Mike Stevens | Feb 24, 2012
  • Pecking order hints McLaren fast, Ferrari not
  • Even teams can't trust test timesheets - engineer
  • Kovalainen 'not concerned' as Petrov joins team
  • Rosberg says Schumacher not toughest teammate
  • Lotus to seek permission for private test - source
 

Pecking order hints McLaren fast, Ferrari not

After an inconclusive and perhaps even worrying performance at Jerez, the faces in the McLaren garage are looking happier as the second group test progresses this week in Barcelona.

"We're in a much better position than we were this time last year," confirmed Lewis Hamilton after Wednesday's running in the MP4-27, "and also better than we were two weeks ago in Jerez.

"We have learned a lot; the car is much better balanced now. I can say that we have a stronger base than last year," added the 2008 world champion.

According to Britain's Mirror newspaper, Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button agreed: "There are no excuses this year. I feel we have everything.

"We're on target," said the 2011 championship runner-up. "There's nothing to say we're one and a half seconds quicker than anyone, but then there's also nothing to say we're not fast."

Red Bull's reigning back to back world champion Sebastian Vettel is quoted by the Telegraph as saying he thinks McLaren will be "strong straight from the beginning of the season".

Added Mercedes' team boss Ross Brawn: "Red Bull will have a strong car again, and so will McLaren.

"Ferrari seem to be having a few difficulties," Auto Motor und Sport quotes him as saying, referring to his former Maranello based employer.

Red Bull reserve Sebastien Buemi, having watched from a trackside position on Wednesday, said Fernando Alonso looked uncomfortable with the handling of the F2012.

"I think we are probably not the quickest today," Spaniard Alonso agreed, "but neither are we the slowest.

"At the moment we are not where we want to be, nor where we want to be in Australia, but I remain optimistic.

"We just have to hope that we have completed this learning process we are going through with a very complex car by the time the season starts," Spanish reporters quote the former two-time world champion as saying.

(GMM)

 

Even teams can't trust test timesheets - engineer

Even the F1 teams do not trust end-of-day testing timesheets as a guide to the sport's likely pecking order.

That is the claim of HRT's chief engineer Toni Cuquerella, in the context of Force India and Sauber setting Wednesday's pace at Barcelona, and the grandee Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes runners spread further down the order.

So while a full-tanks race simulation versus a qualifying run could make an obvious 4 or 5 second per lap difference, the games being played in pre-season testing are more complex, he explained.

"In Jerez or Montmelo, let's say, all you need is to pop 30 kilos more fuel in and your times are increased by a second on average," the Spaniard is quoted by El Pais newspaper.

"In that case, all you have to do (as a team) is refer to your time and add the second. The problem is that only they know that they are doing it," said Cuquerella.

"That's why no one trusts anyone," he added.

HRT is not running at this week's Barcelona test.

(GMM)

 

Kovalainen 'not concerned' as Petrov joins team

Heikki Kovalainen insists he has "no concerns" despite having to start work with a new teammate less than a month before the 2012 season.

In 2010 and 2011, and since the formation of the former Lotus team, Kovalainen has shared the green garage with fellow grand prix winner Jarno Trulli.

Now, Caterham has replaced the Italian veteran with the much less experienced Vitaly Petrov, who has moved his Russian backing from Lotus (formerly Renault).

"I got along well with Jarno, but a new teammate doesn't change my life in any way," Kovalainen told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"I have met with Vitaly here in Barcelona and I don't have any concerns. He is definitely a strong competitor but I always give 110 percent to beat my teammate.

"I don't underestimate anyone," he added.

Kovalainen admitted that Petrov might have to adjust to the fact that Caterham is smaller than Lotus, and the car not as competitive.

"Of course he has to get used to the team," he said, "and if he has any questions, I'm available.

"But Vitaly is a professional driver and in F1 it is expected that the driver is able to start tackling the programme right away."

(GMM)

 

Rosberg says Schumacher not toughest teammate

Nico Rosberg has named Mark Webber as his toughest teammate in Formula One so far.

The German made his GP debut alongside Australian Webber at Williams in 2006, moving four seasons later to Mercedes.

While at Williams, Rosberg also raced as teammate to Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima.

Rosberg's Mercedes move in 2010 coincided with seven time world champion Michael Schumacher's return to formula one at the same Brackley based team, where they have been teammates ever since.

When asked by Germany's Sport Bild who his toughest teammate has been, he answered: "Mark Webber in 2006, then Michael."

And he hopes he will be in front of his famous current teammate yet again in 2012, particularly with Mercedes hoping its new W03 is a race winner.

"To be the first German to win in the new Silver Arrow would be an absolute dream for me," said Rosberg, whose father Keke won the title in 1982.

(GMM)

 

Lotus to seek permission for private test - source

Embattled Lotus will ask its F1 rivals for permission to conduct a three-day private test after it has resolved a chassis flaw.

The former Renault team pulled out of this week's Barcelona test after the unspecified problem was identified early during the opening day's running on Tuesday.

With pre-season preparations limited to just three tests in 2012, next week's Barcelona running will be the last before the championship begins in Australia.

F1 race commentator Oskari Saari, working for the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, said Lotus has confirmed to him that it will seek permission to make up for this week's lost running in the form of a three-day private test.

"As they are based in Britain, then you would think that it would be at Silverstone," he said.

Recently at Jerez, Mercedes departed the opening pre-season test a day early and then made up for it with a private day of running at Barcelona on Sunday.

But Saari admitted it is possible the other teams will not be keen to allow Lotus to modify its programme, given the pace of the new E20 car at Jerez.

"However, I would imagine it is quite likely that the request will go through," he said.

"Every now and then, every team sometimes needs a helping hand from the others."

(GMM)

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