Pre-season testing is a time of uncertainty, extrapolation and mystery. You can find conviction in the predictable utterances from teams stressing the length of the season to come and that nothing is won or lost in testing.
But even though not a single championship point is given out for it, testing is the foundation upon which a season is built. And history suggests that if you start behind, more likely than not you will stay there.
After the first test there were fears Mercedes would start the season struggling to match pacesetter Ferrari, and team boss Toto Wolff admitted that, should it be necessary to change the aerodynamic concept of the car, "it is a matter of months" to do that. The major Mercedes upgrade package for the second test has eased many of those fears, but if the champion team or anyone else starts off behind they will face an uphill struggle.