F1 pre-season testing: What the data tells us from Day 2, Week 2, in Barcelona
Ferrari gave everyone something to think about on the penultimate day of testing as Sebastian Vettel lit up the timesheets with a C5 (soft) tyre run. It coincided with Mercedes’ most frustrating day of pre-season. So how does that affect where everyone stands?
Ferrari finally have a strong day
It has not been the finest of starts to testing for Ferrari, the Scuderia who lit up pre-season last year having been ominously quiet. And while the conditions were less than ideal – slippery and damp after overnight rain in the morning and windy in the afternoon – they got plenty of mileage in the bank with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel.
Their tally of 145 laps was a hefty total, beaten only by Williams, who enjoyed their most productive day of pre-season testing in years. The iconic British team have lost track time to engine issues this year, but Thursday was ruthlessly smooth as Nicholas Latifi worked on getting himself acquainted with his new office ahead of his F1 debut.
At the other end of the scale were Mercedes, unusually. The Silver Arrows have had a near perfect opening four days of testing, but they managed less than 50 laps in the morning with Valtteri Bottas, and then spent most of the afternoon in the garage, after an oil pressure anomaly for Lewis Hamilton caused his engine to shut down as a precautionary measure after just 14 laps. However, given their hugely successful run so far, they won’t be too disheartened.
Red Bull, too, weren’t as productive as they had been, with Max Verstappen spinning into the gravel and bringing out a red flag to lose them some time. They adjusted their programme, because of the wet and then windy conditions, to focus instead on shorter runs and not taking any risks to protect the car. They lost a bunch of running time late on in testing last year after Pierre Gasly crashed heavily, so this approach is perhaps understandable.
There were centuries for McLaren, AlphaTauri, Racing Point and Haas, with Alfa Romeo joining Mercedes and Red Bull as the only other team not to make it to 100, the team pushed onto the backfoot after Antonio Giovinazzi spun midway through the morning session, damaging the rear wing and underside of the car as he skated across the gravel into the wall.
The pink car tops the speed charts
The pink Racing Points were once again dominating the top of the speed charts, clocking an impressive 320khm/h with DRS use and still having the advantage when DRS was disregarded.
Ferrari upped their game again in these stakes, perhaps turning up their engine this week having appeared to have run at lower levels last week, this time pipping rivals Mercedes in the no-DRS charts and bettered only by the Racing Point, which many have dubbed ‘the Pink Mercedes’.
Busy afternoons for everyone
Overnight rain meant a stuttering start to the second day of the second test, with intermediates the tyre of choice for those who chose to venture out to assess the conditions. It took at least an hour before teams could swap over to slicks and really get down to business.
This meant they had to condense their programme, making for a very intense afternoon as the performance stint graph shows. Most teams focused on shorter to medium runs in the morning, with Ferrari and Vettel opting to do their lower fuel, table-topping time on the softest compound just before lunch.
Attention then turned to long runs in the afternoon for most, with Ferrari, AlphaTauri, Racing Point, Williams, McLaren, Haas (who just about squeezed it in) and Alfa Romeo all managing to get one done. Mercedes managed just one stint of 14 laps in the afternoon, with technical chief James Allison saying they got a “very useful data point from the car”.
With only a single day of testing left, almost all the teams used the final 20 minutes or so of the day to carry out live pit stop practice, in readiness for hitting the ground running when F1 arrives in Melbourne.
Despite the tricky morning conditions, and gusty winds in the afternoon, there was still some good work done across the board by all teams, reinforcing the notion that this has been one of the most impressively reliable tests in recent memory.