First F1 Test: Massa Fastest, But What Does It All Mean?


What Happens When It’s Truly Too Early To Tell

12:02am — Monday kicked off the first 2010 Formual1 season test, with the following times set by those drivers listed as participating, their team, the fastest lap set, and the number of laps completed:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:12.574, 102 Laps
2. Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber, 1:12.784, 74 Laps
3. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, 1:12.947, 40 Laps
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, 1:13.543, 39 Laps
5. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1:13.846, 86 Laps
6. Rubens Barrichello, Williams, 1:14.449, 75 Laps
7. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:14.762, 18 Laps
8. Robert Kubica, Renault, 1:15.000, 69 Laps

All of the drivers listed will be racing with the team they drove for Monday, barring Gary Paffett who is the McLaren reserve driver after de la Rosa left the team to race with Sauber for 2010.  Immediately standing out is the speed of previously injured Massa and the pace of the Sauber.  Schumacher looks quite quick for a man who has not raced an F1 car in three years. The Toro Rosso suffered gearbox problems and spent much of the day in the garage

However, it is far too early to make any sort of determinations.  Testing is not the same a race conditions.   All too often in 2009, Force India or Williams would lead the practices, then qualify and finish between eighth and twelfth.  Similarly, it is impossible to tell which teams are running with lighter or heavier fuel loads.  With the ban on re-fueling in place for 2010, the cars will begin the race considerably heavier than they will finish.  Both the driver and the car must be prepared for such conditions.  Even a “winner” from the testing cannot be determined until all the drivers have posted times in the various cars.  That will not finish until it is nearly time for the season to begin, or at least the end of the month.

While few actual conclusions can be made from these testing times, it is heartening to see the youngest driver on the grid, the oldest, and a recently injured driver all racing together in the top flight of  roadracing.  Once this week’s test has concluded, the teams will have one week to travel to Jerez for the next rests, scheduled February 10th-13th.  Tuesday’s driver line-up will include the following:

McLaren: Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes: Nico Rosberg
Ferrari: Felipe Massa
Sauber: Kamui Kobayashi
Williams: Rubens Barrichello
Renault: Robert Kubica
Toro Rosso: Sébastien Buemi

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