Formula One: 2012 Jerez Test Recap

It seems like only yesterday that the 2011 Formula One World Championship ended at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Really, it almost was yesterday as we’re less than two-and-a-half months removed from the last race of 2011. However, the rules changes banning exhaust-blown diffusers and lowering nose heights has drastically changed the look of F1 to the point where you feel as though you’re years rather than months removed from last season.

Before the 2012 Formula One World Championship can start, we have to shakedown the new cars. That brought the driver and teams of Formula One to the Jerez circuit for the first of three pre-season tests of the year.

Day 1 (February 7)

What better way to announce your return to Formula One after a two-year break to go rallying than to top the time sheets on the first day of the first pre-season test? To prove that he wasn’t rusty, Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the first official pre-season test in the new Lotus E20. Force India’s VJM05 in the hands of Paul di Resta was second fastest. Mercedes and HRT both ran their 2011 cars with their 2012 while Marussia (the former Virgin team) did not participate in the test.

  1. Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus-Renault – 1:19.670
  2. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:19.772
  3. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes* – 1:20.219
  4. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:20.496
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:20.694
  6. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes* – 1:20.794
  7. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:21.353
  8. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:21.530
  9. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:22.815
  10. Heikki Kovalainen – Caterham-Renault – 1:23.178
  11. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Renault – 1:23.371
  12. Pedro de la Rosa – HRT-Cosworth – 1:23.676

Day 2 (February 8)

Driving last year’s Mercedes, Michael Schumacher topped the charts with a time over one second faster than Raikkonen’s from yesterday. The Red Bull boys of Mark Webber and Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top three. Jules Bianchi timed in fourth in his first run for Force India. The day was also notable for Caterham running using their KERS unit for the very first time. The team hope the addition of KERS finally pushes them consistently into the midfield and challenging for points.

  1. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes* – 1:18.561
  2. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:19.184
  3. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:19.587
  4. Jules Bianchi – Force India-Mercedes – 1:20.221
  5. Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus-Renault – 1:20.239
  6. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:20.272
  7. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:20.454
  8. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:20.688
  9. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:20.711
  10. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Renault – 1:21.197
  11. Heikki Kovalainen – Caterham-Renault – 1:21.518
  12. Pedro de la Rosa – HRT-Cosworth* – 1:22.128

Day 3 (February 9)

For the second day in a row, Mercedes led the way in their 2011 W02. This time, it was with Nico Rosberg at the helm who posted a time over nine-tenths of a second faster than his teammate Schumacher did yesterday. Romain Grosjean was next fastest in the Lotus but was also able to set the fastest time by a 2012 car at the test.

Thursday’s test day also featured several debuts as teams changed their testing lineups. Grosjean had his first run in the E20. Jean-Eric Vergne had his first run in a Formula One test. And Giedo van der Garde made his Formula One debut as the new test driver for Caterham.

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes* – 1:17.613
  2. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:18.419
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:19.297
  4. Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:19.464
  5. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:19.734
  6. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:19.770
  7. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:20.412
  8. Bruno Senna – Williams-Renault – 1:21.293
  9. Giedo van der Garde – Caterham-Renault – 1:23.324
  10. Jules Bianchi – Force India-Mercedes – No Time

Day 4 (February 10)

Fernando Alonso was the fastest on the final day of the Jerez test as Ferrari worked on aerodynamic evaluations of the F2012. Elsewhere, it was a battle of attrition. The normally bulletproof Red Bull Racing squad was left battling electrical gremlins for most of the day. The Williams of Bruno Senna suffered a pair of on-track stops. And Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber suffered from a hydraulic leak that cost him most of the day.

  1. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:18.877
  2. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:19.597
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:19.606
  4. Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:19.640
  5. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:19.729
  6. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:19.834
  7. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:19.977
  8. Bruno Senna – Williams-Renault – 1:20.132
  9. Jarno Trulli – Caterham-Renault – 1:22.198

So what lessons can we pull from the first week of testing? We learned that Mercedes is behind the rest of the pack already because they have one fewer week of testing before the season than the rest of the field before the season starts.

We also learned that looks do not necessarily matter when it comes to speed. McLaren might have had the least ugly-looking new car at the test but it wasn’t near the top of the field on any of the four days. Renault was fastest in this test but we know from last season that speed before the season doesn’t necessarily hold throughout the season.

When we reach the Circuit de Catalunya next week, the picture should clear up as the 2012 cars make their first runs on an actual Formula One circuit.

Best Times of the Week

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes* – 1:17.613
  2. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:18.419
  3. Michael Schumacher – Mercedes* – 1:18.561
  4. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:18.877
  5. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault – 1:19.184
  6. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:19.297
  7. Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:19.464
  8. Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:19.587
  9. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Ferrari -1:19.597
  10. Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus-Renault – 1:19.670
  11. Sergio Perez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:19.770
  12. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes – 1:19.772
  13. Kamui Kobayashi – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:19.834
  14. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:19.977
  15. Bruno Senna – Williams-Renault – 1:20.132
  16. Jules Bianchi – Force India-Mercedes – 1:20.221
  17. Felipe Massa – Ferrari – 1:20.454
  18. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:20.688
  19. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Renault – 1:21.197
  20. Heikki Kovalainen – Caterham-Renault – 1:21.518
  21. Pedro de la Rosa – HRT-Cosworth* – 1:22.128
  22. Jarno Trulli – Caterham-Renault – 1:22.198
  23. Giedo van der Garde – Caterham-Renault – 1:23.324

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