F1: Complete 2010 Pre-Season Testing Analysis

What Happens When Simplification Is the Only Way

3:35pm EST — After fifteen days of watching lap times and red flags and hearing the teams bemoan wet and windy conditions, one has to wonder, what does it all mean?  Simply put, those watching have really no idea what any of the faster or slower lap times mean, if only because each team used the on-track time given to them differently.  Sometimes they practiced qualifying, sometimes races, and sometimes a given team barely made it onto the track, with hydraulic difficulties or a lack of spare parts after an off.  In fact, most of those covertly watching their competitors are pretty clear that they don’t know how the other teams are fairing.

The general consensus is that Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes GP, and Red Bull are the teams that will do well through the 2010 season.  But no one is really certain.  One thing that can be determined from all of these times is which teams were consistently faster than the others, not by lap time, but by how many of their competitors they were faster than on any given day.  If you have been reading my analysis after the test session, you’ll be familiar with my methods.  Simply put, I think that if a team is, more often than not, faster than the bulk of the other teams, that team is likely in good shape for the upcoming season.  It is a bit oversimplified, but with all the knowledge we are lacking, it seems to be the easiest way to make some sort of determination.  At the end of this analysis, a faux winner will be declared in the faux “testing championship” we have just concluded.  Click through to read the entire winter’s testing analyis…

Seven of the ten teams took all fifteen days, with Red Bull, Force India, and Virgin Racing skipping Valencia, and Lotus F1 skipping both Valencia and the first Jerez test.  An easier chart is just below, giving the amount of first, second, third, etc. positions each team managed in their testing days.

As you can see, the teams’ order in the chart is not alphabetical, but how I see them ranked in comparison to each other, with Ferrari at the top with the “highest” ranking, because that team was consistently faster than the other teams testing each day it ran.  Some of the teams might appear to be ranked higher than they ought, because they might have had a bad day with a tenth fastest time.  However, if you look at the number of top threes or top fives for that particular team, you will notice that it has more better positions than the team ranked lower.

Team (days)
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th
Ferrari (15) 3 2 2 2 2 1 3          
McLaren (15) 3 1 4   3 1   1 1 1    
Red Bull (12) 3 1 1   3 1   2 2 1    
Sauber (15) 1 4 2 1 2 1   3   1    
Mercedes (15) 2   3 2 4 3 2          
Williams (15) 2 1 2 3   2 2 1 1 1    
Toro Rosso (15) 1 3   2   1 3   3 1 1  
ForceIndia (12)   1 1 3 1 1 5 1 1      
Renault (15)   2   2   4   4 2 1    
VirginRacing(12)               6 2 2    
LotusF1 (8)                 1 1 5 1

For the final determination of which team was the “best” during this off-season testing, I have calculated the points for each team, as though each test day were a race and the fastest time set was the winner, with the points awarded (25-20-15-10-8-6-5-3-2-1) as they will be for the 2010 season.  On those days where a team ran two cars, I will only use the “points” won by the faster car so as to not skew the results too much.  For those teams who did not participate in all of the testing, they will be considered a retirement, as often happens in a real race.  Since consistently finishing first or in the top three makes a championship winning team, this should  be a good indication of which team is most ready for the racing to begin, though not which team will actually win the championship.  A team has to remain consistent and develop the car appropriately over the next nine months in order to actually win the championship.  We’re here only to suggest which teams are ready to race, now.  By those calculations, the following would be the “testing championship” final positions, complete with points awarded.

Testing “Championship” Standings:
1. Ferrari, 202
2. McLaren, 188
3. Sauber, 177
4. Mercedes GP, 165
5. Williams, 158
6. Red Bull, 142
7. Toro Rosso, 107
8. Force India, 104
9. Renault, 75
10. Virgin Racing, 11
11. LotusF1, 3

Because of Red Bull’s missed days early in the testing sessions, they lost the hypothetical points that would have allowed them to move up to (at least) fourth.  Instead, as is the general consensus, Ferrari appears most ready to begin racing, and be quick.  McLaren is also ready, though a bit less so than Ferrari.  The surprising element is Sauber in “third.”  I do not mean to suggest that they will begin the season and dominate the way Brawn did last year, but they do have an advantageous situation in that the car was developed last season for this one by BMW.

In the end, though, and no matter how you look at it, we really do not know how this season will play out, simply by looking at lap times and rankings (to see the final analysis at F1B for the first Jerez test, the second Jerez test, and the Barcelona test that just concluded, click the previous links).  There are too many variables from the testing, and only some of them will be worked out once the season begins.  We have to wait for the racing to end, really, to know which team will do well and win the championship.  Only two weeks until it all begins, though.  Count down the days; I know I am.
[posted, in part from the author’s analysis at Formula1Blog]


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