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Innovation and caution as test season starts

There were no bold statements at Valencia after Tuesday’s opening day of pre-season testing.

The usually furtive 2010 runner-up Fernando Alonso tested at the wheel of Ferrari’s new F150 and claimed to have not even looked at reigning champion Red Bull’s 2011 challenger.

“I followed Vettel for a while and noticed he had the same colours as before,” joked the 29-year-old to the Spanish press.

Mercedes’ new W02 did not seem fast and broke down on its tenth lap with an hydraulic problem.

“I’ve had cars that started off great and became troublesome, and troublesome cars that became great,” said team boss Ross Brawn.

Vettel was Tuesday’s quickest, but Alonso ridiculed anyone who took that accomplishment seriously.

“I remember last year at the last test we were sixth fastest with Sauber and Force India ahead of us.  At Sakhir we lapped them,” said the 2010 Bahrain winner.

“Testing is like watching Real Madrid or Barcelona play against (reserve teams) Castilla or Barcelona B.  One or the other could win but it doesn’t mean anything,” insisted Alonso.

More interesting at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit this week are some of the innovations, including Renault’s exhaust, and the heavily undercut roll hoop and waist of the new Williams FW33.

“It’s gorgeous, the rear of the car is fantastic,” gushed Rubens Barrichello.

“At the moment you look at the times and it’s bad for us, but there is a three second difference between an empty fuel tank and what we are using,” he told Globe Esporte.

Another notable innovation is aboard the newly launched Toro Rosso, with Auto Motor und Sport saying it is a reminder of Ferrari’s ‘double floor’ of 1992.

And arguably the least radical of the new cars is Vettel’s currently chart-topping RB7.

“It is the third generation of the RB5 family,” admitted designer Adrian Newey.  “It’s an evolution.”