The last month and a half in F1 has been filled with media outlets and fans pulling their hair out trying to decifer who might be the pacesetters come the first race in Australia. I like to keep an eye on testing because I like to see the new cars and what new parts get fitted over the course of the pre-season. What I don’t like however is pouring into minute details over potential fuel loads, test programs and guessing what certain teams are doing with upgrades etc. I don’t like doing this because I don’t feel like I have an authoritative say on the matter. My view is that with all the different test programs and checks a team can do in a day, there is too far a range of variables to make a decision on who is ahead of who.
At the Jerez test which I attended there were cars that looked very good through certain sections, but that wasn’t replicated in the times they did, be it ‘headline’ or during a longer stint. The McLaren, for seemingly all it’s issues and problems, looked quite comfortable in the faster sections of the circuit, as did the Red Bull and Ferrari. The Toro Rosso was incredibly stable on the brakes into Dry Sac, consistently hitting the apex no matter what length of stint they were on. The Renault was incredibly twitchy in the chicane, along with the Lotus.
These are the things the media and anoraks should be looking for, a visual impression of the car round a corner. Looking at how the car handles a corner, regardless of fuel load, to my view gives a good idea of how that car handles full stop. If the car is light and looks good round a corner, it would be safe to assume that it is quite quick, especially if some other cars attempt the corner at the same speed and attack, but look less stable. If a car happens to be quite heavy, and takes the same corner slightly slower, but still quite aggressively, then again it would safe to assume that this car is also good when it is fuelled up.
Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault looked good in Jerez. Force India and Virgin didn’t. That’s all I know from that point in time, because that’s the only constant I can rely on… my own impressions.