Testing ends in Valencia. 80 laps for Massa
Circuit:Ricardo Tormo, Cheste -- 4.005 km
Driver: Felipe Massa
Car: Ferrari F150
Weather: air temperature 5/19 C, track temperature 5/23 C. Sunny.
Third and final day of testing for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working again today along with eleven other teams, at the Cheste circuit, near Valencia.
It was Felipe Massa's turn to continue development work on the F150, concentrating mainly on acquiring an understanding of the car and the Pirelli tyres. Unfortunately, on his very first run this morning, the car suffered an oil leak, which caused an off-track excursion and started a fire on the car: it took around four hours to carry out the necessary repairs. Despite this contretemps, Felipe managed to complete a total of 80 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.14.017.
The Scuderia's testing at this track ended today. The next test is scheduled to start on 10 February at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, when Felipe Massa will get the work underway in the F150.
Massa: "Shame about the time lost"
Felipe Massa was not happy, nor did he want to hide his disappointment at the end of his troubled debut at the wheel of the F150. The third and final day of testing for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro began with a technical problem this morning, when a pipe broke leading to a heavy loss of oil during the first run of the day, which meant the Brazilian had to endure a long period of inactivity in the garage. Felipe got back in the car at 14.30 and did not stop until he took the chequered flag at 17.00. He thus managed to fit in 80 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.14.017. "We had a problem right at the start of the morning, when I was out on very old tyres," explained Felipe. "It was not nice having to stop pretty much before I'd started the real work, but then, it was a relief to find out it was nothing that serious. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of time and, in the afternoon I tried to make up for it and get a feeling for the new car."
Obviously, the main focus of questioning from the media centred on the tyres. "I am pleased with how they behaved," continued the Brazilian. "I think that the fact there is a definite level of degradation is a positive thing in terms of the spectacle. It's a shame I wasn't able to do more laps, but the feeling I had was similar to the one from Abu Dhabi, even if that was at the wheel of a very different car. In my opinion, there is not that much that needs changing and I think Pirelli is working in the right direction. We did not try the hardest tyre here, because this track is not best suited to them: when we have done that, then it will be possible to give a more complete evaluation of them."
Costa: "Pleased with the work accomplished. A shame about Felipe's problem"
Three days of testing, the very first of the season, are not enough to produce concrete evidence regarding the effectiveness of the work done by the teams on their new cars. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro was certainly not the exception to this rule, as was confirmed by Technical Director Aldo Costa, during a brief meeting with the media at the "Ricardo Tormo" circuit at Cheste.
"There are still so many questions hanging in the air that it's impossible to have a realistic view of the situation, starting with the tyres," said Costa. "In the very short time at its disposal, Pirelli has done a great job of bringing tyres here that, from a construction point of view, which effectively means in terms of reliability, are on the right track. And now they are developing the compounds, which according to the Milan-based company, will now evolve from there. Then it is up to us to work on the mechanical set-up of the car to improve the tyre behaviour."
Inevitably, the press wanted an opinion as to how this first run of tests had gone. "Looking at our own work in isolation, we can be pleased with what we have done," said the engineer from Parma. "We are more or less where we expected, even if there is still work to do to have a full understanding of the handling of the car, especially when it comes to aerodynamics and tyres. However, if we had to say where we are compared to the others, then it would not be possible to give a precise answer. I'm not saying we're stumbling around in the dark, but almost, given how many unknown factors are in play here. Then, you have to remember, this is only the start: for our part, we know that between now and Jerez we have a good basis on which to work on the mechanical side, while when it comes to aerodynamics, we will not see the final version of the F150 until we get to Bahrain. And I think that's pretty much the case for everyone."
Today, Felipe lost around four hours of track time because of a reliability problem and Costa provided this explanation as to its cause: "It was a silly thing really: a pipe came undone and the oil that escaped ended up on the exhausts and tyres. That led to the spin and the small fire which caused the damage that led to a long stop in the garage. It was a shame, as until this point, everything had gone smoothly."
Another topic that was at the centre of attention was the moveable rear wing, even if the precise details about how this aid can be used in the races have not been finalised. "The FIA has informed us that the operation of the rear wing can be effected by the following car, six hundred metres from the end of the straight, in the case of the gap between the two cars being under a certain time, prior to going into the final corner leading onto the straight in question," continued the Maranello team's technical director. "Further information, going into detail and the various scenarios still has to be clarified and it's been said that, at least in the early part of the season, the use of the moveable wing will not be allowed in the case of a wet race. Then it will be a case of seeing how things go in the race to understand how to proceed."
As an experienced engineer, Costa had spotted some original ideas on some cars: "We definitely saw some pretty extreme things such as the exhausts on the Renault and the gearbox on the Williams," said Aldo. "There are so many irons in the fire, from our side too, so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out. We are pleased with the work we have done. What counts when it comes to having a quick car is not so much to be innovative, but more a case of being able to have enough performance to deliver the lap time."