- 2010 Season
No team has a distinct advantage - Massa
Felipe Massa has played down suggestions that Ferrari is the dominant team heading into the opening round of the 2010 season.
After setting consistently quick times on short and long runs, the collective wisdom of the paddock is backing Ferrari as the front runners. However, quick laps set by all the top teams on the final day of testing in Barcelona suggest there is little more than a few tenths of a second separating the fastest cars. Massa said the close times are a good indicator of the spread of competition he is expecting at the first race.
"Today the timesheet says [Lewis] Hamilton [is quickest], but we're all very close together, it's just tenths of a second," he said. "We never expected to have an advantage and to go to the first race and win in an easy way, definitely not. We expect to have a competitive car, and this I think we have done. The car is reliable, but also consistent, and that is what we want to start the season. We are not here to be the champions of the pre-season. We are here to work on the car, to try to have a good championship and fighting for the championship."
Most teams will bring updates to their cars ahead of the first race, but one that is causing particular interest in the paddock is Mercedes' plan to overhaul its diffuser. Last year, when it was running under the Brawn name, it caused controversy with its double-diffuser design that gave it a distinct advantage in the first half of the season. Now all teams have designed their cars around a similar concept, but rumours suggest the Brackley-based team will have an even more radical iteration on its car in Bahrain.
"We're just a little bit off where we want to be," said team principal Ross Brawn. "But I think we're close enough to be within reach. We have a new package for Bahrain and I hope that's going to make the difference."
However, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is not convinced any single team will make significant gains over the next two weeks.
"I do not know what Brawn will have in Bahrain, but we'll see if it is really something new," he said. "For me, it is just a rumour, like many others."
Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa agreed and said that the limits of what can be gained by a diffuser under the current regulations have been reached.
"Now all the cars have a super diffuser and there will be no surprises because the rules have been stretched thin by the engineers," he said.
Meanwhile, Red Bull attempted to fool its rivals in Barcelona by putting stickers on its car that looked like exhaust outlets. The actual exhausts are now much lower, below the level of the rear suspension, rather than in the conventional position on the top of the engine cover.