Second pre-season test round-up

By on Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The pre-season campaign is well over the halfway mark following the second test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. We take a look back at how each team fared at the running in Spain.

Mercedes

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

The team’s test started in tricky fashion as an unwell Lewis Hamilton abandoned Thursday’s running after just 11 laps, while Nico Rosberg was unable to drive due to a minor neck injury, caused by trialling a different seating position. Consequently, Mercedes had to call up Pascal Wehrlein, though the German youngster is a safe pair of hands and well known to the squad. As at Jerez, the squad spent much of the week racking up the miles, with the only major faux pas coming when Rosberg spun into the gravel on Sunday. While Mercedes didn’t grab the headlines, Rosberg’s time on Sunday was set on the Mediums. It was a definitive statement of intent.

Red Bull

Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Content Pool

After lower mileage than many of its rivals at Jerez, Red Bull was able to clock up the laps at Barcelona. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat completed race simulations, though Ricciardo’s was interrupted by a red flag. In order to draw a comparison, Kvyat’s race simulation was also halted. Ricciardo was consistently slower than Hamilton’s race simulation, while Kvyat’s pace on Mediums was reliable, but on Softs it was questionable. Ricciardo set the fastest time on Friday, but the remains work to do on the engine side. During the few times we caught a glimpse of Kvyat leaving the pits, power delivery did not sound as smooth as Red Bull’s rivals.

Williams

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

As at Jerez, Williams went about its business in low-key fashion, to the extent that it was as if they were not present. The only blot on the copybook was Susie Wolff’s accident on the first day, though video footage, which she showed to the assembled media, absolves her of blame. It was just a pity for her that her involvement grabbed the headlines – and, unfairly, not for the right reasons. Williams spent Saturday focusing on pit stop practice and the only mechanical stoppage came on Sunday when Valtteri Bottas’s car shut down. The problem wasn’t major, for he was able to return to the track relatively swiftly. His subsequent pace on the Hard tyres – and the laps he was able to accrue – was encouraging for the team.

Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

There were more promising signs for Ferrari as Kimi Räikkönen’s pace on the opening day of testing raised a few eyebrows. Rosberg labelled Ferrari a threat while Ricciardo was impressed by Räikkönen’s time – and surprised further when informed that he was on the Medium compound, rather than the Soft. Unlike at Jerez the team didn’t top the time sheets, but trackside observers comment that the SF15-T looks smooth and driveable. Sebastian Vettel blotted the copybook slightly by spinning off on his out lap on Saturday, but once the gravel was cleared he returned to action. The question mark remains over Ferrari’s long run pace, with neither driver having yet completed a race simulation, nor stayed on track for more than 15-20 lap stints without returning to the garage.

McLaren

Pirelli Media

Pirelli Media

For McLaren this was another difficult test even before Fernando Alonso’s accident on Sunday. Question marks remain over Alonso’s condition and for now his wellbeing is the priority. However, while everyone wishes Alonso the best, the squad has just four days of track time before the first race of the campaign. There was more running than at Jerez, but a faulty seal affected the MGU-K and thus they had to run on reduced power. Alonso completed some encouraging mileage on Friday but Jenson Button’s stints in the car were minimal. McLaren will get there eventually; the problem is that they still face a steep learning curve.

Force India

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Force India made its first appearance of the season after skipping the opening Jerez test but, with the VJM08 not quite ready, its VJM07 was called into action one last time. The squad handed track time to Wehrlein and he impressed engineers with his maturity behind the wheel and his feedback. The only mark against his name was a spin on the exit of Campsa. One crucial aspect for the team was the ability to sample Pirelli’s 2015 tyres on the 2014 car. With every other team having tested this year’s tyres on their new machines, Force India is the only team to be able to draw a comparison between the same tyres on two different cars. Plus, with tyre specialist Sergio Pérez around, this could be of key assistance.

Toro Rosso

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Once again for Toro Rosso this was a test in which they racked up the mileage in order to give Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. the best possible preparation for the new season. Verstappen stayed on track but Sainz Jr. made a couple of errors, firstly spinning into the gravel at Campsa during his race simulation, before going off at Turn 3 on the final day of running. Both drivers also enjoyed stints at the top of the times courtesy of runs on the Super Soft tyre, while long distance work – which included pit stop practice – was also of benefit to the team.

Lotus

Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1 Team

No-one expects Lotus to be suddenly competing for championships but all the signs are that the team is back as a solid outfit after its woeful 2014 campaign. Pastor Maldonado was initially hampered by sensor problems, after which the team was able to get on with its programme successfully. Maldonado set the fastest time on both of his days in the car, while Romain Grosjean set the quickest time of the week on Sunday. More crucially, after 2014 problems, was that the E23 Hybrid ran reliably and racked up the miles.

Sauber

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber F1 Team

While Sauber caught the eyes at Jerez, the team reverted to its expected form at the second test. A mechanical issue kept Felipe Nasr out of much of Sunday’s morning session, while the Brazilian did not endear himself to many following his crash with Wolff on the opening day of running. For testing, it was quite a fundamental error. Marcus Ericsson admitted that the team struggled to get the car working to the optimum.


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