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 Testing Roundup 
5 February 2002 

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After a month of extensive Formula 1 testing, we look at what the teams have done so far and try to read into the testing times which is nearly impossible!!

Most of the teams returned to the track in January except for Arrows who preferred to concentrate on their 2002 car and Prost who were trying to save their company.  
The rest headed to the warmer climate of Spain to test their cars. Even Ferrari who rarely test with the rest of the field during the pre-season showed up at both Barcelona and Valencia. Of course they also tested at Fiorano and Mugello. 
Here is a team by team roundup of the previous 4 weeks of activity.


The 2001 World Champions have been testing what they call experimental components on the F2001 as they continue their build-up to the launch of the 2002 car. 2 questions that everyone is asking, how revolutionary will the new car be and will they use it for the first 3 races of the season ? 
While we don't know the answer to either question, we can say this, the more revolutionary the car is, the less chances it has of making it to Melbourne (and vice versa).
Looking at the times set by the Ferrari F2001 run with modified bits over the last month, it broke the lap record at Fiorano, was 0.7 seconds off the best time at Barcelona, almost a second off the pace at Valencia and over 0.5 seconds off the best time in 2001 at Mugello. So while the times set are not that impressive, we don't know the fuel loads they were running and particularly in Barcelona were they aborted their test a day early after both Michael and Rubens damaged their cars. 
The new Ferrari will be launched tomorrow (and it will be the last 2002 car to run on the track) and as usual it will be tested at Fiorano and Mugello first and perhaps they'll take it to Barcelona and run it against the rest but don't count on that.


Having already launched their 2002 contender, the MP4-17, the team was busy testing the new car having extensive sessions at Barcelona and Valencia and in both cases having the track all for themselves for a few days. Despite reports that the new Mercedes unit is underpowered and that McLaren weren't happy with its performance, the new car seems to be on the pace almost out of the box. At Barcelona, Wurz in the old car set a new lap record while Raikkonen in the new car was under half a second slower and that was under a week after the initial shakedown of the new car. At Valencia, David Coulthard in the new car dropped the lap record by over a second.
So it looks as if McLaren, the new Mercedes engine and Michelin seem to be setting the pace so far. Newly signed Kimi Raikkonen is also impressive nearly matching Coulthard's pace.


The team launched their 2002 contender during the last week of January and the new car seemed to match the pace of the 2001 car from the first day it had a serious run. Despite this, it has been reported that the drivers aren't too happy with the car's conservative chassis. The engine however is reported to be even more powerful than last year's unit.
They do have one of the busiest testing schedules of all the teams.
Last season during pre-season testing Williams didn't really show their true pace so expect the same this season.    


The new car launched on the 25th of January appears to be quick and reliable. At Barcelona Nick Heidfeld (on light fuel load) was only a tenth of a second slower than the best time set by a 2002 spec car (Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren). 
Despite the departure of Sergio Rinland, the Sauber C21 seems to be well designed and coupled with last year's Ferrari engine, it will be worth watching over the first few races of the season - at least!


Before testing the EJ12, Jordan looked very promising setting very fast times with both their drivers Fisichella and Sato. However once they started testing the new car their lap times were significantly slower. 4 days of serious testing of the EJ12 at Barcelona and it was - most of the time - over a second slower than the EJ11 and 2.5 to 3.5 seconds off the pace of the fastest car on the day. That is worrying.
Whatever the problem may be, lets hope they fix it. Otherwise we may not see how good Fisichella or Sato are!


The comments from both Villeneuve and Panis were very positive towards the new car yet the times they were setting seemed to put them exactly where they were last season so I cannot figure out what is so positive about the new car. If someone other than Villeneuve was making these claims, I would say they are just for PR but Villeneuve isn't that type so I can only assume that their test in Valencia this week with the 'free revving' Honda engine will show 'positive' results. Otherwise, Villeneuve has also become a PR man!


The new R202 seems to be a match for the Benetton B201 (last year's car) but a car under the Renault name doesn't need to be exceptional to be better than the B201. 
The times they are setting have moved them to the level of Sauber, Jordan and BAR which is encouraging. If they improve at the same rate they did last year (which is a difficult ask), they will end up better than those three!  


It appears that the early car launch affected them badly as the car seems to lack thorough wind tunnel testing and analysis. The difference in lap times between the R3 and last year's car, the R2 was over 4 seconds at the start of testing. They have been trying to improve the car blaming lack of front wing downforce. The gap seems to have dropped to around 2 seconds but given the early release of the car, it should be quicker than the R2 by now!. So Steve Nichols, their Technical Director resigns (read: gets fired!)


They have opted not to test at all with last year's car and concentrate on next year's car development. Sounds like an excuse as testing aids in the development of the new car and doesn't (or at least shouldn't) hamper it. All the other teams do it. There must be more to it, lack of engine supply perhaps.
In any case, they finally shook down the new A23 at a secret location on Sunday and will start testing with the rest in Valencia this week. Bernoldi will do the driving as their second driver hasn't been announced yet. (Either Verstappen or Frentzen).
Given the problems Jaguar are having and with Arrows running the same engines, it will be interesting to compare their times during the next few weeks!   


They shook down the new PS02 and are planning to test with the rest of the field in Valencia this week. With Asiatech power, they should be closer to the rest. Watch for the times set by Mark Webber.  


Very hard to tell how they will do. During testing they have been consistently off the pace but the kind of budget this team has would make you expect at least a half-decent performance from them. I must say that I am suspicious of the lack of pace they are showing and that they would be at least at the bottom of the mid-field come Melbourne. 


Unfortunately the team has gone into liquidation and chances of the team being reconstructed appears to be next to zero. It is sad to see a Formula 1 team gone, the current economic conditions have taken their toll on organisations and Formula 1 isn't immune. But we were hoping to see 24 cars in Melbourne.

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