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Fratelli e Sorelle, Buongiorno! Worry not my friends, you won’t have to read Carlo’s version of 50 Shades of Gray as he lusts over the red godesses from Italy. Today’s coverage of the morning session is brought to you by the only one on the TJ13 staff, who generates his own gravity field – The Fat Hippo. The afternoon session will be covered by way of long-range commentary by our snarky friend from the distant shores of Americaland, Mr. Matt Trumpets, who appears to be trapped in his palace by something called ‘winter’.
Yesterday was dominated by two things. The Honda unit managed to put in 100 laps before giving up the ghost and the demoralizing demostration of power by Mercedes. The most worrying piece of news about the latter is that:
a) The engine is still the same they bolted in before Jerez
According to Wolff, Mercedes is still running the same engine they started the 2015 tests with (>5000kms). “We added some fresh parts.”
— Tobias Grüner AMuS (@tgruener) February 27, 2015
b) I have yet to see ANY picture of Rosberg actually using the DRS on that lap.
Even Toto-ench-Amun seems to become uncomfortable with being seen shooting fish in a barrel with a pumpgun…
Toto Wolff admits it doesn’t help F1 if Mercedes is too far ahead. “But we’ve no idea how far ahead we are now.” AMuS http://t.co/EGNTemp1pw
— Tobias Grüner AMuS (@tgruener) February 27, 2015
In completely F1 unrelated news, Leonard Nimoy, better known as Mr. Spock has passed away. For a Star Trek afficionado like me, this is a very sad day indeed 🙁
Back to racing matters we’d also like to remind you that American racing legend and 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti is celebrating his 75th birtday today.
After winning the title at the age of 38, he went back to America to race Indycars where he clinched the title at the ‘young’ age of 44, just seven years before his son Michael repeated the feat. Mario retired from Indycars after the 1994 season, aged 54. Nine years later, at the age of 63, he tested a car of his son Michael’s team at Indianapolis, but it didn’t quite go as planned…
It’s a chilly day still. The thermometer shows 3°C. I think I even saw a Swede wearing a shirt. That’s how chilly it is. But the sky is clear and the temperatures will soon start to become more palatable. The asphalt meanwhile is 15°C, which is more than some of the lunch-time temps in the first period, so I doubt we’ll miss out on any running.
And as we speak, already five drivers headed out – Räikkönen, Ericsson, Ricciardo, Massa and Grosjean.
Hamilton is weaving about on the start-finish straight at relatively catholic pace, which means the Mercedes is on a measuring run of some kind. The Brit does a few flying laps, but they are still way above the 90 seconds mark.
Massa heads out on soft tyres. His 1:27.271 is enought to demote Hamilton to second, but it is way off what those tyres are capable of. The world champion is driving around stable in the 1:31s and 132s on the medium tyres, so it stands to reason that he’s hauling a lot of fuel around.
K-Mag and his McLaren have not been out yet. Everyone else has done at least an installation lap so far.
Kimi Räikkönen starts his day on medium and a 1:27.840, just half a second slower than the Williams of Massa, who is equipped with soft tyres. Hamilton meanwhile continues to circle the track with coinsistent laps around the 90 second mark. He is demoted to fourth by Nico Hülkenberg, who is also on the softer compound, in fact, if I saw that right, he is on super softs, which would mean his 1:29.449 is a shockingly poor effort.
The Ferrari and the Merc still run the dodgy camera mountings that FIA’s Joe Bauer was everything but happy with, but according to Craig Scarborough, it’s not the weirdest we’ve seen yet…
Just seen some fittings on the nose of the STR it looks like they’ll have the maddest camera mounts !
— Craig Scarborough (@ScarbsF1) February 28, 2015
Danny Ricciardo goes faster than Hülkenberg on hard tyres to the German’s super softs. That’s how ridiculously bad that Force India seems to be. Making a car with a Merc engine that slow is an achievement, just not one to be awfully proud of.
There have been different reactions to yesterday’s devastating lap of Nico Rosberg. Valteri Bottas was quite depressed, as was Red Bull’s Christian Horner. Former World Champion Vettel admitted the lap was “a hammer”, but says that although Ferrari might not come any close this year, Ferrari is on the right track to catch up.
It seems, normal service has resumed as in utter lack of any McLaren on the track. Woking still has a 0 to its name. Toro Rosso, who are normally always well placed in the race for the lap count, are suspiciously absent so far as well. They’ve done an installation lap, but that’s been it so far.
Kimi is orbiting the Montmelo circuit again and again at a steady pace around 88 seconds. That’s about a second faster than his team mate did. Vettel did most of his longruns on hard tyres though. Kimi is on mediums right now.
Lewis restores order with a 1.27,182 on mediums. That is still about 2 seconds off what we’ve seen on that compund in the past. It looks as if the temperatures aren’t yet to the liking of Pirelli’s products. Having said that, Lewis goes a second faster on the next lap. The new yardstick stands at 1.26,110.
There comes K-Mag. The McLarens have joined the action.
Meanwhile our friend Craig is a wee bit disappointed…
Whatever STR fitted to their nose this morning they’ve gone now 🙁 pic.twitter.com/Dx3v3rOc2H
— Craig Scarborough (@ScarbsF1) February 28, 2015
As the first hour nears its end, we are none the wiser. All we know is that Merc have been busiest so far with Lewis having completed 20 laps already. He’ll be keen to catch up on lost running over his team mate, who is about 800km up on the Brit’s track time. With Vettel having demonstrated last year what a thousand and more kilometers of treck time deficit can do, Lewis won’t be keen on finding out if it would affect him the same way.
Massa runs stable 1:27s on hard tyres! Word has it that several Ferrari mechanics have just ejected their espresso through the nose…
Kimi has mercy on his poor mechanics and puts in a 1.26,314 on medium tyres. It looks as if the track is improving fast, which is not surprising. The air temperature has doubled over the last 60 minutes and the first Swedes are abandoning their shirts. A bit disapointingly they’re all men… The track is edging close to the 20°C mark.
The Force India is so ridiculously bad, it gives hope to Manor/Marussia. The team reveals that the VJM08 is basically just a cobbled together interim version. Basically still a VJM07 with a 2015 spec nose. The real VJM08 is expected to debut at the Chinese GP with the first aero-update expected for the race in Austria. Not good news for the Force India fanclub, which, as we are informed, is having a club meeting today in a telephone booth near Hyde Park.
Felipe Massa now goes almost eaxactly as fast on hard tyres as Kimi does on mediums. That’s not quite the news teams want to hear if they haven’t got a Daimler nailed to the back of their cars.
Meanwhile Lotus present a bit of eye candy. Too bad she isn’t Swedish…
— Carmen Jorda (@CarmenJorda) February 28, 2015
Hülkenberg is on the track on mediums, but his times are still over 3 seconds off what the other teams do on the same compund today. This is certainly not what the German deserves. The last one I can remember, who always sat in the wrong car at the wrong time like that was Jean Alesi.
Danny RIC hits close to Lewis’ time on mediums. Looks like the Camo Bull is again the best hope for fans to see at least some variety. If he’ll be lucky enough to be handed some races by Merc reliability (or lack thereof) remains to be seen. The German team had only one major mechanical so far – the MGU-K failure two days ago and that was just the team testing if the part would last as long as it did on the dyno.
Well, Merc couldn’t tolerate any gods besides them, could they? Hamilton goes out and nonchalantly shaves nearly a second off his previous best to put those pesky Austrians in ther place. 1:25.471 on medium tyres. That’s a mammoth four second slower than the Force India. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a little game of one-upmanship going on. The timing was just too obvious.
Merc and RB have finished her ‘mine is bigger than yours’ game and Felipe Baby has the track all to himself.
With the weather looking to improve even more, we could see similar lap numbers as we did yesterday. On average the busiest runners do almost 20 laps per hour. Current leader in the race for the lap count is Nico Hülkenberg at 38. But considering the FI’s woeful pace, Lewis could probably sod off for an hour an still be quick enough to do more laps than the contraption from Silverstone.
K-Mag has gone out to improve on Macca’s woeful tally of 10 laps, but his 1:29.336 on medium tyres won’t instill the fear of god into anyone, but perhaps some of the less competitive GP2 teams.
I kid thee not – Hülkenberg just did a 1:27 on mediums. What in the name of all that’s holy have they been doing in the first two hours? Granted, it’s still 2 seconds off the rest, but at least they now look like being within a shout of making the 107% cut at Melbourne.
Lewis and Nico Hülkenberg have by far been the busiest drivers so far. Both have lost out on quite some running in the past days and are looking to make up on that deficit.
The McLaren is now starting to look like a mildly acceptable F1 car too as K-Mag goes below the 88 second mark on medium tyres.
Hülkenberg straps on soft tyres, but his time is still a way off of what others do on mediums. He moves to P3, but Ricciardo and Hamilton ahead of him have done their times on the harder compound.
Not much action on the track other than Force India trying desperately to make up for lost time. 53 laps for Hülkenberg is quite the number, considering we’ve still got more than an hour to go in the morning session.
As action is a bit sparse at the moment, we look at another piece of news. I wasn’t aware of it until yesterday, but it appears the disintegrating Caterham team still has some employees. Well, now they have one less, as Mike Gascoigne has taken his hat and walked out to ‘concentrate on new challenges in racing, the automobile sector and sailing‘. Sir Adrian doth summon his troops, methinks.
The bell tolls for the last hour of this morning’s session and that means only 60 more minutes before the famined Hippo can stampede down and relieve the nearest buffet of its riches.
Felipe Baby has attacked the top spot and posted a 1:24.950 on mediums. That puts the Williams on the business end of the leaderboard. It remains to be seen how long Mercedes will tolerate to be eclipsed by one of their own customers.
Air temperature is up to 11°C. I’m keeping an eye on the Swedish ladies, but no luck so far. The track is up to 28°C, or as the Swedes call it – f***ing hell. It appears I’m not the only one hoping for some more Swedish shirt abandoning – all drivers are currently in the pits. Oh the suspense…
Max, meanwhile, tries his hand at being pretty, but I’m afraid for all his talent on the track, he’ll lose that one to the Lotus chick…
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRossoSpy) February 28, 2015
Some mild action resumes as Massa, Ricciardo and K-Mag head out again.
Kimi bolts on the soft tyres, but ends up one beer short of a six pack. His time is one and a half tenth slower than Massa’s time of 1:23.9 on the same compund. But just as we speak, the Brazilian whacks out a 1:23.262 on super softs. That’s still a mindboggling half a second slower than Rosberg’s lap on soft tyres and the German didn’t even use DRS. F1 is truly and utterly ****ed by the look of it.
It looks like Ferrari wants to know what’s what. Kimi follows Massa’s lead and goes out on supersofts – the first time for the Scuderia this year. The time is a 1:23.262, fourteen thousands of a second slower. We might have a race for 3rd in the WCC this year.
Force India meanwhile continue to pound around the track mercilessly (and relatively slowly). Hülkenberg has already completed 66 laps. That’s more than we’ve seen on most days.
Little detail on the side – Räikkönen’s lap was done with an updated front wing and updated, now legal, camera mountings.
Ba-Dum-Tssss! There’s a McLaren at the business end of the table! K-Mag posts a 1:25.225 on soft tyres and jumps to third. It’s good we are not in the year of 1688 anymore. Some McLaren mechanics would have been burned at the stake for witchcraft considering the team’s turnaround over the last two days.
Merc is packing up for this session and the Hippo gets very nervous. Those pesky Merc folk might clean out the buffet before I can join in…
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 28, 2015
No sh*t, Sherlock – Hülkenberg posts a 1:24.939 on supersofts. Nevermind that their engine supplier does that on mediums… But they beat McLaren. It’s like watching a kickboard race for one-legged men.
The Hulk is kicked down the order by Ericsson. Remember, that’s the same car that last year lost to Marussia. While the minnows are going for not-so-much-glory runs, Danny RIC in the Camo Bull toils around the circuit, utterly invisible. That paintjob does serve its purpose quite well.
FI have amassed a hefty 71 laps already and Hulk is still at it. That VJM7.5 might be slow enough to be overtaken by wildlife, but it certainly runs quite reliably. The indestructability of that Merc unit is scary.
There’s the table cloth!!
There goes the morning session, I’ll leave you with a poor man’s version of the leaderboard while I go down to ransack the nearest eatery. I’ll prettify that one later on, promised. We’ll see you folks back in about an hour.
1. Massa Williams 1:23.262m
2. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.276m
3. Ericsson Sauber 1:24.477m
4. Hülkenberg Force India 1:24.939m
5. Magnussen McLaren 1:25.225m
6. Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.471m
7. Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.742m
8. Sainz Toro Rosso 1:26.330m
9. Grosjean Lotus 1:27.950m