Blinky McSquinty wrote:
Just as an exercise I went back to testing times for the first 7 testing days in 2011, the year Red Bull displayed overwhelming dominance in the hands of Vettel. I listed the date and venue, and the pecking order of the teams.
1 Feb 2011 Circuit Ricardo Tormo : Red Bull, FI, McLaren, Ferrari, Sauber, Virgin, Renault, Mercedes, STR, Williams, HRT
2 Feb 2011 Circuit Ricardo Tormo : Ferrari, Red Bull, FI, McLaren, Renault, Mercedes, Virgin, Williams, Sauber, STR, HRT, Lotus
3 Feb 2011 Circuit Ricardo Tormo : Renault, FI, McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Virgin, Williams, Sauber, Mercedes, STR, HRT, Lotus
10 Feb 2011 Jerez : Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull, STR, McLaren, FI, Renault, Mercedes, Lotus, Virgin, Williams
11 Feb 2011 Jerez : Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, STR, Red Bull, FI, Sauber, Virgin, Renault, Williams, Lotus
12 Feb 2011 Jerez : Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Sauber, Red Bull, STR, Lotus, Williams, FI, Virgin
13 Feb 2011 Jerez : Williams, Sauber, Ferrari, STR, Renault, Lotus, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Virgin, FI.
The WCC standings at end of 2011 season : Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, FI, Sauber, STR, Williams, Lotus, HRT, Virgin.
Some teams improve, some teams sandbag. Just look at Red Bull, and their standngs for each test day. !, 2, 4, 3, 5, 6, 8
So I beg to ask why anyone would waste any time attempting to determine the pecking order from testing since it is obvious that nothing is relevant until the cars meet in Melbourne?
Apart from the obvious answer that the news services need to post something attractive to keep up viewership.
I agree that Anderson's article was not all-encompassing and that it provided simplified data and focused on times rather than providing other observations, but I don't think it was as poor journalism as you seem to be making out.
There was more analysis in Anderson's article than what you have provided there. He assessed the fastest times based on fuel loads and comparative to long runs as a check, he didn't just cut and paste the fastest times by each driver.
Of course it was written in such a way as to have appeal to a more casual viewer, but it still IMO provided useful information for more involved fans. The process by which he arrived at the times is useful for assessing data as testing further unfolds and the provision of the fuel penalty per lap is also useful. Most significantly IMO it gave a reference point for comparison.
The other thing I'd note is that whilst I get the impression that you don't have particular allegiances and are interested in the bigger picture of Formula 1, most people - even the more involved fans - do have allegiances, and wanting to have a rough idea of what to look for, even if not a clear idea of where there team/driver stands, is and important part of the sport.
I also agree that it's not possible to make any sort of clear judgement about the pecking order until Melbourne, or generally even then, but testing does provide some insight into relative performance and a car's strengths and weaknesses. Over the years analysts have identified key things that have turned out to be accurate and a few of them are consistently right.