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Jerez

An engineer quoted on the Autosport live commentary during Jerez testing said that fastest lap times are probably the least useful information to be gleaned from preseason testing — unless I dreamt that at some point very early in the morning, which is entirely possible. But let’s say an engineer did actually say those words. Still, fastest lap times are probably what most of us, especially simpletons like me, are able to grasp most intuitively. In which case OMG IS RUBENS GOING TO WIN THE WDC???

No, just kidding — even I don’t think that. (It would be cool, though.)

What I’m catching on to is that teams play their cards pretty close to their chest at this point in the preseason. Because this is the first time I’ve paid close attention to preseason testing, I’m finding it all very fascinating. The consensus seems to be that Red Bull is not trying for the lap times they could be getting; instead, observers present at the track talk in hushed tones of the fearsome consistency of their lap times, and one gets the impression that the drivers are holding themselves back, like a grown-up jogging with a kid and limiting their pace just enough to prevent the kid from bursting into tears of frustration and inadequacy.

Other teams, like Williams and Sauber, might be trying to show both current and potential sponsors what their car is capable of, with at least a few very fast laps on low fuel loads and/or supersoft tires. Then there are the individual drivers with something to prove, like Nick Heidfeld on Saturday. On the subject of having something to prove, I’m not sure I’m on board with Mark Webber’s theory that Michael Schumacher’s fast lap on Friday was a “show for Germany.” Would it really be necessary this early on? Are eyebrows going to be raised every time someone does an unusually fast lap on those supersoft tires? (Even Michael Schumacher?)

Not sure what to make of McLaren at the moment. Doesn’t seem like most other people are, either.

I have a feeling Ferrari is going to be Red Bull’s scariest rival this season. Not exactly a risky or controversial prediction, I know. In fact, it’s probably something a lot of people would have said before testing even began. So far, nothing has happened to make it seem any less likely.

Oh, not long before I finished writing this post, F1 Fanatic published an interesting chart of lap times during longer runs to show how different teams fared. Take a look at that Sebastian Vettel line. You could go skating on something that smooth and horizontal!

And what kind of fan would I be if I didn’t say something about Bruno Senna’s day of testing with Lotus Renault? Of course, as we have established, fastest lap times don’t mean much at this point — but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice seeing his name fifth on the time charts. Obviously the guy would rather be racing than testing — who wouldn’t? — but he seems genuinely happy to have a chance to do some real testing in an F1 car and help the team however he can.

It was brilliant. It was the second test I had in a Formula 1 car, ever. Considering I raced for a year that’s quite incredible.

Doing a full test day in a car makes you learn so much as a driver because of how much work you can do in the car. You can plan without having to worry too much about having only one and a half hours to do this or that. You can do different runs so I gathered a lot of experience, not only from driving the car but also from listening to the conversations between all the drivers and engineers. [From Autosport.]

The interviewer in that Q&A gave him a perfect opportunity to slag on the HRT car if he so chose, but he didn’t even take it. I defy you to tell me the world would not be a more pleasant and harmonious place with more people like Bruno in it. I will not hear a bad word said about that man! That’s right — I’m pointing menacingly at you!

Finally, one of my favorite images from Jerez. In case it’s not immediately apparent, it’s Fernando Alonso, wearing an image of his friend Robert Kubica’s helmet on his own helmet. Get well and come back soon, Robert!

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