So here’s the million dollar question, have Mercedes shown their true pace? Because if they have, they’re in trouble. Ferrari look in scintillating form and you have to say, they are the favourites going into the first race in Australia. McLaren have another torrid week and Red Bull are starting to show what kind of a car they really have. In this post, I talk about the past four days action at the second test in Barcelona.
Okay, so on the final day, Räikkönen set a lap time of 1:18.634 on the Supersoft tyre, a time that was just over seven tenths quicker than the second fastest lap time during the eight days, a 1:19,310, also set by Ferrari. In fact, Ferrari set the fastest lap times on the Supersoft and Soft tyres so you can see why people are getting excited. The time that Räikkönen set was six tenths quicker than Hamilton or Bottas could manage. But I’ll say it again, we don’t know the fuel loads or what engine setting they’ve been in. For all we know, Mercedes could have one second in their pocket but we won’t know until Q3 gets underway in Australia.
Mercedes were the only team to set over 1000 laps which, again, similar to last year, is stunning reliability but as we know, that doesn’t guarantee anything for the season ahead. Anything can happen at anytime. Hamilton looked comfortable in the car as did Bottas but it’s fair to say, Hamilton has, three, four tenths over Bottas at this moment in time. I’m sure that gap will decrease as the season goes on.
McLaren are in a bad situation. I want them up there fighting with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull but it looks like they won’t even be fighting the likes of Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso or Renault this season. Their engine is lacking in power and if we are to go off what’s happened in the eight days of testing, shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t make it through qualifying or the race in Australia, it really is that bad. Alonso is one of the best drivers on the grid and for him to be consistently at the back of the grid is a sad sight.
The fastest lap Alonso set across the eight days was a whopping 2.7 seconds adrift of the fastest time despite using the Ultrasoft tyres. In my opinion, it’s as bad, if not worse that what they had to endure in 2015. It’s Honda’s third year in Formula 1 and it’s bizarre as to why they cannot build a fast, reliable engine.
The mid-pack looks to include Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso and Renault (in that order) with Sauber and McLaren (unfortunately, in order as well as I think McLaren are faster than Sauber but I don’t think they’ll finish races right now until they sort out their issues) the two teams at the very back of the grid.
However, the last day of testing also bought us sad news. John Surtees passed away at the age of 83, the only person to win World Championships on four and two wheels. While we get excited about testing, news like this brings us all down to Earth.
Total Number of Laps For Each Team:
- Mercedes – 1096 laps
- Ferrari – 956 laps
- Williams – 800 laps
- Sauber – 788 laps
- Force India – 785 laps
- Haas – 715 laps
- Red Bull – 684 laps
- Renault – 597 laps
- Toro Rosso – 584 laps
- McLaren – 425 laps
My Prediction for AUSTRALIAN Grand Prix – Top Five:
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
- Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
The next time we see cars on-track will be in Australia and with Red Bull (who have been fairly quiet) introducing a new engine specification at the first race and Ferrari looking to be the team to beat, boy, are we in for a brilliant start to the season.