I’ve been think about Fernando Alonso’s absence from the Jerez pre-season testing ever since he announced he wouldn’t be attending.
Ted Kravitz from Sky made a very good point yesterday when he mentioned while filming at Jerez, that Jerez is not a track representative of the conditions the F1 circus would be put up against throughout the season. While I always knew this, I find it fascinating that Fernando considered this when he contemplated his pre-season schedule.
Fernando pretty much has Ferrari wrapped around his little finger, so Ferrari denying his request to sit out Jerez probably wasn’t going to happen.
What Fernando has done is very clever though. By only attending the tests in Barcelona, he will only have firsthand knowledge of the F138 from a circuit that is not only representative of the conditions they will have throughout the season, but from one they will actually race on. He won’t have to grapple with feedback he might have accumulated from Jerez that could potentially steer him in the wrong direction in terms of car setup. He has pure, reliable and, most importantly, relevant information.
Felipe Massa will no doubt have realized Fernando Alosno’s plans. The Spaniard’s fairly lame media excuse for missing this test of needing to “mentally prepare” himself more wont hold for long. I didn’t believe that from the moment he said it. If there’s one man on earth that is mentally prepared for anything, it’s Fernando Alonso.
The specifics of Fernando’s plan are this: Felipe gets three days in Jerez with de la Rosa taking the fourth. At Barcelona, Fernando will get three days during the second test and potentially three days in the third test, depending on if Felipe gets his 6th allowed testing day or whether that has been lost to de la Rosa in Jerez. Most likely, Fernando will get three days for each Barcelona test. This means he will have potentially accumulated more knowledge about Barcelona than any other driver before the season starts, barring some mechanical issue that sidelines him for an extended period if time. This could put him a step ahead of the entire F1 field before the season even starts. This will be massively helpful in case the Ferrari turns out to be another dog of a car this year. While that is not likely to happen as impressions the new Ferrari are quite positive, it never hurts to be prepared.
The fact of the matter is, Fernando has taken advantage of a situation that could put him in very good stead for the upcoming season. A season which promises to be as exciting, if not more exciting than last year, and that makes him more cunning than any other driver in the field.