Winter over, F1 intrigue moves to Melbourne
(GMM) Any attempt to establish a pre-season pecking order prior to the Melbourne season opener would have to be torn up following the last day of winter testing.
Although only two teams were circulating at the Jerez circuit on Thursday, Kazuki Nakajima's fastest time was clearly the quickest of the entire final test, faster even than the dominant Brawns earlier this week.
"I think that we are probably in a strong midfield position, but we will have to wait until Melbourne to be certain," said Nakajima's Williams teammate Nico Rosberg.
Moreover, the struggling (or sandbagging) McLaren team also seems to have made strong gains this week, and on Thursday Heikki Kovalainen was slower than the Williams but hot on the heels of the earlier Brawn pace.
"We are still far from our normal standard," McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"We have improved (this week), but it's not yet where we want to be," he added.
Even amid the form-book uncertainty, it is reasonably clear that - in approximate descending order - Ferrari, Toyota, BMW, Renault and Red Bull have emerged from the winter in good form.
The apparent dominance of the former Honda team, meanwhile, is real.
"It was a shock when we saw the Brawn in Barcelona, it was a real 'Oh My God' moment when that thing came out of the garage and was just quick," Simon Roberts, Force India's chief operations officer on loan from McLaren, told Reuters.