A TEST OF REAL SPEED
OR JUST A MIRAGE?
Preseason Formula 1 testing primes the pump for the
season ahead, but offers at best a murky crystal ball
In the years since then-McLaren team
principal Ron Dennis dismissed archrival
Ferrari’s domination of preseason testing
as “winning the winter world
championship,” attention has only
ratcheted up on the break-in runs for
new Formula 1 machinery.
Typically held in Spain to ensure the
best possible weather, preseason tests
seem to draw more fevered coverage from
the race-starved public and media every
year. But do their results really tell a
representative story of the season ahead?
This year proved especially problematic
as the teams grappled with a new iteration
of Pirelli tires that proved even less
durable than last year’s. That was by
design, of course, rather than any
deficiencies of engineering, but that didn’t
stop the grumbling – especially as it limited
the teams’ abilities to measure their
standing against the opposition.
“It’s extreme. The degradation is very
difficult. It’s a big surprise,” said McLaren
new recruit Sergio Perez in Barcelona.
“Normally in winter testing we see a lot
of degradation, but never this much.
“We are still learning about the tires and
I think once we go racing, things will
change,” added the Mexican. “I hope it
changes, because if we are in this situation
in Melbourne, we are going to see
something like seven or 10 stops...”
Nico Rosberg agreed that the tires’
behavior caused some inconvenience, but
he fully backed Pirelli’s strategy.
“We’ve seen the Pirellis are great for
racing and for excitement, and that’s the
main priority – to make it exciting for the
fans,” said the Mercedes driver. “We just
have to handle it. It’s important that it’s
good racing and we know that this sort
of degradation profile creates the
most exciting races.”
Up-and-down days for F1’s top teams in 2013’s season-opening test is illustrated by the chart below, which shows
how the form of the fastest driver on each day fluctuated.
What does it all mean? Your guess is as good as theirs!
12 SPRING 2013
It wouldn’t be winter testing without a tech
legality controversy. This year’s Williams
(LEFT) and Caterham drew questions about
their exhaust outlets. The FIA would only
offer its “advice” that they might be illegal....
F1 teams had to
along with their new
cars, which made
judging the latter a