POWER RANKINGS: From 10 to 1 – where do the teams stand ahead of Australia?
The six days of 2020 pre-season testing are done and dusted – and with the teams’ focus now shifting to Australia, it’s time to see how they’re likely to fare when they get there. We asked a panel of F1 experts to rank the teams’ performances after two weeks of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Here’s what they think the pecking order looks like ahead of the first race of the season in Melbourne.
HOW IT WORKS
We asked each of our experts to rank the 10 F1 teams from P1 to P10, based on how they viewed the pecking order after pre-season testing. We then averaged their scores out to create our ranking.
2019 constructors’ finish: 10th
There’s no doubt that things are looking rosier for Williams in 2020 than they did in 2019. The truculent FW42 has given away to an FW43 that both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi seem much happier with – and which managed to give Williams the seventh fastest time of the test to boot. However, Russell admitted that “realistically we are still the slowest car” – and our experts agreed, with Williams still at the bottom of the table.
2019 constructors’ finish: 9th
Was Haas’ 2019 a blip, or part of a general downwards trend for the American squad? Our experts rather sided with the latter viewpoint, as Haas averaged out to ninth place in the standings – with one expert even scoring them 10th out of 10 in the running. Barcelona was a low-wattage test for the team, as they failed to set a lap below 1m 17s – marking them as the slowest squad on one-lap pace from the six days – and set the fewest number of laps. “Overall, we’ve logged good mileage and we’ve learned a lot,” was Team Principal Guenther Steiner’s sober analysis. Hardly the rallying cry of ‘We’re back, baby!’ is it?
8. Alfa Romeo
2019 constructors’ finish: 8th
It was a bit of an anomalous test for Alfa Romeo, who showed exceptional straight-line speed at times – topping the charts on the final day after hitting a DRS-assisted 320km/h – and set some headline-grabbing but (one suspects) slightly glory-runny laps on various days of testing. The overall picture, however, was one that failed to convince our experts that the Hinwil team had really taken a step up the midfield order, as they slotted into the eighth place in which they finished in the 2019 constructors’ standings.
2019 constructors’ finish (as Toro Rosso): 6th
On paper, AlphaTauri’s new name and smart livery don’t appear to have pushed them up the order, with our experts not seeing eye-to-eye with Team Principal Franz Tost’s belief that the team could claim fifth in this year’s constructors’ championship after their performance in testing. Despite that, it was interesting that McLaren’s Carlos Sainz named AlphaTauri as one of the two midfield teams he feared most for 2020…
2019 constructors’ finish: 4th
And speaking of McLaren… what about McLaren? The team were 2019’s surprise performers, as they claimed the prized fourth place spot in the standings after several seasons of slog. 2020 testing was a quiet affair for the Woking squad, however, with the team looking well-matched with engine suppliers Renault, but not significantly better. They duly take up sixth place in our rankings – although it’s worth noting that McLaren were nothing special in testing 12 months ago, before going on to comfortably claim that ‘best of the rest’ finish…
2019 constructors’ finish: 5th
Renault concluded testing as the third fastest team on one-lap pace – behind Mercedes and Red Bull, and ahead of Ferrari – with early signs suggesting that the team had kicked on usefully over the winter. Our experts scored them as the fifth-placed squad in Barcelona overall, but the general impression was that, after a "glitch" in 2019, the Regie, with their sparkling driver line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, could definitely be contenders once more for midfield honours this year.
4. Racing Point
2019 constructors’ finish: 7th
Much was made of Racing Point’s ‘Pink Mercedes’ when it hit the track in Barcelona. But while the RP20 was courting controversy, it was also setting some swift lap times, with Sergio Perez calling the car the best he’d ever driven in pre-season. That’s led our experts to conclude that it’s Racing Point who are ‘best of the rest’ on current evidence – meaning we could see the team return to the P4 spot in the constructors’ for the first time since 2017.
2019 constructors’ finish: 2nd
Ferrari kept their cards extremely close to their chest in pre-season. And while the team rebuked claims their pre-season had been a “disaster” and constantly reiterated that they were focusing on themselves rather than chasing lap times, there were definitely question marks about where Ferrari stand ahead of Melbourne. It’s interesting that our experts were all unanimous on the order of the top three teams after testing – and Ferrari were the squad each of them placed third out of the trio.
2. Red Bull
2019 constructors’ finish: 3rd
Red Bull were, like Mercedes, one of the few teams to bring big innovation to 2020 pre-season testing, with a clever new steering and double bulkhead arrangement seen on the RB16. And despite the car looking a little skittish – leading to spins for both Max Verstappen and Alex Albon – it’s clearly quick too, with our experts voting Red Bull the team most likely to cause Mercedes headaches in 2020.
2019 constructors’ finish: 1st
Well, no surprise who’s #1, eh? Mercedes’ DAS-equipped W11 not only looked to be the fastest car in pre-season testing – Valtteri Bottas clocking 1m 15.732s in the first week, with no-one else able to slip below a 1m 16s – but the team also managed the most laps too (903), to complete the demoralisation of the opposition. Unseating Mercedes doesn’t look to have got any easier in 2020, with all of our experts putting the Silver Arrows in pole position once again.
Of course, the beauty of Formula 1 is that no-one – not even the teams themselves – really know where they are in relation to all the others at the moment. This order is simply our best estimate after testing, but it could all change once the action starts in Melbourne...