Jerez Day 2: Report from the paddock

By on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Photo credit: Red Bull GEPA

It was a chilly day in Jerez today. There was not a single cloud to be seen in the sky, and the strong winds prevented the sun's rays from warming the track. As a matter of fact, the track temperature only peaked at 20 degrees in the afternoon.

Of course, the wind did not stop the feverish activity on the Jerez circuit. Today, in addition to the ever-present team personnel and media, a very large number guests flooded the paddock. One of the highlights the visitors enjoyed today was a guided tour through the media centre, where the lovely tourists took photographs of those of us working there, as if we were interesting tourist attractions. It felt very weird. As if it wasn't enough, I have been told that it will get worse tomorrow and on Friday. Oh! well…

On track, it turned out to be another testing day without major dramas. The drivers scheduled for today were: Webber, Button, Massa, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Bianchi (morning), Di Resta (afternoon), Perez, Ricciardo, Maldonado, Kovalainen and de la Rosa.

Michael Schumacher drove the fastest lap with 1:18.565. It may seem worrying that the best time of the day, and of the test, was achieved with a 2011 car. Nevertheless, Mercedes is basically testing the new tyres and they may have done some runs on low fuel and fresh tyres to simulate a qualifying session. Of the 2012 cars, the fastest was the Red Bull of Mark Webber. Maybe they were running on low fuel or perhaps Adrian Newey does not really have that many reasons to feel worried. It is also interesting that Caterham was using KERS for the first time ever and as Kovalainen explained later on, they did not have any issues with it, which should help Catherham close the gap to the midfield teams. Kovalainen completed 139 laps today.

Toro Rosso had a very good day and managed to complete the entire program they had planned, which included using hard, medium and soft tyres as well as different levels of fuel. Ricciardo felt very optimistic in the evening, especially because of the very good reliability the car had demonstrated.

Force India keeps looking good on track. Jules Bianchi drove the car in the morning and although he later admitted that he had not been pushing hard, he finished the day in 4th position. The young French driver also said this had been a very important day for him and confirmed that he will drive at least nine Friday practice sessions during the season. In the afternoon, it was di Resta’s turn to drive the car and he finished 6th, 5 tenths of a second behind his teammate.

2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen started the day with a little excursion through the gravel trap after taking a kerb a bit too optimistically. The floor of his Lotus E20 was damaged in the process but it was repaired by his mechanics and he finished the day 5th after completing 117 laps. The Finnish driver admitted that the wind was affecting the car at some points of the track, but he was smiling broadly when he came out of the garage to face the media.

Ferrari and McLaren keep doing average times. Today, they ended up in 7th and 8th position. It is difficult to know if they are hiding something or if their 2012 cars are not on the pace. The cars will evolve significantly between now and Australia, though.

Sauber finished the day in 9th position but, as Sergio Perez told, they spent the day the day working in the aerodynamics of the car and did not do runs on low fuel. Pastor Maldonado finished 10th and is confident the new engines will help them this season.

Interestingly, no cars suffered apparent mechanical issues. The three red flags of the day were caused by dirt on the track, a black spot on the tarmac that a driver thought was due to oil - it was just moisture from the night before - and another small technical issue also related with the circuit but not the drivers.

Tomorrow we will see world champion Sebastian Vettel, along with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, driving for the first time in Jerez this season.

Final Times

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher   Mercedes       1m18.561s           132
 2.  Mark Webber          Red Bull       1m19.184s  + 0.623   97
 3.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso     1m19.587s  + 1.026  100
 4.  Jules Bianchi        Force India    1m20.221s  + 1.660   46
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus          1m20.239s  + 1.678  117
 6.  Paul di Resta        Force India    1m20.272s  + 1.711   69
 7.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari        1m20.454s  + 1.893   95
 8.  Jenson Button        McLaren        1m20.688s  + 2.127   85
 9.  Sergio Perez         Sauber         1m20.711s  + 2.150   68
10.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams       1m21.197s  + 2.636   97
11.  Heikki Kovalainen    Caterham       1m21.518s  + 2.957  139
12.  Pedro de la Rosa     HRT            1m22.128s  + 3.567   64

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