With all teams finally breaking cover on their cars for the season, testing began last week in Barcelona. Anticipation was high to see the new technical innovations and how each team matched up. Here we look at what we’ve learned from the first round of pre-season testing.
Mercedes are setting out to win the constructors title for the seventh time on the bounce (1/5) while their number one driver, Lewis Hamilton, is attempting to match Michael Schumacher’s World Championship record of six titles. The Brit is 1/2 to complete the feat. Mercedes have been at the forefront of the hybrid era and have had multiple technical innovations allowing them to be the best on the grid.
Mercedes were a huge talking point over the week, and it wasn’t because of their raw pace. The Silver Arrows had crafted a system which they named Dual Axis Steering or DAS for short. DAS allows the driver to change the alignment of the front wheels by pulling and pushing on the steering column. There is much speculation as to what DAS is really used for, and how Mercedes will implement it in their current season. What we do know is that, if it works as assumed, the front wheels will be heated more evenly on long straights due to the toe being upright. The system will then allow the driver to benefit from the ‘toe out’ position when going into the next corner. The system is completely legal, and the FIA are fine with it. Whether other teams will copy it is yet to be seen.
Other than the new innovation, it looks as if the Silver Arrows will be the ones to beat (again) this season. Their pace was great, certainly not due to glory runs, and the car looked very stable.
Dismal to say the least. This time last year, the Prancing Horse looked as if they’d finally presented a car that would beat Mercedes. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be true but it was a much happier time for the Scuderia than this year’s testing. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has already stated that Ferrari’s rivals were faster than them.
However, this is just testing. It’s not about getting the fastest lap. This is a period where teams can test their new features and adjust where necessary. It is said that Ferrari were running their engine on a lower power than usual all week which is why their lap times were so disappointing.
A positive for the boys in red is that they seem to be quicker in the slower speed corners. Barcelona has two such bends and Ferrari are now 0.38 seconds quicker through there than they were previously.
Lawrence Stroll’s outfit caused quite the stir in the paddock last week. Now dubbed the ‘Pink Mercedes’, Racing Point have seriously stepped up their game. Rival teams quickly jumped to conclusions as the pink car is almost identical to that of the Mercedes. The controversy was only intensified when, on the first day of testing, Sergio Perez lapped within 0.1 seconds of the Mercedes. We already know that Racing Point and Mercedes have a working relationship, with Mercedes supplying power units, gearboxes and rear suspension, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Pink Panthers took a little inspiration.
Lawrence Stroll raised a few eyebrows when he said he wanted Racing Point to return to being ‘best of the rest’, but if these performances are anything to go by, they could go one step better.
Williams missed two days of pre-season testing last year which started a dreadful season for the British outfit. This time round they were the first car on the track and results have been very positive. We don’t expect them to be on a rapid rise, but they’ve most certainly closed the gap on the midfield pack which is a huge step forward.
Williams ended the week only 0.014 seconds off Ferrari’s best time which is incredible. Obviously, the two teams were running completely different strategies, and as previously mentioned the Ferrari power unit wasn’t at full, but it’s a good sign for the team.
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