F1 is slowly adjusting to the sport’s new reality.
Although still with a winning car, Red Bull’s utter dominance is undoubtedly over. Not just that, the Pirelli tyre situation, and the equality of performance amongst teams, have thrown up as many as four or five teams that might realistically be in with a shout of the 2012 title.
“We have a very good car,” Mark Webber said at the Mugello test this week, “but we have company, that’s clear. “We’ve got some teams that are performing pretty well and if we’re not totally on our game we will be punished,” the Australian is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Early on, McLaren seemed to have the best overall package.
“I see no reason why he (Jenson Button) shouldn’t be champion again,” legendary British commentator Murray Walker told the Sun newspaper. “Mind you, I don’t see any reason why four or five others shouldn’t be either!”
Webber has a different idea about the 2012 favourite, after Romain Grosjean was right at the top of the Mugello timesheet on dry Wednesday.
“If you look at all the races and the tests,” the Red Bull driver is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport, “then the Lotus is the most consistent car in the field.”
Grosjean and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi posted identical fastest times on Wednesday, but the Japanese did his 1.21.603 with softer tyres.
Mercedes’ Ross Brawn, however, quantified Webber’s use of the word ‘consistent’ to describe this year’s pecking order.
“It has been an inconsistent first four races for every team,” he insisted, according to DPA news agency.
He said the crucial challenge has been understanding the Pirelli tyre.
“It’s an exciting challenge because when you get it right as we did in China then obviously you can get some great results,” said Brawn, “but it’s adding another layer of challenge to the normal challenge we face.
“That will tend to even out after a period and the best cars or the best teams will show through because you will get it right more frequently.”