Date:Monday March 14 2011
The winter testing is now over and the countdown for the start of the Formula One season has begun.
In under two weeks time, the guessing game will have ended over which team will start the season best.
A lot of the teams have shone at different stages during testing, Williams and Renault have both looked to have developed their new cars nicely.
While Sauber and Mercedes late performances have shown that they too will have some pace going into the Australian Grand Prix.
McLaren have consistently struggled to play catch up after their late development of their new car, while Ferrari and Red Bull have looked solid.
From the analysis of winter testing it would appear that Ferrari and Red Bull will be heading for Australia as the favourites to compete for the first pole position of the season and on March 27th the first win of 2011.
'This year I am very happy with the winter, and I am as confident as I was last year. I am realistic, so I know that we are not alone. We are racing very close with Red Bull and with other teams, so it is up to us in Melbourne, Malaysia and China to do a better weekend than them. It will be decided by small details, as I think the performance of the cars at the moment are very close. There is not one that is completely ahead of everyone, so we need to make our best.' Ferrari's Fernando Alonso told Autosport Magazine following the end of the winter testing in Barcelona.
But the Spaniard would not be drawn on who he thought would be tasting the champagne as the winner in Melbourne: 'Favourites? I think it is still the top four teams – McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, and maybe this year Renault, and Williams also is having a good winter. So it is very open for Australia. Hopefully we can be there and we can be fighting for the podium, and for the victory. In three or four races there will be a much clearer picture and hopefully we will be there.' The former two-time F1 World champion added.
Red Bull Racing Team principal Christian Horner agreed that it was just too difficult to try and analyse who will have the fastest car once the lights go out for the seasons opening race in Australia.
During winter testing teams are making various different runs to analyse the performance of their car, they complete both short and long runs on a variety of different fuel loads to see how the car is likely to perform during different stages of a race.
Teams have also been testing the new Pirelli tyres, calculating the right set-up to maximise the performance of both the car and the tyres.
Because of that, teams struggle to paint an accurate picture of where each car is standing in performance in comparison to other teams.
'We genuinely don't know where we sit in comparison to the others, '
he fuel loads make such a huge difference that it is impossible to predict.'
'We hope to be competitive in Melbourne. I am sure Ferrari will look strong, and obviously teams will be bringing significant upgrades. It will only be in Q1 for Melbourne where the fuel comes out of the cars and we will see where we are.'
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Date:Monday March 14 2011
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