Maranello, 17 February – Formula 1 continues its winter residency in Spain, when the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, hosts the second pre-season test session starting on Tuesday. The four day test, from 19th to 22nd February, will give Scuderia Ferrari the opportunity to confirm its findings from the week spent in Jerez and hopefully, move forward in terms of understanding and performance: pretty much the same goals as the ten other teams, albeit with one added element, the first on-track appearance of 2013 for Fernando Alonso. The Spanish double world champion will have a direct effect on the week’s events, as the crowds will flock to the circuit to see their hero in action, creating a noisy buzz that’s unusual for testing.
In light of the total twelve days of testing, to allow the Spanish to complete his training programme, two weeks ago the team had decided to opt for Felipe Massa and Pedro de la Rosa for the first session in Jerez. Fernando has therefore maximized the time available and tackled the task with great dedication, performing a focused physical preparation worthy of the best Olympic athlete by alternating between gym sessions, running and biking. Now Fernando is ready to slip into the cockpit of the F138 and benefit from all the work of Felipe and Pedro in Andalusia. This week it will be the Brazilian to sit out for the first three days, with the handover from his team-mate scheduled on Friday.
After driving in Jerez, Massa declared to be optimistic but cautious: the F138 is a much better starting base than the F2012 and only a constant development work will say if it will be better than the competitors’ cars as well. The Brazilian even stated he was more impressed with Jenson Button’s lap times but the fact that Felipe set the quickest time of the four days had already been seized on by observers as a sign that the Prancing Horse will gallop away with the title. However, in Maranello, the culture of not paying attention to speculation, focussing on one’s own tasks and working hard means that preparing for another week of testing has been occupying everyone’s time to the full, without any distractions. 2013 is the last season run to the current rules and after a long period of stability in the regulations, the performance levels between the teams inevitably closes up, so a positive start in Jerez is just that, a positive start and nothing more.
While time spent in Jerez was useful, the Circuit de Catalunya is reckoned to be a more realistic test of how a car really performs, with aerodynamics, the key to modern F1 performance, playing a more important role here. Therefore, the Scuderia Ferrari job sheet for the four days includes more tyre testing, on a track surface that is more representative of what lies ahead in terms of degradation and pace, while aerodynamically, the engineers will continue gathering data, as well as already introducing some new elements and updates, as part of a relentless development programme that began even before the F138 turned a wheel.