Well, there ya go – what did I tell ya? No sooner do I mention that the teams seem to be taking it in turns to go fastest in testing than Red Bull hit the front. Okay, it may have been a stunt for the visiting Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of the team, but at least it proves that the RB3 can go quickly when it’s light on fuel and has new tires. And it must have been pleasant for David Coulthard to grab the best time – it’s been a while since he did that.
Joking aside, Red Bull have got to be a little worried about the pace of the RB3. They know what had to be done to give DC the chance for top spot and that it has no relevance for the actual races at all. Much more telling is the car’s consistency in being a low midfield runner in testing, just as the BMW has been consistently near the front. If there is a pointer to race performance in testing, it is consistency, not single lap times.
What worries me, however, is Honda’s apparent lack of pace. So far their testing times have been nowhere near the front and my prediction of Button for champion begins to look very optimistic indeed. I console myself with the thought that in previous seasons they have looked good in testing, only to disappoint once the races started. Maybe this time they are getting things the right way around.
It is also true that the early races can give a false impression of what is to follow. Time and again we have seen a team do well at first and then fade away once the circus gets to Europe. My hope has to be that Honda are concentrating on quiet development and will come good once the season gets into its stride.
That might be the case for Red Bull as well, of course. But I have my doubts on that score. The team is hungry for success and has two drivers who are starved of good publicity – if they could put in a few good times, I feel sure that they would. Honda, however, have been there, done that, and know that it counts for nothing in the long run. If anyone is sandbagging, they are.
At least, that’s what I keep telling myself…