2012 Formula 1 pecking order already emerging?

Mark Webber during day two of Formula One winter testing at the Circuito de Jerez on February 8, 2012 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

Mark Webber drives the red Bull RB8 down the Jerez pitlane

Feb.9 (GMM) Forecasts based on early Formula 1 test results and times are usually pretty unreliable, but a picture of the 2012 pecking order may already be emerging, amidst talk of secret innovations still to be unleashed.

08.02.2012 Jerez, Spain - Michael Schumacher (GER), Mercedes GP Petronas - Formula1 World Championship Pre-Season Testing  - Jerez de la Frontera +++ © Copyright: Stange / RACE-PRESS.com

Mercedes crew being secretive in the Jerez pitlane

On Wednesday at Jerez, Michael Schumacher moved to the top of the times in last year’s Mercedes, followed by Mark Webber in Red Bull‘s new, title-defending RB8.

“The car was pretty competitive in winter testing last year and it’s the same again this year,” said the Australian driver.

Much more than a second off the pace, meanwhile, was the radical new Ferrari, whose Felipe Massa could not conceal his negative body-language when speaking with the press.

While he said the F2012 has “enormous potential”, expert observers report that he was fighting notably with the handling of the car around the southern Spanish venue.

“There is a lot of work to be done, perhaps more than we expected,” acknowledged the Brazilian.

“It is a very, very, very different car,” Spain’s El Mundo newspaper quotes him as saying.

Italian veteran Jarno Trulli, however – a permanent fixture on the grid since the mid 90s – scoffed at those who are already picking winners and losers.

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012. Formula One Testing, Day 2, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 8 February 2012.

Ferrari crew also hiding something...

“Are you kidding?” he said in La Republica newspaper. “Only a fool would look at the times in the first days of testing.”

Nevertheless, the paddock rumour mill is buzzing, including suggestions that Schumacher’s best time was boosted by highly competitive components destined for his so-far unrevealed 2012 Mercedes.

Another rumour is that the W03, to also be raced by Nico Rosberg, is ready to test but Mercedes is holding back a radical secret weapon at the front of the car.

Webber, however, dismissed Schumacher’s quick time.

“With the Brazil version of our previous car I would have done a time in the 1.16s,” he laughed, apparently scoffing at Schumacher’s mid-1.18 best.

Even the seven time world champion admitted Wednesday’s result is not a sign of things to come.

“I don’t think we can realistically achieve a championship car from where we started last year,” said the 43-year-old German.

  • Mopar21222

    Lotus could be the surprise of the year, it looks like they are well ahead of Ferrari, possibly close to McLaren, great job guys, I don’t think they are showboating on low fuel. Hopefully Mercedes will be in the mix too.

    Toro Rosso looks good, as does Force India, RB looks like they are quite a ways out front (no surprise there).

    Notice Giedo in the Caterham, no Jarno… Vitaly on the way?

  • Duke

    Well Mark Webber,it’s about time you showed a bit of respect for the great man.Or is it a case of sour grapes?
    .Mark Webber will never have Mercedes or Red Bull clamouring for his signature on the dotted line when he is 43yrs old.
    Bye,bye Mark!

  • Stewy33

    Webber dose not have permission to show the true pace of the car. Testing times don’t mean anything as the teams are testing reliability and tire wear. Schumi is still driving last year’s car… Nothing matters until the race on Sunday at Melbourne as teams will still sand bag in all 3 practice session and qualifying.

  • Butterfly

    Short answer: no.

  • Tamburello_1994