• Home
  • formula-1
  • Formula 1 analysis of Barcelona test drives 2018 (1st week)

Formula 1 analysis of Barcelona test drives 2018 (1st week)

F1 analysis test drives Barcelona 2018 (1st week)
Subscriptions & booklets

D he winter had Barcelona firmly under control. Temperatures between freezing and 10 degrees, rain, even snow. Only on Thursday afternoon did the thermometer briefly climb to 16 degrees. On Wednesday morning, the track was covered in white sugar. The heaviest snowfalls in northeast Spain for 25 years resulted in closed roads and closed schools. And practically zero action on the track. Fernando Alonso warmed about 50 spectators with eleven laps in miserable conditions. Mercedes preferred to build snowmen.

So little was not driven in the first week of the winter test drives for a long time. 2,581 laps in four days. Usually ten teams easily manage twice the workload in this period. The low temperatures did not permit regular test operations even when the road surface was dry. Formula 1 cars and their tires are not built for winter. The medium tire took 10 laps to reach operating temperature. “After that you could drive forever. The tires have practically not deteriorated. It was a difficult week with few answers to many questions, ”said Sebastian Vettel. This is just as unrepresentative as the graining of the softer mixes on the cold asphalt. “If the asphalt temperature stays below 15 degrees, you can't learn anything,” regretted the engineers.

Record laps in the second week

Another circumstance made the analysis difficult for the analysts. Barcelona got a new track surface. All bumps and elevations have disappeared. The asphalt, which used to be a tire killer, is suddenly fine-grained and smooth. With a lot more grip. 'You have the feeling that you are driving on a different racetrack', reported Nico Hülkenberg. The Renault driver is already predicting new records for the second week of testing. On a lap and in the endurance runs.

What do you do on the racetrack when the lap times reveal little or nothing? Scrub off kilometers to check the stability of the individual components, to compare the aerodynamics data in reality with those from the wind tunnel and the CFD simulation and see whether the car reacts logically to different vehicle settings. Certain items on the program have to be postponed completely to the second week, as Toro Rosso technical director James Key explains. “Everything that has to do with cooling can only benormal temperatures. ”

Despite the data deficit, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff gives us hope with his personal conclusion:“ After everything we know so far, things will burn between Ferrari, Red Bull and us. “It relies on what its engineers read from the GPS data. And that's more than just speed, acceleration, braking behavior, engine power, tank capacity and tire compound. The Mercedes software is also fed with soft data. How much potential does the respective car still have? An example. The data has revealed that Renault was still driving with greatly reduced power. More than the competition. In this case, a correction factor is added to the Renault teams in their favor.

The result is that the three top teams are within two tenths. Mercedes even puts Red Bull in first place, although the absolute lap times do not suggest that. But one simply expects that the Renault engine will provide significantly more power. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner sees the two opponents as having a slight advantage, but is not worried 'because we are still expecting important aerodynamic developments'. Lewis Hamilton's best time on medium tires looks impressive against Ferrari's fastest laps on soft rubber. But caution is advised here. The medium tire took a long time to warm up, but was then consistent. After a slightly shorter warm-up phase (7 laps), the soft tire quickly fell into the grain, so that its grip advantage was only short-lived.

One more thing: Renault and McLaren are currently occupying the places between the three top teams and the midfield. That compresses again to 1.5 seconds. With HaasF1 at the top and Sauber at the end.

We watched the teams over the four days of Barcelona. Here they are in the individual review.


Mercedes seems to have successfully driven its moods from the car: 'I haven't seen anything of the weak points of the predecessor so far,' reported Valtteri Bottas with satisfaction . Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on medium tires on the last day with 1.19.333 minutes. The Englishman was on the road for 10 laps each time. Hamilton admitted that he first had to familiarize himself with the new F1 W09: “Learning a new racing car is like cracking a code.” Anyone who had hoped that Mercedes could have gone in the wrong direction, we can already disappoint. Sebastian Vettel sums it up: 'Mercedes is going into the season as the favorite again.'


Sebastian Vettel's feeling is in line with what the wind tunnel and the simulation promised: “Our car does what it's supposed to do. We have improved in all areas. ”You can tell by his body language. This Ferrari meets all the team's expectations. The SF71H made one on the routegood figure, looked as calm in the curves as the Red Bull, while the Mercedes was a bit more nervous. However, GPS data reveals that Mercedes and Red Bull were slightly faster in the corners. Vettel completed 212 smooth laps. If you ignore a slip into the gravel bed of curve 2 times. His fastest time of 1.19.673 minutes was on soft tires. Kimi Raikkonen was less fortunate. The Finn was assigned on days when the weather was bad. He only got 80 laps. He was also on the soft tires with his personal best of 1,20.506 minutes.

Red Bull-Renault

Light and shadow at Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo was already on the first Test day started like the fire brigade and drove a 35-lap stint with extremely constant lap times before the lunch break. The best of them with 1.20.179 minutes on medium tires. The competition calculated that at least 60 kilograms of gasoline had to be on board at the beginning of this endurance test. Ricciardo praised: “We have never managed as many laps as on the first day of testing. I don't know where we stand yet, but I can say one thing for sure: It's not a bad car. ”Contrary to its usual practice, Red Bull finished the RB14 a week before the start of the test. “So that we don't have to wait until the second half of the season to be competitive,” explains Motorsport Director Helmut Marko. On the fourth day of the test, Red Bull compared different front wing variants with one another. But then the defect devil struck. Whenever Max Verstappen was in the car. A gas leak on Tuesday, bigger problems on Thursday. It is whispered that it has something to do with the cooling. Verstappen then sank his car in the gravel.


Renault is the team that has improved the most over the winter. All experts agree on that. Nico Hulkenberg beamed all over his face. “The car is doing really well. Both in terms of speed and reliability. No comparison to last year. We didn't drive a meter on film day before the tests. This time we were ready by noon. ”Nevertheless, the long Rhinelander remains cautious. “It could also be that the new asphalt is deceiving us all. It has so much more grip that the car may automatically feel good. Many of my colleagues told me something similar. ”

The Renault R.S.18 looks rather good compared to the competition. Almost like a retreaded car from last year. But the impression is wrong. “A lot is new there. Especially under the disguise it is brutally tight. It's amazing how narrow we build in the back, ”Hülkenberg contradicts. Renault is still very careful with the engine. Unwinding kilometers is more important than unpacking power. In the four days there was only one major problem that Renault wanted to keep under the covers, aside from a planned battery change. One of the newThe constructed wheel nuts had apparently loosened. During the slow drive back to the pits, the MGU-K's drive broke. The new wheel nut design paid off for the pit stops. “We now manage 2.1 seconds on average,” reveals a technician.

Toro Rosso-Honda

Toro Rosso and Honda were the second big surprise of the first week of testing alongside Renault. Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley reeled 1,508 kilometers more or less carefree. Was that really the Honda engine that broke down so often last year? Just a reminder. Last year, McLaren covered 1,978 kilometers with the Honda V6 turbo on 8 days of testing in Barcelona. Toro Rosso has almost caught up with that halfway through the time. In a first step, Honda mainly worked on stability. In phase 2 more performance should come. Red Bull camp believes Honda can at least catch up with Renault. A voice from the team: “McLaren imposed things on Honda in terms of installation and design that were bad for engine reliability. We listened more to the wishes of Honda. ”Toro Rosso didn't have to hide in terms of speed either. Pierre Gasly's best time of 1.21.318 minutes on soft tires meant a good place in the midfield. Technical Director James Key explained: “We are now a kind of works team. We have to get used to that first. ”


McLaren desperately tried to convince the rest of the teams to cancel the worst day on Wednesday and prefer a test day instead to hang at the end of the second week when the weather is better. Ferrari and Renault refused. You feel well prepared. And they came to the conclusion: Anyone who wants to change the test plan like McLaren must have problems. If you change your engine partner like McLaren, you need every kilometer. There is still a problem here and there. 'We're not there to solve McLaren's problems,' said the competition. McLaren built 93 percent of all parts for the conversion of the car from the Honda V6 to the Renault six-cylinder. And in some areas it went to such an extent that the MCL33 repeatedly took longer breaks in the garage.

A fire, triggered by a loose exhaust, destroyed half the rear. Just 45 minutes after the start of the test, Fernando Alonso lost his right rear wheel in the target corner. Dark spots on the rear fairing are silent evidence that there are still various heat nests. Stoffel Vandoorne set the third fastest time with 1.19.854 minutes, but on the new hypersoft tires. Teram boss Eric Boullier explained the background: “We tried different mechanical setups. You don't always want to drive 10 laps with harder tire compounds until you get up to speed. That's why we also drove Supersoft, Ultrasoft and Hypersoft. 'Fernando drew a positive conclusion:' Car and motorfunction. They confirm our data from the test bench and the wind tunnel. ”Mechanically, McLaren still needs to improve. Did you go a bit too far with your revolutionary rear axle with the upper wishbone made of one piece and the tension strut that links in the middle of the carrier?


The HaasF1 pilots provided their mechanics with decent work with various trips into the gravel bed. Otherwise the US Ferrari ran largely problem-free. Team boss Guenther Steiner was also satisfied with the lap times: “We are almost a bit positively surprised.” Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen also see good signals: “The first feeling is good.” HaasF1 was the only team besides McLaren that once was one of the has unpacked three softest rubber compounds. The ultrasoft rubber put Kevin Magnussen on the fourth day with 1:20.317 minutes, the sixth fastest time of the week. Before that, Romain Grosjean was as quick as Hulkenberg with the same tires at the same time and a similar stint length.

Force India-Mercedes

Force India will have a hard time finishing fourth this year Defend place. Tight finances have delayed the completion of the first aero package for the start of the season. “Our car will only be complete in the first races. There will be a lot of new parts in races 1, 2 and 3, ”promises technical director Andy Green. In its basic version, the Force India VJM 11 did not make headlines yet. Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez ended up in the back third of the field with times that were 2.5 seconds behind the best. In the absence of spare parts, they were urged to take care of the material. The engineers ordered them to do aero testing and correlation work.

Some developments fell victim to tight finances, as Green explains: “The Halo ruined us. We had to build a new chassis for him, which we had otherwise saved. There was a lack of capacity to take care of projects like Ferrari's side box trick. ”


Williams is slowly realizing that Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin are two inexperienced drivers has in the regular seats. That is rather unfavorable in a car with a lot of new ideas. This is why test driver Robert Kubica's statements are becoming more and more valuable. During the second week of testing, the Pole should take the wheel on two days. “My role has changed. For me, it's no longer about setting the fastest lap, but about helping the team as much as possible. ”Kubica is expecting a tight program. “I have to drive in the simulator before every Grand Prix, then to the track, back to the simulator on Saturday and take part in the meetings with the engineers on Monday. In between I still do LMP1 races. From today to Le Mans, I'll be at home for ten whole days. ”Lance Stroll reported a good first feeling, but also admitted that there is still a lot to understand.At the end of the day, Technical Director Paddy Lowe found a ray of hope: “We didn't have a single problem the whole week of testing.”


Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson completed a total of 283 laps , were at the end of the field in terms of lap times. Under comparable conditions, the direct competition was missing between half a second and a second. The Sauber C37 is the bravest car in the field. It was therefore important for the engineers to understand the new concepts first, as technical director Jörg Zander explained: “All innovations work. We just have to bring everything into line. ”The positive thing is:“ The car responds logically to all changes. ”The technicians attribute the oversteer when turning in to the cold tires. Ericsson and Leclerc each triggered a red flag when they took off into the gravel. Team boss Frédéric Vasseur tried to keep the ball flat: “Don't expect too much from us in the first week. We still have to learn this car. And it's not yet complete aerodynamically. The second part comes in the second week of testing. “


Leave a reply

Name *