Formula 1: Silverstone: 3 Day Testing Report

Ben AutySenior Writer IJune 27, 2008

First of all let me say this to you, if you are an F1 fan, TV doesn’t do this sport justice. You must visit your local track for an F1 event of any description whether it be testing, practice, qualifying or if you are lucky enough race day. Until yesterday I had never been to see F1 in the flesh and I was not disappointed.

The noise they make is phenomenal, the smell, the atmosphere, the excitement as you hear them from so far away. Then you see the car on the horizon and you can already see the speed that they are travelling. Then they enter the section of the track in which you are stood and then it becomes real. I feel a wave of excitement through my body, a warm feeling, and feeling like a child on Christmas morning as Kimi Raikkonen nails the apex and accelerates out of the corner at 150mph and he is gone.

There is no other feeling like it in the world, as a lifelong F1 fan that has never been lucky enough to witness these machines first hand, this was probably the greatest experience of my life. As I said before, TV does not do this sport justice, you have to be there to fully appreciate this spectacle. Trust me.

So, what of the 3 day testing session, the highs and lows, winners and losers, who was testing what, did we get any shocks? Here is the low down...

Day 1 – Tuesday 24th June 2008

  • 1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) - 1:20.188
  • 2. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) - 1:20.477
  • 3. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) - 1:20.995
  • 4. Kamui Kobayashi (Toyota) - 1:21.335
  • 5. Nico Rosberg (Williams) - 1:21.410
  • 6. Mark Webber (Red Bull) - 1:21.565
  • 7. Nelson Piquet (Renault) - 1:21.797
  • 8. Jenson Button (Honda) - 1:22.081
  • 9. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India) - 1:22.250
  • 10. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) - 1:23.853

Felipe Massa in the Ferrari went quickest on Tuesday in charge of kicking things off for the aerodynamic and mechanical innovations. He completed 71 laps in the F2008 along with the new changes he completed some preliminary set up for next week’s race. He had a problem free day and all test work went unaffected.

In 2nd place in the timings was the chirpy Finn who doesn’t stop smiling, even when he has his helmet on he is grinning through, and he put in a great time to take him within 3 tenths of a second of the Brazilian. McLaren are testing some new aerodynamic tweaks and putting some mileage on some mechanical parts this session. Alongside that a brand new fuel and lubricant combination from suppliers Mobil is being put through its paces.

Up next yes you guessed it, Mr Kubica, Mr Reliable, just 5 tenths of a second of the Finn in the McLaren, again like the top 2 he had an uneventful day thankfully as was able to complete the program for BMW as specified, the Sauber set up where today testing some minor aerodynamic work but the main focus was to test out numerous car set ups for race weekend.

The rest of the field followed suit and put in an uneventful day with no major worries, all for Young Vettel, the German based Toro Rosso driver who had a technical problem after 10 laps and that relegated the car to the pits for the remainder of the session. So bar that hiccup everything spanned out just as we imagined it would.

Selected quotes

Gerd Pfeiffer (Toyota Test Team Manager) – “After our great result at the weekend we have another busy week of testing here this week, Kamui began the programme with work on aerodynamics and set-up. As this was the first time he has ever driven at Silverstone he took a couple of runs getting used to the track in the morning. From then on he worked well, completing many laps and getting through everything we had planned.”

Christian Silk (Renault Chief Test Engineer) – “We go quite a lot of work done today, and although we had a few difficulties during the day, we were able to cover a lot of the stuff that we needed to, We concentrated on basic pre-Grand Prix set-up work, as well as some aerodynamic testing, and started some tyre evaluation, which we will continue in the coming days.”

Mike Gascoyne (Force India Chief Technical Officer) – “A very useful and busy day of testing, with Tonio completing 108 laps in total, We had the first stage of our major aero update, running a new front wing, bodywork and diffuser, which all ran successfully and performed exactly as predicted. Tonio also tested a new fuel system and went on to do set up work for the Grand Prix.”

Day 2 – Wednesday 25th June 2008

  • 1. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) - 1:20.015
  • 2. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) - 1:20.391
  • 3. Nico Rosberg (Williams) - 1:20.624
  • 4. Nelson Piquet (Renault) - 1:20.787
  • 5. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) - 1:20.795
  • 6. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) - 1:20.982
  • 7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) - 1:21.069
  • 8. Mark Webber (Red Bull) - 1:21.170
  • 9. Jenson Button (Honda) - 1:21.445
  • 10. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India) - 1:21.583

So it’s the turn of the grinning Finn to top the board. He looked quick on Tuesday and certainly looked as though he should have topped the board but couldn’t find that extra 3 tenths, well he found it on Wednesday and he stayed at the top of the timesheets for the majority of the day. McLaren today where testing a new spec front wing, this would be tested for the whole of the Wednesday session and continued into Thursday with Lewis Hamilton. Alongside the new front wing McLaren continued to run mileage checks on new mechanical parts.

The 2nd quickest time was ran in from man of the moment Jarno Trulli, had a great days testing today, looked quick and clinical as he has done as of late. He completed 95 laps in the TF108.

Nico Rosberg in his FW30 covered 74 laps to record the 3rd quickest time just 4 tenths of a second off front runner Kovalainen. Today Williams where running general set ups for race weekend and completed their full specified program uninterrupted.

Continued development work for the BMW and the Ferrari went on but they just didn’t seem on the pace at all today, they where both up to nearly a second slower than Heikki Kovalainen in the MP4-23.

Negative proceedings in the Red Bull for Mark Webber whose session was over after just 39 laps due to an unidentified electrical problem in the RB4. This means that the full engine needed to be replaced. This in turn meant that no race setup was completed on Wednesday and this was handed over to DC for Thursday’s session.

Finally another negative spin to close on Wednesday’s on-goings, The Force India of Fisichella was running some routine checks on the new aerodynamics package. The session was abruptly ended Giancarlo lost control of the VJM01 round Becketts and slammed it into the barriers, the Italian was unhurt but the car was extensively damaged.

Selected Quotes

Jarno Trulli (Toyota Driver) – “Today's main focus was preparation for the British Grand Prix and it was a good day, we managed to do a lot of laps and we learned several useful things. It all went smoothly and we ran without any real issues. There was a lot of gusting wind out there today, which can make direct comparisons difficult. Still, we made some progress with our set-up and aerodynamics programme. We are obviously looking to build on our result at last Sunday's French Grand Prix.”

Nelson Piquet Jnr (Renault Driver) – “The track conditions were better than yesterday, although it was quite windy and that made it difficult to be consistent, But this is not unusual for Silverstone and it was good experience to run in these conditions as we can expect similar weather for the race. Our programme was based around improving the set-up of the car and general race preparation, which went well. I'm now looking forward to the race here next week.”

Felipe Massa (Ferrari Driver) – “The last two days have been quite positive, we pretty much did all of what we had set out to do and the first signs are encouraging. We are working in the right direction and I think we will also be competitive at this track, even if it is much too early to say where we are compared to the others. There are too many unknowns to take into consideration when it comes to testing times.”

Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India Driver) – “It's a real shame we couldn't do more running in the afternoon as this morning it was all looking quite good, The car felt quicker even though the balance was not so good because of the high winds. Unfortunately I just got caught out by a change in grip and balance going through Becketts and went off the track and hit the barriers. I wasn't hurt at all, but I did not take my hands off the wheel and they had to do some checks to make sure my wrist was okay.”

Day 3 – Thursday 26th June 2008 (The one where I was there)

  • 1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) - 1:19.170
  • 2. Timo Glock (Toyota) - 1:19.815
  • 3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 1:20.321
  • 4. Fernando Alonso (Renault) - 1:20.862
  • 5. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) - 1:21.011
  • 6. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams) - 1:21.059
  • 7. Adrian Sutil (Force India) - 1:21.331
  • 8. Rubens Barrichello (Honda) - 1:21.344
  • 9. Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso) - 1:21.432
  • 10. David Coulthard (Red Bull) - 1:22.232

Did I pick the best day to be there or what? I get Lewis, current champ Kimi, ex champ Fernando, F1 legend to be Rubens and of course DC, for this to be my first F1 experience, I was jumping round like a child. I called Alex Levy (Fellow Bleacher) about 2 hours after being there just so I could rub it in a bit, you know, make him slightly jealous. At the time Alex was in a restaurant and his fellow restaurant goers must have thought that he was clearly nuts the approving noises he was making as Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello flew past me at 200mph. Alex was slightly jealous to say the least. Sorry mate. Maybe next year Alex?

10000 people were there for the testing session on Thursday, surely that has to be some kind of record? It just goes to show we love our F1.

McLarens British Grand Prix hopes are given a massive boost on Thursday after what was a dominant performance from Lewis Hamilton. Combined with previous day’s times it now seems that what is usually considered a Ferrari track may just be contested by McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton out in his MP4-23 for 88 laps in the session managed to clock the fastest time of the whole 3 days testing session. He was given the orders to complete the final section of the front wing aero test and then the rest of the session was used to concentrate on car set up for race weekend. No one could get close to the time that he set early on in the session so it must have been a frustrating day for Ferrari to see McLaren running so smoothly on a track that should see the F2008 topping the time sheets over all 3 days.

Time Glock was up in 2nd after completing only 79 laps after an earlier collision with David Coulthard which incidentally put DC out for a long period of time and it was only mid way through session 2 that he came out again, combining with the earlier section to complete only 30 laps.

World Champion Kimi Raikkonen was up next running over a second slower than Hamilton which won’t be good for his confidence going into a GP that he really just win. He can take confidence from a win at Silverstone last year but on the back of a McLaren that looks good on this track it’s not cut and dry just yet. Kimi focused purely on race set up for race weekend getting the car running at its optimum level at specific points on the track.

Next up Fernando Alonso who to my reckoning caused the session to be red flagged on 2 maybe 3 occasions during the day. They seemed like minor errors on vital apex which just caused him to run off into the deep gravel that Silverstone homes. Still he managed to clock up the 4th fastest time on the day.

Adrian Sutil in 7th on the day had an eventful day where he was off right track spectacularly right in front of me at Abbey corner, that red flagged the session and it was a while until we saw Adrian back out on track but he did come out a bit later on to put some laps together to take his total to 71 laps on the day. The Force India was also sporting a new engine cover in the style of Renault and Toro Rosso with the extended line along the top. Also new on the car was a new device which I have never seen before on the front wheels of the car. So a big testing session was had by Force India, keen to make leaps and bounds in the world of F1, you have to applaud them.

Other problems on the day came from Bourdais who had an oil problem coupled with an exhaust problem early on. DC also had problems early doors after a slight collision with Glock as we mentioned earlier. It was a largely uneventful day on the whole bar a few session stoppages for no more than 5 / 10 minutes at a time. All in all a great day for me on my first Formula 1 live experience, I hope it’s the first of many.

Selected Quotes

Timo Glock (Toyota Driver) – “We had a problem this morning when I had a collision with David Coulthard, It was a misunderstanding - when I turned in at the end of the Hangar Straight David was there. I just didn't see him so I apologise for that. The mechanics did a really good job to get the car back into shape and they worked hard all day because we had a lot to do. We've made a good step in the last couple of weeks and the last two results have given the team a boost. Now we have to keep up the form at Silverstone next week.”

Christian Silk (Renault Chief Test Engineer) – “We lost some track time in the morning, but the afternoon went well and so we were able to complete most of what we needed to, Again we concentrated on preparation for the Grand Prix to get the car well balanced and to Fernando's liking, and he was happy with the changes we made to the car. So it has been a good test, we've made a lot of progress and that puts us in a good position for the race next week.”

Adrian Sutil (Force India Driver) – “I think it was a useful day, we did some good running and could do a lot of testing with the inerter damper, which was the main target of the day. It will take a little while to feel completely happy with it, but I definitely think there is potential there, we just need to understand how to get the most out of it as all day we had some problems with under steer that we just couldn't seem to get rid of. Aero-wise, I think we did a good step, the engine cover seems to work well and also the front wing. We've got more down force now, so we need to put it all together, both mechanically and aerodynamically, and I think we will have a step forward for Silverstone next week.”

Rubens Barrichello (Honda Driver) – “We had a positive day at Silverstone today, the car performed well and I could feel an improvement from the new aerodynamic parts that we were evaluating, even with the strong winds. We concentrated on achieving a good balance for the combination of high speed and low speed corners that you have here.”

David Coulthard (Red Bull Driver) – “Unfortunately I did not get much running and as the high-speed nature of Silverstone means it helps to get your eye in, I will be slightly on the back foot going into practice for the British Grand Prix, But I think that, as a team, we are strong enough to deal with that, so I hope to have a good home race.”

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes Driver) - "Driving into Silverstone this morning felt really cool, I couldn’t believe how many fans were at the track so early in the morning. They’re pretty special, the most dedicated F1 supporters in the world. At lunchtime, there were so many people waiting outside my garage, it was insane. Whilst I couldn’t say hi to all of them, their support always gives me a special lift at this place."

So there you have it, the testing session at Silverstone in anticipation to next week’s race weekend. There have been a lot of developments to numerous cars and again it’s all set for another big race that could see the lead in the drivers’ championship change hands again maybe? The Ferraris may have something up their sleeve but as it stands the McLarens look like they won’t be taking it lying down. They have looked extremely strong over the last 3 days and we could even be in for the illusive McLaren 1-2 that I have predicted as an outside bet in my preview article. Hope you enjoyed my read as much as I enjoyed my day at Silverstone yesterday.

Comments please people.

Ben, Over and Out!

Oh and just a quick one, not many of you may know that I am also a amateur photographer and took my camera yesterday and I ended up taking approximately 200 photos, some of which I will be adding to my personal site early next week.

Yes I have a website and you can check out my work here – – The photo used in the article was taken by me at Luffield, turn 16. I will be adding a special F1 section on my site for you to check out. Hope you enjoy, you can leave comments in the guestbook on the page or right here on Bleacher. Thanks guys.


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