Date:Friday March 11 2011
Sauber may well have surprised many during Thursday's test session, but do not doubt for a second that it will be Red Bull and Ferrari fighting it out for pole position in Australia.
Rookie Sergio Perez set a stunning lap of 1 minute 21.761 seconds to top the tables in Barcelona, he had done it once before but his lap was chalked off, this time however his lap was legal, with no short cuts taken!
They did confess to setting the lap on very low fuel and on Pirelli's super soft tyres. But the pace was clear for everyone to see, putting them 0.331 seconds faster than Felipe Massa's Ferrari and 0.705 seconds ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull.
"People think that now I will go to Melbourne and win, but we have to be realistic. This won't happen." Perez told the press after his run.
While the pace was impressive, it wasn't all good news for Sauber though as once they switched to making longer runs they suffered a KERS problem and later brought out the red flag with Perez stopping at the pit exit. But they still managed to complete 95 laps so overall a very solid day from them but the focus remains on Ferrari and Red Bull.
Ferrari managed to creep ahead of Red Bull and when asked who Massa thought were the favourites heading into the start of the 2011 Formula One season, the Brazilian said: 'First of all it's the team who won last year, And second, they are very quick here. Yesterday Sebastian did a very quick time. So I point to Red Bull.'
Unsurprisingly Mark Webber returned the compliment with neither team wanting to appear over confident. 'I think Ferrari is strong. I think we're going okay and the rest is hard to say,'
'The form is still very hard, I would not put my house on qualifying in Melbourne, I don't know who has the outright pace. I don't know. I think we're going okay but it's impossible for me to know what the red guys are doing. Race runs they are going okay, they look quick.'
McLaren took the day off on Thursday, but return to the track today and tomorrow and hope that a number of upgrades will push them closer into contention.
But it's very difficult to look past the Red Bull's and Ferrari for the race win in Australia.
So who will start the season as they mean to go on? Will Formula One's youngest World Champion Sebastian Vettel get his title defence under way in style? Will Ferrari's Fernando Alonso be ready to fight as soon as the lights go out?
Or will McLaren's British dream team laugh in the face of recent tests and brush aside the competition?
So following a false start, our front page poll asks exactly that question: Who will win the Australian Grand Prix?
To vote, simply login using your Vital Network username and make your prediction!
We will be running a prediction vote ahead of every race this season, so it will be interesting to see just how accurate (or not) our predictions are!
If you were curious as to how our previous vote for the Bahrain Grand Prix ended, then these were the results:
Sebastian Vettel 25%, Lewis Hamilton 24%, Fernando Alonso 22%, Jenson Button 10%, Mark Webber 6%, Others 13%.
While I'm here let me quickly take this opportunity to also announce our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest on Vital F1 through our fan pages.
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Date:Friday March 11 2011
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