By Stuart Neo - 5th March 2013
|With the 2013 pre season winter test over, what do the lap times tell us about the general order of competitiveness?
On analysis of times, it seems that Mercedes really do have a race winning car.
The final days of testing usually sees teams testing their race latest updates and teams perform race simulation runs in preparation for the first race. It is at this point when more details are revealed about the true performances.
On the two final days of testing, both Mercedes drivers topped the time sheets with a 1.20.558 and a 1.20.130 by Lewis and Nico respectively.
In comparing Nico's and Lewis's times, Nico set his time on a one lap run, whilst Lewis ran several laps longer during his run. Taking into account fuel load adjustments, number of laps and track evolution, their times come within a tenth of each other. This suggests that both drivers are showing the car's potential.
After number crunching, Gary Anderson of the BBC, has come up with what he thinks is the Melbourne qualifying hierarchy.
1 Rosberg 1:19.730
2 Button 1:19.764
3 Vettel 1:19.797
4 Hamilton 1:19.886
5 Raikkonen 1:19.968
6 Alonso 1:20.004
7 Webber 1:20.113
8 Perez 1:20.348
9 Grosjean 1:20.498
10 Massa 1:20.576
It is based on each drivers' fastest laps and adjusted fuel loads. He has also cleverly calibrated his formula to include the correlation between lasts year's winter testing times with the qualifying times of the 2012 Melbourne Grand Prix.
The times are however, only indicative, as some of the bigger teams often hide their true performance by running more fuel. Red Bull have done this in the past during testing, only to arrive at the first race and blow their rivals away.
However the Mercedes drivers are openly optimistic about their competitiveness.
Lewis, who often wears his heart on his sleeve, is quoted saying, "I think we definitely will be able to win a race at some point during the season. The reliability, mileage and step-by-step improvements achieved during the 3 tests are very encouraging."
Rosberg adding: "The car is definitely a big step forward. It feels very nice to drive with a good balance. It is a massive step. Take the rear. We had massive problems with tyre heating and losing grip and all that. That seems to be history now. And that is really a massive change."
With Jenson Button agreeing: "I really don't know who's quick. But the one team that has been consistently quick has been Mercedes more than anyone else."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is suggesting Ferrari might be slightly behind "We don't ask for half a second in front of everybody, but two tenths behind everybody is okay."
And Red Bull are somewhat aloof, with Sebastian quoted as saying "We have never had a winter that was less conclusive than this one," suggests that more overtime is needed at the RBR factory.
So what is secret to the newer, faster Silver Arrows?
With numerous technical directors - Ross Brawn, Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis; one could say that Mercedes is top heavy. But, the question begs: Are more cooks better than one?
The Mercedes car seems genuinely fast. Have Mercedes perfected the Passive DDRS Wing Stalling device?
Mercedes seem intent on winning and are pouring money into their F1 campaign, offering telephone number salaries to the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe to lure them into the fold.
With, only 10 days left before the F1 circus arrives in Melbourne, this season could be another cracker.