Pre-Season Testing is done and now the countdown to the first race of the season starts. Testing has taught us a lot about the new regulation change, the order of the teams and the potential problems facing the teams of the upcoming season.
The new regulations have shown their worth
By looking at the fastest time round the Barcelona circuit which was set by Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, we can see that what the engineers of teams, experts and pundits were saying at the end of 2016 are true. Before Testing last year, people reckoned that the cars would be quicker by 4-5 seconds. Raikkonen’s blistering lap of a 1:18:634 beats the lap record at the circuit set by Raikkonen himself back in 2008 of a 1:21:670. Raikkonen was 3.366 seconds up on last year’s pole position.
The “shark fin” has returned. Last since on F1 cars in 2010, they have appeared on the cars this year. This has sparked debate with Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner not being in favour of them. I personally don’t mind and they actually enhance the look of the cars a lot more.
Is it Mercedes or Ferrari at the front?
When new regulations are introduced in F1, it usually hits reigning champions the hardest. But apart from some little problems, Mercedes look quite comfortable and look to be the team to catch in Australia. The statistics can prove that as well. Mercedes completed the most laps of any team on 1096 laps between Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas and the power-unit is considered the best so far. But….
It looks like Ferrari are back. After a quiet Christmas and New Year for Ferrari, it looks like the hard-work has paid off so far. Ferrari had a mostly reliable test with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on top of the time-sheets most days of Pre-Season. We can’t say that Ferrari are right there with Mercedes but we hope that they are very close.
The Midfield is close, very close
The midfield in made up of nearly all of the rest of the teams. Red Bull look to head this but is it to early to include Red Bull in this group. I am pretty sure Red Bull are on par with Ferrari but at this point, we don’t know. Williams, Force India, Torro Rosso, Haas and Renault make up the rest of the midfield so far. Williams, who were top of the times for the 1st day of the 2nd test, could be an unknown quantity heading into the season. The big question is whether their testing pace was for real, and if so, will it put them at the head of the midfield pack or make them true podium contenders? Sauber and McLaren are nearer the back of the pack for the now.
Can it get any worse for McLaren-Honda?
Entering the 3rd year of the once legendary partnership between McLaren and Honda, things should be a lot better than 2015, right? Well, not exactly. Throughout the two tests McLaren made the headlines for one reason. Breaking down. Due to this McLaren accumulated the lowest amount of laps of any team with only 425 laps. McLaren and star driver, Fernando Alonso had been very vocal in saying that this wasn’t good enough. Honda have put the breakdowns to unexpected vibrations from the Honda engine causing the power unit to effectively shake itself into breaking down. The overall times haven’t shown any promise either with Stoffel Vandoorne 18th and Alonso 19th. All will be revealed when the cars hit Melbourne.
Liberty Media’s successful first act
Before Testing even began, Liberty Media, F1’s new owners, allowed Formula 1 teams to film and upload short videos on their social media channels during the first week of testing. Liberty Media is keen to exploit digital and social media. Teams uploaded a series of videos on Twitter over the course of the test, featuring cars leaving the garage, practice pitstops and short interviews. This for me, and other F1 fans, gave us an insight in more depth as to what happens during Testing. As Pre-Season Testing is not shown on TV, it showed what the teams and drivers were up to. Hopefully this will continue into the future.