W he's fast, who isn't? Those involved in the paddock also ask themselves this question. Seven days of testing have been over, but there is still no clear picture. 'We won't get that until the last test in Barcelona,' believes Mark Webber. From February 25th to 28th, all cars with the latest aerodynamic specification will be on the road. And then everyone will try what the car feels like with empty tanks.
Nobody knows exactly how much fuel is on board
The only chance Comparing the cars with each other are the laps in which there is little gasoline in the tank. 'And even then we are still talking about a range between ten and 40 kilograms,' warns Mercedes race director Norbert Haug. In Jerez, 30 kilograms difference makes up almost a second in the lap time. When the cars go into endurance runs, the range is even greater. Everything is possible from 80 to 165 kilograms. You can see from the cars that there must be a lot of gasoline on board, but nobody knows how much. Sebastian Vettel admits: 'You would have to sit in front of the time computer the whole day so that you can get an idea of who is running which program. And even then there is still a lot of leeway.'
Sometimes fate helps . When Michael Schumacher rolled out on the track on the last day of testing in Jerez, appropriately just before the point where he collided with Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 World Cup final, the tank was empty. The teams do this on purpose to check the accuracy of their fuel meter. When Schumacher stopped, it was the eleventh lap after leaving the pits. Six laps earlier, he had set his personal best with 1,20.613 minutes. Based on a fuel consumption of 2.2 kilograms per lap, at least 24 kilograms of gasoline must have been in the tank when leaving the pits. The former champion drove the fast lap with a fuel weight of around 13 kilograms. Lewis Hamilton had once again set off on three fast laps on the same day in the evening and set the absolute best time of 1.19.583 minutes. One can therefore assume that the McLaren is currently even faster than the Mercedes GP , at least with little fuel on board.
TheTire compound is another unknown
This is another unknown that could dilute the comparison. Three types of tires were on offer in Jerez: soft, medium and hard. If Schumacher had gone hard, Hamilton had gone soft, that would make half a second. Also the best times of Jaime Alguersuari (ToroRosso, 1.19.919 min), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber, 1.19.950 min), Adrian Sutil (Force India, 1.20.180 min), Rubens Barrichello (Williams, 1.20.341 min) and Robert Kubica (Renault, 1:20, 358 min) were probably driven with less than 30 kilograms of gasoline in the tank. Norbert Haug concludes: 'Everyone only talks about the top 4 teams Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes. But there can easily be one or two more, as close as it currently looks.'
Ferrari and Red Bull did not take part in the time hunt in Jerez. Both were busy scrubbing off endurance runs. A GP simulation by Fernando Alonso on the second day of the test was particularly impressive. Michael Schumacher didn't look too bad in comparison. This suggests that the Mercedes GP W01 is already playing music in the racing trim, but may have to improve a bit in the qualification vote. Haug noted with satisfaction: 'In Jerez the balance of the car was clearly better than in Valencia.' The Red Bull boys were also satisfied. 'The first feeling is right,' said Webber and Vettel in unison. 'We both feel the same, that's a good sign,' adds Vettel.
The interim results of the Formula 1 tests: Ferrari and McLaren ahead
After seven out of 15 test days, the following interim result can be drawn: Ferrari is strong in endurance, McLaren is good on one lap, Mercedes GP is catching up, and Red Bull has not yet revealed its cards. ToroRosso and Sauber could cause a surprise. The two outsiders not only drive show times, they are consistently fast. Sebastien Buemi was smiling all over his face before leaving: 'I have a good feeling. The car is fast in all conditions.'