Tony Fernandes could be in trouble. The court case to decide who owns the rights to the ‘Team Lotus‘ name begins today: before the season starts, thanks to the cancellation of the Bahrain GP, though it is likely to last until the end of next week. I will admit to supporting Fernandes’ side (as if that wasn’t obvious already) but his campaign might be in trouble. Maybe.
For various reasons there was no running for HRT today. They revealed that their F111 would be on track on Friday, but they wouldn’t be running before then. So it was the other 11 teams racing around Barcelona, and the two Sebs were in the lead on times: Vettel had an amazing 1:21.865, and Buemi had a 1:22.396. Both those times are better than Webber’s from yesterday, and it was a massive improvement from Buemi on yesterday’s time, where Toro Rosso had very little running due to a car failure.
Birthday boy Pastor Maldonado was the unluckiest driver, not getting in many laps after the Williams suffered from mechanical problems for most of the day. He only had 29 laps. The McLaren and Virgin were also low on laps, and Trulli was the other driver to not make it to 100 – but only two less.
||Paul di Resta
The test in Jerez is over after four days. The next one starts on Friday in Barcelona, and will see the return of HRT after their trip to Monza to film for Pirelli. Today’s test allowed Bruno Senna a chance in the Renault, and he has done reasonably well, managing 68 laps.
Rubens Barrichello proved the ability of the Williams by becoming the only driver to dip below 1:20s, which was set fairly early in the day. He managed 103 laps despite causing a red flag. Kamui Kobayashi also set a lot of laps, taking long runs on the track while everyone else was at lunch, but he also caused a red flag. Third-fastest Fernando Alonso didn’t manage to make it up to his teammate’s faster time from earlier sessions, but once again the Ferrari was consistent and set 115 laps.
Other notable times include Kovalainen’s 1:21.632 – the fastest Lotus time all week, and exactly 1.8s off Barrichello’s time. It’s a vast improvement for the year-old team. He even managed to go faster than the Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Force India, although you can’t tell anything from lap times.
1 – Rubens Barrichello 1:19.832
2 – Kamui Kobayashi 1:20.601
3 – Fernando Alonso 1:21.074
4 – Sebastien Buemi 1:21.213
5 – Bruno Senna 1:21.400
6 – Heikki Kovalainen 1:21.632
7 – Nico Rosberg 1:22.103
8 – Sebastian Vettel 1:22.222
9 – Jenson Button 1:22.278
10 – Jerome d’Ambrosio 1:22.985
11 – Paul di Resta 1:23.111
The next test starts in Barcelona on Friday, which is a current race track. Last year’s pole qualifying time, set by Webber, was 1:19.995; the fastest lap in the race was set by Hamilton, at 1:24.357. A slower race lap was Pedro De La Rosa’s 1:30.411, set in lap 9 before he crashed out.
The best news of all today was off-track, since Robert Kubica has had an interview with Italian media. He says he feels that he is recovering well, and hopes to be back in a car before the end of the season. We all hope so too! Get well soon! Robert was due to undergo more surgery today on his leg, arm and shoulder.
On-track, there were more red flags today. First up was Jaime Alguersuari, who spun at 10am local time. Toro Rosso took so long to get him back to the pits that I was off to university before he was back. Later, Petrov caused a red flag from spinning, and after that it was Perez‘s turn; the Mexican went into a tyre wall and smashed his car up, ending his day. Just a short while later, Maldonado crashed, adding to Williams’ bad luck this weekend; not only did they get very little running time yesterday, but a KERS worry today put them out for several hours just before the Venusuelan’s crash.
Most teams were running the same drivers as yesterday, minus Ricciardo for Toro Rosso. However, McLaren and Mercedes are alternating their drivers so Button and Schumacher were in for Hamiton and Rosberg today.
Technical problems for Lotus meant they weren’t able to complete their running today, though they were within 2.9s of the fastest time: Schumacher‘s 1:20.352 and good news for Mercedes who have struggled so far. Massa continued to do well with 116 laps completed and less than a tenth off Schumacher’s time. Even Timo Glock set a surprisingly good lap in the Virgin, at 1:22.208 and just 1.8s off Schumacher (and only 2 tenths off Webber’s time from 2010). In comparison with 2010, the times are slightly slower, but Sauber were showing off to get sponsors last year and Schumacher is only 4 tenths off Kobasyashi’s time.
1 – Michael Schumacher 1:20.352
2 – Felipe Massa 1:20.413
3 – Jenson Button 1:21.009
4 – Jaime Alguersuari 1:21.214
5 – Mark Webber 1:21.613
6 – Adrian Sutil 1:21.780
7 – Sergio Perez 1:21.857
8 – Timo Glock 1:22.208
9 – Vitaly Petrov 1:22.493
10 – Pastor Maldonado 1:22.591
11 – Jarno Trulli 1:23.216
Yesterday, Ford submitted a lawsuit against Ferrari for an infringement on the use of the F150 name. This is because Ford have a truck – sold exclsively in North America – called the F-150. It’s a very popular truck, and has been around since the 1970s. Naturally, they weren’t happy about Ferrari using the F150 (without a dash) name, even though it is surely impossible to confuse a mass-produced pick-up truck with a single-seater racecar that you can’t even buy.
The F150 has been renamed the F150th Italia with no official mention from Ferrari. They have simply changed the name everywhere that it is mentioned on their websites, and removed the F150 logo (which was eerily similar to the F-150 logo). It must be confusing for Felipe Massa, who started driving this morning in an F150 but will finish in an F150th Italia. Now saying ‘F150th Italia’ is not going to be the easiest thing in the world, so it will take a bit of practice. But just like learning to spell ‘Alguersuari’ and ‘Karthikeyan’, I expect we’ll soon be used to it. Next year, Ferrari, choose something sensible for your car name; F12 sounds good to me!
I don’t know whether this will persuade Ford to drop the lawsuit or not, but most of us are fed up with naming rows and just want to get on with the season. That’s one good thing that has come out of Kubica’s horrible accident – there’s a lot less tension between Lotus and Renault.
The new Pirellis are very different to the Bridgestones from what we’ve seen so far. Though they start off well, unless they’re managed carefully they seem to drop off after a couple of laps. If they are managed well, on the other hand, they can maintain the pace for quite a few laps. It looks like we’ll be seeing laptimes begin quickly before dropping off, and so pit strategy is key to getting the leap on another driver. On the other hand, drivers like Webber and Button might be able to manage the tyres better and hold the pace for longer, which will give them an advantage.
What I’m more concerned about is Canada, where even the Bridgestones struggled. Pirelli’s fast-degrading tyres could drop off even faster, and result in even more than the two or three pit stops we saw in 2010. That would be disappointing, but I’m hopeful that Pirelli will get things right.
I haven’t done this for a while, because my Wednesdays are completely crazy with uni work. Beyond that, there wasn’t much to say with only Renault’s addition of several young drivers to their reserve squad. And then came last Sunday, with Robert Kubica‘s terrible accident. Thankfully, he seems to be recovering well, but he has more surgery tomorrow.
It didn’t take long for people to start speculating over who would replace the Polish driver. Bruno Senna was the natural choice to take the second seat temporarily, but whether he gets the permenant position is another matter considering Renault were hoping for a championship-winning car this year. Eric Bouiller has narrowed the options down to Senna, Nick Heidfeld (the ‘sensible’ option) and Tonio Liuzzi.
Elsewhere, Karun Chandhok will be testing for Lotus in Jerez and Barcelona, and his performance will help decide whether he will become the team’s reserve, though there are also other drivers waiting in the wings.