We are half way through winter testing and we ended the first week with more questions than answers. The beast from the east brought freezing temperatures, rain and snow to Barcelona which meant the teams had limited running.
At the time of writing the weather forecast looks a lot more familiar, warm and sunny days predicted for Tuesday to Friday. So I thought it was worth looking at the unanswered questions and key areas of interest going into the final 4 days of testing.
How fast was that Hamilton lap?
Hamilton finished the first week top of the timesheets despite only completing 94 laps. A time of 1m19.333s was 0.340 seconds faster than Vettel in second and on the medium compound to Vettel’s soft. It’s hard to judge how fast the lap is as teams were desperate for mileage to ensure they gathered as much data as possible and less focus was put on lap times. Hamilton, who historiclly never enjoys testing as he just wants to start racing, was happy for Bottas to put in the mileage and leave him to jump in the car at the end of the day and complete a few fast laps. I believe the fastest lap could fall by another 2 seconds in good ocnditions so fingers crossed we see some sunny blue skies over Barcelona🤞The timesheets on Friday should give a better picture of how the grid will look in Melbourne.
Red Bull reliability issues
A promising start to the week saw Ricciardo finish the 1st day at top of the timesheets after completing over 100 laps. Sadly, the Red Bull spent a lot of time in the garage over the next few days and the team will be eager to get going again this week. There doesn’t seem to be much concern coming from the Red Bull garage though and they will be confident of closing the gap opened up by that Hamilton lap.
Where will McLaren sit in the Melbourne grid?
McLaren are the only team to use the hypersoft tyre so there is no comparable times to Vandoorne’s 1m19.857s set on Friday. I’m sure other teams will try out the new compound in the warmer weather this week. Although I would love them to be challenging for podiums I see McLaren fighting with Renault behind the big three. One thing I can say for sure is Alonso (17) and Vandoorne (13) will both finish with more points than last year.
Have Toro Rosso secured the deal of the century?
The Honda engine has exceeded expectations so far. There has been no breakdowns with trouble free running for the Toro Rosso over the first 4 days. There is still question marks over the power available but there’s certainly been a big step forward in reliability. Can Honda close the gap to Renault by the end of the season?
Other notable points
Haas went pretty much unnoticed in the first few days of the test, with minimal mileage and languishing at the bottom of the timesheets. However on Friday, Magnussen was 4 shy of a century of laps and recorded the 6th fastest time of testing so far. The first promising signs to come out of the American outfit.
Force India will be very disappointed with their first week. Least amount of laps completed across the whole grid and nothing of note on the timesheets. Was last season a fluke? There is a lot of competition for their fourth place from 2017 and I can’t see them hanging onto it.
Finally a look at the weather forecast…