Right then. Most of the cars that matter have been launched. The driver market has almost gone cold. 2 of the new teams might not make the grid and Fernando Alonso is going to get a big wet kiss from Luca di Montezemolo.
First, the cars. Before I pronounce any kind of judgment, I would like to place on record my opinion that Ferrari and Mercedes GP have gone overboard to appease their newest sponsors. Ferrari has decided to go Bi-finish and throw in more white than they ever have thereby making Santander smile, while Mercedes GP has dipped their car in metallic green slime to please Petronas. The Sauber looks matte. That is to be expected without any sponsors, but I’m not saying it’s bad. The hooter of this year is Renault. What were they thinking? The R30 is the ugliest car on the grid since 2007 when Honda thought it was doing the world a favour by letting a 12 year old paint their car with what he/she thought would be a green Earth theme and then going on to mount those 2 elephant ears onto their car in order to make it go a little quicker. I really hope the R30 meets a different result at the end of the year. The Ferrari F10 looks beautiful and the Mclaren MP4-25 looks like every other Mclaren.
The Red Bull RB6 however, is what everybody is waiting for. Christian Horner sounds happy that most other teams’ 2010 cars bear a resemblance to the 2009 RB5. This could mean one of two things. 1, that Adrian Newey has outthought everyone with the RB6. Again. Or 2, that Red Bull is on the same page as everyone else for 2010. I have a feeling that it’s the former. As for whether they will be quick or not, we’ll have to wait for Jerez.
With the cars that have released though, there are many things to talk about. All of them look pregnant, but in a good way. Think 12-14 weeks. Their noses are higher than earlier and those smaller tyres look quite, odd, after so many years of equal sized tyres. Every team that experimented with KERS last year has thrown it out the window even though officially, its still allowed this year (KERS is banned from the 2011 season onwards, along with the double diffusers).
Testing got underway at Valencia and on the face of it; all is well with the big red machine. Ferrari were understandably happy that Felipe Massa was able to get through two full days of testing and top the timesheets as well. Jenson Button showed up in the MP4-25 and had problems with his seat. Observers have already started writing him off for this year and on the basis of comparative times with his team mate Lewis Hamilton, apparently he’s going to be playing second fiddle as well.
Sauber had a fantastic test coming in 2nd on all 3 days of testing. This is probably because they ran super light in order to attract sponsors. If that is what they were trying to do, they should (on the basis of Valencia), certainly be able to attract a few. Mercedes GP couldn’t repeat last year’s fantastical tale of Brawn, with the man himself saying that they have some catching up to do. But then he also shot a warning to everyone listening. That Merc. know what they’re problem was and that they knew how to fix it. Come the first test at Jerez, things should get a little clearer.
However it was a man from Spain wearing Red overalls who stole every headline. Fernando Alonso showed up to drive a Ferrari for the first time. Ever. And after 25 odd laps, promptly showed everyone why Ferrari wanted him so desperately by topping the times. Taking into account that fact that Massa did a lot of setup work and the fact that the rack was much quicker on Day 3, it has still been pointed out (by Ferrari themselves) that Alonso was marginally quicker than Massa. If he marginally quicker after his first day, Alonso fans must be licking they’re lips at the prospect of what he will be able to achieve after slightly longer in the car.
Now all eyes will turn to Jerez. Will Alonso dominate again? Will Massa keep the Ferrari flag prancing high? Will the wily Ross Brawn manage to swing it the way of the silver (green) cars? And what of Red Bull? They’ve take a week longer in the wind tunnel, choosing that over the track. It’s all go from Monday including the welcome to Force India.
It’s going to be a cracker of a test. Weather permitting.