After literally some demand, I've decided to put up this pre-season piece. It's going up a few days earlier than anticipated because reasons of a personal nature mean I may not be around to do so immediately after the third test finishes. Hopefully there'll be no problem regarding the articles for the Australian race.
At this stage of the season I've made a couple of bets but only with very small stakes, and they're not tips. I've backed both McLaren drivers (Button 8 and Perez 24) and Lotus (14).
One of the most interesting snippets of information to come out is that Paddy Lowe, technical chap at McLaren, is on gardening leave and thought to be on his way (in 2014) to Mercedes. This would suggest Brawn, who has been involved in 8 title victories, is on his way out.
The new Pirelli tyres (with orange replacing the hard-to-see silver of last year's hard tyre) are softer than cheese and degrade more rapidly than ever. So, we may see a slight rise in pit stops and/or a premium on tyre management.
Pirelli have announced their compounds for the first few races: http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/100723.html
Australia has the supersoft and medium
Malaysia medium and hard
China soft and medium
Bahrain soft and hard
So that's a single supersoft use, two soft, three medium and two hard. It's also worth pointing out that every combination is different, though for the last two the softer (and therefore qualifying) tyre is the same.
After the first two tests the mood music suggested it'd be tight at the start of the season. McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus look in good shape, Ferrari look competitive and the Mercedes seemed pretty good. Williams also appear to have taken a step forward, although it remains to be seen how fast Bottas is and whether Maldonado will manage to avoid ramming anyone else.
Force India have, as of 26 February when I wrote this bit, still only got one driver. This seems late to the point of stupidity to me. A day or two later it was announced, at last, that Sutil has the job. Bianchi will probably be their test driver, though there's a chance he, or someone else, may take Razia's seat at Marussia.
On the second day of testing Gary Anderon's view (bearing in mind the track had mostly been somewhat wet) was this:
"The Red Bull looks well balanced with lots of grip. The McLaren and Sauber have understeer (a lack of front grip) and the Lotus is well balanced but not as planted as the Red Bull. The Ferrari lacks rear grip. It really has no traction in the wet."
On the green line:
I've decided not to try and keep the green line (commentators tips) going in the same way as last year. This is only a matter of me not recording them, I'm still very keen for tips to be offered and will refer to their success or failure in much the same way as I do my own. So, when I post graphs we'll go back to just the hedged and unhedged lines.
It's pretty hard to be sure where everyone is. I think that it may also be the case that wet weather in the third test means that teams may not have a full understanding of their cars in the initial part of the season, which could lead to unpredictability and/or hilarity.
Anyway, please do let me know your thoughts and bets in the comments below.