While Fernando Alonso may have given the Tifosi something to get excited about with his session-topping effort on the final day of the first pre-season test at Jerez, it’s important to try and make some sense after four days of running in Spain. But how do we go about doing this, when the teams are keeping all of their cards to their chests?
Take a look at our aggregated results over the four days’ running at Jerez. The drivers are ranked top-to-tail based on their fastest overall lap-time from each day’s running, with their very quickest lap-time indicated in red.
|Driver||Team||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4|
|1||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG*||1:20.219||1:17.613|
|2.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1||1:18.419||1:19.729|
|3.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG*||1:20.794||1:18.561|
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:20.496||1:19.184|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:19.297||1:19.606|
|8.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:20.694||1:19.587|
|9.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:19.734||1:19.597|
|10.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1||1:19.670||1:20.239|
|12.||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:19.772||1:20.272|
|14.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India||1:19.997|
|16.||Jules Bianchi||Force India||1:20.211||No Time|
|21.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT F1*||1:23.676||1:22.128|
|23.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||1:23.324|
* Denotes 2011 car
Over the four days’ running, the fastest overall time went to Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg. However, his effort is largely irrelevant, as he was running in a 2011-spec car still fitted with the now-banned ‘blown exhaust diffuser’. There were also rumours that his W02 was fitted with a passive F-duct system in the car’s nose and front wing, a device that is completely legal under the current rules.
The fastest of the drivers in a 2012-spec car was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E20, who posted a 1:18.419 on the third day of running. He clocked up a further 95 laps on the fourth and final day, but his fastest lap on that day was 1.3 seconds down on his Thursday best.
The Lotus team covered some 1,800km of testing mileage over the four days, with Grosjean’s team-mate Kimi Räikkönen clocking his best lap time on the first day of running, with his 1:19.670 proving to be the quickest lap-time of the entire day. He ended the entire test at the tenth-fastest driver, and the eighth-quickest in a 2012 machine.
A rather irrelevant third-fastest was Michael Schumacher in the older-spec Mercedes, although he expressed delight with the performance of the 2012 Pirelli tyres, having found the Italian tyre-maker’s previous designs not quite to his liking.
Alonso’s session-topping effort on Friday earned him fourth overall on our timesheets, while Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa was mired in seventeenth, with a best lap-time of 1:20.454.
The Red Bull RB8 was the third-quickest of the 2012 runners, with Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel achieving near-identical fastest lap times, each having two days in the cockpit. Of concern will be the reliability gremlins that sprang up over the four days, with the team managing just over 1,300km of running.
McLaren was next up, with Lewis Hamilton’s Thursday effort earning him seventh overall on our timesheet, with his best lap being a 1:19.464 on Day 3. Jenson Button had the first to days’ running and was much slower, although much of his role was to help shake down the new MP4-27 rather than chase an outright lap time.
The Toro Rosso pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne were next up, with the duo posted near-identical fastest lap times after two days apiece behind the wheel. The STR7 completed over 1,400km of running, with team management reportedly pleased with the results from the first test session.
Sauber and Force India were closely positioned on the timesheets on each of the four days of running, and both suffered with losses of track time – the former due to some hydraulics issues, while the latter came courtesy of a crash by rookie tester Jules Bianchi.
Further down the timesheets, although with a considerable about of mileage covered, was Williams’ new FW34. Bruno Senna had the better track conditions to post a fastest time of 1:20.132, while team-mate Pastor Maldonado was ‘track sweeper’ in the first two days and clocked a 1:21.197.
Caterham sat towards the rear of the timesheets as the team got to work on its brand-new CT01 challenger, which was equipped with Red Bull-designed rear suspension, hydraulics and, for the first time, KERS. With few reliability issues, the team racked up a healthy 1,584km of running over the four days, with Heikki Kovalainen’s effort on Wednesday proving to be the best result for the team.