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


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)

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”

Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”

Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).