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Test analysis by Mercedes: Ferrari catches up 1.1 seconds

Test analysis from Mercedes
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T est trips were a big guesswork for a long time. The teams used to analyze their opponents based on assumptions. At the beginning of a racing simulation, you assumed a full tank, noted who was on which tires and when, whether they came to the car new or used, and used that as the basis for all other lap times.

F1 test drives say more than race weekends

Smart simulation programs do it today. Spying on opponents is part of the business. And that doesn't just include the photos of the opposing cars that land on the engineers' table every evening. With a technical analysis and precise measurement. The lap and sector times and the speeds are also examined in detail. At Mercedes, six people work during the test drives to properly classify themselves and the competition. The group is headed by strategy chief James Vowles.

As confusing as the test program appears to outsiders, the picture is clear with the spies. An analysis is much easier than on the race weekends. Because more laps are driven, because the route is constant between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. And because the route is monitored by GPS. In Barcelona since the second day of testing. GPS was only missing on the first day. And promptly there was a crash between Susie Wolff and Felipe Nasr.

After a few days the fog clears. 'Then you will see a certain test pattern in all of them,' explains Vowles. This creates a matrix that reveals everything to the engineers and strategy foxes. Mercedes knows about Ferrari almost as well as Ferrari knows about itself. The reverse is of course the same.

Mercedes is eight tenths ahead of the rest

According to Mercedes evaluation of all lap times, the lead is of the Silver Arrows in Barcelona at 0.8 seconds per lap. An engineer says: 'Nobody should be surprised. We had a good car last year. Nobody makes a good car slower.' It will be exciting in the chasing group. Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams are within a tenth. Behind that there is another big gap, before Lotus, ToroRosso, Sauber and Force India follow.

According to the calculations in Brackley, Ferrari has improved the most of all teams. A year ago, the Red Arrows were 1.9 seconds behind the Silver Arrows. Now it has shrunk to 0.8 seconds. Ferrari was from Mercedes' point of viewa special case. The test program initially confused the analysts.

While Mercedes began the winter tests with long runs and reliability checks, Ferrari did the opposite. Did short stints and burned tons of tires. Ferrari only managed a race distance on the penultimate day. And there was a new insight. Red Bull is a bit faster over the distance.


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