F1 pre-season testing: What the data tells us from Day 1, Week 2, in Barcelona
Formula 1 teams picked up where they left off in the second pre-season test, with all teams clocking up a solid amount of mileage at a cold and – at times – gusty Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Time to crunch the numbers…
Mercedes' efficiency continues
Week 1 was beautifully smooth for Mercedes and they showed no signs of any niggles creeping in with a ruthlessly efficient day of running on Day 4 (and day one of the second test) as Lewis Hamilton managed an impressive 88 laps in the morning, where he also ran Pirelli’s prototype tyres they are assessing for Zandvoort, with Valtteri Bottas pipping him by a lap with a similarly consistent effort in the afternoon.
Hamilton and Bottas both focused on set-up changes and further testing on the basic behaviour of the car will be the order of the day on Thursday, before they finally turn their attention to performance on the final day of pre-seasoning testing.
Their rivals Ferrari bounced back from a low-key end to the first test with the second-best mileage tally of the day, just 14 short of Mercedes.
The Scuderia have been at pains to explain they are running a different programme this year, focused more on understanding their car rather than chasing performance, so it was unsurprising Sebastian Vettel ended up 10th, 1.2s off the pace, after his running in the morning, before completing an afternoon of photos and filming – as all drivers have to complete pre-season. His team mate Charles Leclerc ran in the PM and was a further tenth behind.
Red Bull had a slightly trickier day, as they encountered an issue with the suspension, but they ran without problems for most of the day – focusing on set-up and suspension changes. Max Verstappen stopped out on track in the closing minutes, but the team said it was “not a concern”. They managed 112 laps, which was 14 shy of Renault and Racing Point’s strong tally.
McLaren just broke a century and both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were pleased with their efforts, the team bringing a host of new parts to the track this week as they look to refine their challenger. AlphaTauri and Williams didn’t hit their centuries, losing track time because of a loose pipe and oil system issue respectively.
Racing Point top the speed traps
Disregarding the use of DRS, Mercedes-powered Racing Point emerged with the top speed on day one of the second test, as Sergio Perez called it the best car he’s ever driven in pre-season, but they were just 2km/h quicker than Renault and Ferrari-powered Haas.
Last week, it appeared Ferrari were running their power unit at a lower level that cost them around a second – though their chief Mattia Binotto denied this was the case when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.
This week, they were much closer to their rivals, their top speed just 3km/h slower than Mercedes’ best of 303km/h, suggesting they have turned things up a little.
Medium to long stints the favoured option
Having ironed out the niggles and proven reliability of the opening week, the second test is generally an opportunity to focus more on pushing the car harder, refining settings, chasing set-ups.
Alfa Romeo set the pace on Wednesday, courtesy of Robert Kubica’s run on the C5 tyre late in the morning before the development driver handed over the keys to team mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn’s stint was not so smooth, as he managed just six short runs and a medium one right at the end, having spent large parts of the afternoon in the garage. Their debrief ran late, so much so his media commitments were cancelled as they worked to understand and cure the problem for Thursday.
Mercedes ran medium to long stints across both drivers all day, while their Ferrari counterparts opted for shorter runs with greater frequency as both set their best laps at the end of their respective sessions.
Renault were the only team to do a proper race simulation (74 laps), with Esteban Ocon recovering from a loss of time from a small suspension issue to complete three stints with a short stop in between to see the chequered flag.
Earlier in the day, Daniel Ricciardo ran new mechanical and aerodynamic performance items on the R.S.20 as they turn their attention to refining their car in time for the opening test.
That leaves just two days of testing – around 16 hours of running – for the teams to learn more about their cars and iron out problems before they have to start packing them up ready to head to Melbourne for the season-opener.