FEBRUARY 15, 2007
Summing up testing so far
These are difficult times for Formula 1 fans with lap times in testing sending out complicated, confusing and sometimes deliberately misleading results. One day the Red Bull-Renault is down the back of the time sheets, the next it is fastest. Drivers say contradictory things, sometimes trying to push "the pressure" on to their rivals. Some play up their cars too much, some play down the performance.
So what is the real story?
It is clear that McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault are pretty close to the pace, depending on the track and on the day. The Williams looks quite useful and obviously the Red Bull has potential as well. The Honda is a bit of mystery at the moment. The car does not seem to be on the pace but there does not seem to be any panic in the Honda camp and one wonders if this is because they are deliberately playing things down or whether they know something the rest of us do not know. The same may be true of other teams as well as not all the best aerodynamic parts are going on the cars at this stage, if only to ensure that they are not instantly copied by the opposition. Thus teams may be trying bits and pieces which give an improvement but are then setting these aside for later. These are all tricks we have seen in the past - and of course there are some teams that are not averse to draining the tanks and going for super-fast times, simply to look good.
One of the key issues in F1 these days is reliability and race pace and this is also something that is not immediately obvious from the list of testing times. The speed over a 20-lap run is just as important, if not moreso, than a one-lap wonder.
The bottom line is that we will not know the whole story until the chequered flag comes out in Melbourne.
Which is how it should be.
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