Raikkonen's Lotus looked well-poised on-track © sutton-images.com
On the first day of pre-season testing, the Formula 1 cars are no more than prototype grand prix machines. They are infants on their first day at nursery rather than fully mature graduates, and they must be treated as such. Drawing conclusions from what we saw on Tuesday at Jerez would be tantamount to judging a grown man as the boy he once was. This is not just any prologue, it is the first paragraph of the prologue to the 2012 F1 season.
Even the teams themselves, with their gigabytes of data, will have no clear picture of where they stand beyond the vaguest of impressions of what these cars might become as they advance into adolescence during the test days that follow over the next month.
The final corner at Jerez is a second-gear left-hander named Curva Ducados. It's not one of Jerez's faster turns, but it is a long, challenging corner with a little banking from which a quick exit is vital. Standing on the inside of the corner, you have a clear view of the approach, the braking zone, the apex and the exit. It's a good place to get an impression of the cars loaded up under braking as the drivers try to force the front of the car towards the apex while the rear is being destabilised and then get onto the throttle to hit the start/finish straight.
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