Friday saw the final day of testing at Jerez, concluding the first testing period for the 2015 Formula One season. There have been mixed results and as such, mixed feelings coming out of Jerez although for the most part the teams seem fairly happy with the weeks testing. We’ve got a quick breakdown of the performance from each of the teams for your reading pleasure.
All images are courtesy of ‘atTRAZIONE MOTORI‘.
Ferrari had a stand out week over in Spain, clearly they have made some serious progress with their car over the winter, in particular their engine seems to be a vast improvement on the 2014 unit. Their testing focus was to see at what level their new SF15-T could compete at and, although it’s only the first test session, it looks as if they will be running very competitively this season.
They managed to clock up a very solid 349 laps in total over the week but most impressively they headed up the lap time chart with Kimi Raikkonen setting the fastest of the weekend at 1m20.841.
Raikkonen, who is typically a man of few words, offered some praise for the new Ferrari, “For sure it’s much better than what we had last year. I think the whole package is better all-round; the engine and the car itself, everything has improved”.
It’s great to see Ferrari back in good form for the 2015 season, particularly after a somewhat disappointing 2014. We know that Raikkonen has the ability and it seems like he could very well have the car to match this year, it should make for an interesting season in the red camp.
Despite missing the first day of testing, Lotus have had a fairly successful week, although it hasn’t all been completely smooth sailing. Lotus have a new Mercedes power unit to integrate into their vehicle and as such there have been some slight problems but it seems to mostly be going well for them. They did however have to cut their final day of testing short as the data suggested a problem beginning to develop within the power unit, no further details were released.
Lotus still managed to rake in 190 laps overall, which is pretty good for a team that missed a full day of testing and they will certainly be able to go away and make some changes based on the data they have collected from those laps. The best time Lotus clocked came in as 1m23.802s which put them sixth overall on the lap time chart.
Technical director Nick Chester spoke about their last day of testing as well as their weekend as a whole. “Even though it’s been an early end to our final day of running in Jerez, we’ve made fantastic progress over the past few days. We fired up the E23 Hybrid for the first time at Enstone last Saturday night, ran it for the first time on Monday, then completed a very useful haul of laps over the course of the test.”
Jenson Button finished off a disappointing week of testing for McLaren, no matter which way you look at it, the new McLaren-Honda did not perform particularly well. They managed just 79 laps over the entire four days testing with Button putting in their fastest time of 1:27.660 which puts them 15th on the lap time chart, the only driver having a slower time being McLaren’s second driver, Fernando Alonso.
The lack of laps can be put down to a couple of ‘break downs’ although these all took place in the garage so I don’t know if they are technically classed as breakdowns. The final day was a bit of a shambles for Mclaren-Honda, a delay in getting the car on track due to ‘unspecified engine issues’ meant they already had a shortened day which was only made worse when the fuel pump broke too late in the day to do anything about it.
Engineering director Matt Morris commented about their unfortunate testing session, “Unfortunately, we’ve had a few issues this week – all of which have been pretty small – but cumulatively they meant we were stuck in the garage for quite some time. Still, our prime objective coming away from this test was to ascertain that the main car architecture worked, and we’ve done that”.
It is of course only the first testing session, this kind of thing is expected, particularly from a brand new collaborative project like Mclaren-Honda’s. With the weight of Honda behind them and Mclaren’s impressive facilities, these pre-season niggles should be of little concern in reality.
Unsurprisingly, Mercedes continued to deliver on their already impressive performance at Jerez to finish up with a record setting week. They completed 516 laps over four days, that’s 2275 Kilometres. They weren’t even out on track for the whole time, even Mercedes had some issues to take care of and yet they still managed to complete all those laps. This quite clearly shows that Mercedes have made some serious steps in improving their reliability which was really their only issue last season.
They weren’t the fastest out on track but they were no slouches either with Lewis Hamilton clocking a fastest time of 1m22.172s which put him third overall. Most teams really put very little emphasis on lap time in the first testing period, calling them almost meaningless and putting much more weight on distance covered which is exactly what Mercedes have done. Hamilton completed 117 laps on the final day, that’s very nearly two full races worth of laps, very impressive indeed.
Hamilton had this to say, “It’s been pretty amazing this week to see how reliable the car has been and how much mileage we’ve covered. The team here at the track and back at the factories is so enthusiastic and energized which is great to see. We all loved the experience of last year and everyone wants to do it again”.
Red Bull’s week wasn’t a fantastic one; they only managed to complete 166 laps after having numerous issues with various parts of the car. Despite progress being made on the Renault engine over winter, there are clearly still some problems with it as it was the power unit that caused Red Bull the most problems over the course of the week.
The final day was really a reflection of their entire week with Danill Kyvat having to sit most of the morning out due to an ERS problem. The Russian driver managed a total of 64 laps in the final day, clocking a fastest time of 1m23.975 which put them fourteenth on the lap time chart.
Head of race engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin still sounded positive at the end of the weekend saying, “We did lose track time over the four days and that’s always frustrating, as you inevitably have to scratch some things off the ‘to do’ list, but the major items were covered so I would say we’re leaving Jerez in pretty decent shape”.
Red Bull clearly have some work to do, especially surrounding their engine but this is not surprising as they have somehow managed to cram the hottest engine into one of the most tightly packaged cars on the grid.
Sauber surprised everyone with their testing week, bearing in mind their fairly awful last season; it was a bit of a shock to see them come out shooting like they did. They completed a substantial 302 laps in total, 101 of them by Marcus Ericsson alone on the final day. Ericsson stated that the car is a considerable improvement on the car that he drove at the end of the last season, very encouraging and great to see one of the smaller teams performing so well.
Not only did they achieve a very respectable amount of laps, which will be key for development, they also achieved third fastest lap time with Felipe Nasr quickest being 1:21.545. Sauber are using Ferrari’s new engine, it is fairly clear to see how much of an improvement Ferrari’s engine is on last year if it is having this sort of effect on a team that did so poorly last season.
Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara said, “There were hardly any reliability issues on the car, and definitely nothing major. The drivers and the team worked very well, and it was good to get to know each other. We will now analyse all the data in order to make further progress in Barcelona”.
I for one will be paying very close attention to Sauber this season and while I don’t think they have any real chance of winning I do think we could see Sauber on podium at least a couple of times.
Torro Rosso’s week of testing has been a fairly pleasant one, they went out with the intent of doing a lot of laps and they did just that. Logging 353 in total, that’s the third most laps completed, they appear to be happy with the information they have gleaned from those laps.
Technical director James Key said “It was good to run STR10 in anger and after overcoming some niggling problems on the first two days, we managed to do some really high mileage on the final two. That was useful, because it meant both our drivers managed to complete a full and comprehensive programme”. This is not to say they haven’t had problems because they have, using the same engine as their ‘bigger brother’ Red Bull means they have suffered some of the same issues from the power unit but they appear to have dealt with them slightly better.
Their rookie driver performed very well considering his lack of experience, coming in to the middle of the lap times table with 1:22.553 which is tenth fastest overall. Verstappen wasn’t all about speed though; he clocked up 97 laps in the final day which is not to be sniffed at. James Key went on to talk about both their drivers, “Well done to the drivers, who made no mistakes, gave us very precise feedback, learned a great deal and also allowed us to discover quite a bit about the tyres and the car. A good start and we must continue like this in the next tests”.
Williams are pleased with their performance over the week, they put in a decent number of laps at 278 and managed 7th and 8th fastest laps with a 1:22.276 being their fastest, set by Felipe Massa.
Their car is clearly quite reliable, with only minimal issues to sort out over the testing week. Chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson said, “Today was another trouble-free day and so we completed our programme for the week. Today’s focus was on aero and mechanical set-up, as well as working through systems reliability. We have highlighted areas we need to improve before Barcelona and leave here with a reliable package that is straight forward to work with. I think we are all very happy”.
Williams look like they have a good car on their hands for the 2015 season, with more testing sessions to come it sounds like they should have most of their reliability issues sorted out for the new season. It would be great to see the independent team perform a bit more competitively this season.
Unfortunately Force India were unable to make it to the Jerez testing session although they have said they will be there for both of the Barcelona sessions.
That’s everything from Jerez folks! If you are a motorcycle kind of guy then check back tomorrow for the MotoGP test session round up!
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