Lots of people got very excited about Kimi Raikkonen, as the Lotus F1 Team set the fastest time of the day. That was not really any great surprise given that Raikkonen ran 22 laps of the track on Monday, while doing promotional filming work, which of course doubled as shakedown runs for the new E20, making sure that everything was functioning well, within the right temperature ranges, which saved time when real testing got underway on Tuesday morning. The initial work is to get as much data as possible in order to validate this against the CFD and wind tunnel information that already exists. Thus to some extend the number of laps done by each team is as significant as the lap times set, because it gives an early idea of the reliability of the product. The Lotus F1 Team completed 75 laps with the new car, the only interruption to the programme being a change of the KERS battery in the afternoon.
“The lap times don’t matter today,” said Kimi Raikkonen. “I’m happy with the balance of the car, which feels good, and the fact that we didn’t have any major issues. Also, I did more than a race distance today and did not have any physical problems at all, which is good.”
The team’s technical director James Allison said that “overall it was a very promising day in terms of reliability and it gives us a good springboard for the rest of the test”. For the record, Raikkonen’s fastest lap was a 1m19.670s in the afternoon session.
Force India also had the benefit of some shakedown running, in their case at Silverstone on the day of the launch of the VJM05. That did not amount to a huge amount of running and so the 101 laps completed by Paul di Resta in Jerez were pretty impressive from a reliability point of view.
“To complete over 100 laps on the first day of testing is the ideal way to begin our week in Jerez,” said the team’s technical director Andrew Green. “We made good progress with the job list and managed to complete all the objectives set for the day. We ran on the new 2012-spec hard and medium Pirelli tyre compounds throughout, which will help give us some consistency when analysing the data tonight.”
Di Resta too was very pleased.
“The baseline balance felt pretty good and the car performed consistently over the longer runs, which was useful for collecting the data we need,” he said. “So I think we can be positive heading into tomorrow and the next three days will be interesting as we have more test items to evaluate.”
His best lap was a 1m19.772s, just a tenth slower than Raikkonen.
Third and sixth fastest were the two Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, but they were in an upgraded version of the 2011 cars. Together they completed 97 laps. The aim of the test was to try out the new Pirelli rubber.
“We tested some different things in perfect weather conditions and started learning about the 2012 Pirelli tyres and how they work,” said Nico Rosberg.”
Schumacher said that the new tyres “feel like a step forward, more consistent and comfortable to drive”.
Mark Webber was fourth fastest, eight-tenths down on the Lotus time, but he did only half a day of running as parts of the rear wing did not arrive because a flight was diverted to Seville because of fog at Jerez airport. To complete 53 laps in the afternoon was a very solid effort, particularly as the car had not turned a wheel before the test.
“It was good. I felt quite comfortable in the car quite quickly,” said Webber. “It’s never part of the plan to give up running time, but you can’t control Mother Nature. However, we made a good recovery, got 54 laps done this afternoon and we’ll aim for a better day tomorrow.”
The team said that the delay was a little frustrating, but because of the low temperatures in the morning was not really a huge loss. The team said that the results of the test seem to have confirmed the work that was done in the simulators, which is always a good sign.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest in the Toro Rosso and did 57 laps in the course of the day, ending up a second slower than Raikkonen, although the STR7 had not run before the test.
“We are quite pleased with the first outing of the new car which seems to have a good base from which we can move forward,” said team principal Franz Tost. “Daniel felt confident in the car and we ran trouble free until we lost some oil pressure, at which point the engine protector did its job and stopped the car. We are now investigating.
The failure happened at four o’clock so we only lost one hour’s track time which we expect to make up for tomorrow.”
“It was great to experience taking a completely new car out of the garage,” said the Australian. “We had a very productive morning, doing over 40 laps and we made good progress with our programme. Then in the afternoon, we did a couple of longer runs, but had to cut it short. Overall, a good start. It’s too early to give a true assessment of the car, but out of the box this morning, it seemed balanced and quite stable.”
Kamui Kobayashi was the man who did the most number of laps, completing 106 in the course of the day. It helped that the Japanese driver had been able to do shakedown runs in the course of Monday, while doing “promotional work” at the track.
“The car proved to be reliable which is always a good start and enabled us to do some long runs,” said Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber’s head of track engineering. “The systems checks were positive and the temperatures are all right as well. For evaluation we worked on tyres and set-up and were running different fuel loads. We also carried out some mechanical work.”
Kamui said that running was not about performance but “focused on checking systems and reliability” but added that he got the impression that “the new Pirelli tyres might be good for us”. His best was a 1m21.353s, which was more than a second and a half down on the Lotus.
McLaren did a shakedown test at IDIADA, near Barcelona, on the way down to Jerez, with Oliver Turvey driving. The car ran well in that test and at Jerez Button was able to get into a programme, which consisted on 60 laps of running on Tuesday. The day started slowly, with Jenson and the team conducting a number of shorter runs, before completing a thorough systems check to ensure the car was running reliably. The team then switched to longer runs for the rest of the day.
“It’s been a good day,” said Button. “This morning, we ran through our installation and systems checks and the running was good. We’ve been gathering data on aerodynamics, downforce levels, temperatures and the feeling inside the cockpit. We did a 15-lap timed run this afternoon, which is a good starting point for us – and the consistency was OK. It’s been a positive day: there are no niggly areas with the car, which is nice.”
His best was 1.8secs slower than Kimi’s best.
Ferrari had planned to shake down the F2012 at Fiorano, but the snows in Italy made this impossible and so the car did not turn a wheel for the first time until this morning. Massa completed 69 laps. The team said that “work centred almost exclusively on data acquisition relating to the handling of the new car”.
Tenth fastest was Heikki Kovalainen in the new Caterham, which had also not run at all before the morning session. He completed only 28 laps in the day because of a problem with the starter shaft, which meant that the team could not start the car in the afternoon.
“The early feeling I had from the car was good,” Kovalainen said. “It’s far too early to tell how much we’ve progressed but it already feels like we’re going in the right direction. We obviously didn’t want to end early today but we couldn’t sort out the starter shaft issue in time to get back on track, but I’m reasonably pleased with what we have achieved today.”
The team’s chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said that “we enjoyed a positive morning, working through the usual day one system checks and running without any reliability issues on the car until that point. Heikki’s early feedback on the car is good and there is plenty to come from this car”.
Williams was next with the new FW34. The team had planned to shake the car down on the way to Jerez but the weather ruined that idea and so Tuesday was the first running.
“We performed a number of systems checks on the car today, including testing our new engine installation and some aerodynamic correlation runs,” said Mark Gillan, the team’s chief operations engineer. “Unfortunately testing was cut short with a couple of initial teething problems which we are currently investigating. We intend to get these fixed this evening.”
Maldonado reported that the car felt good and the Renault engine was nice to drive. He completed only 25 laps.
Down at the back was the 2011 HRT of Pedro de la Rosa, running without any livery at all. It completed 44 laps. The value of the test was to get the team working together as this is an almost completely new organisation, with new equipment (apart from the car).
“I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous at the beginning of the day, because I barely knew anyone in the team or the car itself, but I’m very satisfied with how it went. Today the main thing was to do some mileage, not try things out, simply to get to know each other.”
While Raikkonen made the headlines, one needs to be very careful before reading anything into the results.
Tomorrow may be a very different story.