Jerez testing starts today. The circuit is a former Grand Prix location, having hosted several from 1986-1997 as either the Spanish or the European Grand Prix. It features 13 turns, including the Chicane Ayrton Senna – installed and named after the driver in 1994, just after his death.
Last years’ test was rainy, but featured the Virgin VR-01: the first of the new teams’ cars to be released. Although the lap record – set in 1997 – is 1:23.135, Nico Rosberg set a faster lap in 2010 on day one just before the rain fell of 1:20.927. Weirdly, Sebastien Buemi set a lap just a tenth down at 1:21.031.
Day two had Kobayashi’s Sauber fastest with 1:19.950, and again Buemi’s Toro Rosso just a tenth off at 1:20.026. This completely proves what everyone has been saying: it’s too early to tell! (In case you’re reading this in the distant future and Sauber/Toro Rosso are good, they were some of the slower teams in 2010)
Day three had the Toro Rosso fastest, this time with Alguersuari at the wheel, and despite the rain he still set a 1:19.919. Pedro De La Rosa was eight tenths off for Sauber.
Day four was dry again, and finally McLaren set a decent time of 1:19.583. This time, Toro Rosso and Sauber were at the other end of the timing screens, and the slow Virgin of di Grassi faster than Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso.
This year features all the teams except Hispania, who are skipping the test and heading to Monza to film for Pirelli instead. Senna and Nick Heidfeld will be taking over for the Saturday and Sunday. Karun Chandhok will also be on track at some point over the next four days for Lotus, although the team has said that Trulli will take the first two days and Kovalainen the second two. Daniel Ricciardo will be driving for Toro Rosso today before Jaime Alguersuari takes over later.
All the cars are sporting messages to Robert Kubica in Polish. The driver has more surgery today and tomorrow. I’ll put some pics up later. Even as I write this, we’ve already had out first red flag courtesy of Sergio Perez, who had just got down to a 1:23.585. With better weather than last year, we should see some reasonable times. Although it’s too early to tell which car is best just yet…