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F1 testing day 4: Driver and team report from Barcelona

Red Bull RacingMark said: “Today we got through a lot of stuff! We tested a lot of elements and everything worked well, especially since we had such a big programme. That can mean not a lot of laps and a lot of garage time, but we gathered a lot of good information today and that’s a pleasing way to finish the week.

“We have a lot of work to do back in Milton Keynes over the next few days to get the car ready for the next test. We’ve done well over these two first tests and the feeling is pretty good.”

Mark’s Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam said: “We had quite a lot of work to get through today, basically finishing off the performance and data gathering work we started at the beginning of the week. It went well and we got through everything we wanted to, even though it was pretty busy this morning. Unlike yesterday, we had no issues at all and it was a good day’s work.

“This test has been a good one I think in terms of information gathered, so we’ll take it all back to the factory, have a look at all the data and try to apply what we learn from it when we come back here next week.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team manager David Redding: “Today was spent completing some of the fundamental tests that we don’t normally get the opportunity to do at race weekends. We also used the time to continue tyre testing and complete a number of reliability prove-outs.

“It was a good day: we did 115 laps and felt the car went well. This week we’ve completed more than 2100km of running, which is impressive. It’s been a pleasing end to a very constructive week.”

FerrariFelipe Massa: “Yes, I am happy: not only because we finally did so much mileage without problems but above all because we managed to improve the car in a significant way,” said the Brazilian driver. “The situation has changed above all compared to the morning, especially from the point of view of consistency of the lap times. The important thing is that, after having evaluated so many solutions, both on the exhausts and at the front, we are now taking a direction in which we can work to get the best set-up. There’s still a lot to do, for example on the exits of corners, but I’m satisfied and from the next Barcelona test we will be able to really start true and meaningful testing.”

Felipe added: “Today we could certainly have done a better lap time but that wasn’t our target. We had so many things to test over the course of these few days and our priority was to identify what is worth working on for the early races. We managed that and now we can concentrate on those areas with a large margin for improvement, like set-up and how to use the tyres. In the afternoon we were able to do some long series of laps with pretty consistent times, which I didn’t manage in the morning. The warm-up, that had been a particular problem for me in recent years, is also much improved – so much that I can consistently put together a time on the first lap. The car doesn’t have anything new on it but it’s definitely improved since Jerez.”

The positive day has not however stopped Felipe from keeping his feet on the ground about the chances for the first race and the season as a whole. “We are ready to fight but it’s impossible to say how we really compare to the others,” replied the Brazilian when asked if he could send a message of hope to the Ferrari tifosi. “We will discover that only when we all run with low fuel and soft tyres at the same time on the track, which will be during qualifying for Melbourne. Today people can say whatever they want but until we are all in the same conditions words count little. It’s true that I’ve seen some strong teams: Red Bull above all but also others like Sauber, Force India and Williams if you look at this week’s times.”

Felipe was also asked if he was getting used to the idea that his future with Ferrari could be decided based on results: “No, absolutely not. I’m heading into the season aiming to do my best, inside and outside the car, as I look to be competitive and to be able to fight for the most important goals like wins and results. If you drive with your mind on anything else you won’t do your own work properly.”

Mercedes AMG – Nico Rosberg:  “After our first full test with the F1 W03, I can see that we are making good steps forward. Our test programme went well this week and we have made evident progress each day. In terms of reliability, the car is performing pretty much as we expected which is really important as we can concentrate on improving the performance. Of course it’s difficult at this stage to predict how we will fare in race conditions against our competitors but overall I’m pleased with the start that we have made. I’m looking forward to the final test next week before the season begins, and continuing our learning with our F1 W03.”

Ross Brawn:  “We have had a very positive first week of running with the F1 W03. After five full test days, we have completed over 2000 km, Nico and Michael have done consistent mileage and reliability has been ok, aside from a couple of problems earlier in the week. Both drivers have already completed full race simulations, and this really is a tribute to all the hard work that was done back at base in Brackley and Brixworth to ensure we hit the ground running this year with the new car – as well as to the efforts of our day and night shifts at the track in Barcelona. This basis means that the drivers and engineers have been able to work well with the car rather than chasing problems, and next week we hope to focus even more on getting performance out of our current package. Overall, we are in a reasonable position, but I don’t for a moment believe we have achieved our objectives yet. It may be something of a winter testing cliché, but there is still an awful lot to be done, and it’s far too early to make any kind of judgement about our competitiveness.”

Force IndiaPaul Di Resta: “It was another successful day and a good way to end the week. I had a small trip through the gravel in the morning, but nothing that caused too much of an issue, although we lost half an hour of running. The important thing is that we still managed to do our long runs in the afternoon and I could feel the changes we made compared to yesterday. It’s given me a good impression of the car’s balance and consistency, and we’ve seen that our long run pace is improving step by step.”

Jakob Andreasen, Chief Engineer: “Today’s programme with Paul completes another very productive test for us. Having focussed on reliability in Jerez, we’ve been able to come here and get straight on with performance work to really start understanding the car. We’ve built up some good knowledge of all the dry tyre compounds, collected lots of aero data and given the drivers a good opportunity to experiment with setting up the car. What is encouraging is the feedback from both Nico and Paul, which is positive about the handling of the car, especially over longer runs. It’s good to hear those comments at a high-speed aero circuit such as Barcelona, which suggests our development steps are leading us in the right direction.”

Sauber F1Kamui Kobayashi: “I’m quite happy. We achieved a very good mileage today. The set up changes we did in the morning meant an improvement in lap times, which, of course, is very positive. There is still a lot of work to do in terms of understanding the car and the different tyre compounds at different fuel levels, but we are working in the right direction. I think it was a good test for us.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara (Head of Track Engineering): “It was another positive test day for us. We started in the morning with some further aero comparisons and set-up work. Before lunch Kamui did qualifying runs. Qualifying was actually a weakness of ours in the last two seasons and we have to resolve this. This obviously requires proper practice. Kamui started with the medium compound before he used two sets of soft tyres, and in the end he got his first taste of the 2012 super soft compound. He did his fastest lap on the second set of softs. This lap time now stands as the overall fastest for this week, but of course this doesn’t mean much because proper comparisons are never possible during testing with each team running different programmes. In the afternoon we did longer runs for race preparation.”

Williams F1 Pastor Maldonado: It has been a positive test for the team. We’ve had no problems with the car, getting in some good mileage across all four days. We now have a great deal of data to analyse so we will keep pushing to improve our car for the next test. I am looking forward to coming back next week for the final test, and getting back to racing very soon.

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: We’ve had a really productive day’s testing to end an excellent couple of weeks. Today Pastor went through a competitive race simulation and both the car and he performed very well, ending the day with some long run comparisons. We have gathered a prodigious amount of data over more than 3500kms of testing and we will now regroup back at the factory to understand how to further improve the set-up and development direction ahead of the next Barcelona test.

The Williams F1 Team will be back on track to continue pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona from 1 – 4 March.

Toro Rosso – Jean-Eric Vergne: “I am much more confident in the car now than I was by the end of the Jerez test. We worked on many different aspects of the job and for example, today I had a much better understanding of the pit stops than I did after trying them yesterday for the first time. We did some good work today, acquiring plenty of data and I expect this will help us to improve still further next week.”

Laurent Mekies (Chief Engineer): “From a technical point of view, we completed our programme, working through a large number of test items, which are the type of thing you can only achieve in winter testing when you have a lot of tyres. Some of the work of making these changes to the car was time consuming, which explains why we have not completed such a large number of laps, but it was important to get the answers on the items we wanted to evaluate here. We can be reasonably satisfied with the results achieved. The drivers are getting into the rhythm. Next week here there will be plenty of race simulations and our drivers will get a lot of time on track to experience race conditions. Overall this week, we achieved what we came here to do.”

There is now just one test session prior to the first round of the 2012 World Championship and it again takes place at the Catalunya circuit from 1 to 4 March. Jean-Eric Vergne will drive the first two days, before handing over to Daniel Ricciardo. When the test ends, it will leave just 12 days until the first free practice session of the year at Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit.

Marussia (official team updates) After three positive days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, the tide turned for us this morning when a problem confined the MVR-02 to the garage for the start of the session.

The issue centred around a damaged suspension component to the right rear corner of the car. The team spent the morning inspecting the part and trying to understand how the damage had occurred. A replacement part was available but the team were not happy to send the car out whilst proof-testing was still ongoing back at the Marussia Technical Centre in the UK and conclusive results would not have been achieved in time for any significant running to take place.

Charles Pic had been due to drive the car today and the programme was for him to complete further race simulation work over long runs. Given the mileage that has been accrued during the past three days – 1577kms in total – the team has decided to abbreviate the test in order to focus on introducing the 2012 car – the MR01 – during next week’s final pre-season running here in Barcelona.

John Booth, Team Principal: “It’s a real shame that after three very positive days with the car we’ve encountered this issue on the final day. We can’t be too downhearted though, having achieved over 1500kms of near faultless running from a car that has served us so well from a reliability perspective. Aside from further mileage for Charles there was nothing more to be gained from our programme to aid our development and we now switch focus to the 2012 car, which we are all looking forward to rolling-out next week. I’d like to thank the team and our two drivers Timo and Charles for an excellent start to our pre-season preparations. We are in excellent shape in terms of our trackside operation and this will stand us in good stead for the season.”


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