Lots of people have had their say about what they think the pecking order will be, now it's my turn! I've been analysing all the test data and come across something interesting.
Firstly, i have assumed that during each of the three tests, cars will have done at least one low (or low-ish) fuel run. This means that we see close to the ultimate pace of the cars. So for each of the three tests:
Test 1: Jerez
Test 2: Barcelona
Test 3: Barcelona
.. i listed all of the fastest laps and placed them in order, regardless of which day the lap was set. This means that we now have three lists of lap times - one for each test.
As an example, this is the first few times in the list for Jerez:
1) Massa - Ferrari - 1m17.879s
2) Raikkonen - Lotus - 1m18.148s
3) Bianchi - Force India - 1m18.175s
4) Grosjean - Lotus - 1m18.218s
5) Vettel - Red Bull - 1m18.565s
6) Gutierrez - Sauber - 1m18.669s
At this point, we disregard the drivers and look at the teams only. This gives:
1) Ferrari - 1m17.879s
2) Lotus - 1m18.148s
3) Force India - 1m18.175s
4) Lotus - 1m18.218s
5) Red Bull - 1m18.565s
6) Sauber - 1m18.669s
We can now order the teams according to this lap time data. At this point it is important to note that only the fastest time from each team is used because that lap time is closer to the ultimate pace. So for the Jerez example, we drop the Lotus in P4 because their best time is P2. If we do this process (with all lap times for each test, not just the six shown here) for all three tests - we get three sets of data, all team ranks for each of the three tests.
To continue our example, the team ranks for Jerez are:
Test 1: Jerez
3) Force India
4) Red Bull
6) Toro Rosso
Now we simply average the team positions for each of the three tests. For example:
Test 1 (Jerez): 1st
Test 2 (Barcelona): 2nd
Test 3 (Barcelona): 2nd
Average this we get:
1 + 2 + 2 = 5
5 / 3 = 1.6
1.6 is Ferrari's average position over the three tests with the assumptions we made. If we do this process for every team and then rank the teams in order of average positions - we actually get a realistic grid order (although with one exception):
1) Ferrari (1.6)
2=) Lotus (4)
2=) McLaren (4)
2=) Sauber (4)
5) Mercedes (4.6)
6) Force India (5.3)
7) Red Bull (5.6)
8) Williams (7.6)
9) Toro Rosso (8.6)
10) Caterham (10)
11) Marussia (10.3)
Clearly Red Bull are the only team that mess up this theory. But i am pretty sure one of the following statements is true - either:
Red Bull are SUPER confident and didn't do any low fuel runs.
Red Bull are about to shock everybody with an awful season.
Obviously the first statement is more likely, but time will tell!
1) The car has been absolutely bullet proof. One reliability issue in the whole of testing is very good, especially considering Paul di Resta managed to do back-to-back race simulations on the same day with no real problems. Additionally, our rivals Sauber struggled to complete any full race simulations without having some sort of mechanical problem.
2) The return of Adrian Sutil. Not only is he well liked in the team, giving everybody a boost. But he is, without doubt, one of the quickest drivers on the grid in wet conditions. It WILL be wet at some point this season and Adrian WILL take advantage of that.
In terms of prospects for the season, I think we will start off as the 7th quickest car on pace (6th from the list, 7th if you bump up Red Bull), but a combination of teams not yet understanding the tyres and wet weather will mean we'll do very well. At the end of the season though, with our usual development rate, we should manage to finish in the top five - i'm quite confident of this. In my opinion, the only way it won't happen is if the team decide to switch focus to 2014 (and the new regulation changes) earlier than other teams. Although if this is the case, then we should have a very, very impressive 2014!
I'm excited, this could be a mega season - expect podiums this year!
Thanks for reading,