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Reading between the lines in a phoney war

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Andrew Benson | 19:49 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

The annual Formula 1 phoney war was in full swing at the second pre-season test at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya this week.

Fernando Alonso was talking down Ferrari's form, Lewis Hamilton was talking up McLaren's - as, intriguingly, was Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. And the unlikely combination of Kamui Kobayashi and Sauber set the fastest time of the week.

As ever, the headline lap times were a poor guide to the order of the grid that can be expected in Melbourne at the first race in just three weeks' time.

But look behind the fastest laps, and there is usually a way of gleaning at least some sense of form ahead of the season.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso's Ferrari could yet to turn out to be a dark horse. Photo: Getty

I'll preface what follows with a major caveat - this has been one of the most difficult tests to read for some time. But here goes.

Red Bull, as ever, looked especially strong. Vettel was fastest of all on the first day of the test, and throughout the four days he and team-mate Mark Webber set consistently formidable-looking times.

On Wednesday afternoon, Vettel and Hamilton set out to do race-distance runs at more or less the same time. Both did 66 laps - the length of the Spanish Grand Prix, which will be held at the track in May.

Vettel did five pit stops; Hamilton four. Discount laps on which they went in and out of the pits and they both managed 55 flying laps. Vettel completed his more than two minutes faster than Hamilton.

If that was repeated in a race, Hamilton would be lapped by the end.

And the pattern was repeated on Thursday with Mark Webber and Jenson Button, although the margin was reduced to about half a minute.

Of course, this is very far from an exact scientific comparison.

They didn't use the same tyres as each other - although they don't necessarily have to in the race either.

We don't know what they were doing with fuel loads - although it would be counter-intuitive to start putting fuel in at pit stops because it would provide the team with data that was never going to be relevant to competition.

And it's an especially confusing situation because only the day before Vettel was saying how impressed he had been with the McLaren's pace on the longer runs.

But there was more - none of it especially happy ready for those hoping for a close season.
On the Wednesday, Vettel's fastest time of all was nearly a second faster than Hamilton's on the same type of tyres. Although both were set on very short runs - suggesting a qualifying-type simulation - that's still potentially meaningless as there is no way of knowing the level of fuel on board at the time.

Nevertheless, if you then look at the lap times both were doing at the start of their race-distance runs, they were about the same margin slower than each driver's fastest laps as you would expect given a full race fuel load.

That suggests that the headline lap times of those two drivers could be a reasonably accurate indicator of form - again worrying for McLaren.

Of course, this is only testing, and teams have updates to put on their cars before the first race - as Button pointed out. And everyone expects McLaren to be a close to challenger at the front come Melbourne. Nevertheless, few are under any illusions about Red Bull's strength.

"You're old enough, Andrew," one senior insider said to me during the test, "to know that Red Bull look very strong. McLaren and Ferrari are a bit behind. Force India look like they have a quick car, too."

He might have added that the new Mercedes looks quite decent as well.

But few teams are as difficult to understand right now as Ferrari - who have not done any race simulations to compare with their main rivals.

The messages coming out of the team have all seemed pretty negative.

There has been a lot of attention put on technical director Pat Fry's remark at the first test in Jerez that Ferrari were "not happy" with their understanding of the car.

Start raking through the time sheets, though, and you begin wonder what's behind all the negativity.

On headline lap times, Alonso was less than 0.3secs behind Vettel. And on both his days he started 10-lap runs with a lap in the region of one minute 24.1 seconds.

If you take 10 laps' worth of fuel off that time, you are left with a lap in the low 1:23sec bracket - again, not far off what Vettel managed. And you can bet the Ferrari was running with more than just 10 laps of fuel anyway; most top teams routinely test with 60-80kg of fuel on board.

In other words, the Ferrari actually looks reasonably fast, and an insider did admit: "The car is not as bad as a lot of people think."

If - and it's a big if - Ferrari can start to extract that potential before the first race of the season, Red Bull might just have a serious fight on their hands. And that's without even considering what McLaren might be able to achieve.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Yawn

  • Comment number 2.

    Ferrari have no choice but to downplay expectations. There is little evidence to suggest that its Red Bull all the way again this year. It'll take a driver shake-up (Lewis to Mercedes?) next year before the dominant patterns of the last few years are altered

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hope Ferrari are up there, seen a fair bit of test footage now and cars look odd. Don't think that will help Sky even if they have now dropped the price of their HD package further in desperation of getting people joining, heres hoping F1 and its fans break them. Bit of luck F1 could be with Channel 4 in a couple of years. Keep it up people, don't buy sky there is so much footage on net for free.

  • Comment number 5.

    I meant to say: "There is little evidence to suggest that its *not* Red Bull all the way again this year" : D

  • Comment number 6.

    Are you going out of your way to get a reaction from the Maclaren fans???

    If you've spent the last 4 days in Barca did you actually use your eyes and ears??? Or just go of 'what others told you' oh and don't forget those headline lap times......

    I think you need to go away and 'crunch some different numbers'

  • Comment number 7.

    I suppose it's going to be yet another Vettel dominated season. They always say the next season is going to be the best ever, but I very much expect some more boring races. Let's hope that is not the case. As for F1 testing, great, but the news that Kobayashi is fastest clearly means nothing.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think Benson may be taking things a tad personally - surely commenting on how dull a blog is does not break the precious "house rules"

  • Comment number 9.

    Oh Andrew. It's pretty clear that RB and Mac were on different programmes during there "race simulations". Whilst yes, RB were on a "race simulation", Mclaren were on a "race-DISTANCE simulation", the key difference being that they were pulling the drivers into the garage and refuelling them between stints. A clear example of this can be seen in Jenson's first two stints yesterday. They were both on medium tyres and were almost identical in times. If they hadn't refuelled, Jenson would have been significantly faster in his second stint.

    Therefore we have to look at specific stints. It appears that after Jenson's 2nd stint, they didn't refuel before they sent him out for the 3rd. This means it is comparible with Mark's 2nd stint, especially as they were both on the hard tyre. And well well well, they are very similar (as would be expected of the two teams who are generally considered to be very close), and in fact it is Jenson who had the faster average laptime by half a 10th.

    Finally, you compare Lewis and Vettel's times as "evidence" that RB are well ahead. However, Jenson did a time 4/10ths down on Vettel's top time, but with the hard tyre. If we accept Pirelli's estimates of 8/ths between each tyre compound, Mclaren would be 1.2 seconds faster than Red Bull. Obviously over those 2 days, the track would have improved, but it again highlights the irrelevence of fastest times. Especially as Martin Whitmarsh said today that all the top teams could easily go 2 or 3 seconds faster.

    So there we go, there's some proper analysis of the times, now, can I have your job?

  • Comment number 10.

    Hope MacLaren can start the season well, but if they're struggling I'd love to see Ferrari knock red bull's confidence and see Alonso back on the top spot, although ideally I'd like to see Lewis there but it doesn't sound promising.

  • Comment number 11.

    Andrew take a long hard look at post number nine.....it puts your blog to shame.

    Testing will always be difficult to call but If you had spent a few minutes each day in Barca doing your job maybe you could have provided a little more insight into what actually happened rather than sticking your finger in the wind

  • Comment number 12.

    #4
    Get over it.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks #11 (OwlsMann). I spent a full 3 minutes thinking about it...
    #lewyfernandoforAndrewBensonsjob?

  • Comment number 14.

    Not quite sure wht this blog was about... You give us some times, then say they dont mean anything.... So why waste the time writing it?
    I got loads of useful information from the tests including; Mclaren has the best looking car (imo), the BBC will only be half-ased about everything not football or olympics and that Barcelona is a boring track.... All of which i knew before the tests...
    Sorry ive just done a blog and not said anything. Can we get a usefull blog soon please, cause this was pointless, as was the are Mercedes any good, or the Bruno Senna blog....
    (sorry for the rant but the BBC is supposed to be good)

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh dear. This is very amateur. A year ago you would have been telling us that Williams were going to be the ones to watch. How did that work out?

  • Comment number 16.

    Post number 12 you should start supporting the rest of us licence payers.

    There is absolutely no need for sports like Formula 1 to go onto satellite channels.

    If people don't subscribe to SKY then everyone can see the sports and they won't get ruined as has happened to Football, Rugby and Cricket.

    The BBC when when it gets the chance to broadcast a sport does it to a much higher standard than SKY plus everyone can watch it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Andrew, I have written several tweets to you on twitter over the last 2 days under the username of @LukeAttwood. All in all I am very confused by how negative you seem to be about the McLaren in your analysis. A BBC colleague of yours, Mr. Anderson, also seems to be having a dig at McLaren at every opportunity with regards to their nose design and then also their sidepod design (in Autosport analysis). Now I am not suggesting you are having a dig at McLaren or have anything against them as I know you do not. I also know you think very highly of their drivers and would have no reason to want them to be slower than they actually are. This said, I am very confused with your analysis.

    Lets just start off with the low fuel lap times. McLaren's fastest time was by Button, a 1.23.2 on Hard tyres. Pirelli say there's approx 0.6 between their tyres, so that means he could do a 1.21.4 and that's only assuming he was running on fumes, which is most unlikely.

    Clearly none of the big 4 have shown their hand yet but to note their best times and tyres thus far:-

    Vettel:- 1.22.891 (Soft)
    Alonso:- 1.23.180 (Super-Soft)
    Schumacher:- 1.23.384 (Soft)
    Button:- 1.23.200 (Hard)

    It still obviously means nothing overall in comparison, but it is probably the most impressive burst of speed shown by any of the top 4 teams so far. Maybe you should include that in your analysis? As you seem to think a time in the low 1.23 or even 1.22's even means anything?

    Martin Whitmarsh, interviewed by Sky today has said:- "I suspect the big boys at this end (of the pit lane) could probably go two or three seconds a lap quicker if they really tried, but that's not the name of the game."

    He would not say that unless he was confident McLaren could go that much faster (he would have asked his engineers obviously as it would be natural curiosity for the team principle).

    Bare all of this in mind and your justification for thinking Ferrari are not in bad shape is completely unfounded. All you have proved is they can do a low 1.23 time, and probably a fair bit less accounting fuel, but then most of the midfield teams got into the low 1.22s during the test and it is obvious the big teams could go much faster. I am not saying I think Ferrari are either fast or slow but I just do not see how you can justify it either way at the moment. You are right their lap times look OK but that's because they're always running between 1.24 - 1.27. They've done next to no running yet on a full tank and therefore there are no comparisons whatsoever worthy of even looking at. If you remember in 2011, Button noted Ferrari looked a second quicker than even Red Bull during race simulations but that was because they were running with less fuel, even though they noted it as a race simulation "distance"!

  • Comment number 18.

    Following on from my previous post...

    This brings me onto your analysis of the race simulations with Red Bull and McLaren. Taking your numbers into account you suggest Hamilton "could" have been 2 minutes slower than Vettel over a race distance. Somehow if this was the case I think we'd have BIG negative vibes coming out of the team, regardless of their usual political stance.

    What you have failed to see is that McLaren have gone back into the garage during their race simulation and have refueled, not at every stop but during some. Hamilton also noted he was on used tyres for most his stints and Vettel used mostly new tyres. Also, take Button for example. His first 2 stints started with a 1.30.4 vs a 1.30.3 and ended with a 1.31.6 vs 1.31.5, with all laps in-between being very similar. Clearly what they were doing was back-to-backing setup changes / components by using the same tyre compounds with same amount of fuel and wanting to use tyres with same life, therefore they probably had 2 sets of the same compound that had done the same amount of laps previous to that. You say this would not make sense and be of no real use, but surely if you look at it from that perspective is is the best way to test setup changes and components at a particular fuel level? So if you bare that in mind then the whole race simulation is skewed as Button refueled after his first stop and therefore they are actually much closer.

    This same tactic from McLaren was shown today quite explicitly. Button ran on 2 new hard compounds for a single lap during the morning. he set a 1.23.2 and a 1.23.4, he then went out and did two 11 lap runs on these 2 separate compounds but got refueled in-between as the times were very similar. They obviously wanted to try different setups and this is an ideal way. Later on in the day they did the exact same thing but on the soft tyres with two or three 13 lap stints on soft compounds, that all looked similar but were obviously being driven slightly more or less aggressive and possibly with setup changes too in order to learn how to best treat the tyres.

    I really do respect you and always enjoy your articles so do not think im having a go but I really hope you actually acknowledge what im saying as I think I have a very valid point and I think if you looked at the lap times in more detail you would see this. I think you should note to all your followers that it is logical for teams to refuel in-between stops in order to back-to-back similar compounds and test setup changes. Just because a team is supposedly doing a race simulation, it does not mean they will treat it exactly like a race every time. They will often do the odd thing differently in order to test items they want, but end up covering a whole lap distance.

  • Comment number 19.

    scrap my earlier post...
    #tranquility2k9forAndrewBensonsjob!

    I all seriousness though, that's a great post, describing in much better detail what I summarised above. It is a little disappointing from Andrew not to put a little more time and effort into his analysis, considering many will read it and take it as an accurate analysis considering his position within F1.

  • Comment number 20.

    Many thanks to Lewyfernando @#9 for excellent analysis.
    Thank you too to Owlsmann @ #11 for saying it as it is.

    Your posts got me thinking about the poor quality of many of the blogs we see on the BBC Sport website these days. These blogs are bereft of depth, insight, knowledge/ expertise/ mastery of the sport they're focused on. I have always associated the BBC with excellence, but these watery, banal, and poorly written blogs are beginning to tar the erstwhile pristine image of the BBC in my eyes.

    I am tempted to think that the work ethic and knowledge levels of the authors of these BBC Sport blogs are severely deficient.

    Just watching the English Premier League week in- week out, year in- year out, and listening to SKY or other sports news streams does not give anyone the competence to be a football analyst/ commentator. Same applies to F1 or any other sport.

    My expectation is that one MUST have grand command of knowledge in any sport to be considered good enough to write a blog for the BBC. Knowledge which comes from playing (or having played) the sport and/or a deep and continuous study and research of contemporary and historic trends in the sport. Sadly, this is not the case.

    The BBC's F1 blog should be written by David Coulthard, Damon Hill, Jake Humphreys...or someone of that pedigree. People who can analyse events in F1 with the requisite expertise we the fans expect of the BBC. 'Nuff said!

  • Comment number 21.

    It's really hard to say right now with different teams setting fastest times everyday but i also think there is a lot of sandbagging going on.

    Vote on this pole and let's see what the general concensus is amongst F1 fans.

    http://f1predictions.net/polls/results/index.php?pollnum=%20which%20team%20has%20the%20quickest%20car%20in%202012%20?

  • Comment number 22.

    I dont understand the point in you making pre-season Blogs. You constantly say that testing is proving nothing yet you keep on bigging up Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel but dumbing down Mclaren and Ferrari? Like #15 (bod) said, last year you stated that Williams would be one to watch and they failed miserably, so how can anything your telling us be reliable? Reading what #9 (lewyfernando) made more sense than what you put.

    Simple fact is this, you cannot draw any conclusions from what's happened so far. And stop hyping up Red Bull, yes they were the fastest last season but it doesn't mean its the same now, loads of stuff could change.

  • Comment number 23.

  • Comment number 24.

    @16 mr bob you state that the beeb does a much better job of sports coverage than sky. From you previous posts you'd so anti-sky I'm surprised you've ever watched any to know, those of us in the real world who watch football on sky knows that iti s far superior. Watch soccer Saturday or final score? Tough choice, seasoned ex professionals who have won things or garth crooks? Rant over, stick to telling the England rugby union coach who they should pick!

  • Comment number 25.

    Red Bull looks quick, no surprise there then. Chased by McLaren & Ferrari with Mercedes just behind. Then Lotus, Force India, Sauber, Williams........ yep a pattern is forming.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hmmm, a lot of guesswork going on here Andrew.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    To unbiased, post number 26. Look at my posts from 17 and 18 and also the guy that posted at 9. It's funny how we are all saying very similar things. I suppose what it shows is that there are obvious flaws in Andrew's analysis and by literally looking at the times properly you can come up with some constructive analysis that at least is not misleading.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Wow, a lot of negative post's regarding Andrews effort, you can't blame the guy for not having too much enthusiasm when you consider the BBC thinks the first race of the season isn't important enough to show live, the beeb thinks there are not any F1 fans, just people who watch a race whist falling a sleep on the sofa after a Sunday lunch and what could be argued as the 2nd most important race (after the title decider) of the year isn't being showed live.

    F1 fans are very much into the technical side, missing the opening GP live is like holding a child's Christmas present until February.

    I have to agree with the majority, it is a poor effort Andrew and to think TV licence funding is paying for this website and your expert opinion. The F1 news on the BBC has dropped in standard.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hats off to tranquility2k9.. :-)

  • Comment number 35.

    Gary Anderson wrote this : "I don't see any reason why the McLaren would be quicker. Having a lower chassis might be more attractive but if there is anything in it on the performance side it's going to be a negative not a positive". McLaren have been running a low nose for years now and beat every team but one last year. One McLaren finished ahead of a RedBull and both Lewis and Jenson won more races than Mark Wabber. It is only because of the rule changes that McLaren different phylosophie is more noticeable. Now I understand why Gary Anderson was such a successful designer. Oh well was he? As for Andrew Benson... Well, if he had to use the same logic to create a race simulation software the result would be a catastrophe. Such an amateurish piece of analysis just amazes me. The combination of Andrew Benson and Gary Anderson is just not up to it. Please bring back Martin Brundle for the analysis or let DC do it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have to say I agree with a lot of the people responding here with regard to the quality of the blog. Unfortunately yet another piece of verbiage from AB which while masquerading as the lowdown from an experienced insider, actually tells us very little and for fans who actually follow the sport in depth and who have studied the lap times and circumstances in which they were set, actually would appear to be incorrect.

    Perhaps the BBC and Autosport for that matter could shed some of it's more "gossip" based correspondents and make an attempt to keep up with the nature of F1 as a complex technical sport with an incredibly romantic history, which is actually the reason it attracts so many loyal fans, not just crash mongers and "I only watch the start the rest is boring" merchants.
    Bernie has finally woken up to the online interactive nature of F1's broader appeal perhaps it's time the traditional media joined in, Eddie Jordan and Jake "I'd present paint drying if I thought it would help my career" Humphries asking inane questions on the red button forum really doesn't hack it, unless you're a fan of CBeebies and Frank Carson, as for Lee McKensie, give it a rest.
    F1 is a sport with true multimedia appeal and the first TV company to truly embrace the depth of coverage it demands will in my opinion blow it wide open, personally I hope it's Sky not because I like the company but because the BBC have singularly failed to live up to their charter on this.

  • Comment number 37.

    Why are you a disgrace if you choose to subscribe to Sky? And what a ridiculous comment that Sky ruined cricket, rugby & football!! For your information if it wasn't for Sky it is most likely there would be no such thing as The Superleague. Do you really think it would survive on free to air? I was also wondering what gave you anti Sky people the impression that you had some sort of "right" or "entitlement" to watch F1 for free in the first place?? Next you'll be complaining that it's Sky's fault for overpriced F1 tickets!!! The bottom line here is that the BBC has overcommited itself on the Olympics & European Cup this summer & can't afford F1. Why is Sky getting slated when the Beeb were the ones who sold out their contract without offering it out to other channels first? They have also done it with The Masters Golf, so I think you'll find it's the BBC at fault not Sky!!! Looking forward to watching a dedicated F1 channel, the rest of you anti-Sky fans on your high horses can enjoy free to air German coverage whilst listening to Five Live ha ha!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    I read a lot of F1 information on the BBC website in lunch breaks at work. I have to say these pre season testing blogs have been very poor.

    There is one good thing that comes from this I suppose, it gives us a break from the McLaren, Lewis and Jenson flames that get emmitted from the BBC when the seaosn is actually underway!

    F1 at the moment is simple, aslong as Adrian Newey has anything to do with any team over the next few years then they will have the car to beat, coupled with almost bullet proof reliability that only leaves driver error, to be honest I can't see many Turkey 2010 incidents happening any time soon.

    SO!

    Come March 16th we will have alot more information and be able to see whats going on, oh wait not on the BBC we wont. No season opener what were you thinking! Saything that what were you thinking asking SKY for a joint venture in the first place.

    Good luck.

  • Comment number 39.

    How exactly did you get the job for F1 Chief Writer for BBC? seriously you're so wrong, Hamilton would of been lapped twice by Vettel? even MW admitted that Mclaren could of gone 2-3 seconds quicker if they wanted, so no he wouldn't of been lapped, and looking at how you do the averages for stints, proves how idiotic you really are, seriously awful awful awful article.

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh Andrew! You know perfectly well the times are an irrelevance without knowing the numbers. They mean absolutely zilch. The only people that know are the teams doing the running of the various programmes they are on. It's a good bet McLaren are working very hard to expand their understanding of how their car performs with this years tyres given the closeness of the compounds. Personally I have a good feeling about McLaren.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the bbc will be will advised to sack this writer..one of the most awful articles i have ever read on this website ..some of the people in the comments section have given a better insight than this writer.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think Andrew is right on one thing, Red Bull look strong. But they don't appear to have the same margin as last year. I'm not sure we can take much from Mclarens times. They spent a LOT of time testing parts and it seemed to me not a ton on setting the car up to extract the best out of it. Hamilton had a go at a Quali run, but Button didn't bother, opting to set his fastest time on Hard tyres. I'm sure we'll start to get a clearer picture in the last test however.

    I think Ferrari were worried, but have started to get a grip on their car now. The times looked very competitive. The darkhorse is the Mercedes. Ross Brawn says they've took a step forward, but not quite enough for a win. I have a suspicion that they may be bluffing. The long runs appeared to be considerably faster than all the other teams, and they most obviously to me didn't bother going anywhere near Quali sims.

    Lastly, I'm encouraged to see Sauber take a step forward with their Quali pace. Both drivers managed times of 1+ sec faster than in 2011 Quali and they were repeated and improved upon. The long runs look a bit all over the place, but my suspicion is they will have that fixed during the next test.

  • Comment number 43.

    I comment regularly on F1 forum's and the British fan is always a little techy when their beloved McClaren has been belittled in some way over the past few years. For Andrew to point out that long runs and time differentials between Vettel and Hamilton on Wednesday afternoon may point to some worries for McClaren is a good point really. What has he and us got to go on? Some of you have pointed out fuel consumption. Others about tyres. All valid points too. However, at some stage, we need to assess the relative speeds in relative conditions. In testing that is nigh on impossible. All Andrew is trying to do is make all things equal as the teams try to covertly run the cars in a fashion that makes other teams confused with other teams performances. This is also why Red Bull have decided to delay their next test with Ferrari. Now thats what I call an indication of who is worried!

  • Comment number 44.

    To Post 12: we all follow united and Post 37: Kris
    Do you only watch sport channels? Never bother with the news? Haven't joined the dots between Sky & the phone hacking scandal? Think that your subscription won't make any difference to how the media choose to behave?

  • Comment number 45.

    One thing we would like to see is the chopping and changing that happened at the start of last season. But eventually Red Bull dominated and the races became a procession.

    For a few years a team is #1. Ferrari, Red Bull, McClaren and - years gone by - Williams. Then it's the turn of another.

    Let's hope there's more competition, otherwise F1 will lose it's fascination for all except the most hardened fans.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Andrew....hmmm

    You start by saying times mean nothing, then draw a bunch of pro Red Bull anti Mclaren conclusions based entirely on times.

    You state, (your words) “the headline lap times were a poor guide to the order of the grid that can be expected in Melbourne” then conclude that means Red Bull (your words) are “looked especially strong”

    When did Lewis run a race sim? I must have been on planet Zarg then because on Wednesday, the day you select to compare him with Vettel, he actually ran a series of back to back tyre tests based on first and second stint conditions. In case you weren’t looking, the car returned to the garage between stints for refueling! Chalk and cheese, chalk and cheese.

    Ferrari (your words) are "raking the time sheet" Really? What stints over the two tests validate that conclusion?

    I am utterly amazed you are confused by (your words) “Vettel saying how impressed he had been with the McLaren's pace on the longer runs” To most people with rudimentary grasp of the English language the meaning is quite clear.

    What about other teams? Force India have so far had a terrific test, yet that has gone straight over your head.

    A really disappointing piece.

  • Comment number 48.

    For me its the Australian GP that will reveal all the answers. If Vettel or Red Bull dont win there and say Hamilton pulls a stunning performance out of the bag to take a sensational win. Then Vettels confidence will go out the window, most drivers draw their abilities from their confidence and self belief to perform well (That ability meant he was a runaway this year) and when that happens he makes mistakes. We have seen this in the past and 2 races last year can provide evidence for that.

    Montreal last year he saw Jenson closing the gap and however hard he tried Jenson kept catching him at a massive rate. On the last lap Jenson was applying so much pressure Seb lost his nerve and in his desperation to keep ahead he made a mistake which cost him.

    Germany he was off the front row and from third to win he needed to clear Webber and Hamilton immediately but instead he first dropped down to 4th behind Alonso and then knowing that we was losing time every sector his confidence began to deteriorate and thats when the mistakes came and when he dropped behind Massa, it wasnt a lack of skill which meant he couldnt overtake more of a lack of confidence at this point. But Vettel got his due luck on the final lap jumping Massa at the pitstop.

    Its this area that the other teams need to target Vettel. But likewise that if Vettel doesnt win in Melbourne, IF he does which is by no means out of the question then he will then begin to walk away with it again. Something which I would not like to see.

  • Comment number 49.

    It seems to me that Benson is looking into the testing way too much and trying to find things that aren't actually there. Time mean nothing at this stage of the season and Benson said that himself and then goes and says Red Bull are stronger than McLaren based on times, when he has no clue what McLaren might have been actually doing during the day.

    I can tell this is going to be another season of the BBC praising Red Bull and Vettle (lead by DC) and having a dig at Lewis and McLaren, The_real_stormsky68 pretty much sums this blog up, ridiculous.

    As to the Sky/BBC deal, one can't even try and argue that Sky is a good thing. Commercialisation of our sports is a travesty. Sport is becoming increasingly about money and in my opinion the deal breaks the competition law. And to suggest otherwise is stupid.

  • Comment number 50.

    @Eric Osman "the British fan is always a little techy when their beloved McClaren has been belittled in some way over the past few years." What you are saying is tatally unfounded. First of all I for one am French.
    The conclusions of Andrew Benson or Gary Anderson could well be right although I very much doubt it. But the basis that lead to such conclusions is totally flawed and amateurish. Last year Martin Brundle was quite harsh on McLaren even going as far as saying that they were at sea. But that was based on trackside observation. This is not the case here. Throwing in some numbers while having no clue about some essential parameters and make an article out of it is unprofessional.
    By the way, didn't Andrew Benson tell us to watch out for Williams last year? Where did that led us? Bearing the pompous "Chief F1 writer" title has brought nothing good to him.

  • Comment number 51.

    I can not emphasize enough how awful this article is.




    .

  • Comment number 52.

    The comments here are very interesting as they seem to agree with a certain James allens website. On the site he said he visited the track and by just looking at the cars the mclarens and the redbull were the most impressive along with the mercedes and I for one trust his judgement. The only reason I can think for andrew putting mclaren down is it's a headline to draw people in. In the last couple years it seems to me that mclaren have become a de facto team Britain in the same way Ferrari is to Italy and as such by saying they are doing poorly invites people to wonder why and read the blog.

    It's the same with mclaren getting constant abuse for producing bad cars, let's not forget they have come second in the constructors championship the last 2 years and in 2009 with their 'dog' of a car they still came third, and the year before lewis won the title hardly poor form would see them constantly in the champions league anyway!!

    Rant over

  • Comment number 53.

    Why should F1 go to Channel 4 in a couple of years?? The best thing for for f1 has been to go BBC!! They have the best team and with no advertising.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm not in a position to crunch numbers like some of you can. Very impressive analysis by many. Sadly Andrew's 'insight' does not match the standard of many of his readers'. I will add this though. Clearly, Benson does not have a clue - like most journalists, he's a blagger who can write well enough to hide his lack of knowledge. So, it's safest for him to produce a piece of apparent expert analysis which concludes Red Bull are likely to produce the fastest car. No *you know what* Sherlock.

    I have to chuckle when I read about, for example, Ferrari's 'radical design'. How can Benson know this just by looking at it? Similarly, McLaren was labelled 'conservative' just because it does not have a stepped nose! Again, how can anyone know, unless they have an intimate knowledge of the entire design concept?

    Also, pre-season testing is like a game of poker; you don't show your hand until it really matters. It's TESTING not RACING. Benson seems to forget this.

  • Comment number 55.

    "Both did 66 laps - the length of the Spanish Grand Prix, which will be held at the track in May.

    Vettel did five pit stops; Hamilton four. Discount laps on which they went in and out of the pits and they both managed 55 flying laps."

    Am I missing something here?

    Vettel 66 laps discounting in and out laps for 5 stops = 56 laps.
    Hamilton 66 laps discounting in and out laps for 4 stops = 58 flying laps.

    Hardly surprising Vettel was more than 2 minutes quicker completeing his distance.

  • Comment number 56.

    I'll also add my own bit because waiting for Andrew & the bbc we haven't got a prayer; I was also disappointed by Mr Anderson taking the 'party line' with his recent comments as I'd been looking forward to his insight.

    First-last valid lap of long runs Thursday

    RedBull 1.29.6-30.9 (13 laps) 27.8-30.5 (16) 26.7-29.4 (15)
    McLaren 30.1-32.1 (12) 30.2-31.5 (12) 28.5-29.9 (16) 27.7-29.3 (12)
    Ferrari 26.5-28.8 (9) 24.8-25.6 (9) 25.0-25.9 (11) 26.0-27.2 (10) 25.6-27.8 (9)
    Mercedes 24.2-27.5 (12) 24.2-26.8 (12) 29.8-31.6 (10) 28.7-31.2 (14) 28.5-30.2-16) 26.6-28.8 (19)
    F.India 28.8-30.1 (12) 29.2-30.4 (12) 28.5-30.2 (12)

    Friday

    RedBull 29.7-30.8 (13) 28.1-28.8 (9)
    McLaren 28.3-28.6 (11) 28.2-28.9 (12) 28.8-28.8 (11) 27.5-29.8 (13) 27.6-29.6 (13) 27.6-29.7 (13)
    Ferrari 26.6-27.7 (13) 26.4-28.0 (13) 24.8-26.3 (11)
    Mercedes 28.9-30.0 (11) 27.3-29.9 (16) 27.5-28.7 (14) 24.1-27.5 (14) 23.8-28.0 (10) 24.0-27.8 (10) 24.7-27.7 (10)
    F.India 28.5-29.4 (13) 28.3-29.1 (13) 28.3-29.8 (12)

    Also Wednesday first lap only

    Red Bull 29.2 (10) 28.7 (15) 26.7 (11) 26.1 (11)
    McLaren 29.4 (9) 28.7 (12) 28.5 (14) 27.7 (10) 26.6 (13)
    Ferrari 24.1 (9) 24.1 (9)
    Mercedes 24.8 (18) 24.7 (10) 25.6 (10)
    F.India 28.5 (15) 28.3 (15)

    Doing a very arbitrary fuel-adjustment gives:

    Red Bull 1.27.7 to 1.29.6 (+1.9s degradation)
    McLaren 1.28.03 to 1.29.45 (+1.4s)
    Ferrari 1.25.35 to 1.27.07 (+1.7s)
    Mercedes 1.25.65 to 1.28.46 (+2.8s)
    F.India 1.28.1 to 1.29.5 (+1.4s)

    CONCLUSION: McLaren and F.India look very consistent which is important & Mercedes the least consistent, however the laptimes give that...FERRARI AND MERCEDES of all people are the outright quickest AND BY A LONG WAY, plus there were 4 different tyres some were still trying new parts on or expecting upgrades soon or using worn tyres only or refuelling between runs - THEREFORE MR BENSON LOOKING AT THE STINTS ALONE WE HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE ABOUT THE PECKING ORDER.



    .

  • Comment number 57.

    Any comment, Mr Benson?

  • Comment number 58.

    A couple of weeks ago, Andrew, you mentioned Lewsi saying about agressive fuel loads and you took that to mean, they hadlow fuel loads. Now you have Lewis saying his car is better than last year, and you say he is bigging up his car, almost refusing to give any positive comments to McLaren.

    Looking at the analysis above it seems that it is possilbe to draw pretty much any conculsion you wish from the times.

    FWIW judging by comments it seems that Red Bull are the best again, but McLaren are closer at this stage oif the season than they usually are, with Mercedes and Ferrari the next best.

    Howver when we get to Australia we may get a better idea.

  • Comment number 59.

    Its probably quite unfair to say hamilton was 2minutes off the pace of vettel, as i'd expect they were looking more at where the limits for the tyres were. McLaren may have been going for a different strategy to test something different, and Red Bull may have been going for an all out attack.

    Very clear that Red Bull are the quickest still. Mostly just from looking at all the talk. Everyone is still comparing to vettel as the benchmark.

    Ferrari is a tough one. It seems that they could quite believably be at opposite ends of the grid, depending on what you read. My understanding is they have a car with lots of potential, but still need to unlock it. I'd like to be optimistic, but they will still have so little understanding of the car compared to Red Bull, even if they do manage to sort everything out in time for Australia. I'd expect that if Ferrari can lead the race, Red Bull would play the strategy card and win that way.

    That being said, it could really be spectacular to see Ferrari with a really solid car and see what Alonso can deliver. Equally, a fast McLaren car would be good to see what Hamilton and Button can do, although it seems like the car is only ever going to work for one driver.

  • Comment number 60.

    I was shocked with Eccleston'e comments re: Vettel - I'm no Vettel fan but I think the Bernie comments surely call into question, if F1 makes changes, whether or not Vettel can turn and say "You did that purposely to get at me you little man".

  • Comment number 61.

    53. At 10:52 25th Feb 2012, eliseop wrote:
    Why should F1 go to Channel 4 in a couple of years?? The best thing for for f1 has been to go BBC!! They have the best team and with no advertising.

    --------------------------------------------

    They HAD the best team.

  • Comment number 62.

    @4 At 21:49 24th Feb 2012, Simon W wrote:

    Don't think that will help Sky even if they have now dropped the price of their HD package further in desperation of getting people joining, heres hoping F1 and its fans break them. Bit of luck F1 could be with Channel 4 in a couple of years. Keep it up people, don't buy sky there is so much footage on net for free.

    ---------------------------

    Simon, why should we hope "Bit of luck F1 could be with Channel 4 in a couple of years" if, as you say, "there is so much footage on net for free"?

    In fact if you followed your own advice (namely watch F1 on the 'net [exactly how big is your internet pipe to get multiple HD feeds and 5.1 sound?] for free) then why are you posting to the BBC blog?

    Personally I would not pay $ky for F1 - but as I'm already receiving the HD package I'll get F1 without paying them anything for it. The muppets I blame for the debacle are the BBC. They had a contract, they had an avid fanbase, they had a product to be proud of, they had a future with F1 ... then they had an attack of madeness and tore up the contract ... then they had a fit of pique and refused to let the contract go to another FTA broadcaster.

    $ky are a commercial company with shareholders (and a few dubious Aussies) who are supposed to make money; the BBC is a PUBLIC SERVICE broadcaster funded by a (poorly disguised) tax. It is a DIS-SERVICE to show only some of the races in full & live.

    The BBC has announced that it has to make cuts - which would be understandable if we weren't faced with complete overkill regarding the Olympics. But maybe the BBC (or the government) just wants to show off.

    However the "loadsamoney" wasted on the BBC web-site dedesign (no - not a typo) shows how misleading these statements are.

    Is it any wonder AB demonstrates such arrogant ignorance? He's undoubtedly following the example of one Ben Gallop .... what do you expect?

  • Comment number 63.

    Why is it that the media hype up such events as being meaningful when clearly they are not.

    The only real event that happens at Testing is that it is the first time we get to see the new designs on the track.

    How can we compare the teams performance when they run differing stategies, designed to test different aspects of the car?

    This is especially true, when for most teams, there will be adjustments and upgrades to the cars that will line up for the real first meaningful test, the first practice at the first GP.

    It just the same old story of the BBC trying to big up and hype events of little significance.

  • Comment number 64.

    We really shouldn't have to put up with such amateurish reporting.

    Why do we NEVER get some decent analysis of what a team does during testing runs. To me it is obvious that the sector times can give some very decent clues as to what is happening. We hear that a car does a fastest sector one but a slow sector 2. The teams MUST be setting cars up to see how well they behave in one particular sector rather than another. They are testing boundaries and the drivers are often only trying for a decent time in one particular sector. The next run might be to maximise that sector and to find out if the revised setting compromises the next sector.

    We all know different sectors place the emphasis on different characteristics - we hear of slow speed corners in one sector and fast corners in another. The teams will be using the different sectors to simulate different track types searching for clues about where to direct their development work and aiming at better performances at particular races.

    What we need is to find out more about putting fastest sector times together over a long run stint to give a much better clue as to overall performance.

    We hear of sandbagging by the top teams but I think it has far more to do with this type of running.

    The other thing I would like to hear far more about is an analysis of the driver's minds. That must tell us a lot about what is happening. How can an apparent slow time make a driver happy? How can a fast time leave a driver unhappy? How can one driver be kept motivated when his team mate delivers a much better lap time than their relative skills would suggest? Maybe we should have a body language expert at some of the tests!

  • Comment number 65.

    Lewyfernando, I don't think you quite understand that Andrew has to right a piece that appeals to all, casual F1 fans as well. Your post was so mind numbingly boring I gave up half way through. Journalism isn't just about getting as many facts as possible within a word limit, it's also about writing a piece people want to read. Not everyone cares how quick Lewis's third sector was on lap 43, some just want a short concise piece and a couple of opinions.

    P.s. starting a sentence with "it appears" hardly fills you with confidence. None knows if they refuelled, if he was pushing, if they were playing around with the setup, if they replaced Jenson with jake Humphreys for a stint. You can manipulate these numbers to say whatever you want.

  • Comment number 66.

    Oh Dear!

    ... and the biggest mistake the beeb made with their 2012 coverage is...

    NOT the sky deal ... BUT persisting with these "blogs" from ol' smiler himself,
    MR. BENSON!

    Some might comment why do I read it when I don't like it?

    I have no choice, for he is all we have when it comes to the beeb.... Sorry chap but your "knowledge" is getting worse by the week. Bow out now while you can and please pass the job to someone who can actually give us some real reporting. I don't mention this on the back of your pre-season insights but I'm afraid on your whole season coverage. I can stomach all the other changes, limited coverage etc. But when all that is left is a diluted guess work, tabloid fascination & utter cut 'n' paste quoting, the whole show is doomed...
    In fact scrap all I have said... I'm off now, yes I just realised I am wasting my time here. Lazy linking from the news front page of the bbc is my fault. I should of just opened another page on google and typed...Joe saward for president! There is only one place for any REAL JOURNALISM...

    http://joesaward.wordpress.com/

    .... bye beeb!

  • Comment number 67.

    Howard hassen I think the point is Andrews conclusions seem to contradict what seems to be the consensus in the paddock which is pretty criminal.

  • Comment number 68.

    Forget (fabricated overtaking) F1, forget Sky, stop lining the pockets Murdocks with even more money, BBC sold out, lets hope the Sky falls in on F1. Watch some real racing get out of your chair and go and watch some club racing at your local circuit. It'll cost less than sky, you'll see proper drivers in proper cars, proper racing.

  • Comment number 69.

    Reading a random passage from the Bible would have given me more of an insight into the coming season than this blog!

  • Comment number 70.

    Shall we just be honest, noone knows what anybody is doing or where anyone's cars are at at the moment. We can speculate and analyse it all we want but the only people who know how truly fast the cars can go are the teams' engineers.

    Maybe McLaren can talk up their car because they know it's extremely quick. Maybe Ferrari know their car is slow or they're just playing mind games. Again, only their engineers have that actual knowledge. Until Melbourne it's all guess work.

  • Comment number 71.

    Very dissapointing article Andrew,one might think you have something againsts Mclaren.Quite a few comments from members on this blog provideded interesting insite on the testing, which gave me a bit more understanding about how the teams are doing.Thank you all.(NO.59 Dave)you wrote,although it seems like the car is only ever going to work for one driver...Dave, i really would be interested to know what you mean.

  • Comment number 72.

    I still do not understand why people are slating SKY. They saw an opportunity and took it and I look forward to their coverage. They do a fantastic job with football and believe this will be the same.

    Instead of whining and complaining about SKY, why don't you ask the BBC why they sold you down the river. I also wish the BBC lose the motogp coverage because Eurosport does a better job.

    Maybe getting rid of stupid shows like antiques roadshow and all the other cooking nonsense will free up some money to re-instate F1.

    As for me and my house, roll on SKY F1. I can hardly wait

  • Comment number 73.

    @72 I disagree with the Sky deal but I think it should have been all or nothing IMHO - and certianly a free channel for everyone that has Sky/Virgin/BT - its such an event re: numbers that the advertisments would pay for it and if the BBC are getting 50% of the showing anyway then why the need to pay for it i.e. a Sky Sports package?

  • Comment number 74.

    It will be interesting to see how the season progresses, shame I won't be watching it on the BBC, it is too complicated to set up a series link to record half the races on the BBC and he other half on $ky. I don't think the BBC will be getting any awards this year, the commentary team have split, losing Martin Brundle to $ky means one of the most interesting parts of the pre-race commentary has been lost.

  • Comment number 75.

    The blog post begins with: "I'll preface what follows with a major caveat - this has been one of the most difficult tests to read for some time".

    Benson provides us a caveat but unfortunately the caveat should have referred to the fact that testing by its very nature is difficult to read. I won't repeat what has already been stated, it is quite obvious the effect that this article has had on many readers.

    Thank you to @lewyfernando, @tranquility2k9 and others for their contributions. If, like many readers, you agree with the above general consensus, this article is perhaps the wake up call you need. If you feel that you have outgrown the type of analysis that Andrew Benson provides, you need to move on.

    We need to keep things in perspective; Andrew has a job to do appealing to the less informed.

    For more insightful F1 news, debate and information add the following to your favorites:

    James Allen: jamesallenonf1.com
    Joe Saward: joesaward.wordpress.com (as mentioned by @Its-only-a-game-sport)
    Craig 'Scarbs' Scarborough: scarbsf1.wordpress.com

    Finally check out 'The Flying Lap' (smibs.tv/the-flying-lap) - broadcast and streamed regularly on the internet, TFL is a magazine show for the Formula One aficionado. The show is hosted by the extremely enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable Peter Windor. They often have interesting guests on the show and although produced on a low budget, they are always trying out new ideas.

    You can follow all of the above on twitter.

    For his sake and yours, give Andrew Benson a break and get involved with the above content providers.

  • Comment number 76.

    You can't analyse anything at this stage, either Andrew or any of the replies. I suspect there is too much consideration over just what blog content will encourage many replies, which as always means say anything will no doubt noise up the McLaren fans :)

    The biggest joke is anyone trying to gain analysis from "but Martin Whitmarsh said..." statements!! The man is so pathetic in his attempts for good PR for McLaren be it for the team or for Lewis last year when he was struggling. Whitmarsh is full of it and is so bad at delivering it convincingly that I reckon everything he says is bull. He reminds me of the boring, grey Spitting Image puppet of John Major.

    They, as in F1 need to improve their marketing of the sport in the off-season leading up to the first race. They should hold a one off testing event where the top three times get 3points, 2points and 1point respectively that count towards the constructors championship. That would give incentive to set good times, and perhaps to televise it on terrestrial TV (at least in Spain, Germany, France, Italy)

    The only F1 thing that is for certain at this point is that the BBC royally screwed up with the shifty dealings over their rights to show F1 in the UK from 2012 onwards.

    Roll on Melbourne, roll on RTL TV with 5Live for free :)

  • Comment number 77.

    I just wonder if Andrew will get an apology if it transpires that he is right? ;-)

    Given the facts of the lap times that we have seen over many days it was a pretty fair analysis. Speculating about what McLaren may or may not have been doing, race simulation or race distance simulation (Ha!), is neither here nor there really. The picture was clear, and it matched up to the shorter run pace as well.

    Individual times mean nothing, but it's very difficult to hide your pace in testing if you really are doing testing. Even if you sandbag heavily as Red Bull did last year there are still major suspicions.

  • Comment number 78.

    @howard hassen - that's a fair point, but writing for the masses does not translate to giving completely misleading information. If I also had 4 hours to come up with an article, I'm sure I could have come up with a more interesting post that would appeal to the masses. As it is, I took about 4 mins to produce a comment that; for those who are interested, gives a more accurate analysis and highlights issues with Andrew's.

  • Comment number 79.

    So we can safely assume that only a few drivers are happy and only the first race will tell how fast the cars will go. Each garage knows what its testing with their car in real life situations. These items they are testing will have been through hundreds of tests at the factory and predict what will happen Ferrari maybe expected more from its parts/car from the setup they sent out.

  • Comment number 80.

    Regarding post #77: In no way will anyone posting here bother to return to this blog to apologise for being hugely ungrateful for Andrew taking the time to write down his view of things.

    I'm looking forward to the new season, not only for the renewed competition in my second favourite motorsport (BTCC takes the number 1 spot as it's a little more of a 'contact sport' :-).

    What will be interesting is how Bernie will react to the massively reduced viewing figures when Sky only customers get to watch races and the rest of us turn to Radio 5 Live or the various internet sites. I'd sooner listen to the radio commentary and watch some dodgy little internet feed than feed the coffers at Sky and by default Bernie.

    ITV was okay coverage by the adverts made a mockery of some truely enthralling racing whne they simply had to go to a break. Long live the BBC and the best of their televised sport.

  • Comment number 81.

    #44
    Sorry, I didn't realise me subscribing to Sky made some newspapers hack the phones of certain people. I'd like to apologise to all the people involved for my irresponsible actions.

    #9
    You make much more sense, I think you should write the blogs from now on!

  • Comment number 82.

    "Reading between the lines in a phoney war" and:
    "I'll preface what follows with a major caveat - this has been one of the most difficult tests to read for some time. But here goes."
    **************************************

    Those are the article's headline and Mr Benson's comment, respectively, before he attempted to make silk out of the sow's ear that is the meaningless set of statistics gleaned from this, the first, testing session.

    As an observer, accredited or not, there is no chance of finding out what each team is doing with the cars on each run. I'm sure that we are all aware of the permutations of combinations involved in setting up a car for a specific circuit, never mind a 'new' car for a new season. Then there are the weather and track conditions.

    I'm sure that Mr Benson is required as part of his contract to produce some sort of précis of the practice activity and to then add his comments. Given the sometimes personal vituperative aimed at him I'm surprised that so many have been permitted to remain.

    Each to his own, I suppose, as there has been a number of well thought out comments preceding this one - but it still does not excuse silly and vacuous postings that litter this (and other F1) thread.

    Let's be honest, we can witter as much as we like, we can pontificate and predict, we can 'second guess' the motives of teams and drivers but, of course, it's a futile exercise. Melbourne might give us an idea, but it's the first race of the season where the cars will be put through their paces but even that event will not give a true indication of the season to come.

    I'm going to sit back, keep my guesses to myself and enjoy what happens.

  • Comment number 83.

    I haven't the foggiest who is faster than who...all will be revealed at the first race of the season.
    What do care about intensely is for everybody not to waste their money on Sky when you can get half of the races at the license paying fee on the BBC and the rest on various internet sights at no extra cost... stuff Murdoch...stuff his media empire...stuff Sky and all who set sail in it...

  • Comment number 84.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 85.

    Lol, some really interesting posts here. I have to say I have been disappointed with these f1 testing articles recently, they just constantly recycle the same stuff. Thanks to post 75 for providing alternate links.

    Roll on the launch of sky f1! I have no doubt that they will take f1 coverage to a new level, just like they have on football, rugby and cricket. The beeb did a good job following itv's lead. But I certainly won't miss Jake and Eddie.

  • Comment number 86.

    Yawn.......................

  • Comment number 87.

    Moderation, lets comment on that. My first comment on this blog was "Yawn". This was referred for moderation on Friday and still no resolution.

    Personally I feel this is due to Benson the bore

  • Comment number 88.

    Post number 24.

    Yes I prefer the pundits on final score to presenters on SKY who are extremely unprofessional and are often reporting on a match that they have had a bet on so report with bias. Some of the SKY reporters don't even know what is happening in the game that they are meant to be covering e.g. Chris Kamara.

    Gary Lineker presenting or some faceless nameless.

    Brian Moore or Wayne Barnes.

    There is absolutely no contest as the BBC is superior, the SKY presenters are incredibly annoying.

    I won't go into the negative affects that SKY has had on sports that they have forced changes to as it is well known.

    If you fund SKY then you are a disgrace.

  • Comment number 89.

    i think what became evidently clear at barcalona was that mclaren were sand-bagging, it looks like they don't want to show their true pace, so to make such comprehensive assessments of their performance based on these tests as andrew has done here is pretty preposterous.

  • Comment number 90.

    Alonso is a great driver, look what he could pull out on some courses and lap times last year. He has pedigree and experience, Ferrari have knowledge and I suspect this car isn't that slow. Its a bluff, the mind games and tactics start early

  • Comment number 91.

    Why so many paragraphs again? Seriously, I would really like to make it through the post but I just cannot manage it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Yet again another pre season testing blog begins with a comment on how inaccurate the time sheets are with regards to the pace of different teams.. only to be followed with a lengthy attempt at deciphering lap times.

    Stop shooting in the dark please, you don't know the true pace of the cars, neither do I, nor does anybody else. Let's just wait for the first race.

  • Comment number 93.

    @75 supermarketpeople

    Completely agree, you'd be hard pressed to find an F1 journo better than Joe. TFL is superb as well, I try to catch it every week. I still visit this site on occasion but mainly visit the blogs you've listed and others as well as autosports site for F1 news.

  • Comment number 94.

    Yet again a poor attempt from Benson to try and diagnose the situation

  • Comment number 95.

    Oh dear - can we not get over the fact that the BBC sold its F1 birthright for a mess of pottage? Benson's views are in a blog, not a technical factsheet. Discuss his views and post alternatives, but stop the slagging off!

  • Comment number 96.

    @95 ...right Ted, just 'cos you left BBC F0.5 and got yourself a job with SkyF1 shouldn't stop people slagging off the disgusting F1 TV dealings.

    I suppose people are whinging about various testing analysis views because there is not a lot else going on or being revealed in F1 at the moment. Well, perhaps there should be a blog on:
    - Why Sir Jackie Stewart is sticking up for the muppet that is Sir, no sorry, just Fred Goodwin? Whats that all about, respect drops from 11 down to 3 Sir J!
    - What happened for Lotus to pull their chassis out of the testing!
    - Why is Bernie and F1 supporting a race in Bahrain when you see what continues to go on over there -Doctor you are treating a potential protestor so you must die also!

  • Comment number 97.

    To be quiet honest, what we can gleam for this is the usual, the true performance will not be revealed until the first race. However if you really want to play the guessing game it really looks as though itl be Mclaren and Red Bull who prevail and maybe Force india may be the surprise package!!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    i think ferrari will come through, they did exhibit some good pace when they got going, just need to understand the car a bit more maybe.

  • Comment number 99.

    Why is everyone one so quick to be dismissive of Andrews statistics.
    They are statistics and like it or not they reflect reality..
    Thats what the times show, no-one except for the teams know the truth behind their times, and we will only be sure AFTER qualifying at Melbourne
    Drop your personal prejudices and look forward to a very very promising season - even if the cars are UGLY

  • Comment number 100.

    Where is Ted Kravitz qhwn you need him... oh wait

 

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