Valencia 2012 Free Practice 1


Time of Session:

ToS (h:m:s)**

01:27:55 Bianchi warned of the “strong” tailwind on the back straight

01:26:40 Rosberg to do aero testing on the back straight after T11 in cruise mode “3” in 5th gear

01:25:40 Kimi reminded to “put some rubber down” as he drives out of the pitbox to increase surface grip for pit stop traction on Sunday

01:25:08 Schumacher to set aero mode to “0”, and do a clutch bite-point check in “RS” race start settings

01:23:25 Schumacher to do aero test on back straight in cruise mode “2” in 5thgear, to begin as soon as he crosses the DRS activation line towards T11. After travelling in a straight line for 3 seconds or more, he will cancel cruise mode into T12. Reminded that Alonso is currently 5 seconds behind. Then back into cruise mode “2” and 5th gear out of T16 for more straightline aero testing towards T17.

01:21:10 Massa goes out on his first outing of the day and is reminded, “No DRS, no DRS”. Then proceeds to do a radio check, constant transmission, talking while he drives from pit exit through T5 to identify which corners may have the worst radio reception. Smedley, “Loud and clear, loud and clear” and reminds Massa to do “maximum speed” on the back straight for aero testing

01:15:54 Vergne informed the engineers would like 4 burnouts for an optimal rolling bite-point check at the end of pit lane, but they don’t think “there is enough room” to do so. Thus, Vergne told to instead do 2 burnouts

01:13:20 Vergne to do 6 timed laps, the last two laps without DRS

01:08:01 For Ricciardo’s next outing, will use KERS release “3”, torque map “4”, clutch map “9”, engine mode “10” to practice a grid launch at the end of pit lane with a rolling clutch bite-point check, but first performing 3 burnouts to warm the tires in engine mode “3”, and finally reminded to ensure the pit limiter is off. Then will do 5 timed laps, and a 6th if he needs it. Reminded to do the last 2 laps without DRS and also that torque map “2” is available in case he finds rear brake locking issues. His main priority of the outing is to find the optimal brake balance percentage

01:06:14 Vergne to change KERS recovery setting to “4”

01:03:23 Heikki to proceed with his “baseline run” plan on next outing. KERS set to “1” for the outlap and 1st timed lap, then change to KERS “9”, because the batteries are currently “empty and drained”, then on the 2nd timed lap, will only be able to use 30% KERS discharge at the exit of the last corner. For the rest of his laps, will be able to use KERS “like normal”. Also, no DRS for the first 2 laps as well, engineer will let him know when he can use everything “like normal”. Will use fuel mixture “10” for whole outing. At the end of a 6 flying lap outing, will perform another “cruise control” aero test on the back straight

1:01:51 Heikki told to remain on current “rearward position” of brake balance when KERS harvesting is on, but if front tire temps and pressures have “come in” then told to change to the “middle” position of the brake balance adjuster

00:59:53 “For your info, Narain, the wind is quite strong from 10 to 12, OK, you have tailwind at the back”

00:59:06 Kimi reminded to perform an “aero cruise” on the exit of T11

00:58:21 Rosberg reminded not to use DRS on his first timed lap, but to start using it after the tires are warmed up and “if the grip is good”. Rosberg reponds will not use DRS yet because tires are still improving

00:57:17 Massa informed to continue to perform 4th gear engine ramp-ups, then to change the steering wheel multifunction switch to “D” and use 6th gear for a “constant speed” aero test

00:54:24 Schumacher reports vibration in front brakes, then continues to do a radio check around the track talking during his entire lap to identify corners that may have poor radio reception.

00:51:55 Vergne debrief of his outing, reports tires “come in quite quickly” and happy with the tire pressures. On the last 2 laps of the outing, without DRS, started to lose “quite a lot” of rear grip “especially under braking and the middle of the low speed corners”, but high speed corners were “fine”. If he tried to go quicker, he feels then he would’ve had “a little bit too much understeer on initial turn in of the high speed” corner entry. Sums up his main problem as understeer in the low speed corners. Engineer then repeats a summary of Vergne’s comments to ensure he understands all the issues.

00:49:15 Bottas back in the garage, his current set of tires will not be changed, but wrapped in the warmers. Fuel load refilled to what it was for the previous outing. Exhaust and bodywork will be changed together known as “setup option 1”. Will change sidepod cooling to “7.1” on both sides. Finally told to standby for “any mechanical setup changes”

00:48:10 Grosjean reminded not to use “KERS release” to maintain 6th gear out of T11 for straightline constant speed aero testing.

00:46:17 De La Rosa reports his “DRS is stuck open” and will immediately pit to repair

00:45:46 Schumacher told he can do one more lap and taking advantage of a good 10 second gap behind him to Heikki

00:45:03 Petrov told to change to KERS position “3”, to only discharge 50% of the energy, and not to use DRS

00:44:00 Jenson reports KERS is “not working properly” without any “benefit” under discharge. Engineer confirms they can see the problem in the data.

00:42:18 Heikki informed the front tire pressures increased “quite OK”, but the rears were “a bit slow” to increase. Engineer will then make a rear tire pressure change to increase on-track target tire pressure. Heikki says the track surface is “a little bit green” thus not having specific issues, but many rather little issues “all around the track”

00:39:14 On Heikki’s next outing, he will repeat the same procedure as before, starting in KERS “1”. Told to go back “one step” rearward on brake balance, but if he’s already in the most forward position on the adjuster, then he should move it to the “middle” position. When he is to “switch KERS on again” after the 2nd flying lap, he can use a total of 70% KERS discharge, with 50% used on the back straight and 20% used after the exit of T25.

00:37:43 Jenson reports an “unbelievable amount” of front brake locking and he’s “unable to control it” with no avail moving brake bias rearward. Doesn’t know if it’s a “heat issue or something else”

00:36:42 Heikki asks engineers to analyze data of locking on entry into T10 to see if KERS harvesting is having an effect on dynamic brake bias, or if it’s “just a tail wind or whatever it is” because he really feels it is “quite easy to lock rear tires” into T10. Reiterates to analyze the data in the “middle to last part of braking” to ensure there isn’t anything “funny going on”. Engineer simply responds, “Yeah, we’ll have a look”

00:35:49 Petrov informed to set steering wheel multifunction switch to “6” and use 7th gear

00:33:09 Petrov has a rear wing change for the next outing. Told to go back to KERS position “1” and move the quick-shift brake balance adjuster “to the rear”. Petrov reports “easy” to lock front and rear brakes, front is “very lazy” with “quite a lot” of understeer on entry and under transitional direction changes, making the car “quite problem to drive”, but the car “is not too bad” over the kerbs and is able to use them over the apex. His main problem is the braking as it is “very unbalanced” with both front and rear locking combined with brake vibrations. “OK, copy that, Vitaly”

00:30:14 Kimi reminded to use “aero cruise” in position “2” and 6th gear on the exit of T11 for constant speed aero testing

00:29:23 Vergne told to pit, “mind” his tires, and release 50% KERS energy on the inlap

00:27:56 On a pit stop positioning box stop practice, Vergne needs to turn in to the box closer to the right-hand side, but he’s “scared to hit” the lollypop man, so Vergne recommends to place a cone at the position he needs to stop at so that he’s not worried to hit the cone.

00:24:49 Pic asked to an aero test in 4th gear after T16 and pit at the end of the lap

00:23:02 Ricciardo reports rear stability was “slightly better” at the beginning of his last outing, but not enough to correct the balance of the car. Also reports “a little bit” of plank bottoming at the front, so he feels they are “getting closer to the limit” of minimum ride height, “which is good”. Reiterates that the rear tires are the first to “go off” in an outing and is “quite hard to manage once they start to go”. Tried to correct rear tire issue with torque map setting “1” but did not work, but “felt little bit better” on return to throttle from low speed corners. Also says a tire vibration “is getting quite bad” from a large front right brake lockup. Admits, “took some time to understand the braking” in medium speed corners and the “best way” to approach them. Sometimes, he finds himself “stopping the car really well”, but then towards the end of the braking phase, finds himself locking the fronts. “Generally happy” with torque map “1”, but thinks it still has room to be modified for improvement.

00:20:33 To Alonso, “OK, we go with the brake balance in the mid position, brake balance in the mid position”

00:19:45 Alonso asks, “so maybe we do another lap with DRS, then we do the two with no DRS?” Engineer responds, “that is fine for me, fine for me” and asks to set KERS at 50%

00:19:05 Heikki asking to “box this lap” because the rear tires have gone off and he “can’t hang on to it”. “OK, Heikki, we still need to do one more lap for the cruise control, so finish this lap, and then cruise control the next one”

00:17:10 Alonso told if he is clear in traffic, to do his last 2 laps with no DRS

00:16:26 Jenson reports traffic in sector 2. Engineer confirms and informs him of a “large gap” behind him and says they can do more laps, unless he is “more comfortable with the car”, then they can pit to “change fuel load.” Jenson replies he only wants to pit to change fuel load if “we think it’s worthwhile” to do “some laps” but if there’s only enough time for 1 or 2 laps, then he feels it’s not worth it to change fuel load

00:15:21 Pic informed front caliper covers have been removed just to “see if they can help the temperatures slighty.” Will do 7 timed laps, with a practice start at the end of pitlane in torque map “5”, clutch map “6”, with no DRS usage on the outlap or the first timed lap like on his previous outing. Also reminded that they need to complete a lap with fuel mixture setting “1” with DRS, for an “engine comparison” and a “throttle ramp” test on his inlap in fuel mixture “1” with as low of engine revs as possible down below 10,000 rpm, achieved by short shifting into 6th gear, followed by full throttle. Pic asks, “so the last revs were high, no?” Engineer confirms and repeats previous instructuctions. Pic simply, “OK”

00:13:30 “If possible” Vergne will do a front wing flap adjustment and tire change at the end of the session

00:13:59 Perez reports a lack of rear grip and “traction.” “Copy Checo, you can do the cruise and box, box, but watch traffic behind”

00:05:08 Vitaly told KERS needs to be recharged, so to set KERS to position “3” on the outlap and not to discharge it at any time while on the outlap.

00:00:00 “OK, Heikki, any feedback from the changes?” Rear tires were already “struggling on the car”, so Heikki is unable to identify a difference from the setup changes, but the car “is just oversteering. He was also caught in traffic with Vettel in front of him and with yellow flags, he would have to slow down, thus losing target tire pressures and temps as the tires cooled

00:00:00 Ricciardo asked about the comparison between torque map “1” versus map “5”. Says map “1” was a “disaster” at the start of the outing with a “lot more” oversteer with lower brake application pressure, so was locking the fronts and “overshooting” the corner “more or less all the time”. In comparison, map 5 was “better” with more “consistency and a bit more feeling throughout the braking” phase of entry, but still tends to lock rear brakes “a little bit” at the end of the braking phase. Also reports “some really big flat spots” on the front tires, and feels “the tires were pretty fucked at the end”. Summarizes that torque map “1” was “definitely not as good” because it “lacked a lot of feeling particularly as the tires get worse”. When he was evaluating map “5”, says he had the “speed”, but not the “KERS energy” as he was just guessing at “how much KERS to use”

** Time of session is the session time at which the message was heard on the television broadcast, as radio communications are delayed from when they actually occur.


Many teams have brought significant aero package updates this weekend. As in Canada, where Ferrari and Caterham were using the long relatively smooth back straight for aero testing, the teams with new aero updates are doing the same here in Valencia. This circuit affords the teams two separate straights in which to perform tests, between Turns 11 & 12, and between Turns 16 and 17.

Many instructions heard throughout radio communications to drivers involve common terms such as “cruise”, specific drive gears, and constant speeds. There are many metrics to straightline aero testing, but one of the major ones is known as Aero Balance or Center of Pressure (CoP). Aero Balance is the ratio of aero dynamic force applied to the front compared to the rear. It is a primary contributor to corner entry stability and is a primary factor of consideration when a driver is asked, “how is the balance of the car?”

The load cell sensors fitted to each pushrod/pullrod measure the forces acting between the chassis and the wheels. These sensors are the key factor in measuring the aerodynamic loads applied to the chassis. In basic terms, as the car speeds up, aero load will increase in a downwards direction. The chassis then applies that downwards force against the load cells in the pushrod/pullrods. Again in basic terms, if you add up the increase in force from all four load cells as the car increased in speed, you will know the total aero load from that speed you just reached. Then you can change your aerodynamic parts, or move them around on the car to see if it adds or decreases total aero load at that same speed. Since all four corners of the car are instrumented, a little math can also tell you what percentage of your total aero load is acting on the front axle versus the rear axle. Again, please remember that this is an extremely basic generic explanation of the idea.

To maintain comparable results between test runs, the teams use a “cruise” mode setting to maintain a specific and constant engine RPM for 2 main reasons. First, so that dynamic engine oscillations don’t upset the pitch platform and balance of the chassis and second, regulate a constant vehicle speed when the driver stays in whatever specific gear he was told to stay in. Constant vehicle speed is constant air speed as well in ideal conditions.

As you analyze the straight line data between different laps and changes of parts, you want the data to represent the car in the same track position and same speed to eliminate as many variables as possible to leave your test parts as the only variables.

As in Canada, Ferrari were once again performing A-B-A series of test iterations of outings with 2 laps of DRS, 2 laps of no DRS, then 2 laps of DRS. Please review previous Canada session posts discussing that in a bit more detail.