Saturday, 28 February 2015

Hamilton ends day 3 in Barcelona in P1 for Mercedes

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the day on the penultimate day of winter testing at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday.

The double world champion completed 76 laps with a fastest time of 1m 23.022. Hamilton has now finished his running in the W06 and the next time he will be behind the wheel will be for the opening practice session at the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. Speaking about his day in the car Hamilton stated:

It wasn’t a particularly spectacular day. The track seems to have lost a bit of grip in the last few days so the feeling wasn’t as good. But I’m still glad we got some running done and I feel good in the car. We were trying to understand a few things today with the set up and it gave us a clearer indication of that in the afternoon. The guys in the team have been exceptional during these tests and I just can’t wait to get racing now – the fun stuff!

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa completed 102 laps with the Brazilian setting a time of 1m 23.262s completing set-up and aero work. Speaking following the session Massa stated:

We had another good day with over 100 laps completed. We reached the end of the programme in good time and the car has remained very reliable over all three tests. Our long runs look positive and the car remains consistent throughout the stints. We are not the only quick car on the track though and the fight behind Mercedes will be interesting. I now have to get ready for the first race of the season in Melbourne, which I am really looking forward to.

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Chief Test and Support Engineer Rod Nelson commented on the day’s running by saying:

It was Felipe’s last day in the car before Melbourne and we have had a busy day. We focused on chassis and aero work as well as longer runs on scrubbed tyres to see the degradation and tyre performance. We did a grid simulation at lunchtime to ensure the procedural processes are all in place for when we arrive in Melbourne. We have just one day of the test left now, and it will be another busy one for the team.

The Grove based outfit will conclude their winter test programme with Valtteri
 Bottas behind the wheel of the FW37 which has shown great potential in recent days during testing in Barcelona.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen taking part on his final day of winter testing in Barcelona finished the session in third place. The Finn ended the day in third place having completed 136 laps with a fastest time of 1m 23.276s. Speaking about his final day in the car before the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, the Iceman stated:

Overall it hasn’t been a bad test since we covered a race distance today. Now we wait to go to Melbourne to see how we stand compared to the others. I wish to thank the Team for the work it has done during the winter.’
Ferrari technical director James Allison commented on the day of running saying:

We’ve got a lot of laps under our belt in this winter testing; but until you actually go out and do the laps for a race, one after the other, and not stopping except to change tyres, you really can’t claim that you’re ready to go to Melbourne and do it for real. So we’re happy to get our first race distance of the winter done, happy to have achieved at the first attempt, and with the reliability that we showed. 

So I’m pleased with the testing we did over the last two days, which shows clearly that the car works as we expected. Winter testing in Europe always asks slightly different questions from the car than you get when you’re in Bahrain: but it doesn’t turn night into day. Most of what the car really is revealed here as much as on the other Grand Prix circuits during the year. And I think what we see is a well-mannered car, so we expect these characteristics to be broadly carried over to the other races.’

Sebastian Vettel will take over driving the car on the final day of winter testing on Sunday. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr was fourth fastest with a time of 1m 24.191s having completed 132 laps in the STR10. 

The Spaniard stopped out on track with just over ten minutes to go in the session.
The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest for the Enstone based outfit having completed 116 laps. The Frenchman set a time of 1m 25.200s. Grosjean completed race simulations, aero simulations and set up evaluations. Speaking following his final day of testing Grosjean stated:

That was a long day and the track conditions varied quite a lot. This morning went pretty well, we had a lot of work to do with some aero and set-up tasks as we’re trying to test as many things as possible before Melbourne. In the afternoon we ran a race simulation and other performance evaluations. There’s potential for improvement in some areas but we have plenty of data to get the car more to where we want it to be for Melbourne. I can’t wait to for the season to start.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane stated:

Today we completed another extensive programme with the E23 running reliably throughout. Track conditions were quite difficult for establishing a baseline as the track temperature varied a lot through the day, but nevertheless we ran for over 100 laps and have a lot more information relating to the various aero and set-up configurations. We have quite a long night ahead of us as tomorrow is the final day of testing where we hope to make further progress with Pastor at the wheel.

Pastor Maldonado will take over the running of the E23 Hybrid on Sunday.
The Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson ended the day in sixth place completing 123 laps with a time of 1m 24.447s. Speaking following his final day in the car before the Australian Grand Prix, the Swede stated:

It was another good day during which I was able to complete a lot of laps. We went through a quite similar programme to that from two days ago. Overall it was a good day as we gathered plenty of data, which was important. I did more practice starts, pit stops, short-runs on different compounds and also almost a full race simulation again. All in all it was a good day for the final preparations before going to Melbourne.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr will take over running the C34 on the final day of running on Sunday. Speaking following Saturday’s running the Swiss based outfit’s Head Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara stated:

The main target today was again getting ready to race, so we alternated between short and long runs. All the investigations on aerodynamic set-ups and the tyre side are done. The day went smoothly, and we had no major issue except for stopping on track in the last hour, which was a precaution as we saw something that was unclear in the data. We preferred to check the car before hitting the track again at the very end.”

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg was 7th fastest completing 158 laps with a fastest time of 1m 24.939s. Speaking following the session the German stated:

It was a very positive day in terms of reliability and getting a lot of mileage under our belts. It was our first full day of testing so our main focus remained on getting to know the car, the way we set it up and its characteristics. I think we made some good progress in this regard and we managed to get a decent understanding of how the VJM08 feels under different conditions. 

That's definitely a positive, although it remains very hard to judge where everyone is in terms of performance. Next time I will step in the car will be in Melbourne: I am very excited to fly to Australia as that's when you get the racing feeling again. I am really looking forward to getting going and being back in a competition; that is something I relish. Hopefully the work we did in the last few weeks will pay off and we will be in a position for fight for a good result.
The Silverstone based outfit’s Chief Race Engineer Tom McCullough stated:

It was another solid day of testing with the VJM08, which is proving to be a very reliable car so far: the plan we had set for ourselves today was very ambitious but we managed to achieve all its main points.
We have taken another big step in our process of understanding the performance of the car and we were able to work through both performance runs and longer stints. Track temperatures were not ideal as they were very much on the cool side, but we still learnt a lot and gathered a significant amount of data to analyse tonight.

It was Nico's last day in the car before heading off to Melbourne: the work he completed today will help us ensure we make the most of our final day in the car tomorrow as Sergio steps in the cockpit for the first time.

McLaren-Honda’s Kevin Magnussen was 8th fastest despite stopping out on track with oil leak on the MP4-30. The Dane completed just 39 laps of the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya. Jenson Button will end the winter test programme on Sunday.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has stated that the Woking based outfit won’t be competitive until at least the opening European round at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona which takes place from May 8 – 10.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo completed 128 laps in the RB11 although ended the session at the bottom of the time-sheets with a time of 1m 25.742s. Speaking afterwards the Australia stated:

There’s definitely plenty of positives to take from today: we did a lot of laps and worked through the programme, Most of the other teams did some performance running today but we were focusing on ourselves and didn’t get onto the soft or supersoft tyres and the low-fuel stuff. Our long runs look pretty good and completing nearly 130 laps means reliability is where it should be too. We’ve just got a bit of fine-tuning to do tomorrow.’

Red Bull’s Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin stated:

We did a normal race weekend run plan today. The car was really reliable and we completed a lot of miles; it was the sort of good, sound testing that engineers like. We’re very happy with how today went. We’ll carry on with the programme tomorrow as planned but because we got a lot done today it gives us a little more flexibility as we can afford a bit more downtime.

High speed cameras to be introduced on all cars

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The FIA have called on the team’s to fit their cars with high speed cameras from the 2016 season onwards in order to aid any investigations into on track accidents.

The idea comes following Fernando Alonso’s accident in his McLaren MP4-30 on the final day of last weeks’ winter test at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya.

The cameras will be fitted to every car at all Grand Prix and test events from next season and teams will have to ensure that all of their camera equipment is in working order. The FIA have also stated that the cameras must be fitted in accordance with their technical regulations.

© Ben Johnston 2015

1,018 laps covered by Pirelli rubber on Friday

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Formula One teams completed a total of 1.018 laps on Pirelli rubber on Friday. Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg was fastest with a 1m 22.792s which was set on the yellow walled Soft tyre.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completed the most number of laps on Friday having done 143 laps. The German’s fastest time of the day was a 1m 25.339s set on the Soft compound tyre.

Three drivers ran the Medium compound tyre. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat and the Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg all completed their fastest time of the day on the Medium compound tyre.

The Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya remained dry all day with the air temperature peaking at 17 degrees.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Button happy with McLaren's Friday progress

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button was happy with the progress that the team made on Friday. The 2009 world champion completed 101 laps before the MP4-30 stopped out on track. The Englishman ended the day in 5th place with a fastest time of 1m 25.590s.

Button stated that completing over 100 laps was like completing 1000 following the issues that have plagued the Woking based outfit over the course of winter testing.

Button said that the reliability of the car had been great on Friday and that despite the times being nowhere near where they should the team have certainly made progress over the winter. He feels the team need to work on the power unit and that the final two days of winter testing will be used to work on the performance of the Honda power unit.

The team have plenty of work to do according to Button but that they are making progress. Kevin Magnussen is in the car on Saturday as Fernando Alonso is resting prior to the start of the new season following his testing accident last Sunday. The Spaniard released a video on Friday thanking his fans for their support and saying that he is perfectly fine.

Jenson Button will conclude McLaren-Honda’s winter test programme at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Friday, 27 February 2015

Rosberg leads the way for Mercedes on day 2 as McLaren make progress

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the session on day 2 of the final winter test at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya.

The German completed 106 laps of the Spanish circuit with a fastest time of 1m 22.792s. Speaking following the session Rosberg stated:

Today was a difficult day to start with but ended on a positive. During the early runs, even though the numbers looked like they were in the right place with the setup, it was actually very far away from where it needed to be, which was unusual and caught us off guard a little bit. 

We didn’t really understand why, so a big part of the day has been chasing the setup and finding the right direction. It was really difficult to understand where to go. I had a lot of oversteer in the car, so the rear was just all over the place with no traction. But eventually, towards the end especially, it was feeling more and more decent. Then, putting the soft tyres on, that gives you the grip anyway so it doesn’t really matter what the balance is – more or less it will be possible to do a good lap.

I’m pleased with my two laps at the end – I nailed them pretty well and they were both identical, so a good ending to the day. We’re confident that we have a good car and I’m starting to feel good in it. At the same time, of course, we’re well aware that the others have been posting some quick times and we can take nothing for granted. We have a great team who are doing a fantastic job and always want better and better, so we will keep our heads down and keep working. It’s a work in progress…'

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Valtteri Bottas showed that the FW37 is an extremely competitive car as the Finn ended the day in second place completing 90 laps of the Barcelona circuit with a fastest time of 1m 23.995s. Speaking following the session, Bottas stated:

It was nice to focus on performance today and work to get the lap times lower. We are working hard and still have two days left of the test so there is more still to do. The day was busy and we know there is still more to come, I feel positive and the balance was good. We still need to make sure we look at the longer runs and not just the one lap qualifying pace.

The Grove based outfit’s Chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson stated:

We started the day doing some aero work comparing data and driver feel. We then moved onto a few performance based runs. Later in the day we worked on race procedure including some longer runs and grid simulations. We have had some new components that have performed as expected which has been productive. We have a busy final two days of the test as we optimise the time left until the first race.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr was third fastest for the Swiss based outfit having completed 141 laps with a fastest time of 1m 24.071s. The Brazilian was extremely happy with his day in the C34 and stated afterwards:

Today was very productive as we went through the whole programme. In the morning I was able to get a feeling for the car during the short-runs on the soft and medium compounds, which was quite positive. After the lunch break, I went through a race simulation on different tyres. It was a good experience, and I now have a better understanding for the car during the long-runs. I am also quite happy with the balance of the car. Again today we made another step forward, and we have to keep pushing in this direction.
Speaking following the day, the Sauber F1 Team’s Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara stated:

‘It was another good day for us. The programme was more or less the same as yesterday, with aero measurements and race starts in the morning. Later on Felipe went through a race simulation, and we were also able to test a different rear wing at the end of the day.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest for the Italian team. The four time world champion completed 143 laps in the SF15-T working on aerodynamic and long run tests. Kimi Raikkonen will be back in action for the Maranello based outfit. Speaking after today’s running, Sebastian Vettel stated:

I drove more than two Grands Prix today, but I don’t know if I won one, that depends on what the others did! Jokes apart, it’s nice that at the final test we could cover more and more mileage. Today we didn’t have any problem, we know there is still a lot of work we can do as a team, but so far I feel very good. If I had to pinpoint one thing, I’d rather be a bit quicker, but it’s difficult to evaluate how quick we are, because some people tried more of a qualifying trim and others did less so. I never drove the 2014 Ferrari, but I think this one it’s a massive step forward. That doesn’t mean that we are satisfied as it’s clear that if you want to win, you have to beat Mercedes. It’s exciting to see what’s going on behind them, which I think it’s not clear judging from the lap times we’ve seen so far.’

Ferrari technical director James Allison stated:

Today was a much, much better day, with almost flawless reliability, and it’s much more encouraging, as we get close to Melbourne, to have that. We did a lot of setup work as well, were very conservative for outright performance, but were able to get good direction for the start of the season.’

It was a fantastic day for the McLaren-Honda F1 Team as Jenson Button completed 101 laps with a fastest time of 1m 25.590s ending the day just ahead of the Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado. Button who stopped out on track towards the end of the day called it ‘a massive leap in terms of the atmosphere within the team’.
Speaking following his day where he ended in 6th place with a 1m 26.705s having completed 140 laps Pastor Maldonado stated:

We ran the car for a long time today which has been a good endorsement of my winter training programme as I still feel fresh after 140 laps! We did a lot of different assessments so I had plenty to think about and it was good to do the race simulation as we’ll soon be heading to Melbourne. There’s a lot of information to digest from today and I can’t wait to get back in the car on Sunday.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Technical Director Nick Chester stated:

We’ve completed a high tally of laps today and the E23 has run reliably throughout. This is great for us as we’ve been able to try a number of different set-up and aero configurations to enable us to get as much data as possible to make further progress in our understanding of our new car. Pastor did a great job despite driving the equivalent distance of more than two Grands Prix and we’re looking forward to Romain jumping back into the car tomorrow.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was 7th fastest for the Italian team having completed 139 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.766s.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat was 8th fastest in the RB11 with a 1m 26.965s completing 84 laps and speaking afterwards the Russian stated:

We had a couple of issues today but nothing too serious. So, while it would have been nice to do a few more laps, we did get a lot done today. You always want more and we’re always looking for improvement but overall I’m happy, Today was my last day of testing and I’m happy with the level I reached with my group of guys over the past few weeks. I think we’re heading in the right direction, we have a good understanding between us, we’re not lost anywhere and we know what we need to do for Melbourne.’

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s head of race engineering Guillaume Rocquelin stated:

‘It doesn’t sound very exciting but aside from a couple of minor glitches it was a very normal day of testing – exactly the type of day you’re looking for. We had some parts arrive overnight as a fix for the problem we had yesterday afternoon and while we were waiting for those to be prepped we spent the morning doing aero work, which was part of the plan anyway.

By the time we got through that, we were ready to run the new parts in the afternoon. We were focused on long runs but then we had a problem with a sensor, which stopped us briefly. After that though it was business as usual. It was Daniil’s final day of testing and he has been excellent throughout. His ability in the car was never in doubt but it is a big ask for a driver to start with a new team and to familiarise yourself with everything in just six days of testing. However, he integrated into the set-up very quickly, got to know his guys well and got to grips with all the systems and procedures in double quick time. He’s been very impressive and I think he’s well prepared for the first race.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team completed a productive day on their first day running the 2015 car, the VJM08 with Nico Hulkenberg completing 77 laps with a fastest time of 1m 28.412s with the German impressed with the initial outing in the car despite suffering a puncture on his out lap. Speaking afterwards he stated:

It was a very good day, at least in terms of the running we managed to do. We were able to run reliably straight out of the box and that is very encouraging. The boys and girls at the factory and here at the track have been pushing really hard in the last couple of weeks and to do 77 laps in little more than one afternoon is a remarkable job by the team.

Obviously we still have a big task ahead of us and we are playing catch-up in certain aspects, but I am quite satisfied so far. The car feels pretty good, although making a direct comparison with our 2014 car is not easy as the conditions in winter testing are always very particular. One of our team's strengths is to learn about the car quickly, so we will need to get as much data as possible to get in a good position for Melbourne. Tomorrow we will be looking at doing more long runs, working with the various tyre compounds and putting more mileage on the car.

The Sahara Force India F1 Team’s Chief Race Engineer Tom McCullough stated:

‘It has been a real big effort from all the staff back at the factory to get the car ready and out here for this test. Managing to run our installation laps before the lunch break was very useful and helped us achieve a solid first day with the VJM08.

These are the very early stages of the VJM08's running and it is encouraging to get 77 laps on the board: we could have got even more mileage hadn't it been for the red flags at the end of the day. Today was all about achieving a first understanding of the new car and to run this long allowed us to collect a sizeable amount of very valuable data. We will go through it tonight and it will help us prepare for what is hopefully going to be another productive day tomorrow.

© Ben Johnston 2015

It's official - Manor to race in 2015

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The FIA have published the official 2015 Formula One entry list with Manor Formula One Team listed on it.

The former Marussia F1 Team came out of administration last week and have paid their registration fee to be on the grid in 2015.

Beside the teams’ name on the entry list the FIA have noted that the team must have a car that fully complies with the 2015 FIA Technical Regulations. The team have named their former test driver and Caterham F1 Team driver Will Stevens as one of their two drivers with McLaren test driver Kevin Magnussen rumoured to be in the running the running for the second seat.

Stevens’ participant this season is subject to the English driver holding a valid FIA Super Licence. The FIA have also confirmed the closure of the Caterham F1 Team.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Special feature - Inside the F1 Paddock with Paddock Eye

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

As you will know by now Paddock Eye was at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya last week for the first of two winter tests at the venue.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The opening day of the event last Thursday was absolutely amazing seeing and hearing the 2015 cars up close was absolutely incredible however it was Friday when the magic happened. Paddock Eye gained access to the Formula One Paddock.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

For those of you who may be new to Formula One the Paddock is where all the team’s set up for a race weekend and test and it is where you will find their motor home's and where the drivers can be found. It is also where you will find the likes of Sky Sports F1 HD and BBC F1 during the build up to Grand Prix and during their live coverage of events.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

It is also where you will find the most expensive transportation car park with all of the team trucks parked up looking incredible as they are washed and thoroughly cleaned every day. This trucks are absolutely massive and the only way I can describe them is to compare them to the Transformers movie and Optimus Prime.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

I was absolutely mesmerized by the Paddock. The only way I can describe it is I was like a kid who had just been handed the keys to the worlds’ biggest toy store and told ‘it’s yours’

One of the first people I saw when I arrived in the paddock was Kimi Raikkonen, however the Finn was not stopping for anyone as the Iceman was going from the Scuderia Ferrari motorhome to the car to go out on track.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

I was so excited and surprised that I dropped my sunglasses haha. Fortunately they didn’t break!! On the final day of the test last Sunday I went into the pit-lane at lunch time which was absolutely amazing where I spoke to a mechanic from the Williams Martini Racing Team which was fantastic, he was very approachable and was happy to have quick chat as he set up the pit-box.
Testing is incredible and the atmosphere is absolutely amazing.  

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

© Ben Johnston 2015

Dennis confirms Alonso was unconscious 'for a few seconds' but is completely fine following Barcelona accident

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

McLaren Group Chairman Ron Dennis has confirmed that Fernando Alonso is completely fine following the Spaniard’s crash in testing on Sunday morning.

Alonso was released from hospital on Wednesday morning after undergoing observation in Catalunya after receiving treatment for concussion. 

Despite the team initially denying that Alonso had lost consciousness, Ron Dennis has now revealed that the Spaniard did indeed briefly lose consciousness.

The team confirmed on Wednesday that test and reserve driver Kevin Magnussen will fill in for Alonso during testing for the rest of the week alongside Jenson Button. The Woking based outfit endured yet another tough day in Barcelona on Thursday as Button was forced to stop the car after just seven laps due to a hydraulic leak which resulted in an engine change.

Ron Dennis has also revealed that he sees absolutely no reason why Alonso will miss the opening race of the season in Melbourne Australia which takes place in just over two weeks’ time and fully expects the double world champion to line up on the grid for the race however Dennis knows that it is not up to him and that first Alonso must pass a number of health checks set out by the FIA medical delegation however he expects the Spaniard to sail through those tests.

The McLaren boss has however once again denied that Alonso was electrocuted resulting in the crash. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Massa fastest on day one as the FW37 shows its potential

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa was the pace setter on Day 1 of the final winter test at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.

The Brazilian completed 103 laps with a fastest time of 1m 23.500s finishing the day just ahead of the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson.

Speaking following the session, Massa stated:

It was a good day for us and the car behaved well. When we tried to use the new soft tyre we managed to get some quicker laps in. The FW37 never showed a sign of an issue and this has been the case since we arrived at the first test in Jerez. We are doing a lot of work and seem to be moving forward. I have just one more day in the car before the first race, so Saturday will be important.

Williams Chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson stated:

The programme was slightly upset by the rain in the morning, but that just meant we had more work to do in the afternoon. We managed to complete the planned schedule though and we have made some positive changes to the chassis, as well as some aero adjustments. We are now looking at what we will take to Australia to make sure we are prepared for the first race. It has been a good day, with no reliability issues.

Valtteri Bottas will be in action for the Grove based outfit on Friday. Speaking about his day of running in the C34 the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson stated:

It was a productive day, and for me the best one of the pre-season so far. The morning went well until the rain came, which forced us to slightly change our plans. In the afternoon we planned a full race simulation, which was a very good exercice for the team to get valuable data. Also for me it was important to get a feeling for the 2015 tyres over a race distance with different fuel loads. We finished the day with short-runs on soft and super soft tyres. Overall, a positive day during which we have learned a lot. I hope we can continue for the rest of the week in the same way.

Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara commented saying:

It was a good day for us. We completed a race distance and also did short-runs with a bit of a shuffled programme due to the unexpected shower before lunch. In the end it all went well, as we were able to complete the programme.’
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr will be in action for the Swiss based outfit on Friday. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was third fastest for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team despite the fact that the team were forced to end their day early due to a problem with their MGU-K. Speaking following the day of running Hamilton stated:

I feel so much better this week. I have a lot more energy. I’m actually going to head back and go for a run now as I haven’t had much to do this afternoon! Of course, we would have liked to have a few more laps today – especially as the sun came out later on. But sometimes you have those days. 

I don’t see it as too much of a negative. It’s good that you find these things, whatever issues you might have, and iron them out now. It means hopefully you won’t find them at the first race. Testing is always difficult. If you get the whole day in the car, the sun is out and the tyres are working you can make more changes to learn where you want to put the car. 

Naturally, the more you drive the more you feel comfortable – but to be honest in the 50 laps I had today I felt ready to go. I had a positive feeling in the car and it was good to get the tyres working. I’ve got one more day to now hopefully have a clean run and really pinpoint where I want to put the car for the first race.

The double world champion managed just 48 laps before the issue with the car and his fastest time was a 1m 24.881s.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat was fourth fastest with a time of 1m 25.947s. The Russian completed 75 laps in the RB11 and speaking following the session stated:

We more or less had a decent day. We were able to get quite a lot done and hopefully we’ll get more done tomorrow. These last couple of days are really important in terms of understanding where we are, understanding the engine and chassis, so it’s good to get as much running as possible. It felt fine today. There’s always room for improvement though so we’ll be pushing to find that.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin commented saying:

Not a perfect start to this final test. After we sorted a small problem Dany had on the install lap, we ran well in the morning and got through some shorter runs, turning the car round quickly in the garage after set-up changes and trying to build up some performance. However, then the rain came and that set everything back a bit. In the afternoon we were planning on a long run but about 10 laps into his stint, we noticed a problem on the car and Dany came back to the garage. We felt it would be better to wait for some new parts overnight so we went back to shorter runs in the late afternoon and we’ll probably do the same first thing tomorrow morning until the parts are onboard.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest in the E23 Hybrid completing 75 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.177s. Speaking following his day in the car, the Frenchman said:

We tried a lot of different set-ups today so there was a lot of returning to the garage for different things to be changed, which is all part of testing. The car’s been reliable again and we’ve gone through quite a bit of work even if the lap count isn’t as high as some other days – it’s all part of the learning process at a test. I’m looking forward to watching further progress with the car tomorrow then getting back out on track myself on Saturday.’

The Enstone outfit’s Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane commented:

We had a productive morning evaluating a new front suspension geometry, then we spent more time trying different set-ups in the afternoon. The E23 was once more reliable and we’ve collected plenty of data and good feedback from Romain. The track was damp for a while, so we avoided too much time on the circuit in those conditions as it’s not productive to be on circuit at those times for test purposes. We’re all set for another full day tomorrow with Pastor in the car.’

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was 6th fastest in the SF15-T. The Finn completed set up analysis, practice starts along with pit-stop tests completing 80 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.327s. Speaking following the day of running Raikkonen stated:

We learned something today, even with a few issues which I am sure we can fix. The car is not too bad overall, but there are some areas where we want to improve, especially when it get tricky with the conditions that we are experiencing and cause the tyres not to work the same way from one lap to another. Now we have another day of testing to put together what we have learned. In a few days in Melbourne we will find out where we really are.’

Raikkonen will end his winter test programme tomorrow before team mate Sebastian Vettel takes over the SF15-T for the final weekend of on track action before the Australian Grand Prix. Speaking following Thursday’s running, Ferrari Technical Director James Allison stated:

This wasn’t an easy day for us as we spent time chasing our tails on an annoying reliability problems which by the end of the day we managed to put to bed, but that interrupted our programmes for the day quite considerably. Now we can put what we learn today in place for tomorrow so to have a day much more like we want to have.’

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr was seventh fastest for the Italian team completing 86 laps with a time of 1m 26.962s.

It was another extremely tough day for the McLaren Honda Formula One Team as Jenson Button was forced to cut short his day of running in the MP4-30 following a hydraulic leak which required the team to change the Honda power unit.

Testing continues tomorrow.

© Ben Johnston 2015

It's official! Carmen join the Lotus F1 Team as Development driver

(Lotus F1 Team)

As Paddock Eye reported earlier today it has now been officially confirmed that the Lotus F1 Team have signed Spanish GP3 driver Carmen Jorda as Development driver from 2015 onwards.

The highly rated Spaniard will attend Formula One Grand Prix and official test events with the Lotus F1 Team as well as carrying out extensive work in the team’s simulator in Enstone Jorda will also get the opportunity for regular outings in the E23 Hybrid over the course of the 2015 Formula One season.

The Spaniard has a distinguished motor racing career having raced in the European Open Formula 3 championship, the American Indy Lights Series and joins the Lotus F1 Team following time in the GP3 Series.

Speaking about Jorda’s appointment to at the outfit, Lotus F1 Team CEO Matthew Carter stated:

'We are happy to announce Carmen Jordá as a Development Driver for Lotus F1 Team and we are looking forward to working with her over the course of the season and ultimately seeing her behind the wheel of the car. Carmen will bring a fresh perspective to the team. We have a strong programme for her attending Grands Prix as well as extensive time in our sophisticated simulation facility at Enstone. She is a unique addition to the team and we are looking forward to helping her progress her goals as well as receiving the benefit of her insights and contributions to the development of the E23 Hybrid.'

(Lotus F1 Team)

Speaking about her arrival at the team, Jorda commented saying:

'It feels like a dream come true to join Lotus F1 Team. I’ve been racing since I was ten years old so it was my dream to drive a Formula 1 car since I was very young. Joining Lotus F1 Team is a big step towards my goal. I will be working to improve myself as a driver as well as helping the team to develop the car by testing new developments in the simulator; it’s such a fantastic opportunity. I know this is just the beginning and the biggest challenge is yet to come but already being part of a team with such a history is a real honour. This is a great achievement, but an even greater opportunity which will lead to bigger and better things.'

(Lotus F1 Team)

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hydraulic leak ends McLaren's day early

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

McLaren Honda have been forced to end the opening day of the final winter test early as a result of a hydraulic leak.

The team confirmed the news on Twitter and have also revealed the engine will have to be changed.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Jorda set to be named Lotus F1 Team development driver

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Lotus F1 Team look set to become the second team to add a female driver to their line-up with reports emerging that highly rated GP3 driver Carmen Jorda is set to follow in Susie Wolff’s footsteps by being named as a Formula One development driver.
More news as it comes…

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hamilton ends the morning session in P1

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton ended the morning session of day 1 at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya in first place. The reigning world champion completed 48 laps with a fastest time of 1m 24.881s ending the session just ahead of Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa in the FW37 with a 1m 25.763.

The Brazilian has completed 29 laps so far in the FW37 ending the morning just ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat who recovered from a stoppage in the early stages of the morning to record the third fastest time. The Russian set a 1m 25.947s and had the second highest number of laps this morning having completed 45.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest in the E23 Hybrid with a time of 1m 27.079s. The Frenchman completed 33 laps and was 2.198s behind Lewis Hamilton.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson was fifth fastest in the C34 with a 1m 27.802s. Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest in the SF15-T with a 1m 27.813s. The Finn completed 28 laps and ended the session just ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr who completed 34 laps with a fastest time of 1m 27.866s.

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button completed installation laps in the MP4-30 having left the McLaren garage shortly after 9.30 and has set a time of 1m 31.479s having completed just seven laps so far today.

The team’s senior management team of Ron Dennis, Jonathan Neale and Eric Boullier are all in attendance at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya today.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Ferrari the right move for Seb

© Ben Johnston 2015)

Former Formula One driver Mark Webber believes that four time world champion Sebastian Vettel has made the right call by moving to Scuderia Ferrari from Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

It was announced last year that Vettel would be joining Kimi Raikkonen at Scuderia Ferrari. Webber was the German’s team mate at Infiniti Red Bull Racing from 2009 – 2013 where the pair formed one of the most successful partnerships in recent Formula One history. As team mates’ the pair won four consecutive Constructors championships for the Milton Keynes based outfit from 2010 – 2013.

Webber believes it is not a case of whether Red Bull will miss Vettel or not but that it is question for Vettel as to whether or not his move to Ferrari will enable him to get the best out of himself. The Australia does believe however that the Milton Keynes based outfit may miss some of the German’s experience half way through the 2015 season.

Webber believes Infiniti Red Bull Racing have a fantastic driver in Daniel Ricciardo and that he following his incredibly strong season in 2014, the Australian will be in a position to challenge Mercedes for the championship this season.

© Ben Johnston 2015 

Morning update from Day 1 in Barcelona

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton currently leads the way in the early stages of the opening day of the final Formula One winter test in Barcelona. The double world champion has set a fast time of 1m 24.881s. The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team driver is currently just 1.106s ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat.

Felipe Massa is currently third fastest for the Williams Martini Racing Team with a 1m 26.399s, 1.518s behind Hamilton.

There has already been a red flag with Daniil Kvyat stopping at the end of the pit-lane in his Infiniti Red Bull Racing RB11. The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean is currently in fourth place in the E23 Hybrid with a 1m 27.525s, 2.644s behind Hamilton, it the Frenchman’s second day in the new car having driven it on Sunday on the final day of last weeks’ test.

Marcus Ericsson is currently in 5th place in the Sauber C34 with a 1m 29.172s. The Swede has completed 21 laps so far.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is currently in 6th place with a 1m 29.590s, 4.709s behind Hamilton while McLaren-Honda’s Jenson Button is currently in 7th place with a 1m 31.479s.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team are not running today but have confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will drive the new VJM08 on Friday when the car makes its on track debut.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

New Force India fired up at the factory

Embedded image permalink
(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team's 2015 car the VJM08 will be run during the final winter test this week.

The Silverstone based outfit have yet to run the new car over the winter due to delays in the production of the chassis and made their first on track appearance in at the circuit last week with the 2014 car where they put Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein in the car while both race drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez also drove the car.

Team COO Otmar Szfnauer confirmed that the new car will arrive at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday morning and will be set up to run in the afternoon and as much as possible over the weekend. The new chassis was successfully fired up at the factory.

The team have yet to confirm who will drive on what days but as the car arrives of Friday they may put both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez in the car over the afternoon before giving both drivers a day each in the car on Saturday and Sunday.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Force India VJM08 to make track debut on Friday

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team have confirmed that their new car, the VJM08 will make its track debut on Friday.

The team were forced to delay running the new car and missed the entire first winter test in Jerez.

The Silverstone based outfit ran their 2014 car in Barcelona last week.

Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez will once again be in action for the team. it is likely the pair will share driving the new car on Friday.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Alonso leaves hospital and will miss final test

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso has been released from hospital following his accident at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday.

The Spaniard received concussion following the accident and it has been decided that he will sit out the final winter test which gets underway tomorrow.

McLaren have now confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will join Jenson Button for the final four days of winter testing.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Stevens secures Manor race seat for 2015

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Former Caterham F1 Team driver Will Stevens has secured a race drive with the Manor F1 Team for 2015 provided the outfit gets back onto the Formula One grid,

Stevens who made his Formula One debut with the Caterham F1 Team at the 2014 season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last November has been named as one of the Manor F1 Team’s drivers after the team agreed a verbal contract with Ferrari for a supply of 2014 power units for this season.

There are just over two weeks to go until the first race of the 2015 Formula One season and with that in mind the team have a race against time to prepare their cars. They are still await clearance to race in F1 this season having been denied permission recently by the Sahara Force India Formula One Team however their bid to return to the F1 grid has been backed by the FIA.

The fact that the team have announced Stevens as one of their drivers means that they are confident of making the grid this season as they would not have gambled by making the announcement if something was not happening.

The team have missed all of winter testing however there has been a suggestion that they could in theory make an appearance at this weeks’ final test in Barcelona however in reality this seems unlikely.

Speaking about the news Stevens who drove as test and reserve driver for Manor last season when they were Marussia thanked the teams’ suppliers and the sport for all of their support over the last few months. The team have now officially come out of administration and have paid the FIA entry fee.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hollinger increases Williams shareholding

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

American healthcare executive Brad Hollinger has increased his shareholding in the Williams Martini Racing Team to 10 percent having purchased some shares belonging to Toto Wolff.

The news means that Hollinger now has the same stake in the team as co-founder Patrick Head while Team Principal Sir Frank Williams remains the biggest shareholder with 52 percent. Hollinger believes that the sport is on the verge of big explosion and one area where he feels this will happen in the United States where he feels the sport has yet to tap into its full potential State side.

The Williams F1 Team had a fantastic season in 2014 as the finished the year in third place in the championship.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sainz to kick off test for Toro Rosso

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Team have confirmed their driver line up for the final winter test in Barcelona.

Carlos Sainz Jnr will drive the STR10 on tomorrow’s opening day at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya. The Spaniard will also drive on the car on Saturday. Max Verstappen will drive the car on Friday and Sunday.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Sauber F1 Team confirm test line-up for final Barcelona trst

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Sauber F1 Team have confirmed their driver line-up for the final Barcelona winter test this week. Marcus Ericsson will drive the C34 on Thursday and Saturday.

Felipe Nasr will be in the car on Friday and for the final day on Sunday. The team have suffered some small mechanical issues however the new car is certainly an improvement on last season’s C33. The Swiss based outfit stayed at the circuit on Monday where they carried out a filming day.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hamilton to kick things off for Mercedes on Thursday

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team have confirmed that world champion Lewis Hamilton will start the final winter test for the outfit on Thursday at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya. Hamilton missed the opening afternoon session last Thursday due to a fever and was replaced by Pascal Wehrlein.

Hamilton will be back in the W06 Hybrid on Saturday while team mate Nico Rosberg will drive the car on Friday and the final day of testing on Sunday.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Williams Martini Racing confirm line up for final winter test

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Williams Martini Racing Team have confirmed that Felipe Massa will start the final winter test at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.

The Brazilian will also be in the car on Saturday. Valtteri Bottas will drive the FW37 on Friday and Sunday.

The Finn completed a race simulation at the Barcelona Circuit on Sunday however the programme was interrupted as a result of a number of red flags over the course of the afternoon session.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Kimi will thrive without Alonso

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Kimi Raikkonen will shine at Ferrari this season without Fernando Alonso according to former team mate Felipe Massa.

Massa was replaced by Raikkonen at the Maranello based outfit last season but endured an extremely tough return to Ferrari in 2014 while Massa had great success in his first season with the Williams Martini Racing Team.

The Brazilian feels that Raikkonen will work better without Alonso at the team after the Spaniard opted to return to McLaren who embark on a new partnership with Honda.

Massa believes that Raikkonen’s new team mate Sebastian Vettel will also prove to be beneficial to the team who have undertaken major management changes over the winter. Massa is not the only one to think as new Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene feels that Raikkonen is happier with how the team is working now.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Alonso set to remain in hospital

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso will remain in hospital until such time that doctor’s feel it is necessary following his accident in testing on Sunday.

Alonso’s manager Luis Garcia Abad stated that the Spaniard is making a good recovery but that the medical staff want to make sure that everything is fine with him. He will remain in hospital for an undetermined period as doctors continue to monitor him.

Abad confirmed that the impact with the wall going down to Turn 4 was very hard. When asked if Alonso will drive this week, Abad stated that the most important tests that the medical staff are conducting are the most important right now and that the tests on track are just that. They want to make sure that Alonso is ok for the opening race.

It is unlikely therefore that we will see the Spaniard in the MP4-30 this week however the team have yet to decide what their plans are for the test which gets underway on Thursday.

© Ben Johnston 2015