Mike Stevens | Mar 11, 2011

The usually reserved Peter Sauber spoke on behalf of the entire F1 community this week when he admitted to seeing "no match" for Red Bull's new RB7.

But Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport has published statistics showing that, based on recent pre-season testing, it is actually Ferrari with the best average lap time so far.

Red Bull is ranked just third, behind Mercedes, reinforcing the view that the reigning World Champions are sandbagging.

McLaren is ranked behind Renault and Toro Rosso, and trailed by just over a tenth by Williams.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, fastest in Barcelona on Wednesday, is quoted by Spain's AS newspaper: "We have done a lot of laps without encountering major reliability problems.

"As for the speed, it seems fairly good, but I think we will have to wait until Melbourne or Malaysia or even China to really see where we are."

Apparently pressed that the RB7 is clearly a winning car, the German is quoted by Autosprint as responding: "How can you say that when it has not done a race?"

The Italian report claims that, over a single lap, the Red Bull is about six tenths clear of the nearest chasing car, Ferrari's 150 Italia.

(GMM)

 

New McLaren Not Ready To Win Title: Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that McLaren's 2011 car is currently not good enough to win the World Championship.

"That doesn't mean it won't become a world championship-winning car," he told reporters at the Barcelona test, after completing just 57 laps due to technical problems with the MP4-26.

Earlier, former McLaren driver and British commentator Martin Brundle described the car as "a mess".

"They (commentators) don't drive it so they don't know exactly how it is," the 2008 World Champion hit back.

"I wouldn't agree with what he says. The car feels better than last year's car," Hamilton said.

But he reinforced teammate Jenson Button's admission that it is not up to speed with the pacesetters Red Bull and Ferrari.

"We definitely have the strength within the team to catch up," said Hamilton.

"It isn't as fast as others are, but two years ago we were two or three seconds off the pace and now we are maybe a second (behind)," he added.

(GMM)

 

Better Mood At Mercedes As New Package Arrives

Nico Rosberg sounded more confident after testing some of Mercedes' upgrade package for the start of the 2011 season.

Team figures had said the W02 is a second off the leading pace, insisting however that the launch model was "basic" and would be substantially improved.

Part of the race package was debuted by Rosberg in Barcelona on Wednesday, including a new exhaust layout and bodywork.

He was four seconds off World Champion Sebastian Vettel's best time but Mercedes said the package performed "as predicted".

"We had glimpses that showed that the full package should be a big step," said the German driver.

Bild newspaper said that when Michael Schumacher drives the car on Thursday, it will also be featuring new front and rear wings.

"Then we will see the true strength of the car," said Rosberg.

Other German reports said the sidepods and brake ducts are also new. "I am hopeful because I know what other parts are still to come," confirmed Rosberg.

"I had plenty of fuel in the tank all day," he said after Wednesday's running when asked about the deficit to the Red Bull-owned cars at the head of the field.

"They are doing strong times. I don't want to say that we can beat them but we are going to improve," added Rosberg.

(GMM)

 

Williams Following Red Bull's Lead On Exhausts

Williams will become the next team to follow Red Bull's lead with the layout of its blown exhaust system.

After reportedly finding itself a few tenths behind the RB7 in initial testing, Ferrari is believed to have hastily copied the layout that is now being tested in Barcelona.

A similar upgrade has also been put together for Williams' FW33.

"We have played with all the different variations in CFD," the British team's technical director Sam Michael is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

"The most efficient solution is Red Bull's," he concluded.

The German report said the FW33's similar layout will debut on Thursday.

It is believed that Mercedes' new layout, also tested for the first time this week, is a variation of both the Red Bull and Renault solutions.

Ferrari technical boss Aldo Costa denies that the 150 Italia's new version is a Red Bull copy.

"This package was planned well in advance," he insisted.

True or not, the Italian team has 80 team members in Barcelona this week, including senior engineers Costa, Nicolas Tombazis and Pat Fry.

(GMM)

 

Sauber Sponsor Slim tops World Rich List

Business magazine Forbes has named Sauber sponsor Carlos Slim the richest man on earth.

71-year-old Slim, the Mexican telecoms magnate who is backing the Swiss team and its rookie Sergio Perez this year through his company Telmex and its subsidiaries, grew his fortune over the past year by more than $20 billion to $74bn, the magazine said.

F1's chief executive and 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone is 254th on the world rich list with $4.2bn, and Virgin figurehead Sir Richard Branson is reportedly equally rich.

Slightly wealthier is Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso owner Dietrich Mateschitz with $5 billion, while Force India's Vijay Mallya is ranked 879th on the billionaire's list with $1.4bn.

(GMM)

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