Ferrari have made headlines with their F2012 already
As the first of 4 pre-season tests draw to a close, we are beginning to form an idea of how the grid might shape out this year. Several news stories have also added interest to the speculation, as teams try to hold their cards close to their chests.
Here is the summary of news and events from testing so far:
Ferrari doubtful over pace?
Despite Fernando Alonso leading the timesheets on day 4 of testing, the Ferrari team are remaining quiet on whether their car can compete against Red Bull. Felipe Massa refused to clarify how he felt on the F2012, and technical director Pat Fry said the team still had lots of work to do:
"I am not happy with where we are at the moment. There is a lot of room for us
to improve. Reliability-wise it is good. Performance-wise I think we are okay.
But we can play around with the performance and improve the car in some corners,
and some particular parts of the corner. But I would not say I am happy yet until
we get the whole thing working."
Force India feeling positive
Meanwhile, the Force India team are very happy with their progress over the winter.
Targeting 5th place in this year's championship, their VJM05 appears to have a solid baseline for the team to build on. After missing a day of testing due to Jules Bianchi's mishap, Nico Hulkenberg was happy with their progress:
"The long runs were useful for that and it also allowed me to start understanding
the new tyres. There is still a massive amount to learn and lots of data to look
at, but it feels like we have a good baseline to develop from and I’m pleased with
how the day went."
HRT to miss testing again?
HRT's embarrassing 3-year drought of not setting a single lap in testing looks set to continue, as the F112 (more than likely the car's name) failed the mandatory FIA crash tests last week.
This year, a new regulation forces the teams to have passed the 17 crucial crash tests before the car can take part in testing. However, HRT's car only passed 14 of these. Reports suggest that the car failed the roll hoop and lateral nose tests by "a minor margin".
However, this still means that the car will not be ready for the second test in Barcelona. While the team are still aiming to turn a wheel before the first race in Melbourne, it is not an encouraging sign for the fledgling team.
Until the new car passes crash tests, Pedro de la Rosa will continue to drive last year's F111.
McLaren and Ferrari exhausts declared legal
After the reactive ride height controversy last month, the FIA's Charlie Whiting has approved exhaust layouts designed by Ferrari and McLaren.
A ban on exhaust blown diffusers this year forced teams to make their exhaust outlets visible from above, and have no influence on the performance of the diffuser. However, other teams in the paddock were worried that Ferrari and McLaren had found a way to manipulate exhaust gases to benefit other aero sections of the car.
While this would appear to be against technical regulations, Whiting has given the green light to both teams. According to Sky Sport's Ted Kravitz, this will prompt more aggressive exhaust designs for other teams in the Barcelona tests:
"I understand from sources in the pit lane that FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting
has told the teams that he considers Ferrari and McLaren exhaust designs as legal.
Even though the way those two teams have packaged their exhaust outlets, with
channels leading exhaust gases out to specific areas of the car and therefore
appearing to have a beneficial aero effect, which is against new exhaust regulations,
it seems Whiting believes that they comply sufficiently with both the letter and the
intention of the law.
This has been accepted by the other teams, who launched with less aggressive exhaust
concepts and it means that they will now effectively green light their own, shall we
say more exotic, exhaust designs.
We can expect to see these in time for the third test in Barcelona, if not before."