Gary Anderson's launch season blog
Valencia testing: Day two - February 2
As testing in Valencia continues apace so today we saw Fernando Alonso's Ferrari on top of the pile with a time of 1m13.307s. That's 0.4s faster than Sebastian Vettel went yesterday and 0.3s quicker than the world champion could manage today too.
But all I think Vettel's time shows is that Red Bull is running the car to get the information it needs with a fairly stable fuel load, I don't think we can read too much into the times just yet. There were 11 different drivers driving eight different 2011 chassis – that's a fairly good turn-out for this test and I think by the end of Thursday night we will probably see a bit of a picture begin to unfold.
Lotus joined the fray today with Heikki Kovalainen driving. The team had a few issues and it only managed to complete 15 laps and at the end of the day the T128 was 7s off the pace. That's no big problem though, we will have to wait to see when the team gets it running but, from what I hear, Kovalainen was raving about how good the car felt compared to last year's! I hope his comments are justified as I think everyone would like to see the Lotus name do well.
But, as I said in this blog yesterday that is actually what drivers are paid to do. It was the first public airing of the Lotus's fin-style roll over bar, similar to that which Mercedes used last year, and it will be interesting to see what the reaction of the teams is to the concept.
I was led to believe that there was an agreement that although fully complying with the regulations as they are written, it was unanimously accepted that if the car turned over in the gravel trap it was not as effective as the more conventional design.
One of the interesting features on the new Williams FW33 is the height of the differential. This picture taken in the pit lane shows the angle of the drive shafts, and when the aerodynamic forces are on the car, the rear ride height will reduce by about another 50mm. So you can just imagine what the angle will be like then and how much work the drive shaft joints will have to do at that angle.
So what's all this testing about, well obviously everyone wants to test their cars and check for any reliability issues. The more miles that you can do the better, but it is vitally important to actually strip and inspect the cars periodically to see if anything is going wrong because if you keep running until something breaks or destroys itself then it is usually too late to identify where the problem began.
On the way to doing this the teams will also be trying various different set ups on the cars to see how they effect tyre degradation of which I am reliably informed there seems to be quite a few problems.
It is always very, very difficult to recognise a car's characteristics if at the same time the tyres are also changing their characteristics by graining etc. Making the decision whether the car is responsible for the tyres degrading or whether it is just an inherent tyre problem again, is always a very difficult. Either way, by the end of this test the team who can identify the problems, instigate the developments that will help this problem and get the parts manufactured as required before the season starts that has an advantage.
Amidst all this the goal posts will be moving as Pirelli learns more and more about the tyre requirements and changes its tyre construction and compounds. But there will come a time when Pirelli will have to build the tyres required for the first races. So really, to allow for manufacturing and shipping, the cut-off point for that must be very, very soon.