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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PF1's Team-By-Team Guide To Winter Testing; Part 2

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...

Too early to say. The VJM01 only made its on-track debut this week - which is less than three weeks before the season begins. On a more encouraging note, it performed respectably and there are optimistic noises of further development propelling the team towards the midfield within a couple of months.

What They're Saying: "Since I first drove the car, we've made significant steps forward, especially in the car's set-up. The Force India has potential and there will be new aerodynamics already at the Barcelona test" - Giancarlo Fisichella.

The sight of Lewis Hamilton ahead of both Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher on the first day of this week's test at Barcelona was an unexpected fillip for a team still coming to terms with last year's capitulation. It may also have been flatteringly deceptive - it's thought that although McLaren and Ferrari are well matched over a single lap, the World Champions boast a significant advantage over long runs (something that doesn't show up, of course, on the end-of-day timesheets).

Another intriguing, closely-matched contest emerging from the timesheets is Hamilton v new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Hamilton's sixth-tenths advantage on Monday was a rare comprehensive difference in their pace.

What They're Saying: "You could say that Ferrari and McLaren are the favourites, but so were they last year. However, within a week another team can be right up there. I won't discard BMW and Renault who will be fighting for victories. As far as Ferrari are concerned, I don't think they are as good as everyone is making them out to be, while Renault are not as far behind as Fernando is saying" - Pedro de la Rosa.

There's no credible evidence of a dramatic breakthrough to speak of despite the 'dream team' alliance of Adrian Newey and Geoff Willis but at least the RB4 has proved more reliable over the winter than its gremlin-friendly predecessor.

Nonetheless, they apparently remain adrift of the second-tier of Williams/Renault/BMW and that constitutes a grave disappointment.

What They're Saying: "I think that anyone who expects anything different than McLaren or Ferrari to be setting the pace at the beginning of the season, I would be extremely surprised. What's not clear for us at the moment is where we fit into that mix, with BMW and Toyota and Renault and all those guys. And it might not even be completely apparent in Melbourne because it's a particular track. But I think by the time we're gotten through the first three grands prix, in Melbourne, Malaysia and Bahrain, we'll have a very clear picture of who are the pacesetters and what the pecking order is down the field" - David Coulthard.

Threatening to keep pace with the mother team, Red Bull, without offering much of an impression on the rest of the grid. Still, if winter testing is any guide, the battle between the two Sebastians, Bourdais and Vettel, should be good fun to watch.

What They're Saying: "The testing we've done so far indicated we are around the middle part of the grid. This means two things, the first very positive and the second one needs to be verified: first of all we are already almost ready for the first race in Melbourne, but at the same time we must consider that our rivals will further improve in the meantime and this must keep us on our toes" - Team manager Massimo Rivola.

Author: Pete Gill

Some pictures of the testing and practise in Jerez and Barcelona!

pic 1: David Coulthard Red Bull RB4 Testing at Jerez (16-01-2008)
pic 2: Mark Webber Red Bull RB4 Testing at Jerez (16-01-2008)

pic 1: Heikki Kovalainen McLaren MP423 Testing at Jerez (14 01 2008)
pic 2: Heikki Kovalainen McLaren MP423 Testing at Jerez (14 01 2008)

pic 1: Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP423 Testing at Jerez (14 01 2008)
pic 2: Giancarlo Fisichella Force India VJM-01 testing at Barcelona (06-02-08)

Source for pic: F1-Fansite

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