Pre-season testing, and all

Events in the Grand Prix world this season

Pre-season testing, and all

Postby meteorite » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:50 pm

Well, maybe Red Bull is not unassailable after all. Or maybe they are. But in the last days of testing at Barcelona, everyone said they were running race simulations, there were mechanical failures, and the final hours were cut short by rain. We don''t know who felt they were set early and so spent most of the sessions sandbagging - testing with full fuel loads, trying out various invisible but significant aerodynamic tweaks, checking out various types of tires, and finding out things they want to keep private till they are ready to exploit them at a series race.

So top of the charts for the day has been occupied at various times by Kimi Raikkonen, who shows absolutely no rust from his years off, Force India, and others from the second echelon of the grid. Alonso and Hamilton have been seen wandering around with long faces and making pessimistic comments, while their partners have simply stayed quiet. Marussia is nowhere, having failed its 18th and final crash test. We wonder what that will do for their driver confidence even when they get it right. Jarno Trulli is gone, his contract unrenewed, and so is Rubins Barrichello, who has surfaced with the KV team in Indycar who have been heard muttering about the days of Nigel Mansell. There has been some turnover in the lesser groups as well. Michael Schumacher was making worried noises at the start of the test series but has since gone quite fast on occasion and been seen looking pleased.

Based on what has been seen and said, the pitlane wisdom seems to be that Red Bull will take up where they left off, at least in the early season, and in fact may have gained an edge on Ferrari and McLaren - in fact Ferrari have admitted they don't feel confident of a podium at Melbourne. The Mercedes engine was strong last season and the works team and Force India's performance suggest they have cause for optimism this year. Sauber actually topped the times with Sergio Perez the day it rained all day, and Williams has been looking strong.

The general consensus seems to be that the usual group will be fighting it out at the front, but as the season progresses some of the lesser teams, notably Lotus (ex-Renault) may be up giving them a hard time soon. No one is betting against Vettel to repeat the championship, but it's expected he will have to work a lot harder for it. So with luck it could be a moe interesting - and less runaway- season that the one last past.

Meanwhile in a side note - the Bahrain Grand Prix will remain on the calendar; apparently Bernie has been paid for the race in advance and on a non-refundable basis. If the teams will feel sufficiently secure to attend and participate - well, I guess we will find that out in a couple of months. But it's been bought and paid for.
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