Final day was a wash out. Autosport's team at Barcelona took the opportunity to answer quite a few questions. Here are some:
Tarun Martin emails firstname.lastname@example.org to ask: "Who has a better chance fighting for the third spot, Mercedes or McLaren?"
Here's the verdict from AUTOSPORT's group F1 editor @NobleF1: "Despite all the timing data and engineers analysis spreadsheets filled with predicted fuel loads/tyre degradation, all observers can gauge from winter testing is an informed hunch about the relative form of the teams. So far, the consensus appears to be that Red Bull Racing and Ferrari are out in front – but behind them we do not know.
"Michael Schumacher’s performance in testing on Thursday was impressive – having been quick to get up to speed, and delivering a lap time that was impressive irrespective of how much fuel he did or did not have on board.
"That way that momentum is with Mercedes, and currently away from the relatively slow and unreliable McLaren, would therefore point to the Brackley-based team being favourite for the third spot so far.
"But a week is a long time in grand prix racing, and McLaren could easily unlock the secret to the potential of the MP4-26 by Melbourne. At the moment we are all guessing – but then that's why we all love F1 so much. If we knew which team was where, we wouldn’t be so excited about Australia would we?
Patrick from the Netherlands is following AUTOSPORT Live on his iPad, also from bed, and is also interested in Mercedes' form: "How serious is Michael Schumacher's best time from yesterday? Are they now a true title contender?"
It's too early to say that yet, Patrick. Schumacher's very fast times yesterday did come on clear qualifying simulations: one ultra-quick lap at a time, then back into the pits.
By contrast, Red Bull's fastest times of the week have mostly come at the start of four or five lap runs. So we know the Red Bull can go nearly as fast as the Mercedes and on slightly more fuel. Plus Nick Heidfeld told us earlier this week that he is convinced RBR is still holding something back. And when you hear the Red Bull drivers insist Ferrari is the quicker car, it suggests you can't discount the Italian squad either.
But as Sebastian Vettel put it yesterday, even if Schumacher was running on fumes and the softest tyres available, his Friday lap time was still very impressive. So Mercedes is certainly looking a lot, lot better - but don't get carried away yet.
Shane from Australia asks: "Did we learn anything from the winter tests and who would be the favourite for this year's championship?"
The paddock consensus is that Red Bull Racing is favourite judging by what we've seen so far in testing. However, the favourites don't always win!
Danoush asks: "have you guys have heard any more opinions on the tyre wear vs. balance. I remember that, yes all drivers were complaining of large wear rates and large lap time drop offs, but that is obviously equal to all cars (barring set-up efficiency of course). Was wondering if the overall tyre balance had improved? I remember Jarno Trulli mentioned that the wear isn't the issue but the severe balance shift from understeer to oversteer is the real problem over a few laps."
AUTOSPORT group F1 editor @NobleF1 says: "The feedback from testing so far this week is that the tweaks Pirelli has made since testing began back at Valencia means the balance issues are no longer so pronounced. Tyre degradation is still there – but it is designed to be to make the racing exciting.
"I had lunch with Pirelli's Paul Hembery yesterday to talk through the tyre situation in great detail – and there will be a feature on AUTOSPORT about what he said in the build-up to Australia.
"However, he reckons that Melbourne is looking like a three-stopper - but that the answers about whether the degradation issue needs to be resolved can also come after the race.
"And, as he has said many times, the driver who finishes on the top step of the podium in Australia will have had the same tyres as the
guy that finished last! So let them go racing and sort it out…"
Sharhan from Sri Lanka is keen to know how many pitstops per race are expected at present and if any car has an advantage in this respect.
Pirelli estimates three pitstops for Melbourne at least, but has rubbished some drivers' suggestions that they'll need to pit four times per race.
The tyre degradation is such that it seems there's little teams and drivers can do about it - it's going to happen regardless of whether you take it easy or not, and even if your car set-up is kind.
Mark Hughes wrote a fascinating feature in this week's AUTOSPORT magazine about tyre performance and the potential for avoiding the time drop-off by 'curing' the rubber with practice runs, it's well worth a read. And yesterday it was very interesting to see Rubens Barrichello do a race simulation in which his times only faded by a second across a 10-12 stint - far less of a drop-off than most have been seeing.
But whatever happens, expect a lot of pitstops. And that's why there's been plenty of pitstop practice this winter, particularly from Toro Rosso - which has done pitstop after pitstop after pitstop this week. We counted 15 in a row one afternoon before losing track.
Pirelli gave different numbers and so did JA on his blog about the kms covered by various teams and drivers.
For example, they are around 5244 For Ferrari, 4483 for Mercedes, and 4407 for Red Bull.
Autosport has more or less similar numbers:
Ferrari: 5,221kms; Red Bull: 4,407; Mercedes: 4,297; Sauber: 4,099; Williams: 3,787; Force India: 3,745; Toro Rosso: 3,737; Renault: 3,700; McLaren: 3,690; Virgin: 3,361; Lotus: 2,403; HRT: 1,949 (old car only)
Among the drivers, Alonso leads the way on 2,803kms, ahead of Schumacher on 2,451, Massa on 2,417, Webber on 2,373, Barrichello on 2,198 and Perez on 2,129.
Lowest among the race drivers are Liuzzi on 326kms (2010 car only), Trulli on 1,028, Heidfeld on 1,140 and Kovalainen on 1,182.
A lot of discrepancy, why?:S