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Analysis of the 2nd Formula 1 test week 2018: Mercedes has it under control

Flash analysis 2nd Formula 1 test week in Barcelona
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P at 6 p.m. Friday fell the checkered flag in Barcelona. The dress rehearsal of Formula 1 ended in bright sunshine and at 20 degrees. It was the best of the eight days of testing in Barcelona. After a total of 37,147 kilometers, the teams now have two weeks to sift through the data and to cure the weaknesses of their cars. Some returned to their base camps with a mountain of problems, others only with minor worries. We analyzed the two weeks of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and came to the following order. Of course without guarantee.

  1. Mercedes
  2. Red Bull-Renault
  3. Ferrari
  4. HaasF1-Ferrari
  5. Renault
  6. Toro Rosso-Honda
  7. McLaren-Renault
  8. Force India-Mercedes
  9. Williams-Mercedes
  10. Sauber-Ferrari

The big Alonso show

The last hour of the Barcelona tests was great cinema. The teams from fourth place tried to find out where they really stand. They drained petrol, strapped hypersoft tires onto their cars and hunted for times with 10 to 20 kilograms of petrol. Fernando Alonso shot the bird again. The Spaniard has a feeling for how to set accents and attract attention. In the last 15 minutes of the test, the Spaniard undercut the 1.18 mark three times and catapulted himself out of nowhere to second place on the eighth test day and third place in the overall table.

When he suddenly after 1.16.720 minutes crossed the finish line, a medium earthquake appeared to rock Barcelona. It quickly became clear that Alonso had cut the chicane. But his fast laps in the final made the judges doubt their judgment again, McLaren had only delivered an average car. And some still had to correct their rankings. The McLaren MCL33-Renault is not a winning car, but it has a good chance of fighting for 4th place if it holds. Here are the ten teams in the individual review.


Mercedes left the best times to the competition. You were only in first place on the fourth day. The defending champion didn't even have hypersoft tires in his luggage. And the two Silver Arrows were never refueled. In the ranking of all eight test days, Lewis Hamilton only ranks 8th, Valtteri Bottas 10th. With his fastest lap of 1.18.400 minutes, Hamilton was 1.3 seconds slower than Ferrari. AndNevertheless, the Mercedes drivers go into the season opener in Melbourne as clear favorites. The racing simulations are the real currency of the test drives. And there Bottas and Hamilton were one second per lap faster than the direct competition under comparable conditions.

Bottas tried to slow down an overly great euphoria: 'We are definitely not a second faster than the rest.' you could see the confidence in his and Hamilton's faces. “We already finished our program on the seventh day of testing. The eighth was a bonus. It made no sense for us to go hunting for personal bests. We also know what our car can do. ”Hamilton explained that he could no longer recognize the moods of last year's car in the new F1 W09. “But we are only in the phase of getting to know each other. That was a snapshot for Barcelona and doesn't have to mean that it is the same elsewhere. ”

The drivers and engineers take a little worry with them during the break before the first Grand Prix. On the softer rubber compounds, Hamilton and Bottas repeatedly delivered rear tires with blisters on the tread. “We haven't solved the problem, but we have weakened it. I guess that the others get the same problems if they attack with soft tires on this track, ”said Bottas.

Red Bull-Renault

Red Bull did not participate either to set new records. Although Daniel Ricciardo topped the daily rankings twice. On the other hand, Max Verstappen was only 20th in the second week of testing with 1.19.842 minutes. Nevertheless, last year's World Cup third-placed is currently number 2 in the field. GPS measurements show that the RB14 is as fast in the bends as the Mercedes. Everything will now depend on how much power Renault will release. For the last two days of testing, Renault donated more power. The same amount should be added by Melbourne if the engines survive the test days without defects. A turbocharger damage at McLaren could postpone this plan to a later date.

Head of Red Bull Motorsport Helmut Marko believes: “We have a better chassis than Mercedes. The engine makes the difference. ”Head of Technology Adrian Newey suspects that the competition still adds more oil to the combustion process than Renault and thus has advantages:“ Our oil consumption per 100 kilometers is 0.1 liters. Mercedes and Ferrari go to the limit of 0.6 liters. ”How big the gap to the best in class is, was difficult to determine. You hear between three and five tenths of a note on a round. In the long runs, the Red Bull drove at Ferrari level. So far away from the Mercedes. Renault also had to take speed out of the racing simulations because of the fuel consumption. More than Mercedes, less than Ferrari. The problem could repeat itself in Melbourne.


Ferrari drove on four daysBest time. Sebastian Vettel marked the absolute best time with 1.17.182 minutes. The Ferraris ran like clockwork. 849 laps without any major problem. And yet the flags hung at half-mast in the red warehouse. Vettel's best time is not worth much if Mercedes were serious. And Red Bull would probably crack it too. In a direct comparison with customer HaasF1, Ferrari was only two tenths faster. That is not enough if you want to become world champion. Vettel summed up the test drives with a sentence that made you think: 'There are still some puzzles that we have to understand.' Mind you, understand, not solve. Ferrari is apparently still poking around in the fog on some points.

According to GPS measurements, the red cars lose time in the corners. That was their strength in the previous year. Track spies reported stationary wheels when braking and strange lines that the car forced on the driver. Ex-driver Pedro de la Rosa came to the conclusion after studying turns 1, 2 and 3: “The Mercedes and Red Bull are much quieter than the Ferrari.” But what else could slow the Ferrari SF71H? The wheelbase extended by 7 centimeters certainly not. HaasF1 has that too. Perhaps Ferrari designed its aerodynamic efficiency for a little less downforce than last year. You wanted to cure your deficit on fast routes. If so, it wouldn't be ideal on a track like Barcelona. There you drive close to the maximum downforce.


The US Ferrari is the insider tip. Both Renault and McLaren currently see HaasF1 in 4th place. Team boss Guenther Steiner is cautious: '4th place is an optimistic announcement.' But the South Tyrolean did not want to dismiss the assessment entirely. HaasF1 has an important detail for tire management up its sleeve that was missing in Barcelona. And every now and then there were fluctuations due to different tire temperatures. Too cold in the front, too hot in the back.

HaasF1 sneaked secretly, quietly and quietly to the top of the chasing field. For the first week, the US team was a gray mouse. With the second at least test kilometers. There were problems with the DRS, a few bits and pieces and the fear that the pilots might loot the spare parts store due to accidents in the bad weather conditions. In the second week Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen convinced both on one lap and over the distance. “The car's balance is good,” reported Magnussen. The HaasF1 VF-18 is characterized by the fact that it is easy to drive and easy to set up.


The euphoria of the first week was quickly gone in the second. Renault was already in fourth place, but then faced competition from HaasF1 and McLaren. “In the beginning, the fast laps were easy for us. In the second week we struggled, ”reported operations manager Alan Permane. NicoHülkenberg confirmed: “In the second week the car felt somehow different. I'm not yet satisfied with the balance. 'Permane sees a parallel to the previous year:' Here too we fell a bit in the second week, but were better again in Melbourne. Maybe it is because we drove around with old components due to a lack of spare parts. In the end they looked pretty worn out. ”

The lack of parts then became a problem on the last day of the test. There wasn't even a complete replacement gearbox. When Carlos Sainz's transmission was damaged due to a software error, it took over four hours to install a new power transmission. Because parts of the broken gearbox had to be transferred to the reserve switch box. Team boss Cyril Abiteboul said critically: “Four hours for a gear change is too long. That is the price for our super slim rear end. ”Carlos Sainz set the fifth fastest time in the winter tests with 1.18.092 minutes. 'But that has to go faster if we want to finish fourth,' said the works racing team. Renault hopes that HaasF1 can be brought to its knees in the course of the higher development pace.


The overall impression of Fernando Alonso's fast laps in the final of the test drives still have McLaren Brought past Toro Rosso. The speed is there. Even if Alonso was only on the road with 20 kilograms of fuel on his three 1.17 laps: You have to drive the time first. The unmistakable driving experience of the two-time ex-world champion was once again confirmed. Already after a day of testing he said to his team: “The car has good genes.” However, team boss Eric Boullier warns: “We couldn't tick off all the items on the program. That's why we're going to Melbourne with some strangers.

McLaren still has to work on reliability. The car stopped on the track six times. The serviceability of the car is also a construction site. The long repair times could become a problem if the engine was changed at the wrong time. Team boss Eric Boullier admits that the aerodynamicists have been given too much freedom. “The whole concept aims to optimize the aerodynamic platform. Maybe we went a little over the limit here and there. But we have to catch up and you have to take certain risks. “

Toro Rosso-Honda

The new combination Toro Rosso-Honda completed 819 laps or 3,812 kilometers over eight days. That's almost Ferrari's workload. One can only say: Chapeau! The chassis department in Faenza and the engine division in Sakura have done a great job to put a package on the wheels in just five months that apparently makes you forget all the sins of the previous year. Only on the fifth day did a brake problem cause an early evening on the track. Not in the garage.

Honda continued in the first week of testingthree engine specifications to filter out the best. This is understandable after the many defects in the previous year. The most promising engine type was then used in the second week. He stayed in the car every four days. That's proof that Honda has learned. The power has also increased. Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley always ended up in the front midfield. Even at the top speeds you could hear the music at 324 km /h. With a time of 1.18.363 minutes, Gasly took 7th place in the final result. At the moment, the Toro Rosso even look like a serious contender in the battle for 4th place.

Force India-Mercedes

We repeat ourselves when we say that this is not the real one Force India VJM11 was. We won't see him until Melbourne. Head of Technology Andy Green stayed at home in the second week of testing because no new parts were expected. The fourth place in the World Championship last year used the time in Barcelona to collect data, understand the car and complete all the procedures such as racing simulations and refueling stops. Esteban Ocon and Segio Perez are therefore not worried if they are only in 14th and 19th place in the timesheet. “We have a good idea of ​​where we will stand compared to the others when the car is complete. We have to prove it in Melbourne. '


Williams had a close race with Sauber. The white cars with the Martini stripes are still a mystery to drivers and engineers. The Williams FW41 apparently suffers from fluctuations in downforce when turning. That disturbs the driver's confidence in the car. In addition, the car does not yet harmonize with the new Pirelli tires. Because you didn't benefit from the softer compounds, Williams drove most of the time on soft and medium rubbers. Neither Lance Stroll nor Sergey Sirotkin have enough experience to solve problems without outside help. This is where test driver Robert Kubica comes into play. Under the same conditions, the Pole is already the fastest man on the team. That will further increase the pressure on the young regular drivers.


Sauber made a good step forward in the second week of testing. Part 2 of the aerodynamics package had an impact. The Confederates were not only able to close the gap to the field, but are already fighting a battle with Williams for the penultimate place. Charles Leclerc ended up in 15th place in the final round. However, Monegasse flew off the track three times and after a slip in Turn 12 delivered scrap metal in the clean box, which interrupted the test program for five hours. Team boss Frédéric Vasseur revealed: “We look better on the long runs than on a lap.”

For everyone else except Mercedes, the principle of hope applies. Let's conclude with McLaren team boss Eric Boullier. “What we saw in the two weeks in Barcelona was the picture for Barcelona. On a special routeon a new asphalt and under unusual weather conditions. This picture does not necessarily have to apply to Melbourne: “We agree in principle. But we don't expect any miracles for the season opener either.


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