NOTEBOOK – Barcelona Test One – Review

Features Notebook

Over the last four days, teams have been testing their new cars for the first time in Barcelona. While we can’t read too much into these times they can give us our first hint for the season ahead!

McLaren Woes

The first day didn’t start well for McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who suffered an oil leak during the morning. That meant he spent much of that afternoon in the pits when he re-emerged intermittently in the late afternoon and finished the day with 29 laps to his name.

Day Two wasn’t much better, as Stoffel Vandoorne to just added 11 more laps than Alonso did and the penultimate place in the timesheets. Day Three things got better for the Spaniard he was able to lap in the 23’s before the runs were interrupted by red flags.

They just simply underperformed.

Mercedes

Mercedes have proved themselves once again to be reliable on track with both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton completing more than the race distance of sixty-six laps each. That continued into the second day which proves Mercedes have the reliability as I calculated they have done nearly eight Grand Prix’s.

They certainly have some great pace, trading with Ferrari. On the morning of day three, we saw Bottas bring the lap times right down, breaking both the official and unofficial fastest laps. This proves the team may still be the team to beat this season. Bottas could I feel prove himself as a worthy team-mate to Hamilton on track, but in the next test we should see more and in Melbourne.

Mercedes only ran into technical problems on Thursday. But doing eight races is huge for any team if they do manage that again next week they will be the best-prepared team. I highly doubt they could repeat that in Bahrain next month’s two-day test.

Williams

Williams started off well looking as if they could recover that fourth place in the constructors being P4 on the first morning. But they still need to be wary of Force India who appears very close, like we saw last season. Day one yes Force India was harmed by technical issues that what testing is about.

Williams had a costly day two, losing a lot of running after Lance Stroll went off and at this could mean they need to hold back a bit, being behind on their development

Red Bull

Red Bull appears to be in that top three in terms of performance on the track. But they are believed to be under-performing on pace and could be one these teams that are rumoured to be holding back upgrades until Melbourne.

On Tuesday technical boss Adrian Newey said: “We’ve tried not to put too many appendages on to the car in the early stages so we understand the flow structures properly and develop the car from there.” Red Bull certainly have the ability to match Mercedes on one lap pace.

Ferrari

Ferrari looks to be doing well, however, we have said this many times at this point in the years for them to fail. Vettel was close with Bottas on the first morning with him going ten seconds faster than on day one last year. They were close thou that morning, but the Ferrari is on mediums while the Mercedes in on soft.

Ferrari topped day two, narrowly but they will be wary of the Mercedes as they know there’s more to come. Vettel was behind the silver arrows on the medium on Wednesday on one lap pace but matched Hamilton on his race runs before they both set about some fast laps.

Ferrari looked good on the pace on Thursday, despite Kimi Raikkonen being just under a second down on team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s Wednesday benchmark. We should see Ferrari’s true potential but it will go into the second week encouraged by the start it has made to 2017.

Sharkfins & Aero

During launch week we saw many teams re-introducing the sharkfin engine cover. These developments are what we expect as teams this week and towards Melbourne, more upgrades will be made. The cars have more downforce which leads to more drag on the car.

The teams have hung what being described as ‘coat hangers’ on the engine cover to sort out some of the extra drag. There are some concerns at the FIA if any fall off they could cut the tyres causing and accident. Then we will have this row FIA will blame the teams, who will blame Pirelli, who will blame the teams.

WE think the FIA are planning to issue a technical directive to ‘clean up’ the ‘coat hangers’ on safety grounds.

Lap times tumble

From the first hour of this test on Monday we saw lap times fall dramatically breaking the fastest lap we saw in the entire eight days of testing and Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap last season. The aim of these regulations was to cut the lap times by around five seconds.

On Monday the fastest lap was 01:21.7 for Hamilton, by Wednesday (the last dry day of running) Bottas had it down to a 01:19.7. that was an improvement of two seconds. Pirelli based on this have estimated a pole time of 01:17 in May’s Spanish Grand Prix, which hits the five-second target.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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