Testing for the 2015 season got under way last week in Jerez, Spain. Although these test sessions are never a clear indication of a car’s pace, it’s still a good opportunity to see just how teams have progressed over the winter break.
With testing taking place over four days, each team had their drivers take part in two days each.
It was certainly a positive few days of testing for Ferrari as they finished fastest on three of the four days. While other teams are sceptical of the Italian team’s speed, it is nonetheless a positive sign. Kimi Raikkonen stated after the first day that the car was a vast improvement on 2014’s disappointing effort, something to at least reassure the fans.
Sauber also use Ferrari engines and the talented Felipe Nasr topped the timesheet on the third day. It was a good run for the team and they also showed off their new blue and yellow livery, a welcome hark back to the the 80s and 90s. After a disastrous 2014, things are slowly looking up for the Swiss outfit.
Mercedes will be satisfied with their test as they completed 516 laps, the highest of any team. Reliability was the main focus, as they concentrated on their drivers completing long distances rather than short runs. Lewis Hamilton admitted he couldn’t tell any real differences between this year’s W06 and last year’s W05, but considering how all-conquering Mercedes were in 2014, is that a bad thing?
It was a tough start for Red Bull and McLaren as they both suffered various technical problems throughout testing. Red Bull managed to put in 64 laps on the final session however, showing that they are slowly working through their problems.
Despite this, at least their performance wasn’t as bad as last year when they could only manage 21 laps over the four days. Electrical issues hampered McLaren’s new Honda engine too, limiting them to 79 laps – the fewest of all teams. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have spoken positively about the car however, but it was a tough return to F1 for Honda.
It was a quiet test for Torro Rosso and Williams. Torro Rosso will be content as they gave youngsters Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen a chance to become used to the car.
Neither driver set the timesheets alight, but they did complete a lot of laps, which will stand them in good steed for the season. Williams usually finished the sessions mid-table, content to mix some long-runs with shorter, fast laps. Valtteri Bottas said that that the car was a big step-forward compared to last season.
It was initially doubtful that Lotus would even take part in this test, but development on their car went quicker than expected and they managed two-and-a-half days of running.
Despite missing the first day completely, Lotus clocked up more miles than Red Bull and McLaren, which will give the team some relief.
Romain Grosjean was hopeful, stating that the car felt more like the successful 2013 entry as opposed to the poor 2014 car.
It was still two-and-a-half days more than Force India managed as they decided not to run in Jerez, claiming they wanted to spend more time developing their new VJM08. They team will also miss the second test on February 19th, but hope to make the final test on the 26th.
Jason Coulter, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Morio (photo taken by Morio) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons