With the sole three-day pre-season test in Bahrain now complete, Italy’s Corriere della Sera neatly summed up the major conclusion.
“Red Bull, perfect. Ferrari, hidden potential. Aston Martin amazes,” the headline read.
New Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur said: “Overall, we look ok in terms of performance.”
However, he’s not too worried about Red Bull’s apparent clear lead.
“I can’t remember who was fastest in the test last year, but he wasn’t then on pole for the race.”
As for Mercedes, the German team appears to be just behind Ferrari in the top-three pecking order.
“Ferrari has a more powerful engine than them and a good car,” said Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.
He also said Red Bull is “reliable, fast and at the front”.
When asked about the pecking order, Mercedes’ George Russell answered: “Ferrari is faster on one lap, we look better in the long runs.
“But we can’t match Red Bull’s consistency.”
As ever with pre-season testing, however, the true pecking order will only start to crystallise at the same Bahrain circuit as the long 2023 season kicks off this weekend.
“Optimistic or pessimistic? I honestly don’t know,” said Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
“I don’t know how fast or slow we are. For sure we aren’t slow, but how fast we are compared to Red Bull or Mercedes, I don’t know.
“But it’s no secret that Red Bull look very confident. If they take one more step forward, it will be difficult to beat them.”
An unnamed Formula 1 engineer, meanwhile, told Auto Motor und Sport that Aston Martin is “at least fourth, and maybe even a threat to Mercedes and Ferrari”.
Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg agrees: “Fernando (Alonso) looks incredibly fast and clean. Others have to do a lot more driving than he does.”
Even Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admits: “According to our calculations, the Aston Martin could end up in second place.”
Alpine appears to be steady as about the fifth fastest team, but McLaren is in a world of trouble ahead of the season opener.
Will Buxton, a well-known F1 broadcaster, even suggested Lando Norris’ frustration with the situation had spilled over to such an extent that his fists were flying about in the McLaren garage.
“I saw a hit of a wall panel, which looked born of frustration,” Buxton subsequently clarified. “But it could easily have been playful.”
But Norris, 23, could be right to be frustrated, given his long McLaren contract through to the end of 2025.
“I know we have a long road ahead of us,” said the young Briton, “but we have everything we need to achieve this goal.
“It’s possible that it will take longer to win the title than my contract, but we have the car that we have at the moment. And we have plans to make it better.”
McLaren supremo Zak Brown admits: “We haven’t achieved the goals we set ourselves for this car.
“We think the best approach is to deal with it openly and honestly.”