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That’s All Folks

March 3, 2013

Well folks, that really is it. Next stop Melbourne.
After possibly the least representative set of pre-season tests we’ve had for a long time, it’s very hard to draw too many conclusions before we get to the first race.

Jerez, which seems like an age ago now, gave us little due to the poor condition of the track. At that point, the teams were carrying out the basic system checks, learning their new procedures and bedding in personnel, equipment and even drivers in some cases.
Barcelona ‘one’ gave us little due to some incredibly cold conditions and inclement weather, with the teams struggling to get tyres anywhere near their intended and required operating temperatures.
This week, we started off in much the same way, cold and wet, but the last two days have been interesting as the sun came out and so did the cars’ latest developments.
Although the track surface is considerably different here at Barcelona to the one we’ll race on in two weeks time, temperatures over these two days reached the closest levels to those likely to be seen in Melbourne. Even more interestingly at the same time we’ve seen the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton yesterday and Nico Rosberg today, suddenly find pace that’s been nowhere to be seen before now. As you’ll have heard many many times over the course of this pre-season, laptimes have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but never the less, the car’s certainly taken a considerable step when they’ve managed to get heat into the tyres.
Red Bull too, look strong as ever, earlier in the week there was a definite feeling around the paddock that there was an air of concern about their underlying pace from other teams.
McLaren are undoubtedly struggling a little more than they’d hoped, inconsistency over longer runs one of their biggest issues, combined with too much downtime inside the garage making, what should be, routine, quick changes to the car. They have strung some decent laps together, but I’m not entirely sure they understand what made them quick and that worries them.
Lotus looks to be quick, but unlike last year, they’re managing, at the moment, to heat up tyres quickly, but suffering over longer runs, pointing to decent qualifying form, but poorer race pace potentially. Reliability’s still clearly an issue for them, after managing only 50 laps today with Kimi at the wheel for the only time this week.
Ferrari could be one to watch out for too. New parts around the rear end, exhaust and diffuser areas, were being closely guarded, but despite Filipe’s upright failure yesterday, Fernando gave it a good run out today and it doesn’t look too bad at all.

All of these conclusions are based on the cars as they are right now, here and in these conditions and I have a strong feeling that we could still see a decent mix up come Sunday evening in a fortnight. It’s most important to remember how crucial tyre temperature is to Formula One today and just how much difference twenty degrees can make to the characteristics of the car. I really believe that issues some teams are struggling with today could’ve disappeared down under and, conversely, those happy right now may come up against new and unseen dramas at the same time.

One thing’s for sure, all of the top cars look very closely matched, as expected, and 2013, at least in the beginning could and should be very interesting indeed.
Let’s hope so.

Marc Priestley
Twitter: @f1elvis

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From → Formula One

One Comment
  1. Great summary of these preseason tests and about what is to come. Some great reports from you via Twitter and Sky F1, much appreciated. I hope that we will have the possibility to see you as a permanent part of the Sky F1 team.

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