The last full group test ahead of the new season finished yesterday. Two weeks from today, the 2009 F1 cars will be driven in anger for the first time in practice for the Australian Grand Prix.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, how accurately can we predict the form of each of the teams at the first race?
I’ve ranked the teams in order of how quick I think each of their cars is. Share your ranking below, and we’ll put them all together to see how accurately F1 Fanatic readers can predict their 2009 form.
To get a little perspective on the teams’ performance, here’s how each driver’s best lap times combined in the four-day test session at Barcelona this week:
1 Rubens Barrichello Brawn GP BGP001 1’18.926 (221 laps)
2 Jenson Button Brawn GP BGP001 1’19.’127 (212)
3 Nico Rosberg Williams FW31 1’19.774 (209)
4 Timo Glock Toyota TF109 1’20.091 (260)
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari F60 1’20.168 (201)
6 Robert Kubica BMW F1.09 1’20.217 (248)
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari F60 1’20.314 (136)
8 Nick Heidfeld BMW F1.09 1’20.338 (223)
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RB5 1’20.576 (185)
10 Fernando Alonso Renault R29 1’20.664 (272)
11 Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP4-24 1’20.869 (156)
12 Kazuki Nakajima Williams FW31 1’20.907 (177)
13 Jarno Trulli Toyota TF109 1’20.937 (242)
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso STR4 1’21.013 (213)
15 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India VJM02 1’21.045 (238)
16 Mark Webber Red Bull RB5 1’21.347 (183)
17 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso STR4 1’21.629 (127)
18 Nelson Piquet Jnr Renault R29 1’21.662 (126)
19 Adrian Sutil Force India VJM02 1’21.834 (211)
20 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren MP4-24 1’21.991 (178)
Based partly on that, the other test sessions, and my own gut feeling, here’s my ranking of the teams are heading into the first race of 2009:
1. BMW – Their decision to sacrifice their 2008 championship effort to develop a more competitive 2009 car appears to have been vindicated. The car looked quick early on and they seem not to have felt the need to push for headline-setting fastest lap times.
2. Ferrari – KERS teething problems have grabbed a few headlines for Ferrari in the off-season but their underlying pace is, as ever, very strong.
3. Brawn GP – Clearly invested an enormous amount of effort in their 2009 challenger when they were Honda, and perhaps their off-season disruption hasn’t hampered development of the RA109/BGP001 too much. Probably not as sensationally fast as the time indicate, but still remarkable under the circumstances.
4. Toyota – One of the first cars to be revealed, the TF109 has never been far from the pace in testing. Jarno Trulli has emphatically endorsed his new steed.
5. Red Bull – Clearly one of the most radical cars on the grid, has shown decent but not world-beating pace in testing.
6. McLaren – All sorts of rumours are flying around about their pre-season form. Unless they’ve run an extremely unusual testing regime it looks to me like they’ve got something fundamentally wrong with their 2009 car. Martin Whitmarsh has now admitted the MP4-24’s performance isn’t good enough. At this stage sixth out of ten might even be too high a ranking.
7. Williams – The times above suggest that the gulf in performance between Rosberg and Nakajima will persist into 2009. Rosberg’s looked decent in testing but I think Williams face being out-stripped by their better-equipped rivlas in the development race.
8. Renault – Seems to lack the aerodynamic sophistication of the other Renault-powered car, but don’t underestimate the performance boost each team can get from their engines this year.
9. Toro Rosso – It’s entirely possible Toro Rosso could end up ahead of their sister team this year, but right now the RB5 looks quicker.
10. Force India – One of the last cars to appear and a new technical collaboration yet to gel. I don’t think Force India will see the success boos Vijay Mallya craves right away in 2009.
How competitive do you think each of the teams are? Share your ranking below and I’ll add them together to create an F1 Fanatic pre-2009 season form guide.
Please use the following format when posting to make it easier for me to incorporate them all together – fastest at the top, slowest at the bottom, using the following team names: