F1: Jerez 2015 test cumulative times, lap count totals, and analysis

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Year-on-year at Jerez, the Formula 1 teams have made key strides in both lap counts and performance in the second year of the new power unit life.

That’s the early takeaway from the first official preseason test ahead of the 2015 Formula 1 season, even if lap times are not a determining factor.

Last year’s Jerez test was primarily a “get the new cars running” type of atmosphere, and only six of 22 drivers completed more than 100 laps over their days of running.

This year, 11 of 16 banked 100-plus – and the five who didn’t were either close (both Red Bull drivers were in the 80s) or severely hampered by track time (Romain Grosjean and Lotus did not arrive until Sunday and the car didn’t run til Monday, and both McLaren drivers had issues throughout the week).

After completing 875 laps between its teams last year, Mercedes upped its total by more than 100 laps to 983 this year – and that was without McLaren and Force India as they had last year, with Force India missing this test and McLaren now with Honda. Mercedes has added Lotus as McLaren’s replacement.

Even more importantly, both Ferrari (with a team reduction absent Marussia) and Renault (with two team reductions absent Lotus and Caterham) made major strides from this test last year. Ferrari went from 444 to 728 laps completed; Renault from 151 up to 516.

This of course leaves Honda, in its first real running beyond the installation runs at Abu Dhabi last November, on the back end and playing catchup in terms of running. With only 79 laps competed between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, the manufacturer spent the week working through issues with McLaren rather than gathering enough data and finding the pace. The Barcelona tests must see improved reliability, otherwise they could be in trouble. But for a first test, issues are excusable – and almost welcomed.

Driver-wise, the Mercedes pair of World Champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were the standouts, lap-wise. Rosberg banked a bonkers amount of 308 laps – compared to 188 last year – while Hamilton added 207 of his own. These two drivers led the field in total laps, with Rosberg doing so at Jerez for the second consecutive year.

In terms of lap times, Kevin Magnussen was the standout this test last year… and this shows you how much things can change in F1 over 12 months, and how little lap times at Jerez really mean.

Ferrari, more than Sauber, is the wild card in terms of pace from here. A year ago, Williams-Mercedes was the interloper among the factory Mercedes and McLaren-Mercedes teams, and their pace developed to become the second fastest car on most weekends throughout the rest of 2014.

Ferrari itself led three of the four days this year, and came second to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr on the Tuesday. But will the pace translate and continue beyond the headline-grabbing first week, where Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were no doubt keen to make an impression to the new managerial structure at the Scuderia? That’s the question.

As Ferrari’s power unit goes, so too does Sauber’s, and a points-scoring turnaround for them would be a welcome tonic after a pointless, fruitless and trying 2014.

Alas, here’s a day-by-day recap (Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday, Sunday) from this week. Meanwhile here is a link to last year’s times and analysis from Jerez.

With Barcelona next up, this is the only preseason test F1 will have as a year-on-year reference point – Bahrain was the testing circuit last year.

Jerez Test – Cumulative Results
1. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:20.841 (198 laps; 92 Tues., 106 Wed.)
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:20.984 (148; 60 Sun., 88 Mon.)
3. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:21.545 (197; 89 Mon., 108 Tues.)
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.982 (308; 157 Sun., 151 Tues.)
5. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:22.019 (185; 73 Sun., 112 Wed.)
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.172 (207; 91 Mon., 116 Wed.)
7. Felipe Massa Williams 1:22.276 (144; 71 Tues., 73 Wed.)
8. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:22.319 (134; 73 Sun., 61 Mon.)
9. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:22.553 (170; 73 Mon., 97 Wed.)
10. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:22.713 (137; 41 Mon., 96 Tues.)
11. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1:23.187 (182; 46 Sun., 136 Tues.)
12. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.338 (83; 35 Sun., 48 Tues.)
13. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.802 (53; 53 Wed.)
14. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:23.975 (81; 18 Mon., 63 Wed.)
15. Jenson Button McLaren 1:27.660 (41; 6 Mon., 35 Wed.)
16. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.553 (38; 6 Sun., 32 Tues.)

Jerez Test – Cumulative Laps by Chassis
1. Mercedes 515 laps (Rosberg 308, Hamilton 207)
2. Sauber 382 laps (Nasr 197, Ericsson 185)
3. Toro Rosso 352 laps (Sainz Jr. 182, Verstappen 170)
4. Ferrari 346 laps (Raikkonen 198, Vettel 148)
5. Williams 278 laps (Massa 144, Bottas 134)
6. Lotus 190 laps (Maldonado 137, Grosjean 53)
7. Red Bull 164 laps (Ricciardo 83, Kvyat 81)
8. McLaren 79 laps (Button 41, Alonso 38)

Jerez Test – Cumulative Laps by Engine
1. Mercedes 983 laps (Mercedes 515, Williams 278, Lotus 190)
2. Ferrari 728 laps (Sauber 382, Ferrari 346)
3. Renault 516 laps (Toro Rosso 352, Red Bull 164)
4. Honda 79 laps (McLaren 79)

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.