Kubica’s replacement

Quick poll: who is most likely to get the Renault drive?
Poor old Robert Kubica has only been out for a day and a half, and already names are coming up for suggestion. I flicked around various Sport/F1 websites and polled up who the different writers think will get to drive in place of Kubica for Renault at least in the first part of 2011. Most places were being careful and only mentioned reserve drivers Senna and Grosjean, and so I didn’t count these articles. In the end, these results come from six locations. I gave each driver one point if they were mentioned, and two points if they were the writer’s preferred candidate.
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Valencia Testing Report Day One

So testing is over. There have been a total of two red flags: one in the morning from Nico Rosberg caused by a hydraulics leak, and one right at the end from Fernando Alonso! It’s too early to know why that was, since the session has just finished.
We can’t get a real comparison with the teams because some of them ran more than others, and they were testing different things. Vitaly Petrov had hardly any time out on track (9 laps), and with Mercedes’ problems they just about got in some running with Schumacher at the end.
Both Di Resta and Hulkenberg did well in the Force Indias, with only Sebastian Vettel going faster than his fellow German, and that’s with Force India running an older car. However, running the older car does mean they can focus on things like tyres and playing with any 2011 parts on the car such as the rear wing without testing everything.

Last year’s times for the first day were slightly faster, probably due to familiarity with the tyres and lack of KERS to worry about. Only McLaren had the f-duct back then as well. This year, drivers have to get used to the Pirelli tyres, the adjustable rear wing and KERS, as well as testing everything else to make sure it works. That’s hard!

1 – Sebastian Vettel 1:13.769
2 – Nico Hulkenberg 1:13.938 (+0.169)
3 – Gary Paffett 1:14.292 (+0.523)
4 – Paul Di Resta 1:14.461 (+0.692)
5 – Fernando Alonso 1:14.553 (+0.784)

These five times were the only ones comparable to the 2010 times, which ran from 1:12.5 to 1:15.0 .

6 – Kamui Kobayashi 1:15.621 (+1.852)
7 – Jerome D’Ambrosio 1:16.003 (+2.234)
8 – Vitaly Petrov 1:16.351 (+2.582)
9 – Michael Schumacher 1:16.450 (+2.681)
10 – Jaime Alguersuari 1:17.214 (+3.445)
11 – Rubens Barrichello 1:17.335 (+3.566)
12 – Narain Karthikeyan 1:18.020 (+4.251)
13 – Nico Rosberg 1:19.930 (+6.161)

It’s good driving here from Jerome D’Ambrosio, especially coming ahead of some faster cars. Narain Karthikeyan is about as slow as expected in the HRT, however, at two seconds slower than the Virgin. Toro Rosso didn’t manage much running – only 19 laps – and only early in the session. Nobody made 100 laps, but Alonso was only three off on 97. As the drivers get used to the cars and mechanical problems get fixed, we should see times improve. Will we see the 1:11-12s of last year by day 3? I hope so!

Testing gets underway

And they’re off! Cars are out for testing today, with all but four teams running new cars and Lotus not running at all until tomorrow. Toro Rosso, Red Bull and Mercedes have launched their cars, with Williams showing theirs in an interim livery. Adrian Newey’s clearly been struggling to get to grips with a new car, though, as he’s been forced to work from the Haynes Guide!

Driving today are:
Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso STR6
Fernando Alonso – Ferrari F150
Jerome d’Ambrosio – Virgin VR01 (2010 car)
Rubens Barrichello – Williams FW33
Paul di Resta – Force India VJM03 (interim car)
Nico Hulkenberg – Force India VJM03 (interim car)
Narain Karthikeyan – Hispania F110 (2010 car)
Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber C30
Gary Paffett – McLaren MP4-25 (interim car)
Vitaly Petrov – Renault R31
Nico Rosberg – Mercedes MGP-W02
Michael Schumacher – Mercedes MGP-W02
Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull RB7

The times last year were around the 1:11-1:12 mark, though we didn’t see any Lotuses, Virgins or Hispanias out there. Report to follow this evening.