During the Dubai pre-season test Tobias Kravitz was prowling up and down the pitlane and gives us a team by team run down of the key points from the test.
We start off with FJR who got off to a rather subdued start to pre-season testing. Only 19th and 20th in the overall fastest lap times with test drivers Giedo van der Garde and Jolyon Palmer, the team will be concerned if these results are anything to go by. Although neither race driver took part in Dubai, FJR’s fastest time during testing was quite a sizeable 1.5 seconds slower than pacesetter Valtteri Bottas. To compound FJR’s issues, they were one of three teams that failed to achieve 200 laps over the course of the four days. An already tough uphill battle for reigning FF1M champion Lewis Hamilton perhaps?
Reigning constructors champions Tornado looked quite solid. Kevin Magnussen and Charles Pic both set the 5th and 8th respective fastest times over the four days. Again, like FJR, both the teams’ race drivers were sidelined. However, with Magnussen setting the fastest lap time for test drivers, early signs suggest Tornado’s 2013 challenger looks just as competitive as its championship winning predecessor.
The newly named Gui Racing outfit now known as Gojira looked very solid out on track. Sergio Perez topped days 3 and 4 along with young test driver Carlos Sainz looking impressive also. The works Ferrari outfit will undoubtedly be very happy with how testing panned out in Dubai and will be confident their rate of development will carry over to Bahrain and beyond.
Willows started testing where they pretty much left off in 2012. An incredibly powerful power unit. With one of the strongest driver lineups on the grid featuring last season’s championship contenders Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo, Willows topped the first day with a 1-2 before finishing 2nd and 3rd in the overall test times. It is looking good for team boss Joe Willows who will be hoping his team can take that next big step as the Mercedes works team despite being pipped by the customer Mercedes squad.
A fairly quiet opening run of tests for Pedersen. Race driver Bruno Senna setting only the 15th quickest time (11th theoretically with 22 runners). The team will have found it tough being the sole BMW in order to gain development versus their rivals.
Shake n’ Bake curtailed development quite early on in 2012 after a disappointing season. As a result, they have been able to make good progress on their 2013 car behind the scenes. This showed in Dubai with Pastor Maldonado setting the 6th fastest time. Additionally, the team racked up the 2nd highest number laps. Expect when a certain Sebastian Vettel takes the wheel, the team will be closer to the sharp end of the field.
AndrewF1’s opening run of pre-season testing can only be described as a week to forget. Both cars featuring rookie drivers of Antonio Felix da Costa and Robin Frijns who. The Renault looks really short on power compared to their rival manufacturers and perhaps two drivers out of their depth with da Costa and Frijns at the very bottom of time sheets on most days. Early indications are this could well be a long season ahead for the team where number 1 driver Robert Kubica may have to single-handedly carry the team going forward.
Their Renault engine counterparts, Mitchell, could well be in for another long season if Dubai was a precursor for the season ahead. Only beating the two AndrewF1 Renaults overall, Mitchell may well have inadvertently brought back their trait of featuring a ‘lawnmower engine’ from last year. On another note, tester and former race winner for Mitchell Sebastien Buemi outpaced race driver Jaime Alguersuari on all four days. Something that the still young and inexperienced Spaniard will be desperate to change. Especially in a team renowned for mid-season driver changes.
In terms of lap times, Horizon had a quiet time in Dubai. Setting the 17th and 18th fastest laps. However, the biggest talking point for this team was their distance covered. 224 laps amassed by Sam Bird and Alexander Rossi meant that Horizon covered more distance than any of the other 10 teams. With many laps set, expect this team to improve for Bahrain.
Without a shadow of doubt, the most surprising package of all the teams in Dubai was GRM. Reigning FF2M champion Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of the entire test in Dubai during Day 2 with a lap time of 1:35.374. This being 15 thousandths of a second quicker than the works Mercedes package of Nico Rosberg in the Willows. Despite this however, they could only amass the second lowest number of laps from all the teams and this may slow their development compared with other teams. 224 laps amassed by Sam Bird and Alexander Rossi.
Returnees to FF1M Exolite got off to some teething problems in Dubai testing that set the Yorkshire-based team back in distance covered. Setting the lowest number of laps in the process at 178. Despite this, a helping hand from the competitive Ferrari engine meant some respectable times were set by test driver Jerome d’Ambrosio in particular. Despite the typical niggles faced with a new returning team, they look totally unfazed. It will be interesting to see what their vastly experienced race drivers of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button can extract from the car.
Finally, there was a surprise visitor to the Paddock during the test in the form of Michelin director of motorsport Pascal de Pompadour who was seen exiting the Tornado motorhome on Sunday evening. Whilst some may claim that Tornado’s french contingent of drivers and the hospitality unit’s cooking was his source of interest rumour has it that the french marque is considering a return to FF1M. FF1M bosses are known to be evaluating options for the future with regards to tyres and a return to the halcyon days of tyre wars past could inject some further intrigue.
|Pos||Driver||Team – Engine||Overall Fastest Laptime|
|1||Valtteri Bottas||GRM – Mercedes||1m 35.374s||.||45|
|2||Nico Rosberg||Willows – Mercedes||1m 35.389s||0.015||51|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Willows – Mercedes||1m 35.627s||0.253||60|
|4||Sergio Perez||Gojira – Ferrari||1m 35.657s||0.283||108|
|5||Kevin Magnussen||Tornado – Ferrari||1m 35.773s||0.399||107|
|6||Pastor Maldonado||Shake n’ Bake – Ferrari||1m 35.977s||0.603||109|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Gojira – Ferrari||1m 36.084s||0.71||109|
|8||Charles Pic||Tornado – Ferrari||1m 36.089s||0.715||99|
|9||Stoffel Vandoorne||Willows – Mercedes||1m 36.129s||0.755||42|
|10||Paul di Resta||GRM – Mercedes||1m 36.198s||0.824||48|
|11||Fabio Leimer||Willows – Mercedes||1m 36.209s||0.835||54|
|12||Tom Dillmann||GRM – Mercedes||1m 36.256s||0.882||53|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Shake n’ Bake – Ferrari||1m 36.381s||1.007||110|
|14||Felipe Nasr||GRM – Mercedes||1m 36.495s||1.121||45|
|15||Bruno Senna||Pedersen – BMW||1m 36.552s||1.178||90|
|16||Jerome d’Ambrosio||ExoliteF1 – Ferrari||1m 36.605s||1.231||89|
|17||Sam Bird||Horizon – Honda||1m 36.782s||1.408||119|
|18||Alexander Rossi||Horizon – Honda||1m 36.819s||1.445||105|
|19||Giedo van der Garde||FJR – Honda||1m 36.824s||1.45||108|
|20||Jolyon Palmer||FJR – Honda||1m 36.874s||1.5||86|
|21||Luca Filippi||ExoliteF1 – Ferrari||1m 36.877s||1.503||89|
|22||Rio Haryanto||Pedersen – BMW||1m 37.079s||1.705||110|
|23||Sebastien Buemi||Mitchell – Renault||1m 37.173s||1.799||102|
|24||Jaime Alguersuari||Mitchell – Renault||1m 37.408s||2.034||108|
|25||Antonio Felix da Costa||AndrewF1 – Renault||1m 37.583s||2.209||101|
|26||Robin Frijns||AndrewF1 – Renault||1m 37.733s||2.359||100|
|2||Shake n’ Bake||219|