Formula 1 pre-season testing has been underway for the last two days at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
Both days so far have thrown up some interesting results in terms of the possible pecking order. However, the key thing to remember about lap times in testing is teams do not show their hand in testing, teams often sandbag and try to hide if they have a quick car, though pre-season does give a clue to teams who may be struggling a bit with their car.
Day one of pre-season testing saw the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time, a 1.24.939, on medium tyres. The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was 0.47 slower than Vettel on the same tyre. But the Mercedes managed an impressive 156 laps to Vettel’s 69. So it’s suggested the Mercedes we’re working on their reliability and long runs, rather than going for out and out competitive lap times.
Elsewhere down the grid it was a day of mixed fortunes. New team to the grid had a case of baptism by fire, when the front wing on the car Romain Grosjean was driving failed going down the start-finish straight. Up until that point the Haas had been running well, with a time of 1.28.339 on the medium tyres, and 31 laps completed. They were not the only team to have issues as both the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, and the Renault of Jolyon Palmer suffered from testing gremlins.
Alfonso Celis, the Force India reserve driver was out in the car for the team today. It was a successful debut for him as he clocked up the fifth fastest time, a 1.26.298, on the soft tyre. The Sauber of Marcus Ericsson posted the eighth fastest time of the day in the 2015 spec Sauber. The new car is due to be unveiled at the second test. As for Manor there were signs of improvement for the team, with Pascal Wehrlein posting the ninth fastest time of the day.
The team everyone was keeping an eye on was McLaren. And there was what looked like some improvement on the car and engine for this season. Jenson Button completed 84 laps in the car, a marked improvement on the handful of laps completed last year in testing. The team posted the sixth fastest time of the day, a 1.26.735, though this was done on the soft tyre, unlike the runners on the hard tyre in front of Button.
Day One Pre-season fastest times+ laps
1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Medium Tyre: 1:24.939, 69 laps;
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Medium Tyre: 1:25.409, 156 laps;
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Medium Tyre: 1:26.044, 87 laps;
4. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Medium Tyre: 1:26.091, 80 laps;
5. Alfonso Celis, Force India, (Test driver for the team) Soft Tyre: 1:26.298, 58 laps;
6. Jenson Button, McLaren, Soft Tyre: 1:26.735, 84 laps
7. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, Medium Tyre: 1:27.180, 55 laps;
8. Marcus Ericson, Sauber, (2015 car being run) Medium Tyre: 1:27.555, 88 laps;
9. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, Soft Tyre: 1:28.292, 54 laps;
10. Romain Grosjean, Haas, Medium Tyre: 1:28.399, 31 laps;
11. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Medium Tyre: 1:29.356, 37 laps.
Once again day two of pre-season testing saw Sebastian Vettel top the time sheet, this time with a 1.22.810, on the brand new ultrasoft tyres brought in this season by Pirelli. The Ferrari was 0.7 seconds faster than the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who also put on the purple walled ultrasoft tyres today. The two teams seemed to have a qualifying style shoot out just before lunch to see who could set the fastest time.
The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg was a whole two seconds off the pace of the Ferrari today, with a 1.24.867, set on the medium tyres. However, like yesterday Mercedes we’re working on their reliability and long runs, rather than going for out and out competitive lap times. Nico Rosberg managed a mammoth 173 laps in his car today, the most of any other team today. Though seven other teams managed to clock up over 100 laps today.
The McLaren of Fernando Alonso managed 119 laps today, more than he managed in the whole of pre-season testing in 2015. Though it is not all smiles down at McLaren Honda. The team have had a positive two days of testing, clocking up many laps. But they seem to still be off the pace. Suggestions are the team should now be looking at the pace of the car, now they seem to have the reliability under control.
Again it was another challenging day for Renault, with Jolyon Palmer’s car stopping out on track and bringing out a red flag. Palmer posted the second slowest time of the day, with a 1.26.189, set on the soft tyre. The team also only managed 42 laps in the car today. Another car to stop out on track was the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen. Though once they fixed the car the team were able to complete 121 laps, though they did finish slowest of the day with a 1.26.755.
Day Two Timesheet Pre-season fastest times+ laps
1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Ultrasoft Tyre: 1:22.810, 126 laps;
2. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Ultrasoft Tyre: 1:23.525, 112 laps;
3. Sergio Perez, Force India, Supersoft Tyre: 1:23.650, 101 laps;
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Medium Tyre: 1:24.867, 172 laps;
5. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, (2015 spec car) Soft Tyre: 1:25.237, 108 laps;
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, Soft Tyre: 1:25.524, 79 laps;
7. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Soft Tyre: 1:25.648, 134 laps;
8. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, Soft Tyre: 1:25.925, 71 laps;
9. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Soft Tyre: 1:26.082, 119 laps;
10. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Soft Tyre: 1:26.189, 42 laps;
11. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Soft Tyre: 1:26.755, 121 laps.
Feature Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Release