JohnsonsEvilTwin wrote:My testing impressions are that Red Bull are slightly ahead of McLaren in terms of pace, but not much in that.
After this we have 4 or 5 teams in with a shout.
Mercedes have raw pace on long runs but their tyre wear is an issue.
Lotus appear fast. How fast is a question we will see answered emphatically in Australia.
Then we have Force India who appear to have an all round very well balanced car that looks especially stable through corners. Again, how well sorted this car is we wont know for sure until Oz.
Then Ferrari. They appear to be in trouble, but there is potential in the car. How they can utilise the next week to prep for the season start will give us a good indication as to where the Scuderia are heading in 2012.
Sauber appear to have pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the C31. Their exhaust solution is intelligent, and the car is out the box quick. However, I do have reservations about the loss of Key, and of course Saubers flattering to deceive in testing.
My predictions for Oz:
<around 0.4-0.7 seconds margin>
The dark horse for me is Mercedes. We haven't seen any lower fuel run from this team. Their concentration was on very long runs and race sims. I saw the McLaren run softs and its degradation was near exactly in alignment with Mercedes at very similar times at the same time of the day(temp, track condition factors)They appear to know exactly where they are and I think we will see an arms race develop as the season goes on. At certain tracks, this team could surprise.
For what it's worth my prediction for qualifying:
Red Bull fastest in qualifying from McLaren, but nothing to choose between them in race pace after the first few laps.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus
Force India, Torro Rosso
In the race I think Williams and Sauber will close up a bit on FI and TR, that Ferrari and Mercedes will drop back a little, and that Lotus will stay a couple of tenths behind the RB and McLaren. I think that Caterham may do better in the race and will occasionally mix it with the mid field on merit rather than circumstance.
Over the course of the year I expect McLaren and Red Bull to break clear of the pack and battle it out all season long. Ferrari to capture 3rd fastest team and occasionally mix it at the front. Mercedes to run Ferrari close. Lotus and Torro Rosso to fade a little with Force India and Sauber gaining. Williams to fall back a bit and Caterham to trouble them regularly by the end of the year.
I also think that by the end of the year HRT will be routinely beating Marussia but both will be well off the pace and that one or other of them will be in serious danger of not making it to the grid for next season.