The final pre-season test at Barcelona came to an end on Sunday and all that's possible to say is that on low fuel loads it's all very close. Or rather it was very close because the cars will have upgrades for the first GP in Bahrain the Sunday after next.
With refueling now banned much of this year's testing has been about checking the car's performance, balance and reliability over long runs starting with a big fuel load. This has not been well reported, with generally only the fastest lap given and no indication of weather conditions. For information to be any use we armchair pundits now need all the lap times, with time of day and weather conditions. In fact, despite F1 being such a massively technical sport, that side of it is very badly covered, with even the "technical" pieces in the comics being badly written, confused and contradictory. Surely there must be someone who can explain clearly in plain language what's happening and how it works?
This omission is despite massive media coverage, which is getting ever more intense with testing reported live via blogs and Twitter. Everyone is at it, the teams, drivers, designers etc., plus the fans. Unfortunately, most of it seems to be drivel. Take InsideFerrari for example: "It's raining again: for sure Felipe is not the luckiest driver!" may be accurate, but am I any the wiser for knowing that? But there again, at least it has it empowered MdShahzad to say directly to Ferrari: "The Horse Whisperer just collected what many, many fans write and say all over the world: nothing more than this", which is the exact opposite of the view of most fans I've spoken to. Mind you, TomHorsepower did ask: "what about the F10 engine mounting system? Is true that is some degrees lean", to which InsideFazza answered: "Ah, let's say we have an unusual installation of the engine...". It's rumoured to be tilted up at the back to enhance the shape of the diffusi, bit like the Arrows A2.
For many fans, including me, the arrival of the new teams has been the most exciting thing to happen to F1 in years; both Lotus and Virgin Racing must be given huge credit for making it thus far. What is astonishing is that after the FIA's selection process, half of the new teams granted an entry have yet to produce a car, let alone run it! It has been reported that the Campos Meta team has been taken over by its major backer and its Dallara-built car might make it to Bahrain, or after. The latest news is that the team name will be changed to Hispania Racing Team (HRT, for Heaven's sake!). You'd have thought that was the last of their worries and, as any employee knows, when the first thing a new boss wants to do is change the name and the signs over the door you know you're heading for trouble. Mind you, at least this is better than the USF1 thing which seems to have been a fantasy from the start. They've asked permission to miss the first four races. Things are changing day-by-day, but latest reports suggest the team is defunct.
Finally there is the minor detail that their car has yet to turn a wheel because Bridgestone won't let them have any tyres. Bridgestone are only obliged to supply tyres to entrants in the F1 championship and in any case you can quite understand their reticence. But you'd think that if Stefan GP were serious, they'd at least have bought a set of Avons like Corse Clienti and given it a trundle round. [Even as this was being posted, the news came through that USF1 have been removed from the 2010 entry list, but despite this, Stefan GP have NOT been granted an entry].