Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
All eyes were on the Pirelli tyres during the first day of testing in Mugello, Italy, as many teams still have problems with the 2012 spec tyres. All eyes were also on Ferrari, the Maranello based team has had huge problems this season getting their F1012 up to speed.
As it is a crucial test for Ferrari, it will be no surprise Fernando Alonso will be at the wheel for two days while Felipe Massa will only test one day. Ferrari tested new exhaust pipes today, similar to the ones used by Sauber and Red Bull, Ferrari hopes the new layout will improve the airflow around the rear and bottom of the car.
During these three test days teams are allowed to test all four dry weather compounds, super soft, soft, medium and hard. Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented ahead of the three test days: “The Mugello test will be very important when it comes to understanding the way in which the tyres work, and I’m sure that the teams will take away plenty of information that will allow their knowledge of the tyres to evolve as the season continues, which was exactly the case last year.”
Teams can also test the Pirelli intermediates and full wet tyres at Mugello, and today they certainly needed the wet tyres.
In the morning Alonso was the fastest driver on a damp circuit, he recorded a time of 1m22.444s, while Webber was second for Red Bull and Jean Eric Vergne third for Toro Rosso. Nico Rosberg was happy in the damp conditions and lapped the circuit 49 times, scoring fifth fastest time. Vatteri Bottas was the slowest man on track in the Williams and the Finn lapped the circuit in 1m29.179s, which was 6.735s slower than Alonso’s time.
Alonso knows this test is important and stated, “We had a pretty busy work programme, but we only managed to get through a part of it. Therefore, it’s impossible to give a serious evaluation, especially as we did so little dry running.”
Second fastest man Webber was also disappointed, “Obviously, the weather wasn’t great today, so we didn’t get to do much running in the dry. Really, we only got one decent run on the slicks. Then it rained after lunch and with limited sets of wets available, you can’t do that much. We’re hoping for better over the next couple of days.”
Kamui Kobayashi tested a new aero package for Sauber, which included a new front wing, new bodywork and a new diffuser. In the morning the red flag came out twice, the first time after Vergne had stopped on the circuit, the second red flag was caused by Rosberg and Alonso who both stopped at the circuit at almost the same time.
While in the morning the circuit was drying up after several rain showers, in the afternoon it started to rain even more and shortly after 15:00hrs local time the red flag came out due to a heavy thunderstorm, after that most teams opted to quit testing altogether for today and save tyres for tomorrow and Thursday.
Toro Rosso also abandoned testing in the afternoon and Vergne commented, “The car felt fine for the few dry laps I completed, but from a technical point of view, there is not much to say, because although we have a full programme to work through, the rain meant we will have to wait until tomorrow to start assessing some of the new elements we have brought here.” About his spin in the morning he said, "I went off the track; I was pushing a bit too hard, spun and got stuck, as the rear wheels were in the gravel. But there was no damage to the car.”
Williams’ testing program was also hampered by the rain and Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan commented, “Despite this limited running we managed to successfully complete a number of our planned test items. Thankfully the forecast for the next two days looks better and we hope to recover some of the lost time with both Bruno and Pastor scheduled to be driving the car on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.”
Charles Pic was also not able to complete today’s testing program, tomorrow Timo Glock will take over the Frenchman’s duties. “Today it has been difficult to find any kind of rhythm as the weather was changing all the time. All running is good for us because there is always more we can learn about the car, but it will be good to spend tomorrow morning focusing more on the tyre work in the drier conditions,” Pic said.
Team Principal John Booth was disappointed, “The rain has rather intervened with our plans today and it goes without saying that we would have been a lot happier had we been able to knuckle down to our full planned programme.”
McLaren’s plans were also changed by the rain, in the morning Oliver Turvey was able to put in 30 laps, but in the afternoon there was not much to do for Gary Paffett, however Turvey had been able to gather some data on slicks, but in the afternoon Paffett only went out to check out the conditions on the circuit but McLaren eventually also decided to abandon testing and save tyres for the next two days.
Almost the same story for Mercedes, Rosberg put in his laps in the morning but Michael Schumacher completed five laps to prepare the car for tomorrow. “Unfortunately we were not able to achieve much productive work on the track this afternoon as the weather made it nearly impossible to drive,” the seven-times World Champion said. And he added, “Still, it was nice being back in Mugello after so many years, and I must say it was also nice being welcomed back by the tifosi so warmly!”
HRT will not participate in this week’s testing as they are focusing on relocating their headquarters to Madrid, and also need time to prepare their car for the Spanish Grand Prix on May 13.
Formula One Mugello, Italy testing - Day 1
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:23.648||+ 1.204||24|
|3||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:23.891||+ 1.447||32|
|4||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Lotus||1:24.048||+ 1.604||40|
|5||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||1:24.100||+ 1.656||49|
|6||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber||1:24.736||+ 2.292||48|
|7||Oliver Turvey||McLaren||1:25.303||+ 2.859||30|
|8||Jules Bianchi||Force India||1:25.475||+ 3.031||19|
|9||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Caterham||1:27.197||+ 4.753||35|
|10||Charles Pic||Marussia||1:27.359||+ 4.915||45|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||1:29.179||+ 6.735||28|
|12||Gary Paffett||McLaren||1:50.898||+ 28.454||4|
|13||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||No time||-||5|