Sebastian Vettel continued Ferrari's stay at the top of the time sheets by setting the fastest time on the fourth and final day of the second pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. The German driver set his time on the super-soft tyres unlike Kimi Raikkonen, who set his quickest time on day 3 with the new ultra-soft compound.
The teams will now return back to their respective factories and analyse the data they have gathered in the eight days of testing thus far before putting together their package for the season opening Grand Prix at Albert Park in Australia on 18 March. The timings during the testing is largely insignificant and the real pecking order will only be unveiled during the qualifying session at the first race.
Mercedes look by far the strongest of all the teams, at least in terms of reliability, after they completed 1,294 laps, compared to Ferrari's 854. The Silver Arrows team shunned the super-soft and ultra-soft rubber during the entire test and stuck to the medium and soft compound tyres. They mainly concentrated on long run pace, while the other teams bolted on the faster tyres to do low fuel runs.
Ferrari look to be the best of the rest, after showing good pace comparison to the Mercedes on the soft compound tyres but the fuel levels are unknown to make a clear judgment. Williams also showed pace that could include them in the battle with Felipe Massa setting an impressive lap on the soft tyres. Nico Rosberg, however, despite Mercedes' strong showing, has admitted that he is not aware if they are ahead of Ferrari or behind but indicated that they have an idea of how close the two teams are in terms of performance.
"They [Ferrari] have been very quick for sure. All the teams have their strategists so we know more or less what fuel the other teams are running and they know our fuel," Rosberg said, as quoted by ESPN F1.
"So we know more or less where we are compared to Ferrari — which is why I say for sure it is close. But we are not sure if we are ahead or behind," the Mercedes driver added.
The midfield looks to be quite crowded with a number of teams vying for a spot behind the current top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams. Force India, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and McLaren-Honda have all put in strong performances during the eight days of testing.
Manor and Haas seemed to have the most trouble during testing, while Renault and Sauber seem to be a little away from the midfield battle. Well, with all said and done, the true pecking order will be revealed in two weeks time in Australia. The drivers and the fans will be eager to see if Mercedes are going to run away with the season or if Ferrari and Williams can put a dent in their championship hopes.