Formula 1 Testing: What We Learned in Jerez

Duncan ScottAnalyst IFebruary 14, 2010

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 12:  The drivers helmet of Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and Williams is seen during winter testing at the Circuito De Jerez on February 12, 2010 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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It is sometimes written that winter testing tells us nothing about the F1 season to come.

Maybe this is true and all the drivers are currently saying that we know nothing yet.

But, do you remember which team amazed most of us by being quickest in 2009 pre-season testing? Yup, it was Brawn GP and they went on to win the Constuctors World Championship.

I was one of the cynics who did not believe that Brawn's 2009 test pace would translate into race pace. It did not seem plausible to me that Brawn could have a crushing superiority over the established F1 big guns of Ferrari, McLaren etc.

I was wrong. Stupid me.

So this year, I am resolved to be entirely objective, and to base my F1 opinions on facts and figures. I begin with my observations on the testing in Jerez over the last four days.

  • There is (thankfully) no stand-out team to replicate what Brawn GP achieved in 2009.
  • Sauber have a sound design that may well see them surpass their previous incarnation under the inept stewardship of Mario Thiesen.
  • Torro Rosso are so far quicker than the "senior" Red Bull team. That is most interesting for all of us who remember how Red Bull were embarrassed in the latter part of the 2008 season and if sustained will be a serious blow to Sebastian Vettel's dreams.
  • The Cosworth engine looks at least OK. We have only seen Williams and Virgin running it, but it powered the Williams at a respectable pace and did not blow up.
  • There were three teams missing from the tests: Campos Meta, US F1 and Lotus. Of those, only Lotus seem very likely to be on the grid in 2010
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Within each team the quickest driver has been as I and many others have predicted.

  • Hamilton shaded Button at McLaren
  • Alonso beat Massa at Ferrari
  • Vettel was quicker than Webber at Red Bull
  • Schumacher pipped Rosberg at Mercedes
  • Kubica crushed Petrov at Renault
  • Barichello had a nose in front of Hulkenberg at Williams
  • Sutil was ahead of Liuzzi at Force India
  • Kobayashi was in front of de la Rosa at Sauber
  • Alguersuari led Buemi at Torro Rosso
  • di Grassi was considerably less slow than Glock at Virgin, but Glock got very few laps in.

Will the pecking order so far established carry on into the racing season? I'm sure we're all eager to find out.

Four weeks after I write this the start lights will go out in Bahrain, and how I yearn for that day. I'm gagging for an F1 race, I've got withdrawal symptoms, so roll on that happy day.