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Testing times in Tuscany - Mugello preview 30 Apr 2012

Ferrari trucks in the paddock. First run of the new Ferrari F60, Mugello Circuit, Italy, 12 January 2009. Circuit map of Mugello, Italy Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 13 April 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 22 April 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 23 March 2012 Mercedes AMG F1 W03 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 24 March 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 23 March 2012 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Force India F1 team Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 13 April 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, 22 April 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 23 March 2012 Rodolfo Gonzalez (VEN) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One Testing, Day Two, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 23 March 2012

Many of the Formula One teams have significant car upgrades planned for the next round of the season in Spain and this week’s Mugello test - the first proper in-season test since 2008 - will be their first chance to try them out. The Italian circuit, owned by Ferrari, is likely to be pretty green when the session commences on Tuesday and establishing baseline data will be among the first tasks. After that, however, it will be three days of hard work, trying out new parts, new set-ups and, in some cases, some fairly new drivers. We take a team-by-team look at the pre-test form book…

Red Bull Racing
Championship standing: 1st, 101 points

The reigning world champions may have started the season in uncharacteristically low-key fashion (at least by their high standards), but that hasn’t stopped them coming away from the opening flyaway rounds leading both the drivers’ and constructors’ standings. It’s taken an awful lot of hard work and an awful lot of set-up experimentation - notably with exhaust exit solutions - to endow the RB8 with the combination of qualifying speed and race pace needed to win a Grand Prix in 2012, but with that mission now accomplished, the team must feel they have a solid foundation for their title defence as they commence work at Mugello.
Driving at Mugello: Webber (Tue, Wed am), Vettel (Wed pm, Thur)

Championship standing: 2nd, 92 points

McLaren were not the biggest fans of reinstating in-season testing, but after the way their 2012 campaign stalled at the last round in Bahrain, they may well be grateful for the extra track time - and pit-stop practice! Neither Hamilton nor Button will drive at Mugello, but one shouldn’t read too much into their absence. Testers Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey are more than capable of conducting whatever development programme the Woking team have planned.
Driving at Mugello: Paffett, Turvey

Championship standing: 3rd, 57 points

Since the start of the season, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier insisted that given a ‘normal’ race weekend - i.e. ‘normal’ weather, ‘normal’ track conditions, ‘normal’ levels of luck - they would be podium contenders, and so it proved in Bahrain. The E20 has shown that it’s a fast and flexible machine, and there is no reason to believe Lotus cannot use the Mugello test to help build on that performance.
Driving at Mugello: D’Ambrosio (Tue), Grosjean (Wed, Thur)

Championship standing: 4th, 45 points

All eyes will be on the Scuderia at Mugello, and not just because they own the circuit. After the radical F2012’s largely disappointing results, major upgrades are planned ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix and fans and journalists attending the test will be hungry for signs of their potential success - or otherwise. So fundamental are the car’s supposed flaws, many believe Ferrari’s chances of mounting a serious title challenge in 2012 could rest on what they achieve over these three days.
Driving at Mugello: Alonso (Tue & Thur), Massa (Wed)

Championship standing: 5th, 37 points

Mercedes’ F1 W03 can win races. Nico Rosberg has proved that. What remains unclear - probably even to the team - is whether it can become a car capable of winning on a variety of circuits in a variety of conditions. There is also still a question mark over its tyre degradation, but with Ross Brawn’s men in buoyant mood and upgrades ready to be evaluated, this test should ensure Mercedes are back at the very sharp end with the paddock arrives in Barcelona.
Driving at Mugello: Rosberg (Tue am, Thur), Schumacher (Tue pm, Wed)

Championship standing: 6th, 31 points

After taking some of the frontrunners by surprise in the first two rounds, as highlighted by Sergio Perez’s spectacular second place in Malaysia, Sauber’s race showings have been less impressive in the last two Grands Prix. Keeping pace in the in-season development race is always tough for teams on more modest budgets, as Peter Sauber’s squad know only too well, and they must extract maximum value from their three days in Tuscany if they are stay in the game come the European rounds.
Driving at Mugello: Kobayashi, Perez

Championship standing: 7th, 18 points

After the disaster that was last season, Williams have risen in near-phoenix like fashion. Four rounds into 2012 and they have scored almost four times their 2011 total, despite two double DNFs. The aim now is to maintain that upward trajectory and the team will be testing a number of short- to medium-term performance upgrades, as well as longer term development items, with third driver Valtteri Bottas sharing driving duties with Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna.
Driving at Mugello: Bottas (Tue), Senna (Wed), Maldonado (Thur)

Force India
Championship standing: 8th, 17 points

Some were predicting great things of the Silverstone squad following pre-season testing, but with the midfield battle proving even tighter than expected, things haven’t quite panned out that way. Paul di Resta has scored all but two of the teams 17 points, but has had to work very hard for them. The VJM05 clearly has potential and Mugello should help the team unlock it.
Driving at Mugello: Bianchi (Tue), Di Resta (Wed), Hulkenberg (Thu)

Toro Rosso
Championship standing: 9th, 6 points

The Italian squad finished 2011 on a high, but have struggled to carry that momentum into 2012, at least in terms of point-scoring finishes. On its day the STR7 is clearly a quick car - Daniel Ricciardo qualified sixth in Bahrain and team mate Jean-Eric Vergne clocked the fourth-fastest race lap - but overall performance has not met boss Franz Tost’s expectations. On the plus side, both new drivers have been doing a sterling job despite their relative lack of F1 experience, and getting more miles under their belts at Mugello can only help them and the team.
Driving at Mugello: Ricciardo, Vergne

Championship standing: 10th, 0 points

Against expectations, Marussia have come away from the opening four flyaway rounds ahead of Caterham in the standings, helped by two-car finishes in three of those races and steady progress in terms of performance. Timo Glock experienced some handling problems in Bahrain that the team want to get to the bottom of at Mugello, but in the MR01 the Russian-owned team appear to have a solid basis on which to build the rest of their 2012 campaign.
Driving at Mugello: Pic (Tue, Wed am), Glock (Wed pm, Thur)

Championship standing: 11th, 0 points

Tony Fernandes’ team haven’t yet made good on their threat to regularly trouble the midfield runners, but their lowly place in the table does mask some real progress. A mixture of misfortune and reliability issues has led to a lack of finishes, but a glance at the fastest lap charts from the opening rounds shows the CT01’s race pace to be consistently and clearly superior to that of its traditional Marussia and HRT rivals. If the Mugello test can iron out its weaknesses and build on its strengths, that elusive first point may not be far away.
Driving at Mugello: Gonzalez (Tue), Petrov (Wed), Kovalainen (Thur)

Championship standing: 12th, 0 points

Having missed all three pre-season tests, HRT will not be attending this one either. They have updates in the pipeline for the reliable, but less than speedy F112, but these will only be ready for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, hence the team are instead concentrating their efforts on relocating to their new base in Madrid.
Driving at Mugello: N/A

Note - driver line-ups provisional and subject to change.

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