Saturday, 25 February 2012

F1 Testing in Barcelona

I predicted in an earlier blog post that the formbook would began to "crystallize" during the testing this week in Barcelona, in the wake of events in Jerez.

Looking purely at the headline time-sheets from Barcelona, it is tempting to suggest that the situation is even more confused than following the earlier session. Even if some of the lap-times seem even more unrepresentative of the true picture, there are also signs that the cream is slowly but surely beginning to rise to the top.

Sebastian Vettel have been consistently quick, in their matter-of-fact, undramatic fashion.  The times recorded during longish runs look distinctly ominous for their rivals. McLaren maintained a lower profile in Barcelona, working methodically, and seemingly reasonably content. Positive noises were emanating from Lewis Hamilton about the performance and potential of the car, and this augurs well, even if Red Bull possess a slight but significant edge at present. After the negativity surrounding them a couple of weeks ago, there are indications that things are looking brighter for Ferrari.

Perhaps the most genuinely interesting development of the week was the first serious appearance of the new Mercedes, and the fact that it was quick straight out of the box.  Michael Schumacher seemed pleased with progress, although drivers tend to make these kinds of utterances pre-season, even when the true state of play has not yet made itself plain.  I would suggest that Michael's voice and opinion carry more weight than some other people!

Although there were reasons for Force India and Sauber being particularly swift at some junctures, both of these teams appear to be moving in the right direction.

Will the top teams show their hand, or more of their hand, at the test in early March?  Possibly, but don't bet on it....

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