Last week I had the great pleasure to fly out to Jerez de la Frontera to enjoy 3 (couldn’t fly out for the first day) days at the Circuito de Jerez for F1 testing. I (along with my girlfriend and another friend of ours) arrived at the airport at about 11am on Friday morning, and jumped straight in a cab to the circuit. Getting out of the taxi to be greeted by the screams of V8 engines was very exciting, and buying our €10 tickets for General Admission was quick and easy.
The first day was spent by the Senna chicane, as the rest of the circuit had not been opened up to the fans. It was a good place to get pictures from (as you can see below), but it’s not a place where you can really see an F1 car open up (as I had before at my only other live F1 experience, 3 days at Copse for the 2009 British GP). The Red Bull and McLaren cars looked very assured in this section, with the Ferrari looking quick but more twitchy in Massa’s hands. Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes piled on the mileage after some problems with the German team’s new car before, and ended the day fastest on a 1.20.352.
Times from Friday’s running:
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps 1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m20.352s 112 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m20.413s + 0.061s 116 3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.009s + 0.657s 69 4. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m21.214s + 0.862s 72 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m21.613s + 1.261s 113 6. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m21.780s + 1.428s 73 7. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.857s + 1.505s 56 8. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m22.208s + 1.856s 57 9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.493s + 2.141s 65 10. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m22.591s + 2.239s 38 11. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m23.216s + 2.864s 40 All timing unofficial
We set off for the circuit somewhat casually on Saturday morning, expecting a few more fans to turn out for Fernando Alonso’s appearances over the next two days. We severely underestimated the level of Alonso-mania in Spain. The roads leading into the circuit were jam packed, and we were only spared a long wait in the traffic by our adventurous and savvy taxi driver, who convinced the Guarda Civil to let him off an exit that was previously blocked to all traffic! After getting into the circuit we found that the stands were filling quickly, and the circuit security were quickly opening up the other sections of the circuit to allow all the travelling fans in. This was perfect for us: more access and a great atmosphere. Alonso’s fans stood and cheered at his every passing, as if it was as important as a real Grand Prix. Quiet inspiring stuff, and us plucky Brits did not shirk from our own patriotic duties, cheering on Lewis Hamilton at every time he passed by too.
Times from Saturday’s running:
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps 1. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m20.361s 86 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m20.493s + 0.132s 131 3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m21.054s + 0.693s 114 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.099s + 0.738s 36 5. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m21.242s + 0.881s 84 6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m21.574s + 1.213s 98 7. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m21.681s + 1.320s 92 8. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m21.711s + 1.350s 61 9. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m22.227s + 1.866s 99 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.945s + 2.584s 64 11. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m25.471s + 5.110s 72 All timing unofficial
Sunday’s attendance was slightly reduced from the manic Saturday, but still a hefty crowd turned out for a dewy Sunday morning of F1 running. It was during this day that we took a full trek around the circuit, to get some good photos and videos of the cars, circuit and ambience.
For on-track action, we spent most of Sunday based at the Dry Sac hairpin, a great place to watch drivers taking their individual lines and braking points. I have to say that Sebastien Buemi won the weekends ‘Latest of the Late Brakers’ award for some of his efforts, handled very well and hitting the apex bang on. Despite his lack of a quick time, Force India’s Paul Di Resta looked very assured through this section of the circuit, and nailed the apex of Dry Sac every time. Something Alonso couldn’t say.
Times from Sunday’s running:
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps 1. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m19.832s 103 2. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m20.601s + 0.769s 86 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.074s + 1.242s 115 4. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m21.213s + 1.381s 90 5. Bruno Senna Renault 1m21.400s + 1.568s 68 6. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m21.632s + 1.800s 43 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.103s + 2.271s 45 8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.222s + 2.390s 90 9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.278s + 2.446s 70 10. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m22.985s + 3.153s 45 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m23.111s + 3.279s 99 All timing unofficial
Evening’s were spent enjoying Spanish wine, food and balmy weather, and was much appreciated after long days sat in the sun at the circuit. We flew back to the UK on Monday afternoon, and finally got back home tired but happy after a really good weekend.