One famous archeologist once said “It’s not the years… it’s the mileage”. Fair enough, the archaeologist was fictional (although a chap called ‘Indy’ must have something to do with motorsport!) but still - the quote sums up our winter testing pretty well.
When, last December, the team announced that the new F1 W03 wouldn’t be running until the second winter test – a decision that was made last summer, early in the nine-month project planning of the 2012 car – a few skeptical eyebrows were raised. We went to Jerez in the first week of February and ran the MGP W02 to test the 2012 tyres but, as with every conscious decision, this one was part of a bigger plan to give the team more development time to work on our 2012 car.
After a filming day at Silverstone on 16 February, the team flew to Barcelona to properly put the F1 W03 through its paces, with Michael and Nico quite keen to test their new “baby” and get some laps under their belts.
Winter testing is all about taming a new car, learning as much as possible from it, gathering data, trying hundreds of set-ups, new parts, countless “out and back in” runs… and to do so, you obviously need a reliable car. Having a solid car straight out of the box makes everyone’s life easy (well, easier – there are still plenty of late nights and early mornings!), and allows both drivers and engineers to focus quickly on performance. As is normal, the team worked on sorting -out few gremlins on the first couple of days but those minor issues were sorted quickly and from there the team had plenty of laps to get the data they needed…
472km/day for the F1 W03
Since the F1 W03 left the garage for the first time, at the filming day in Silverstone, the car managed an impressive total of 4450 kilometres – that breaks down as 4,250 km during official testing and 200 km over two filming days. The team concluded its winter programme with the best daily average mileage for any 2012 car, averaging 472 km per test day.
The same satisfaction was clear on the engine side, too, as the Mercedes-Benz engines in the McLaren-Mercedes and Force India cars, in addition to the works team, covered a total of 15,467 km over 36 test days (average of 430 km/car/day).
As always, reliability is always only one of the key parameters in the race for good results, but Ross was quite satisfied at the end of the team’s test programme:
“Over nine days of testing, Michael and Nico have put 4250 km on the F1 W03, and we have accomplished the majority of items on a very demanding test programme. There is a lot of hard work ahead back at base next week to analyse the results, however I am confident that we are in good shape for the start of the season.”
Obviously, you score no points during winter testing, and the first big challenge for the team is waiting Down Under in 12 days’ time… but the guys and girls will soon leave the factory knowing they have some solid foundations to build-on. As ever, though, the truth will only become clear when the flag drops…