Section: Barcelona Catalunya (Spain)

F1: Barcelona Test 2, Final Day: Valtteri Bottas fastest for Williams

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the pace, as Mercedes emerged from the final day of pre-season testing as strong world title favourites.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was sixth, but the team have done enough over the winter to prove they are still well ahead of the rest of the field.

Bottas was 0.406 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, both using the fastest tyres, the super-soft.

McLaren had another troubled day, Jenson Button managing only 30 laps.

The team, starting a new engine partnership with Honda, have done less pre-season mileage than any team other than Force India, whose car appeared for the first time only on Friday.

Button was consigned to the garage for the morning session after the team discovered a problem that required the engine to be removed.

The team then had a stuttering afternoon, at the end of which Button was eighth fastest, 2.264secs off the pace.

“I am pleased with the winter,” said Rosberg. “We have done a good job with the development of the car. That’s not to say the others aren’t also quick but I am optimistic for the first couple of races because we have a good car.

“I am comfortable, setting the best time of the whole winter testing two days ago.”

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was third quickest ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado had a light crash at Turn Four just after lunch and was slowest of all.

Lotus said the crash was caused by a “braking-related issue” which meant Maldonado could not slow sufficiently for the corner.

The season starts with the Australian Grand Prix on 13-15 March 2015.

Final pre-season test.
1. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Mercedes 1:23.063
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:23.469
3. Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.023
4. Max Verstappen (Ned) Toro Rosso-Renault 1:24.527
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:24.638
6. Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India-Mercedes 1:25.113
7. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:25.186
8. Jenson Button (GB) McLaren-Honda 1:25.994
9. Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Lotus-Mercedes 1:28.272

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Barcelona Test 2, Day 3: Lewis Hamilton top for Mercedes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the pace on the penultimate day of pre-season Formula 1 testing.

The world champion underlined the impression that Mercedes have a clear advantage by beating Williams’s Felipe Massa despite using slower tyres.

Hamilton was 0.24secs faster than Massa, who edged Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by 0.014secs, using a tyre which is some 0.5-0.8secs slower a lap.

McLaren-Honda again had their running curtailed by a reliability problem.

Hamilton, who will not drive the car again until the first race of the season, said: “It wasn’t a spectacular day. The track seemed to have lost some grip to the last two days so it wasn’t the best in terms of feeling but we got some running done and I feel good in the car.”

Reserve driver Kevin Magnussen, standing for Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard recovers from concussion sustained in a crash last Sunday, managed only 38 laps before an oil leak in the engine ended the team’s day shortly after lunch.

The Dane was eighth fastest, 2.203secs off the pace, after a run on the soft tyre.

But despite the setback, Magnussen sounded optimistic about the team’s chances afterwards.

“Great to be back in the car today,” he said on Twitter.  “The McLaren-Honda feels great! Plenty more to come from this one.”

Racing director Eric Boullier said: “We won’t be as ready for the Melbourne as we would like, but we will do our best.”

Boullier added that “reliability is still a concern” and he said he expected the team to take until the fifth race of the season in Spain in May “to be more competitive”.

Final pre-season test. Day three, Circuit de Catalunya
1 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:23.022
2 Felipe Massa (Brz) Williams-Mercedes 1:23.262
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:23.276
4 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Toro Rosso-Renault 1:24.191
5 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Mercedes 1:24.200
6 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.477
7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India-Mercedes 1:24.939
8 Kevin Magnussen (Den) McLaren-Honda 1:25.225
9 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:25.742

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Force India car to debut on Friday, says team boss Szafnauer

Force India will have only three days to test their new Formula 1 car before the start of the season, a senior team official has confirmed.

The VJM08 car is set to appear on the second day of the final pre-season testing session in Barcelona on Friday.

“We are aiming to get out on Friday and the new car will run as much as possible over the weekend,” said chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer.

Force India’s pre-season testing has been significantly disrupted.

They missed the first test in Jerez, at the beginning of February, although at the time a spokesman denied that it was because of financial problems.

At the second test in Barcelona, the team ran a 2014 car, because the new one was not ready.

The final test, again in the Catalan city, will begin on Thursday and end on Sunday, before the teams head to Australia for the season’s first race on 15 March.

A picture of the new car, which has been constructed at Force India’s Silverstone factory, was posted on the team’s Twitter feed  on Wednesday.

Force India were one of three smaller teams who complained towards the end of last season that Formula 1’s revenue split made it hard for them to survive financially.

They, Lotus and Sauber said the prize money was unfairly and disproportionately weighted towards the more successful teams.

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Alonso leaves hospital but will miss final test

Fernando Alonso has left hospital following treatment for concussion but will sit out of this week’s final pre-season test as he continues to recuperate.

Alonso spent three nights in the Hospital General de Catalunya following an unusual but nasty accident at the Circuit de Catalunya during testing on Sunday. He has now returned to his family’s home in Oviedo and will be replaced by Kevin Magnussen at this week’s test.

“Following his testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last Sunday, we are pleased to confirm that Fernando Alonso has now left hospital,” a team statement said. “He has returned to his family’s home in Spain for further rest and recuperation.

“As a result, he will sit out this week’s final winter test, at which he was due to share driving duties with Jenson Button. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Honda’s test and reserve driver, will replace him.

“Jenson will be testing the McLaren-Honda car tomorrow (February 26), and the team will confirm the full day-to-day running order in due course.”

Earlier this week McLaren published the results of its investigation into the crash, revealing Alonso’s car was caught by a gust of wind in the fast right-hand Turn 3, causing him to run wide and lose control of the car. He then made heavy contact with the inside wall before making a further impacts with the wall before his car came to a halt ahead of Turn 4.

According to reports, the FIA will investigate the incident in attempt to learn from the accident.

Read more at ESPN

F1: ‘Unpredictable winds’ to blame for Alonso crash

McLaren has clarified Fernando Alonso’s crash in Barcelona occurred due to unpredictable gusty winds at the circuit and confirmed the Spaniard is making a “solid recovery” in hospital.

Alonso was airlifted to hospital on the final day of the second test for precautionary tests after suffering a concussion following a crash at the exit of Turn 3. After the crash speculative reports suggested Alonso had fainted or lost consciousness at the wheel before the accident due to the distance between initial contact with the wall and where he stopped, though this contradicted official statements from both the team and the Spaniard’s management.

In a statement released on Monday McLaren categorically denied any electrical shock occurred inside the car and instead blamed the high winds at the circuit on Sunday, which later in the day caught out Alonso’s compatriot Carlos Sainz at the same part of the circuit. McLaren also confirmed Alonso had been applying full brakes before impact with the wall.

“Over the past 24 hours, we have been carrying out a detailed analysis of the damage to Fernando’s car, and its associated telemetry data, in order fully to understand the cause, or causes, of his accident,” the statement said. “Even at this early stage, we have been able to reach some firm conclusions.

“His car ran wide at the entry to Turn 3 – which is a fast uphill right-hander – allowing it to run onto the Astroturf that lines the outside of the track. A consequent loss of traction caused a degree of instability, spitting it back towards the inside of the circuit, where it regained traction and struck the wall side-on. Our findings indicate that the accident was caused by the unpredictably gusty winds at that part of the circuit at that time, and which had affected other drivers similarly (eg, Carlos Sainz Jnr).

“We can categorically state that there is no evidence that indicates that Fernando’s car suffered mechanical failure of any kind. We can also confirm that absolutely no loss of aerodynamic pressure was recorded, which fact indicates that the car did not suffer any aerodynamic loss, despite the fact that it was subjected to a significant level of g-force. Finally, we can also disclose that no electrical discharge or irregularity of any kind occurred in the car’s ERS system, either before, during or after the incident.

“That last point refutes the erroneous rumours that have spread recently to the effect that Fernando was rendered unconscious by an electrical fault. That is simply not true. Our data clearly shows that he was downshifting while applying full brake pressure right up to the moment of the first impact – something that clearly would not have been possible had he been unconscious at the time.”

Alonso, who suffered a concussion in the crash, was taken to hospital as a precaution after his crash and McLaren is yet to make a decision on his involvement in the final Barcelona test which begins on Thursday.

alonso-ok

“In hospital a thorough and complete analysis of his condition was performed, involving CT scans and MRI scans, all of which were completely normal. In order to provide the privacy and tranquillity required to facilitate a peaceful recuperation, he is being kept in hospital for further observation, and to recover from the effects of the medication that successfully managed his routine sedation yesterday. We intend to give him every opportunity to make a rapid and complete recovery, and will evaluate in due course whether or not he will participate in the next Barcelona test.”

Read more at ESPN

F1: Barcelona Test Day 4: Grosjean fastest as Mercedes starts to show potential

Romain Grosjean made it three out of four for Lotus at this week’s pre-season test in Barcelona as he topped an eventful day marked by Fernando Alonso’s unusual crash in the McLaren.

Half an hour before lunch, Alonso went off the circuit at the exit of Turn 3 and came to a stop on the run down to Turn 4. A lengthy delay followed and after being taken by ambulance to the medical centre a conscious Alonso was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks. CT scans in the afternoon confirmed the Spaniard was uninjured, although he will be kept in hospital overnight.

Alonso completed just 19 laps before his accident and McLaren was not able to get the car back out on track in the afternoon when Jenson Button was scheduled to drive. It means McLaren finishes the second pre-season test with just 129 laps to show for its week in Barcelona and just one week of testing left to rectify its problems before the first race in Australia.

day4-alonso-crashes-out

Alonso’s accident was just one incident in an eventful final day at the Circuit de Catalunya, which saw four further red flags in the afternoon. First Nico Hulkenberg stopped on track under a cloud of smoke from his 2014 Force India. Carlos Sainz then spun off at Turn 4, snapping the Toro Rosso’s front wing on impact with the wall. The accident was heavy enough for him to have to pay a brief but routine trip to the medical centre for checks. Valtteri Bottas stopped in the same spot a few moments after the green flags came out and with ten minutes to go there was another red flag when Felipe Nasr pulled up with a problem with his Sauber.

Grosjean’s headline time of 1:24.067 was set on the super-soft tyre, and marked a day with 111 laps and a race simulation for Lotus. Mercedes added to its sizeable winter mileage count with 131 laps for Nico Rosberg as it continues to look for a step forward in reliability this season. In the final hour Rosberg put in an impressive 1:24.321, set on the medium tyre and just 0.254s off Grosjean’s time. The lap was roughly a second faster than Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time on medium tyres at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, but unlike Hamilton’s was set on used tyres and most likely with a heavier fuel load.

After focusing on pit stops and race starts on Saturday, Williams spent the day focused on longer runs. Valtteri Bottas started a race simulation after lunch but it was interrupted by a visit to the Williams garage and Hulkenberg’s stoppage. He then continued the long run before stopping at Turn 4 himself, though it did not end his day. It was obvious Williams was not chasing times and his race simulation and 129 laps was an impressive way to round off the second test.

Sebastian Vettel’s second day this week in the Ferrari garnered a solid 76-lap haul, though his day was punctuated by several long spells in the garage. Ferrari still has plenty of reasons to be optimistic after eight solid days of testing so far. Felipe Nasr’s day was blighted by an early pit-lane stoppage which kept him in the garage for an extended period before lunch, though he did recover to record 73 laps. Sainz’s spin ended his day after 88 laps, while Hulkenberg finished his first F1 run of the year with 36 laps. Force India hopes to arrive at the third test with this season’s challenger but will have gained valuable 2015 tyre data from this week’s test.

Day 4 Times:
1. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:24.067 111 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.321 131 laps
3. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:24.941 104 laps
4. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:24.956 73 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.345 129 laps
6. Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:25.605 88 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.312 76 laps
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:26.591 36 laps
9. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:27.956 20 laps

Read more at ESPN

F1: Barcelona Test Day 3: Maldonado top again, McLaren hits more trouble

Pastor Maldonado topped another session in Barcelona as McLaren was hampered once again by an MGU-K problem which has limited its running all week.

McLaren hoped it had fixed the faulty seal which had ended its running early on Thursday and limited Fernando Alonso on Friday, but an early stoppage for Button suggested all was not well in the morning. The team confirmed in the late afternoon a recurring issue with the MGU-K seal had been discovered again. The issue means McLaren has completed 109 laps in three days in Barcelona but says a re-engineered seal is scheduled to arrive in time for tomorrow’s final day, when Alonso returns to the cockpit.

day3-mclaren-problems

Maldonado, who finished first on Thursday, topped the session with a 1:24.328, a time set on the super soft tyre. He also broke a century of laps as Lotus once again showed it is adapting well to life with Mercedes power. The factory Mercedes also broke that milestone, with Hamilton driving despite still feeling the effects of the illness which saw him end testing early on Thursday. The world champion completed 101 laps and will hand the car back to Nico Rosberg tomorrow. Max Verstappen finished the day second on the timing screens and leading the lap count with 129, but his day ended in frustrating fashion when he pulled over at the end of the pit exit, bringing out the day’s final red flag.

Ferrari found itself lower on the timesheets than the Tifosi have become accustomed to this winter but headline times are still of limited significance. Sebastian Vettel did not have an ideal start, sliding off just four corners into his first lap due to cold tyres. But the four-time world champion sustained no damage to his car and went on to finish the day with 105 laps, which included an impressive stint on the medium tyre where he lapped consistently in the high 1:28 mark, though fuel loads are unknown.

Daniil Kvyat started a disrupted full race simulation in the afternoon, which included a surprisingly short stint on the soft tyre and a lengthy stoppage at mid-distance. However, the Russian finished the day with 111 laps to his name. Sauber had a gearbox issue in the morning and Marcus Ericsson did not leave the garage until the final minutes before lunch. In the afternoon he saw much more of the track and finished with a tally of 53 laps. Pascal Wehrlein continued to gain F1 experience with 81 laps for Force India, who will hand Nico Hulkenberg the reigns tomorrow. Williams switched its drivers at midday, with Felipe Massa finishing with 55 laps and Valtteri Bottas spending the afternoon focused on pit stops and did not set an official time until four minutes from the end of the session.

Final times:
1. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus – 1:24.348 – 104 laps
2. Max Verstappen – Toro Rosso – 1:24.739 – 129 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:26.076 – 101 laps
4. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 126.340 – 53 laps
5. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:26.407 – 105 laps
6. Daniil Kvyat – Red Bull – 1:26.589 – 111 laps
7. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:26.912 – 55 laps
8. Pascal Wehrlein – Force India – 1:27.699 – 81 laps
9. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 1:27.556 – 48 laps
10. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:29.151 – 24 laps

Read more at ESPN

F1: Barcelona Test: Day 2: Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo edges Kimi Raikkonen

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo narrowly outpaced Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Williams’ Felipe Massa on the second day of the second pre-season test.

The three were separated by less than 0.1 seconds at the halfway point of Formula 1’s preparations for the new season.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg of world champions Mercedes finished fifth and sixth fastest.

It was a better day for struggling McLaren-Honda, who ran problem-free.

Fernando Alonso set the sixth-fastest time despite a cobbled-together fix for an engine problem that had ended team-mate Jenson Button’s efforts on Thursday after just 21 laps.

Alonso completed more than 50 laps – by far the team’s biggest single-day mileage of the winter – and set relatively competitive lap times, despite the engine being down on power and carrying a known problem.

Honda had warned on Thursday that the temporary fix they had put in place on the energy recovery system could well fail again on Friday. A permanent redesign of the faulty part will be ready for Saturday, when Button is back in the car.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said: “It is good to finally put some laps and get the programme running. We did more than expected today and caught up on the programme.”

He added that the team were going through data-analysis programmes, including checking how the car behaved and reacting to set-up changes, and it was “so far so good”.

Ricciardo’s pace-setting time was the fastest of the winter at this track, beating that set by Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado on Thursday by nearly half a second.

The Australian was 0.01s quicker than Raikkonen, with Massa a further 0.088s adrift. All were running on the ‘soft’ tyre at the time, as was Alonso on his best lap.

Hamilton completed a race simulation run in the afternoon at the same time as Ricciardo and set his fastest lap – only 0.349s off the Red Bull – on the medium tyre, which is said to be about 1.2 seconds a lap slower than the soft.

Both times were set on similar-length short runs, which suggests the Mercedes continues to have a significant advantage over the rest of the field – as most F1 insiders believed already to be the case.

Rosberg’s best time – 0.982s behind Ricciardo – was also set on the medium tyre.

The German stopped running at lunch time to rest a neck injury and handed over to Hamilton, who had only partially recovered from a fever that curtailed his running on Thursday.

All the teams confirmed as participants in this year’s championship are at the test, where Britain’s Jolyon Palmer was getting his first taste of the new Lotus.

The GP2 champion, the team’s reserve driver, was seventh fastest.

Pre-season testing times are unreliable indicators of true competitiveness as the teams do not publish the fuel loads they are using, which have a dramatic effect on lap time.

Day Two Times:

1 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:24.574
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:24.584
3 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams-Mercedes 1:24.672
4 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India-Mercedes 1:24.702*
5 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:24.932
6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:25.556
7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren-Honda 1:25.961
8 Jolyon Palmer (GB) Lotus-Mercedes 1:26.280
9 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.344
10 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Toro Rosso-Renault 1:28.945
* 2014 car

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Barcelona Test: Day 1: Maldonado tops eventful first day

Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado topped a scrappy opening day at the second pre-season test in Barcelona, which featured the unusual sight of two cars colliding and saw McLaren and Mercedes hampered by problems.

Maldonado leapt to the top of the timing screen with a 1:25.011 less than one hour from the chequered flag, a lap he set on the soft tyre. Maldonado had a frustrating start with two separate stoppages out on track in the morning but the red flag waving was not limited solely to Lotus.

There was more woe for McLaren-Honda as a faulty seal on the MGU-K forced the team to change the whole power unit and end its first day early. Jenson Button’s start had been promising as he accumulated 21 laps in the first two hours but it was yet another setback for McLaren and its new engine partner.

mclaren-faulty-seal

There was also early difficulty for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who completed just 11 laps before ending his day early due to a fever. A neck injury for Nico Rosberg meant Mercedes had to wait until after lunch for reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who completed 32 laps in the morning driving Force India’s 2014 car, to step into the breach. A fuel pump problem after lunch hampered Mercedes further, but Wehrlein managed to add another 48 laps before the close of play.

The afternoon session started with an unusual sight for testing as two cars collided. Damage to the left front of Susie Wolff’s Williams and the right rear of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber was the tell-tale sign the two had come together on the run down to Turn 5, with the Sauber beached in the gravel just before the tyre barrier. It is unclear exactly what happened in the crash, though Wolff was on an out-lap when it occurred. Nasr and Wolff both made it out for late runs but the Sauber finished the session early when it stopped at Turn 9, an incident which brought out a late red flag.

wolff-nasr-crash

Kimi Raikkonen continued Ferrari’s solid start to winter testing, completing 73 laps, though it is still hard to gauge whether the team has made inroads to Mercedes because fuel loads are unknown. However, it will be another morale boosting day of testing after topping three of the four days in Jerez earlier this month.

Daniel Ricciardo had been at the foot of the timesheets for much of the morning without recording a time, but the camouflaged Red Bull was one of the more active participants after lunch. The Australian accumulated 58 laps, though rarely in stints longer than five or six at a time. Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen also had a disjointed morning and early afternoon but still clocked 93 laps overall with some solid running late in the day. Sergio Perez continued Wehrlein’s good work in the afternoon at Force India and by the end of the session had recorded a 1:26.636 to go 4th, although headline times are still of limited significance.

1. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.011 69 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:25.167 73 Laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.547 58 Laps
4. Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.636 39 laps
5. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.307 78 Laps
6. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.900 93 Laps
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.182 21 Laps
8. Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:28.329 32 Laps
9. Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:29.489 48 Laps
10. Susie Wolff Williams 1:28.906 83 laps
11. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.429 11 Laps

Read more at ESPN

F1: Susie Wolff to drive new Williams car on first day of Barcelona testing

Susie Wolff will drive the new Williams FW37 on the first day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.

The Scot, 32, was named the team’s test driver in November after taking part in two practice sessions last year.

Race drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will each get a day and a half in the new car over the following three days of running in Barcelona.

Bottas will drive the car on Friday before Massa takes over on Saturday, and the pair will share the final day.

Wolff will have her position expanded in 2015 to include two runs in Friday practice and two tests.

The move comes after she impressed in an outing in free practice at the German Grand Prix which followed an appearance at Silverstone in July. Her outing at Silverstone ended after less than a lap when her car suffered engine failure.

She hopes one day to become the first woman to race in a grand prix since Lella Lombardi in 1976.

Williams finished third in the constructors’ championship in 2014, a year after suffering the worst season in their history, following a major internal restructuring and a switch from Renault to Mercedes engines.

Read more at BBC Sport