Three tests down - one to go!
So we’ve had 3 tests successfully completed and only have 1 more to go before the opening race in Bahrain on the 14th March. But what have we actually learned ahead of the 2010 season and what can we take into the opening few rounds? Well after asking myself that very question many times, I find my answer is - and perhaps rather cynically – nothing.
Now I admit that it has been great to see the teams in action again, but how excited can we get over teams running “race simulations”, “analysing car telemetry” and driving their cars round a circuit not battling each other. Answer - not very, yet all I seem to be reading recently is every clyde with an opinion telling me whoever is fastest is amazing and going to be fighting for the championship!
The Jerez test has, besides being struck with some serious bad weather that has brought a dampners to proceedings (no pun intended… well maybe). It has nonetheless given us our first look at Virgin’s VR-01 and Lotus’s T127. So lets start there.
Firstly Lotus, now I’m sure Richard will give you an ‘unbiased’ review of how the team has done, but I thought I’d beat him to it. After debuting their car the T127 the team turned up to the second test at Jerez. Fauzy drove it on the first day, which I don’t really see the point as it’s a new team and I’m sure its race drivers need more time in the car than a reserve driver who isn’t even racing this season! That said; Kovalainen sticking it in the barriers didn’t help matters either. The team did amass over 310 laps, which is great to see – more than Virgin’s pitiful 180, yet being bottom of the time sheet 3 out of the 4 days isn’t going to make any headlines.
By comparison Virgin has amassed the smallest number of laps completed by any team at Jerez. The team has been plagued by a lack of spare parts and delays in getting them to the car, perhaps typified by their broken front wing incident. Although Lotus also fell foul of this and clearly a lesson learnt by the new teams is build more than 1 of each part. However the VR-01 in the hands of both Di Grassi and Glock has looked consistently faster than their main rivals this season Lotus. Barcelona will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand before the first race. Maybe a psychological edge?
Oh Jon/Rich before you start having a go at me and give me excuses for these problems in the comments section, I am writing this impartially and dispassionately away from our Banter Wars Competition! So keep calm boys :P
What I am glad to see with testing is drivers getting used to their new teams and new surroundings. Only Red Bull have retained the same driver line up from the opening race last year to now. We certainly do have some exciting prospects ahead of ourselves though; with Schumi’s return, Button in a McLaren and Alonso at Ferrari. They’ve all had their moments so far in testing, yet none of them or their teammates have really stood out to me.
That said, with the teams only fielding one car a piece at testing we are yet to see, more importantly, how the drivers will stand up against their teammates. That I’m afraid will only be answered when the first race weekend gets underway.
We’ve also got a better look at the rookies - Petrov, Di Grassi and Hulkenburg. Now what little I can say about them driving round in circles endlessly is that so far they look solid. They haven’t through it at the wall - unlike some more experienced drivers have managed to do and they’ve got used to their new cars by racking up a strong number of laps. Yet there is a big difference between just testing to actually racing and battling with other drivers for position. Will they be a new Hamilton or just another embarrassing Yuji Ide? Time will tell.
At the Top
The only thing we can say with any certainty is that it looks close at the top with no clear run away leader. Ferrari, Renault, McLaren, Sauber & Red Bull have all looked fast, heck if you go by the timings even Rosso have topped the time sheets. Perhaps we will have a better clue as teams and drivers finalise their setup for Bahrain at the final pre-season test in Barcelona.
So to sum it all up, what do we really know? Well… not much is the answer. We have had a few questions answered; we know what the cars and teams will look like for 2010 and who the players are. But we still have so many questions to be answered. Who will be in the battle for the championship? Who will be the best of the new comers – Team and Driver? Who will replace Kimi’s monotone/monosyllabic interviewing technique and will Jenson be able to go a whole season clean shaven?
All things considered, with testing being so close and so many questions still to be answered, perhaps the most exciting season of recent years is waiting for us in just 3 weeks time.