So, the four days of Jerez have come and gone. All the major contenders have got into their cars bar one - Fernando Alonso, who spent the week tweeting his training schedule from the Canary Isles.
What have we learned from this first foray onto 2013 Pirellis with 2013 cars? As usual with testing, it's hard to pick out solid facts from the data. Although all teams bar Williams were running their 2013 chassis, much of the fine-tuned aero has yet to be put on the car - there's no reason to give your wind tunnel secrets away so early.
Fuel loads are also a variable known only to the teams, along with how hard the drivers are pushing. It's very rare to admit in post-testing interviews that you were pushing; right now drivers have to be 'too cool for school'.
So it was refreshing to hear Romain Grosjean - who was consistently fast in the 2012 tests - admit that he was hammering out times on Wednesday."We tried hard on the medium and soft tyres and saw a good difference between them, and we made them work well," he said.
Which shows the level of confidence that Lotus have. Jerez is known to have a very aggressive, high degradation tarmac and so pushing on soft and medium tyres would surely eat them up pretty quickly. It would seem like Lotus were so confident with the set-up of their car that they were running qualifying simulations on Day Two.
Grosjean, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa were very much in awe of the time that Jenson Button set on Day One and if there was any one headline fact to be taken from the week it was that time. As Webbo admitted: "It's a strong lap time. I don't know what tyre he was on or what was going on, but that is certainly not a slow lap around here - a 1m18.8s at Jerez, on Pirellis, is pretty handy."
For the record he set it on hard tyres, on what was then a lightly-rubbered in surface. To set a 1:18 on Day Three or Four might not have been such a daunting task, but on Day One it was remarkable. Grosjean set a 1:18.2 on Day Two in what was close to a qualifying simulation.
The headline news from Jerez last year had been that Ferrari were adrift of the pack. While it was impossible to judge who was the fastest from Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus , it was clear that the F150 was a very difficult machine to drive and was not going to challenge at the front in qualifying. This year, there were no such worries. As if to reassure the Italian press that they had a season to look forward to, Felipe set a 1:17.8 on soft tyres on Day Three and that would remain the fastest time of the week.
Ferrari's hallmark last season was bullet-proof reliability. Newly hired Pedro de la Rosa believed that he'd be spending the season doing simulator work at Maranello and was delighted to get the call to fill in for Fernando Alonso on the final day of the test. Thus when his gearbox went up in smoke after only a few installation laps, it looked likely that his day was done.
This was potentially very bad news because Ferrari are playing catch-up in the simulator department. They have admitted they lag behind the Red Bull and McLaren simulators (though how they know that for certain is hard to tell - presumably ex-McLaren Pat Fry, now at Ferrari - is able to calculate progress from the time he left the team).
Thankfully, the mechanics were able to fix the problem and get Pedro back on the circuit for 51 very crucial laps. "What we did today is very important, even if it hasn't been long runs or many laps," said de la Rosa. " The whole point of having me here was to understand the car and to help to accelerate the whole simulator programme." Now he can go back and match what he has driven to the simulated F138.
Having worked on the McLaren simulator (with Fry) before he joined HRT last season Pedro is now aware of how much more sophisticated the McLaren version is. And can see why he's been brought in, It would also explain the reason why Fernando Alonso chose to train this week and skip Jerez. It's a circuit he doesn't particularly rate and allowing de la Rosa time in the car will benefit everyone.
Getting in those 51 laps was the save of the day, though still not ideal. Yet few teams had untroubled weeks. McLaren, who had lost the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix thanks to a faulty Mercedes fuel pump, put in three laps before their all-new replacement pump... failed. Mercedes had a wiring loom fire that sidelined Nico Rosberg on Day One and then a hydraulic failure (something that Michael Schumacher would have been familiar with) on Day Two sending Lewis Hamilton off the circuit.
It all looked pretty bleak for Mercedes at that stage, but then on Day Three Nico Rosberg drove the car for 148 laps, 407 miles, or two grand prix distances, without a hiccup. On Day Four Lewis Hamilton drove it for 145 laps without encountering the barrier. Reliability was looking up but Hamilton was able to add a very significant reality check.
He'd finished off the season in what was by then the quickest car, the McLaren, and he was able to tell Ross Brawn that the Mercedes W04 was significantly behind on downforce. Given the fact that the regulations haven't changed much between 2012 and 2013 that must have come as an unhappy surprise, because the team had been able to concentrate on their 2013 car a lot earlier than Red Bull, Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren who were contending both championships till November.
And what of Red Bull? They were there or thereabouts all week, and along with Lotus ran the smoothest testing programme. BBC analyst, former Jordan technical director Gary Anderson went out onto the circuit to watch the cars on Day Four: ""I'm out on the track watching the cars and it looks like the Red Bull (Vettel) has 10% more downforce than anything else. The McLaren (Perez) still has constant understeer through the corners, the Mercedes (Hamilton) has understeer on entry and then the rear snaps on exit, while the Lotus (Raikkonen) looks well balanced."
At the end of four days of testing the summary reads that nobody had a disaster, although the Williams 2012 car looked slower than the new machinery. Jenson Button's Day One time was perhaps the most significant, and Felipe Massa's Day Three time the most reassuring. Lotus have every reason to be confident, while McLaren will be fretting about that redesigned fuel pump. Fifty laps may not be enough for de la Rosa and Ferrari may even be contemplating letting him have half a day in Barcelona. Mercedes have got a notebook of stuff to do from Lewis Hamilton.
But the last word should go to Mark Webber who added the most significant caveat of all. "There are a lot of quick cars out there, and we're mindful of that. Last year we had some very quick cars here in Jerez and they didn't do much in the championship, so let's see."
Barcelona, as Fernando Alonso has alluded, will be a far more significant baseline.
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