There’s only a couple of days until Formula One pre-season testing resumes at Jerez (10-13 February). To help get you in the mood here is a 50-strong gallery of images featuring pics from Ferrari, MercedesGP, Renault and Williams. As usual you can click on your favourite images to load 2000px wallpaper-friendly sizing.
At the completion of the Valencia testing Ferrari was showing the rest of the field a clean pair of heels, with Fernando Alonso posting the quickest time (1:11.470), just three tenths ahead of teammate Felipe Massa (1:11.722).
Alonso, in front of over 35,000 parochial Spanish fans, was pleased with his time behind the wheel of the new F10, “The car went well and it was fast; it had a good set up, too, which is positive.”
He continued, “It’s absolutely impossible to say where we stand compared to the others. To be competitive you need a reliable car and we’re on the right track. The technicians have lots of data now to prepare us the best possible way for the next tests.”
Ferrari Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali, was also circumspect when talking about the pace of his cars, “We don’t know the petrol loads the other cars had on board, so it’s impossible to get a clear idea of the relative strengths on the track. Maybe someone also wants to play hide and seek and some still have to present their cars.”
“If there is one thing we’re really satisfied with then it’s the reliability the car has shown. The more than 1,400 kilometres driven are a very good start.” Domenicali said. “But the data is still absolutely relative: this track is not particularly demanding on the tyres and the temperatures weren’t the ones we’ll have for example during the season’s first three races.”
Apart from the Ferrari pair, the absolute standout was the speed shown by the C29 Saubers, driven by Kamui Kobayashi (1:12.056) and Pedro de la Rosa (1:12.094). With Ferrari power under the skin, are we seeing a trend building here?
Of course, the other story of note was the return of Michael Schumacher to the F1 circus. He was on the pace in his MercedesGP W01, although his best was only good enough for the sixth fastest time (1:12.438).
So, what do learn from this test? Well, despite efforts from Ferrari to talk their times down it looks as though they will be fighting for wins right from the first race this year. Although, the full effect of heavy fuel loads on the cars, now unable to refuel during the race, will not be known for certain until the first race at Bahrain in a little over one month.
We still haven’t seen the new RB6 from Red Bull Racing yet, either. Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber will be on track at Jerez. Mind, you could be fooled for thinking you have seen the new Red Bull machines already, with a few of the 2010 designs revealed so far featuring front nose cones heavily inspired by the RB5 of 2009.
F1 pre-season testing lap times, Valencia, 1–3 February 2010
- Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:11.470
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:11.722
- Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber*, 1:12.056
- Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber*, 1:12.094
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:12.256
- Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:12.426
- Michael Schumacher, MercedesGP, 1:12.438
- Jaime Alguersuari, Torro Rosso, 1:12.576
- Nico Rosberg, MercedesGP, 1:12.899
- Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:12.951
- Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:13.377
- Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:13.582
- Nico Hülkenberg, Williams, 1:13.669
- Sebastien Buemi, Torro Rosso, 1:13.823
- Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:13.846
*F1 politics, as much as anything, sees that the BMW Sauber name remains, even if BMW itself doesn’t.