Atlas F1 Test Times Analysis

  by Michele Lupini, South Africa

Following the traditional November F1 holiday, when testing is banned for the entire month, most teams were ready and waiting for the first of December.

Ferrari stayed at Maranello for the first couple of days, Rubens Barrichello getting to grips with the '99 F300 around the firm's Fiorano circuit. On his third day, Rubens was under the track's 1999 lap record, circulating at 1:00.7 seconds, repeating the deed the following day in a lap two-hundredths off the new record.

David Coulthard answered Barrichello's question over at Jerez, lapping under the best '99 lap at the Spanish circuit in the McLaren-Mercedes and heading the time sheets for all three days of the early December test there. Impressive at Jerez was 2000 Prost-Peugeot F1 debutante, Nick Heidfeld, ending the 3-day session second, ahead of the man he replaces at Prost and new McLaren test pilot, Olivier Panis.

Also impressive on his single day's work at Jerez on the second day, was Stewart-Ford (Jaguar in 2000) test pilot Luciano Burti, matching Jarno Trulli's time in the Jordan Mugen-Honda. Other drivers at Jerez were Jean Alesi with Prost and the Williams BMW driven by Ralf Schumacher, who despite noticeably off the pace times reported his satisfaction with the new mill.

From there, most teams trekked to Barcelona, where David Coulthard once again set the pace, challenged initially by a very satisfied Jarno Trulli's Jordan and McLaren teammate Panis. Pedro Diniz and the Sauber ended fourth after three days, but Ralf Schumacher was much closer to the pace with the Williams BMW fifth fastest, ahead of Heidfeld's Prost.

Pedro de la Rosa made good progress with the Supertec-powered Arrows by the time most of the others left for Jerez. Alesi continued work with the Prost, while F3000 drivers Tomas Enge and Mark Webber drove the Jordan and Arrows respectively.

Jerez' first day was a wet affair, with Barrichello easily fastest in the Ferrari from the Stewarts of Burti and Herbert, Marc Gene's Minardi-Ford, Ricardo Zonta in the BAR and a bunch of young Minardi hopefuls having a wet F1 baptism.

But the final three days at Jerez saw good weather and Coulthard joining the fray for the last two.

Herbert and Barrichello ended on top of the timesheet, with Coulthard third, from the impressive Burti, Panis and Salo. Marc Gene looked good in the Minardi, outpacing Diniz; Villeneuve giving the BAR Honda its first run and Irvine having a pilot-run in the Stewart.

Back at Barcelona, Nick Heidfeld ruled the roost, although Pedro de la Rosa was quickest on the last day sounding a warning shot that Arrows will be a different proposition in future.

Overall, it's difficult to judge how these tests point into the new millennium, as most of the time was spent testing. But, as is traditional, what driver can resist breaking a lap record in a perfectly good F1 car?

Looking at Jerez, Herbert, Barrichello, Coulthard and Burti were all under the best '99 time, so we are assured that those times were representative. Barcelona saw Coulthard beating, and Trulli and Heidfeld matching Hakkinen's '99 pole, although no one came near Barrichello's best testing mark on a perfect February morning there early in 1999. Barrichello was also below the Fiorano record in his first Ferrari test.

Everyone except Benetton tested extensively, so there is a good basis to judge progress on:

Johnny Herbert has impressed immensely after his surprise Euro GP win. It seems Johnny has been fired by that victory, and in my book, he is a significant dark horse in 2000. Could Jaguar have timed its arrival perfectly?

Rubens Barrichello's pace, though, may well be the signal that (excuse the cliche) the coming year will be Ferrari's year. But they have been saying that for 21 years now, haven't they?

David Coulthard dominated the earlier sessions, but it appears that McLaren may have lost its edge. Prost and Jordan have shown promise too, as has Arrows and Minardi, while Sauber was in its usual unpredictable bracket. The Williams BMW showed good progress possibly even guarded progress, while BAR came to grips with Honda power.

None of the top number one drivers were on duty, so we have to wait beyond 2000 to see Mika, Michael and Heinz-Harald in action, while most of the 2000 cars will all be launched by late January.

Nonetheless, December's testing times are starting to show 2000 form. Whatever the paint's made of, whatever its hue, it appears that there will be a green presence at the front next year, more significant than the white it replaces.

Jerez F1 Testing December 1999

1999 fastest testing time: Ralf Schumacher (Williams Supertec) 1:24.276

Pos Driver Team Best 1 2 3 13(wet) 14 15 16 Dec
1. Herbert Stewart 1:23.097 - - - 1:40.38 1:25.30 1:25.08 1:23.09
2. Barrichello Ferrari 1:23.183 - - - 1:39.17 1:25.96 1:24.98 1:23.18
3. Coulthard McLaren 1:23.459 1:24.74 1:24.80 1:24.21 - - 1:25.51 1:23.46
4. Burti Stewart 1:23.577 - 1:25.5 - 1:40.28 - 1:26.18 1:23.58
5. Panis McLaren 1:24.418 - 1:26.87 1:25.37 - 1:25.52 1:24.42 1:24.59
6. Salo Sauber 1:24.768 - - - - 1:26.72 1:42.21 1:24.77
7. Heidfeld Prost 1:25.034 1:27.63 1:27.01 1:25.03 - - - -
8. Gene Minardi 1:25.157 - - - 1:42.47 1:28.45 1:25.16 -
9. Diniz Sauber 1:25.463 - - - - 1:26.71 1:26.83 1:25.46
10. Trulli Jordan 1:25.572 1:26.99 1:25.57 1:25.53 - - - -
11. Villeneuve BAR 1:25.757 - - - - 1:25.79 1:25.84 1:25.76
12. Alesi Prost 1:26.374 1:27.04 1:26.92 1:26.37 - - - -
13. Irvine Stewart 1:26.638 - - - - 1:26.64 1:26.95 -
14. R Schumacher Williams 1:27.343 1:29.30 1:27.55 1:27.34 - - - -
18. Junqueira Williams 1:26.704 - - - - 1:28.72 1:26.70 -
15. Fontana Minardi 1:27.778 - - - - 1:31.74 1:27.78 -
16. Wilson Minardi 1:27.824 - - - - 1:29.46 1:27.82 -
17. Muller Williams 1:28.168 - - - - - - 1:28.17
19. Manning Williams 1:28.829 - - - - 1:29.19 1:28.83 -
20. Zonta BAR 1:42.862 - - - 1:42.86 - - -
21. Alonso Minardi 1:43.474 - - - 1:43.47 - - -
22. Sundberg Minardi 1:44.256 - - - - 1:44.26 - -
23 Vinella Minardi 1:45.747 - - - 1:45.75 - - -


Barcelona F1 Testing December 1999

Track length: 4.728 km
1999 pole: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) 1:22.088
1999 fastest testing time: Rubens Barrichello (Stewart-Ford) 1:20.591

Pos Driver Team Best 9 10 11 12 15 16 17 Dec
1. Trulli Jordan 1:21.350 1:22.64 1:22.15 1:22.28 1:21.35 - - -
2. Coulthard McLaren 1:21.440 1:22.10 1:21.65 1:21.44 - - - -
3. Heidfeld Prost 1:22.063 1:23.00 1:23.72 - - 1:35.48 1:22.06 1:23.20
4. Panis McLaren 1:22.400 1:22.96 1:23.73 1:22.40 - - - -
5. de la Rosa Arrows 1:22.600 1:24.48 1:25.10 1:23.21 1:24.64 1:42.64 1:23.93 1:22.60
6. Diniz Sauber 1:22.980 1:23.09 1:23.02 1:22.98 - - - -
7. R.Schumacher Williams 1:23.010 1:24.40 1:23.01 - - - - -
8. Enge Jordan 1:23.610 - 1:26.68 1:23.61 - - - -
9. Alesi Prost 1:23.650 1:23.65 1:24.08 - - 1:36.81 1:24.70 -
10. Muller Williams 1:24.100 - - 1:24.10 - - - -
11. Coronel Arrows 1:24.300 - - - - - 1:26.36 1:24.30
12. Button Prost 1:24.500 - - - - - - 1:24.50
13. Webber Arrows 1:26.560 1:27.97 1:26.56 - - - - -


Fiorano F1 Testing December 1999

1999 fastest testing time: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) 1:00.712
Previous fastest testing time, 1999: Luca Badoer (Ferrari) 1:00.881

Driver Car Best 1 2 3 6 7 Dec
Barrichello Ferrari 1.00.712 1:02.15 1:01.24 1:01.06 1:00.71 1.00.79


Michele Lupini© 1999 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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