Analysis From the First Formula 1 Test in Barcelona

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Well, what can I say? Mercedes look to be the team to beat yet again, or are they? Ferrari are showing decent pace and are McLaren ruminating from 2015? In this post I talk about what we’ve seen over the past four days of the first Formula 1 test in Barcelona. I won’t talk about every team in detail but you’ll get the low-down with what went on this week.

We’ll start with the triple World Champions, Mercedes. As you’d expect (apart from the rule changes they’ve had to adhere to) the W08 yet again looks like the car to beat. It was Valtteri Bottas’ first time driving the W08 and he set the fastest time across the four days, a 1:19.705 which is an extremely quick lap time. It was on the Ultrasoft tyre however. There is, of course, no way of knowing how much fuel is on-board, what engine setting they’re in or if they’re even putting their foot all the way to the floor. It’s understood that Mercedes have been running in the lowest engine setting all week but a team source from Mercedes did confirm earlier today that failures are happening (back at base on the test dynos) and that everything isn’t all plain sailing for Mercedes. They are due to introduce a new engine specification at Melbourne and considering the fact Mercedes are already setting fast lap times without breaking a sweat, the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull will be worried.

Ferrari look to be the second best team. They showed very good pace and reliability and Vettel set the second fastest time of the test, a 1:19.952 on the Soft tyre which was only 0.200 slower that Bottas managed on the fastest tyre available, the Ultrasoft. There isn’t much else to say about Ferrari, they’ve been fairly quiet, kept their heads down and just got on with the job.

Red Bull next. All eyes were on Red Bull as they were all hoping Mr. Newey’s excellent knowledge in aerodynamics could help reduce the gap to Mercedes this season. They are the only team to run with a hole at the end of the nose which helps with airflow. They didn’t run with many aerodynamic’s attached to the car which suggests they are holding back until the second test next week. Toro Rosso’s designer, James Key said they are very happy with Renault’s progress to the Power Unit. Will it however, be enough?

While the McLaren looks to be the part, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the part. So far, there’s been no evidence that McLaren and Honda will be able to match the Mercedes, or even the Ferrari or Red Bull. On the first day, the car was sat in the garage for nearly seven hours with problems and it was confirmed the next day that it was down to the shape of the 2017 oil tank, something that isn’t easily fixed. On the second day, the car broke down on its installation lap and Vandoorne only managed 10 laps throughout the day. They did manage to put some laps in on the two final days but McLaren won’t be happy with what’s happened so far and will be hoping for better next week.

Williams have been very quiet but rookie driver Lance Stroll didn’t have the best week as he crashed two times in two days and then crashed again on day three which resulted in the Williams sitting in the garage all day on day four as they didn’t have the parts in Barcelona with them needed to fix the car.

Unfortunately for Sauber, although their car looks fantastic, doesn’t mean it’s fast and they look to be dead stone last as there’s no Manor F1 this year as a buyer couldn’t be found unfortunately.

Total Number of Laps for Each Team:
  • Mercedes – 558 laps
  • Ferrari – 465 laps
  • Sauber – 346 laps
  • Haas – 340 laps
  • Red Bull – 294 laps
  • Renault – 293 laps
  • Force India – 278 laps
  • Williams – 213 laps
  • McLaren – 207 laps
  • Toro Rosso – 183 laps

The second test gets underway next Tuesday at the same venue and hopefully we’ll see the teams introduce new parts and drivers turn up the wick as this season already looks to be one of the quickest yet. Stay tuned for more.