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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PF1's Team-By-Team Guide To Winter Testing; Part 4

The new season is just a few weeks away and so it's time to ask just who has been starring in winter testing and who has been flopping. The answers require a bit of guesswork - but that has never stopped PF1 before...

It is a measure of BMW's rapid advance in the past two seasons that their winter commentary has been so gloomy. Rather than highlight the positives - namely, their proximity to Renault and Williams as the best of the rest - the team has repeatedly bemoaned the gap to McLaren and Ferrari instead.

There's no doubting their ambition or that the F1.08 can go faster. Once the team discover how to dial the instability that has aggravated both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica during testing then the timesheets may take on a whole new perspective.

What They're Saying: "We are not getting closer to Ferrari and McLaren, but we are breathing down the neck of Renault, Williams and Red Bull. We still have problems. The car is too unstable. Sometimes we are not as good as in the timesheet say and sometimes we are better than the times suggest" - Nick Heidfeld.

Despite suggestions that they are sandbagging, the probability is that Renault are genuinely struggling to keep pace with Ferrari and McLaren. Even after the return of prodigal son Fernando Alonso, the team have consistently trailed the top two by over half a second. In other words, the situation from 2007 is unchanged.

The big question is whether Alonso can inspire the sort of six-tenths improvement he claimed to have brought to McLaren last year. The second-biggest question is whether even that would be sufficient to win races. At least Fernando won't have to worry about his team-mate this year: Nelson Piquet junior has been a long way behind the former World Champion as he gets to grip with the R28.

What They're Saying: "At the moment, there is not any possibility to fight for podiums or wins, or things like that, so that is the first priority of this winter tests and the first race. To close the gap, and to be behind them [Ferrari and McLaren] two or three tenths is not such a big problem. But to be one second or eight tenths, like we are at the moment, is a little bit too much" - Fernando Alonso.

An ordinary-looking car and ordinary-looking times. Head-to-head with Ferrari at the end of January in Bahrain, they trailed the World Champions by over a second. How do you ask for 'value for money' in Japanese?

What They're Saying: "It's difficult to tell. I think we are around the package where maybe Williams, Renault and Red Bull are. But it's difficult to say anyway whether they are still in front of us. I'd say that's possible but it's difficult to say. You have never a really clear picture of the tests so it could be that we are in that group, it could be that we are maybe slightly behind" - Timo Glock.

Author: Pete Gill

Some pictures of testing in Jerez, Valencia and Barcelona!

pic 1: Robert Kubica BMW Sauber F1.08 Testing at Jerez (16-01-2008)
pic 2: Nick Heidfeld BMW-Sauber F1.08 testing at Barcelona (06-02-08)

pic 1: Fernando Alonso at Jerez back with Renault testing at Jerez (14-01-2008)
pic 2: Fernando Alonso at Jerez back with Renault testing at Jerez (14-01-2008)

pic 1: Fernando Alonso Renault R28 Testing at Valencia (23-01-2008)
pic 2:Fernando Alonso Renault R28 Testing at Valencia (23-01-2008)

source: F1-Fansite

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