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Formula One Pre-Season Testing – Jerez

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Photo: Torro Rosso

It’s winter which means there isn’t a great deal of racing going on, which is a shame because I like racing. All is not lost though as Formula One winter pre-season testing kicked off this weekend at Circuito de Jerez in Spain.

All the teams have been out in Spain over the weekend at the circuit in Jerez to get the first pre season testing of the year under way. Some have had a more successful time than others, with a couple only getting a few laps in before things started going wrong. That’s what pre season testing is for though! Anyway, here is what has been going on broken down into the individual teams.

Mercedes

All eyes were on Mercedes as the days testing began, with such a dominant previous season all the other teams were eager to see what kind of performance they were going to be competing against this season.

— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 1, 2015 Considering that the Mercedes team has built an entirely new car over the winter, the machine performed excellently. Nico Rosberg took the wheel for the first day of testing, he was out of the pits and on to the track at precisely 9.00AM. The German driver managed to complete a full 60 laps before lunch and then casually cranked out another 97 afterwards. That is impressive for pre season testing especially considering their issues with reliability last season and the fact that this is a whole new car design! That being said, they do of course have their dominant engine from last year to lean on, which can only really get faster as they develop it. View image on Twitter

Rosberg wasn’t dawdling around the track either; he was putting in consistently competitive times all day long with his fastest being 1:23.106, which puts him third on the current time sheets. This early combination of speed and reliability is sure to have the other teams worried.

McLaren-Honda

It wasn’t just Mercedes that everyone was keen to see out on track over the weekend. The new McLaren-Honda partnership should be an interesting one this season and has potential to be a real competitor in the coming year and beyond. Unfortunately the first day of testing did not reflect this as newly signed Fernando Alonso only competed six laps over the entire day.

McLaren-Honda don’t seem too worried, placing most of the blame on electrical ‘gremlins’, let’s just hope it doesn’t rain or we will be in real trouble. Get it? No? Okay. These ‘gremlins’ are to be expected really, in a partnership that have not worked together in 22 years there bound to be small glitches, especially when you have just put together a brand new car and engine combination.

Alonso, who is freshly poached from Ferrari, commented about the vehicle saying “Given the complexity of modern Formula 1 machinery, the sorts of issues we encountered today weren’t too surprising. They’re just the things you experience on the first day of a Formula 1 test”, which is completely true. It’s day one of testing; you can’t expect everything to just work, unless you are Mercedes of course. Eric Boullier, McLaren’s racing director, spoke out about how encouraging it was to see the engineers from both Mclaren and Honda working so well together already, which is great news. Despite the rocky start I expect to see great things from the Mcaren-Honda camp this year.

Red Bull

Red Bull racing made a promising start to the pre-season testing and Daniel Ricciardo has stated that he is very happy in his new Red Bull-Renault which is a good sign. The car itself caused a bit of a sensation before it even got on the track as it rolled out in what can only be described as ‘Zebra Camouflage’, see image to make sense of that. Red Bull have not said either way whether this livery is going to be their actual race livery but it has been very well received by fans. Christian Horner has stated that they may run an unusual livery this year but has been purposely ambiguous about it, simply stating that “fans will not be disappointed”.

Ricciardo churned out a respectable 35 laps in total on the first day and is currently placed fourth on the time sheets. They did suffer from some battery and engine reliability problems which is the reason for not completing as many laps as they might have wanted. The general consensus from the Red Bull camp is a positive one and Ricciardo stated that he believed Renault have definitely improved on last years engine which is encouraging. However, he was equally impressed (read as worried) with the sheer number of laps that Mercedes managed on day one!

Torro Rosso

Red Bull’s other team (honestly do they just own everything?), Torro Rosso, had a mixed day of testing with some positives and a few negatives. The negatives are the same as everyone else’s problems, running new cars they are all experiencing technical and electrical issues. Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer, said “As usual when running a new car for the first time, our programme centred mainly on systems checks and ensuring that everything was running smoothly”.

Carlos Sainz, who was at the wheel on the first day of testing, is said to be settling in nicely and was pleased with the 46 laps he completed. I would be happy too, that’s more laps than the ‘proper’ Red Bull team! He put in a decent time of 1:25.327 while, while not right up Mercedes’ backside, isn’t miles off either.

They probably could have completed more laps but an issue that actually stopped the car out on track was deemed important enough to cut the day short. A sensible decision because they could then focus on getting the car ready for the next day of testing and not run the risk of pushing the car too hard on the first day.

Williams

Williams had a very encouraging first day of testing, with just a single problem in the morning which they solved and went on to complete a full day. Valterri Bottas went on to rack up a solid 73 laps, impressive for day one. Rod Nelson, chief test and support engineer, said “We have new hardware on the car and there is a new power unit, and all of these have to be checked and tested whilst we are running before we can start looking at performance”. Despite the first day not being geared toward testing performance they still managed fifth fastest lap time at 1:23.906, they will be looking to improve this time as testing progresses.

Bottas sounded pleased with the car overall, “The car was consistent, so it’s a really good start to the week and we are pleased that it’s still a step up from the car we had at the end of last season. We know we have a lot to learn and improve, but we also know where these gains can come from, and have work to do with the car performance and the power unit.”.

Williams have also partnered up with Martini this season to run one of my favourite racing liveries, which I incidentally wrote about last week. The car looks great and I’m excited to see what Williams have in store for this season.

Sauber

Sauber shocked everyone with a really successful first day, coming in second on lap times at 1.22.777 which is just a fraction of a second slower than Ferrari who top the lap time board and actually faster than Mercedes! Marcus Ericsson put in a stellar performance, managing to complete 73 laps in total and went on record saying “We were able to complete a lot of laps, and we went through quite a few different small tweaks on the set-up and did all the installations needed. There were no major problems with the car, which was really the main thing. Overall it’s been a good day, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. I hope we can continue like this”.

They ran the 73 laps almost completely trouble free apart from a few small niggles which they managed to dial in very quickly! Could we be looking at a very competitive Sauber team this season? Let’s hope so, it would be nice to see one of the ‘smaller’ teams doing well this year.

Ferrari

Ferrari came out on top of the lap times on day one of testing with a 1:22.620 lap time and although it is very, very early days they seem confident about being a contender this year. Despite currently being top dog, Sebastien Vettel spoke out saying that “Lap times are not that important in the end, it’s the number of laps”. Talking about how impressive Mercedes first test was he went on to say “They are proving they are starting off with a very reliable car, hopefully not as quick as us, I think that is what everybody is hoping for. We have to give them fair credit, they have done a good job.”

Ferrari’s performance last season was somewhat lacklustre but it looks like they are really serious about making some improvements this year which is what we like to see. It is early, I know, but I can’t help feeling like this season might be a really interesting one. That’s all the main news from Jerez at the moment; we will have more for you later in the week! Missed any of the Formula One car reveals last week? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Ferrari SF15-T Formula One car unveiled Sauber unveil their new C34 F1 car Mclaren-Honda reveal the MP4-30 – 2015 F1 car

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