating his birthday today, although there are doubts on how much of the meaning of that term applies to the cantankerous Austrian. But, we are told that he was in a good mood by his standards, taking his leave yesterday with the heartfelt, warm words – “Don’t even think about calling me.” True story.
Not much action on the track so far. No cars running, after they all have done their installation laps. After full 5 or 6 minutes, Rosberg has mercy on us and ventures out.
A few dozen fans are sitting in the stands directly across the McLaren garage. Those, who thought about arriving a wee bit later to see Alonso in the afternoon are in for a rude awakening.
Rosberg marks the first time of the day – a rather catholic 1:36.999. The time keepers have called Barcelona university to ask for geological measuring equipment. As a stop gap measure they are going to use sundials to record the lap times.
Sainz and Grosjean join Rosberg in trundling around at such a pedestrian pace, they could actually reverse global warming. The Frenchman posts a mindboggling lap of 2:12.700. I’m not making this up…
Hülkenberg goes out again. This is the first time the German gets to drive this year.
And we’re stopped!
The mind boggles! Rosberg manages to beach his car at almost the exact place as Vettel yesterday. How do you loose control while actually moving slower than a glacier? His best time so far was a 1:36.200 – a McLaren can go faster than that!
The Spanish Academy of Science, upon inquiry of TJ13, has confirmed that the three lap times we have seen so far do not, technically, qualify as movement.
Grosjean, Nasr and Vettel go out to see if they can make it past turn 5.
And we have a winner! Sebastian Vettel is the first to arrive on the same date he started and posts a 1:31.332 on medium tyres.
Meanwhile Nasr’s Sauber was too knackered after a single lap to make it past Joe Bauer’s weight measuring platform on its way back to the garage. It has to be pushed the last 50 or so meters.
Rosberg goes back out. It didn’t take the Mercedes folk long to clean up the car, but then he wasn’t actually fast enough at the time to actually pick up any gravel.
Vettel is back in, having improved his time to 1:30.363. Rosberg improves his time by an astronomic 3 seconds, still as much slower than the Ferrari.
Bottas meanwhile got bored and shows them how it is done by posting a 1:28.868. All times so far on medium tyres.
And thus the lamest hour of testing in the history of motorsports comes to an end and here’s to hoping that things will improve from hereon in.
Despite his off Rosberg is the only one to have a two-digit lap count so far. His times are hovering consistenly around the 1:32.500 mark. Our pit-mole reports that a Sheikh has allegedly been seen behind the pit garages, crying bitterly. It appears that Merc has pumped all his Emirate’s oil reserves into the tank of Rosberg’s Mercedes. The German is currently being relegated down the order by everybody and his dog.
You’d have to go back to the year 2011 to find a time when a Mercedes was ever circling the track at such a pedestrian pace. But you could divide Rosberg’s average speed by the current world population and still get a number much higher than McLaren’s highest recorded speed so far, which still stands at a very solid zero.
Sainz (on soft tyres) takes the lead, Grosjean and Hülkenberg have also passed Rosberg, who has currently completed 22 laps.
While the boffins were still scratching their heads if it was even possible to drive so many laps at Rosberg’s pace in the elapsed testing time without breaking a few fundamental laws of physics, the German has come back to the pits. There goes our theory of him trying to re-enact his monster stint from the Sotchi GP.
The track temperature is now about the number that we saw yesterday at lunch time, so while the conditions are better than yesterday, the lap times are still measured in geological units. Word is that there is a stiff breeze from the north that upsets the cars’ balance in turns 1,3,5,9,10 and 16.
Sainz’ soft tyres go over the cliff after just a handfull of laps. On Barcelona’s aggressive surface they have the half-life of a pizza at a weight watchers convention by the look of it.
I’m starting to think that something’s really messing up the track conditions. At roughly the exact same temperatures, we sa 1:24.7s yesterday, we’re still 3.2 seconds away from that. All cars are in the pits at the moment. Maybe they’re all just playing a game of ‘government clerk Mikado’ – he who moves first, looses.
Meanwhile at McLaren, not even the doors have opened yet. They are practically sealed, so to say. Half of yesterday’s drivers have done more miles on the day than the Woking team managed on all three days combined so far. They are starting to make Renault’s worries from last year look like a success story.
Vettel takes the lead with a 1:27.474 on his 19th lap, still on medium tyres. An lo and behold – Rosberg has cracked the 1:30 barrier. He’s now 3rd with a 1:28.216 on his 24th lap – that’s McLaren’s entire tally of yesterday’s running.
TJ13 is hearing that Rosberg’s marked improvement might be connected to a mysterious shouting match behind closed doors, during which a yet unidentified person threatened to insert his boot into Rosberg’s derriere, if he would not ‘get it’ at all haste. The matter that Rosberg was told to ‘get’ in no uncertain terms was allegedly the purpose of the rightmost pedal.
Meanwhile word has reached us that McLaren have announced to grace the paddock with their appearance within the next thirty minutes.
Sainz has meanwhile regained the lead with a 1:27.236 on soft tyres. Since the Ferrari is only 0.238 seconds slower on harder tyres, that’s not much to write home about and the current laptimes are still not even in the same time zone as yesterday’s, despite the fact that track temperatures are now exactly matching yesterday’s optimum.
There’s a rather peculiar performance going on at Red Bull. Like the Williams’ yesterday, Kvyat comes in after every lap, stops, but since RB have carted off most of their kit in the night, they don’t actually do a pitstop practice. Instead they modify the frontwing by a click or two and send him on his merry way again, only to repeat it a lap later.
Just to make sure we’re not caught in a temporal displacement loop, we’ve called the Spanish Academy of Science again. We don’t really want to end up sitting in Captain Picard’s briefing room, listening to Lieutenant Commander Data droning on how we can correct all that by sending a concentrated ionized plasma burst through the deflector dish to clean up the mess that’s made of us.
ZOMFG! A McLaren! But the spectacle is short-lived. After a single lap the Spaniard drives back straight into the garage. Well, at least the Spanish fans didn’t come completely in vain.
After a short time in the garage, Alonso sets off again, right after Vettel and Sainz went out.
Vettel misses Sainz’s time by just 0.002 on the medium tyre. The STR10 does not look too fast today. Meanwhile we’re happy to report that Fernando hast managed a whole 3 consecutive laps already improving to 6th with a 1:28.364.
Kvyat was allowed a single flying lap and Adam is currently looking for an 2014 calendar to see where he stands with that. Next time round RB’s front-wing adjustment training continues. Seriously, the fetishes of some people…
Like yesterday, Toro Rosso go for big time mileage. Sainz already stands at 43 laps, followed by Rosberg with 36. Speaking of which – the German has finally gotten the hang of using the ‘loud’ pedal and beats Sainz’s best lap by 0.098 to take the top spot on the leaderboard. Rosberg, Sainz and Vettel are now all within a tenth of a second, but the Fezza and the Merc have done the times on mediums as opposed to softs on the STR10. Vettel also cracks the 30 lap mark. That means the top 3 are also the busiest people so far.
Why the times are so massively slower than yesterday though, remains a mystery. At 21°C track temp and 11°C air, the conditions look much better.
And just as we’re about to call the Academy again, Vateri reports that the wind has picked up so much that he’s having a hard time driving in a straight line on the start finish straight. Had that been a report from Kimi I would have become suspcious. But with cars so sensitive to aerodynamics, it could explain the rather catholic lap times so far. But does wind interference really amount to almost 3 seconds?
Meanwhile Fernando caused pandemonium on the grandstand by going out again and – you won’t believe it – his lap count is actually a two digit number by now, unlike that of Felipe Nasr, whose car is still on life-support and has only managed a measly 3 laps so far. I would hazard a guess gearbox troubles would not be too risky a bet.
There’s no action on the track for the moment and mild relief is most likely felt in the McLaren garage. Fernando has managed half of yesterday’s lap count in a single hour.
Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari is currently the only car on the track, but as if on cue Sainz and Rosberg come back out again. Those three really like each other’s company by the look of it. I wonder if there’s some hidden competition going on for the highest mileage. They’re definitely well ahead of the rest, having forty laps and more each. Since the lap times are nothing to look at in awe, we might just as well keep an eye on the endurance stakes.
Interestingly Vettel has gone out on soft tyres, too and he and Sainz start to make the lap times look a bit more F1-ish. Both have passed Rosberg, and Sainz seems to be a lot lighter on fuel as he posts a 1:25.684, 0.770 quicker than Vettel, who in turn is 0.328 quicker than Rosberg, but the Merc is still wearing medium socks.
With an hour to go, Rosberg posts his 50th lap.
The first three hours have passed and while we’ve seen a lot of running, especially from the top three, the lap times make this look like a GP2 test. But the work theory is, that most of them are running heavy on fuel, except perhaps Sainz and – as reported by Bottas – the stiff wind is really upsetting the balance of the cars.
All drivers except
Alonso and Nasr are now on track. At 11°C air and the track surface twice as warm, we have good conditions except for the wind.
Hülkenberg improves his time to alert his team to his whereabouts. Word is, they still haven’t found Wehrlein.
The lanky Force India and Porsche pilot had a bit of a chat with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. We’ll be picking up that story in tomorrow’s Daily News & Comment.
As the last of the three energyzer bunnies Vettel cracks the fifty laps mark, way before half-time. We will again be seeing several three digit lap counts at the end of the day.
Alonso comes back in after another four lap run. It appears that the engineers are too reluctant to start something even remotely resembling a long run, despite the fact that this would be what they need the most at this time. What started out as a faint sliver of hope, does now look distinctly ordinary again. Muhammad Ali in his prime routinely went over more rounds than Woking’s contraption. They’ll be lucky to crack 20 laps by lunch time. Don’t hold your breath though.
Toro Rosso continue their scheme from yesterday and post fast times on supersofts. Sainz jr. improves to 1:25.605, which is still just under a second off Verstappen’s time at lunch time yesterday. Vettel closes in on that time with a 1:26.312 on soft tyres. Third is now Hülkenberg, desperate to be noticed lest he gets Copperfielded too, on soft tyres and Rosberg, who has now completed 63 laps, still on medium tyres in fourth.
And we’re stopped!
In the least surprising news ever, Alonso’s car seems to have croaked just as he was shooting to break the elusive 20 laps mark. For Honda this is turning into an utterly humiliating situation, considering that had a whole year to learn what awaits them. Not even Renault was this shambolic by the same time last year. And we cannot stress the point enough, with their concentration of a single team, it means if they loose running with McLaren they loose all running.
In other news, Rosberg has now taken a commanding lead in the three-way Endurance competition with 67 laps while Sainz and Vettel have done 59 each.
And as we’re writing this, news comes in that Honda gets an extension on their homologation deadline. Instead of Feb 28th they have now until March 2nd to homologate their engine. Frankly, considering their current state, that is akin to p***ing on a forest fire, especially since they’ll have to sacrifice tokens in return.
More on that story in tomorrows Daily News & Comments.
Speculation is that Alonso actually crashed! Medical car and ambulance are at the scene. Situation is utterly unclear as there are no visual feeds whatsoever.
There’s the table cloth!!
The session is waved off seven minutes early as confirmation comes in that Alonso has crashed. The information situation is still unclear. The only confirmed facts are that he has had an accident and that an ambulance has been sent out. And you thought it could get any worse for McLaren.
A first blurry picture from the scene of the crash. Track cameras refuse to show any pictures so far.
Fernando Alonso creo que se ha salido, no se ha parado el coche. Hay ambulancia. Incertidumbre entre los aficionados. pic.twitter.com/u7XVFu7a0R
— Eddie F1 (@edward_goo) February 22, 2015
Reports are coming in from Spanish TV that Alonso indicated, he’s fine, but as is customary after a crash, he’s taken to the track’s medical center.
Spanish newspaper AS has twittered this picture
— AS (@diarioas) February 22, 2015
The damage seems rather superficial, but we’ve seen in Silverstone in 1999 what a crash head on into the barrier might lead to. However current news are that Alonso is not badly injured and that’s a relief, because, as much as we’ve taken the mickey out of McLaren and Honda for their shambolic preparation, that would have been a fate they do not deserve.
As good news they might take with them, that the engine seems mildly competitive in power, if still down on edurance, as the look at the final leaderboard shows. With that we say good bye for now and see you after the lunch break.
|1.||Sainz jr||Toro Rosso||STR10||1:25.605||59|
|7.||Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||RB11||1:28.149||+2.544||38|