Analysis: 5 things we have learned from F1 new car testing so far
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Sebastian Vettel
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Feb 2017   |  9:33 pm GMT  |  218 comments

We are now two days into testing of the new F1 cars at Barcelona and although no-one is yet making predictions for the season that lies ahead, the teams have an initial sense of where they stand on baseline performance.

That said, with a major rule change such as this one there will be large steps made on development throughout the year and the performance levels will fluctuate as a result. We will see some significant new aero developments on cars at next week’s test, for example, worth half a second to a second a lap in some cases. So the picture is fluid.

But it is possible to see a rough outline of where teams stand now and draw some interesting notes and pointers from what has happened so far.

So with the help of our JA on F1 technical team here is our take on the undercurrents from testing.

Mercedes F1
Mercedes has plenty in hand
Lewis Hamilton said on Monday that his car is “1,000 times better” than its rivals. So is another Mercedes whitewash in store, despite a major regulation change?

Although everyone says you can’t learn much from testing, that’s not entirely true. It is true that F1 has become very hard for even knowledgeable F1 enthusiasts to follow, as the problem is that these days there are so many variables, different tyre compounds can be evaluated (although here there are compounds and ‘back ups’ which have a slightly different construction and performance) but there are more tricky things like whether a driver used DRS on the straight or not. Another is whether the ERS is running ‘sustainable mode’ or not, which is worth 6/10ths of a second either way.

And above the biggest variable early on is what level of fuel he uses; typically teams like to run around with 70-80kg in the tank, but some run lower around 30-40kg. You only find that out when they do a ‘step change’ from high fuel to lower fuel. Then you start to get a picture of underlying pace, albeit still with caveats about engine modes.

On Day 1 Ferrari and Williams were the only ones to do a ‘step change’ during the day’s running ie run two different fuel levels during the day. This gives us an indication of their higher fuel (70-80kg) and lower fuel (30-40kg) pace. This shows their hand a bit; we can draw some conclusions from that.

Mercedes F1

In contrast, Mercedes kept a steady fuel load, likely to have been in the 70-80kg range from past experience. So they were not giving anything away. Assuming they were running a similar programme to last year fuel wise (because why wouldn’t they?) it looked like the Mercedes is a good bit faster than the Ferrari.

On Tuesday we got some more information from the second day’s running. Hamilton again looked fast, but Valtteri Bottas seemed to be struggling more for pace. He also had a minor off. When Bottas is in the car, it’s on the same pace as Ferrari. When Hamilton is in the Silver Arrow, it’s faster.

How can some cars do 700km on Day 1 and others break down?
It’s been a shocking start for McLaren, with problems on the new Honda engine from the outset on Day 1 and only 40 laps for Vandoorne today. An oil tank design issue is one possible cause doing the rounds.

In contrast Mercedes did 700km on Day 1 and over 1,000 today, while Ferrari covered 500km today.

The top teams can do this, partly thanks to a reliable engine, but also thanks to their dynamic test rigs, which are multi million dollar pieces of equipment that ‘test’ the car back in the factory before it gets anywhere near a race track.

These machines have been around for a couple of years and they are the reason that we see such high mileages in Barcelona. Red Bull has one too, but Adrian Newey’s complex designs and last minute aero updates mean that the team don’t get the car onto their dynamic rig until the last minute. It’s always impressive to see the midfield teams without a rig doing over 100 laps as Haas did today or over 80 as Force India managed.

Ferrari F1

The high-risk Ferrari aero design works, but is the car fast enough?
When the new Ferrari was rolled out last Friday the Italian sports paper Gazzetta dello Sport put it on the front page with a headline “Ferrari risks everything”. After years of not being very innovative, Ferrari’s new aero team under David Sanchez has gone properly left field with the treatment of the leading edge of the floor, sidepods and turning vanes, with some very complex shapes. The good news is that the various parts of the Ferrari aerodynamic journey seem to work, in other words it is not a turkey.

But that’s not to say that it is fast enough to compete with Mercedes, which has a very highly curated car and clearly a step on the engine too.

Today we saw Raikkonen go fastest on the first flying lap of a five lap run on soft tyres in 1m 20.960s. We could also see from the long runs that Raikkonen was comfortably in the 1m 24s and the car seems quite gentle on the tyres on race runs. There was a ‘cliff’ on the Pirelli tyres today, but it was less pronounced for Raikkonen than for Bottas on his race distance, for example.

Qualifying pace has been a real weakness for Ferrari and it will be very interesting to see where they are when they do their first qualifying simulation run in Barcelona.

Red Bull had comparable long run times with Verstappen so they look reasonably close. But all teams will have some major aerodynamic updates for next week’s test and Melbourne which could be worth up to a second, so it’s still way too early to say how the front three rows of the grid will look in Australia.

Incidentally a Technical Directive went out from the FIA to teams about the clever suspension systems that adjust the cars’ ride heights between corners and straights, which Ferrari has been questioning, as they aren’t up to speed on it. The TD featured some guidelines on how the systems will be evaluated during the season. Despite the clarification it seems that there is nothing at this stage for Mercedes and Red Bull to worry about unduly from this development.


New Pirelli tyres don’t degrade much – how many stops in races this year?
We haven’t seen F1 tyres that do not degrade since Bridgestone left the sport in 2010.

However with the switch to the wider front and rear tyres there were signs during the mule car testing and again on day 1 in Barcelona that this would appear to have changed. Unlike the old size tyre, this wider format is a tyre dimension to which Pirelli can build a tyre that doesn’t suffer from temperature spikes and thus is very stable and robust.

On Day 2, however, when the drivers began to push a bit more, we saw some degradation and there was even a noticeable ‘cliff’ of performance, after which they needed to be changed as the margin to a new tyre was growing. This is quite encouraging and hopefully Pirelli has the balance right between a tyre to stop the drivers complaining about “not being able to push”, but with a small degree of degradation to keep intrigue in the strategy side of the races. What we must avoid is races becoming mostly one-stoppers, as in the Bridgestone days. The mechanics would be happy as these new rear wheels are 5kg heavier and that makes pit stops back breaking work.

In general we’d hazard a guess there will be one stop fewer at each venue than last year. On tracks where there is no degradation, cars will finish in car performance order as there are few things that midfield teams can do to get the likes of a Perez or a Grosjean ahead of the bigger teams, without using tyre choice and smart driving.

Red Bull F1
Good news for Red Bull and Toro Rosso: New Renault engine looks a really good step forward

The signs are that the Renault engine is a good step stronger than last year’s motor. And Red Bull has demonstrated that through the speed trap on both days so far. It’s been a very long time since we saw Red Bull among the top three through the speed trap, but they have clearly more power and also a very efficient car aerodynamically. So it’s got plenty of downforce in the corners but without costly drag on the straights.

In contrast, the Toro Rosso looks a decent car, but it’s clearly draggy on the straights.

McLaren F1
Conclusions so far?

It’s very early days, but Mercedes is clearly still the team to beat. Ferrari looks good, especially on long runs and Red Bull has not shown its hand yet on lap times, but the corner speeds and straight line speeds indicate that it’s a competitive car.

Behind them we have what appears a reasonably tight midfield with Williams, Haas, Toro Rosso and Force India probably in that order, very close on pace.

Then comes Renault, with Sauber on its own at the back.

McLaren is a question mark because the tiny amount of running it has done has been with everything turned down for reliability reasons, so corner speeds, straight speeds are all down. Its too early to say that this is 2015 all over again for them, but there will be some anxiety in that team’s garage this week.

What do you think? What has caught your eye? Leave your comment in the section below

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218 comments

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1

Keeping last year in mind, I am impressed with Ferrari. I would really like to see them silence the critics by giving Mercedes the competition they have been lacking.

2

Last year Ferrari topped the testdays and you know what it brought the team.
But let's hope your right...

3

I hope you are right for the championship's sakes. I'm not very optimistic about any team being on the same level as Mercedes. The regulation changes did not change the fact that Mercedes' engine power advantage is still light years ahead of anyone. The only hope is that the other teams will be able to develop the engine well enough through out the year to fight for some wins at the back end. Some might say that it is too early to right anyone off. But I'm putting $1k on Hamilton winning the WDC, getting most pole positions, most race wins and Mercedes winning the WCC with at least 4 races in hand.

4

Interesting. Where can I place that kind of bets?

5

Apart from the last one (4 races to go) everything else on TAB Australia. I'm sure the last one will be available somewhere. Odds so far $1.67, the best I found so far

6

Are you seriously putting that amount of money on that bet? If so, at what odds?

7

5 Things i have learned from first 2 days:

1. Hamilton Dominates
2. Bottas Struggles
3. Raikkonen Enjoys
4. Alonso Suffers

5. Lance Trolls

8

1. Hamilton Dominates !!! , what testing have you been watching

9

First 2 days of the testing

10

just because you change color doesn't your fortunes will change...mclaren talked of this new era as if the past performance was all ron's fault...infact they started getting it wrong in whitmarsh years when they decided to the wrong for 2013...and then came honda which has been an embarrasement...I really don't think you can blame Ron for honda's fault...
I was thinking the other day what's the incentive for Honda now to spend billions in investing on an f1 engine which will more than likely be sent to bin when new regs come in 2020...and again the cars look better than last year but the sound is a huge issue...I still don't understand why they had to go v6 why couldn't they have made a similar hybrid v8 engine instead?
Also earlier the drivers had kers which was used tactically by drivers now we have no such thing...it clearly looks like merc will take 20 odd wins here this season...this will surely kill F1, not bernie anyway now he's gone we can blame liberty for a change!

11

Ron chose Honda to power the car. so the responsibility must lie with him, and clearly his co owners think so.

F1 is alive and well, and will not be killed by another year of Merc domination. Though like everyone else I would prefer this not to be the case.

Libertys' ownership will probably improve the sport, and these effects are not likely to be decided or seen until 2018.

If the sport was really about noise, there are a lot of easier and cheaper ways to make more noise, more often than F1. Really loud noise is probably best achieved without using cars at all!

Now F1 has new leadership, I hope the sport does more to promote the engineering achievements and advancement brought about in the new V6 hybrid era. For the ultimate pinnacle of motorsport to go back to naturally aspirated engines when the industry is moving in the opposite direction, (because they are louder) sounds as absurd as the idea is outdated. Don't forget much of the noise has been harnessed into horsepower!

12

its was stupid thinking by Ron that you cannot win with custom engine they should take example from force India who have less money but still performing outstanding .Merc engine is the best in current F1 N they went to bad engine Honda. which history tells u they have reliability problems and in this new engine era u need most reliability which honda will never have. I feel very sorry for Alonso a top driver have so bad car. I think he should come to Ferrari again I know he trust lot in Ferrari but they didn't deliver but we at least see him fighting with top driver and who know he may Win with Ferrari .because time has changes

13

Ron was right on his path. No team can defeat if it uses the customer engine. Its very imp to be in front for him so they decided to use a difficult path. Force India can be in very good position however consideration of what budget they have. Mc'Laren does not belongs to midfield, so the decision was right however execution wasn't great. I am no fan of Mc'Laren but if they satisfied with no 2 we will be disapointed

14

Ron decission was correct

15

It's not just the noise man it's about the package...if you think Lewis winning another 15 races is not going to put a question mark on f1 ever declining popularity then you're deluded!

16

Fernando needs to leave Mclaren after this year. Given Honda decided to scrap their engine philosophy and follow Mercedes lead in design, it means they are pretty much back in 2014 while Mercedes has already ironed out all their issues over the years. Honda is just getting started.

There are a few available good seats for next year so he should ask Flavio to start working for his commission right now.

17

i don't think Alonso will be waiting until the end of the season to walk out on macca

18

As far as i know the sound (level at any rate) is not because it's a v6, it's because of the turbo and hybrid parts as well as the fuel limitations. peak torque is at 12000 revs with these rules so they don't rev the nuts of them anymore. A v4 or vtwin can sound amazing but they need to rev!

19

I'm sure a V8 hybrid would sound good. Definitely the turbo that affects the sound level.

20

find a youtube of a group B quattro and tell me that turbos stifle noise.
The biggest impact on noise is the drop from 19000 rpm to 12000

21

Turbos do stifle noise to a degree - but of course you can still have an engine with a turbo that is 'loud'. It depends on your reason for fitting the turbo - efficiency or greater power. But yes of course the bigger issue is the limits on rpm - which is to do with the fuel flow limit.

22

Sure!

Less efficiency comes with more heat and noise

23

James, how do you see the Ferrari's "media blackout"?

25

Hear hear....

26

Hahah...good one, James! But I could see that as well...😂

27

Hahahahaha....but seriously any background on this or are you scared you may end up with a horses head in your bed?

28

Isn't it somewhat concerning that Honda basically threw the engine from the past two years away, saying that it had reached it's peak and that they were headed down the Mercedes route with turbocharger ... to fundamentally redesign their engine surely does set them back and the issues they are having appear to be the result of that. If the rest of this Barcelona test goes the same way, Fernando will be wanting to walk away sooner rather than later ...

29

I have it on good authority that residents of Barcelona have experience a rash of engine thefts that are leaving Honda Civic's without a power train. Some thefts even occurred in the parking lot of the track.

30

McLaren is the new Williams

31

All isn't lost - Honda announced a major improvement today with a large order of Toyota Prius engines...

32

Not really, it takes guts to admit that your original design has done all it can do or that the potential performance gains are not as great as you would like.

It looks like it will take more time to make that Honda engine more reliable but they obviously feel they can generate far more performance gains from this layout.

33

it looked like the Mercedes is a good bit faster than the Ferrari.....
When Hamilton is in the Silver Arrow, it’s faster....

👍😄😎

34

Not really the rocket science

35

not really the sense make doesn't 🙂

36

Thanks for the much awaited analysis James. Just as I was getting excited that Ferrari might be able to challenge Merc, comes your comment that Merc looks quite a bit quicker then Ferrari. If this turns out to be fact, it is going to be a long, boring season, with only 2nd place onwards being of any interest. Phew.

37

but somehow that situation was ok when Schumacher did much the same and was idolised for it...

38

Hmm, it's always hard to tell definitively. I went back in the JA archives, and found this from 2012 pre-season testing:

The picture that has emerged from testing is pretty much as it has seemed throughout the month of track action: Red Bull lead the way and are likely to fight against McLaren initially ...

https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2012/03/barcelona-day-4-ferrari-disappointed-as-testing-comes-to-an-end/

As it turned out, McLaren were faster than Red Bull at the early rounds of 2012, especially for qualifying. On race pace the Red Bull was still very good, but with track position McLaren were able to lead them home. Then Macca's floor was declared illegal after China, leading to Button going AWOL, and the season spiralled down from there.

So for this year, we just don't know. We haven't seen the best from Red Bull this pre-season. The second test will be instructive.

39

I can't believe that even after 3 years that Honda is still getting things badly wrong. Easy to criticise, but have they bitten off more than they can chew? Again?

Despite being in the business for 15 consecutive seasons, Fernando Alonso is still amazingly motivated and determined as he was when he was a fresh faced clean shaven youngster,and his consistency is THE best in racing, but even his legendary reserves of commitment must be being tested to the limit if the Japanese cannot get their act together!

Are Honda becoming a liability? Not just for TAG McLaren International - but for Formula 1 too? have they underestimated the engineering nous and requirements of these turbo-hybrids? McHonda's last couple of days have been a shambles........

40

I don't know if they did bite off larger than they could chew, but there is one thing I am pretty sure of, they have become an embarrassment for themselves and for Mclaren. It's hard to believe that, with all their might, those two are struggling to pull their heads out the water after three season of trying with this engine formula. As for Alonso, he will certainly walk away if he fails to score at least a race win this season. And I will not blame him.

41

Dude come on, tokens were their biggest achilles heel, with tokens if you develop a lemon then you better get a good juicer cause you're stuck with it. (Honestly how genius are these guys realy). but now there is nowhere to hide.

42

the tokens were brought in because everyone thought Honda had such a massive advantage because they sat out the first year of the new regs and could watch and learn from the others. Boy did the geniuses get that wrong!

43

with Maclaren using the Mercedes PU in 2014 it was astonishing that Honda had access (to the outside at least) to the Mercedes layout but believed that they could do better. Afer their Brawn debacle where due to inadequacies of their previous F1 engine they payed over 100 milion to effectivley create the Mercedes team you woukd think they might have gone with the flow and copied the Germans. For what its worth I think they must have learned enought about the hybrid tech over the last two seasons to be able to get their new PU to produce decent results but they will be behind Mercedes and maybe behind Renault and Ferrari too for at least a season. They just HAVE to get it right this time whatever the cost (and they will be thankful not to need tokens!) as the damage to the Honda brand if they pull out again will end a lot of careers at Honda. It is going to be an interesting year for them.

44

Wow...I thought the shark fins were hideous.

Shark fins sprouting T-wings are even more of an eyesore. And double T-wings are twice as worse. Appendages are growing appendages!

F1 went down this path before. It was ugly (literally & figuratively). Get rid of the whole lot.

Seems like it'd be just as easy for F1 to have rules that beget beautiful cars vs. ugly ones (ie- no tipped noses, stepped noses, shark fins, T-wings).

F1 is great. But it pains me to think how much better it could be...and so easily, too.

45

Hear Hear,,, the shark fins don't offend me, but these T-wings are something else, The FIA would probably be more open to banning the steering wheel or brake pedal before they ban these things.

46

Even worse was Mercedes' double T wing without the shark fin, it was just mounted on a stick stuck on the back of the engine cover. It looked quite ridiculous.

47

It's a rotating clothes dryer, but goes around race tracks instead of your lawn.

48

And not as costly so we can get some privateers back

49

Great coverage thanks James. Early days but it looks like some may be up for the fight. Go Daniel!

50

EVERY YEAR we get David & Goliath the rematch,,, (Goliath learned from his mistakes and that was the last time David won).

51

Awful analogy - Goliath had his head cut off!

52

Good to see Ferrari nearer Mercedes. But why not reduce pit crew numbers with only 5 working on car. Would change dynamics dramatically

53

@Peter Williams.

+1 Like WEC or NASCAR. It would give the opportunity for potential chaos, and make it more interesting for TV. Especially if tyre stops are really going to be one less per circuit, this year.

54

I don't think Ferrari is anywhere near the Mercs. Look at last year's pre season tests, ferrari looked good. Then we all know how many races they ended up winning. Wrong regulations were changed.

55

Well done james. An excellent summary. What has caught the attention? Well to start with verstappen believes that, at this early stage, that following another car doesn't seem to be any different to last year. Maybe this will dispel earlier forecasts somewhat. Another point was that, pre testing, there were all kinds of impending doom scenarios that drivers would be 'heavily affected' by the sheer physicality of these new cars. No one has yet collapsed in a heap and bottas seemed to reel off a race distance without needing hospitalisation! Of course they will be more taxing, as has been explained by some of the drivers, but they have trained for that so that seems to be another overblown myth. The last point i have is that no one has really tipped their hand....however Mercedes have proved once again that they are pretty much bulletproof.

56

Kenneth:

I'm interested in Verstappen's comment that RB haven't shown their hand yet in terms of performance. And this on top of Ricciardo saying that they're just working through their program, collecting and examining data. Doesn't seem to be any signs of stress in the RB camp.

57

@ Adrian....The renault engine is a completely new design entity and i think that RB are simply 'testing'. As newey said, we've built a clean no nonsense car. The go fast/er bits come once we're happy with reliability. How sensible. Get happy with the car. Ricci has said that once this is done they will look at performance next week. Whilst i would love to see ricci top of the timesheets that is only a massage for my 'wa'. The figures we are seeing are really non representative of what the final ones will be. Wait until mercedes turn up the wick!!! Unfortunately.

58

Kenneth:

Agree with all of that. Speaking of performance as I understand it the architecture of the new Renault PU allows for considerable in-season development. Probably a characteristic of other PUs which means that we could see a race for more performance among the teams. So perhaps Merc are not a shoe-in, hopefully!

59

i'm a Ric fan but they would say that wouldn't they.

60

Axel:

I'm also a Danny Ric fan and perhaps he and Max are calling it as it is. Regardless as a fan I'd rather hear them put a positive spin on things than a negative one. Time will tell.

61

Mercedes were also bulletproof during last years testing, but then a certain someone's engine kept dieing...

62

What would the odds be on Hamilton's car suffering a failure today, with Rosberg back in the Mercedes' garage? 😉

63

KRB:

What are the odds of Hamilton suffering an engine failure during a race this year?

64

Is this a trick question? I will say 5%, for a race-ending failure in a race.

65

KRB:

No it wasn't a trick question but just piggy backing on your humorous post to Jas. But there was a serious side to my question given Hamilton's well documented and discussed problems with engine failure last year which you yourself have commented on.

Just curious but what is your 5% based on?

66

1 in 20 races. He only had 1 in 21 last year during the races, though he had engine trouble at RUS and Baku that needed managing in-race.

The failures in qualifying can hurt just as much though, especially if they rack up like Hamilton’s did last year.

67

KRB:

My question was asked with a bit of friendly scarcasm because I knew it couldn't be absolutely answered. But if you're saying that Hamilton has a 5% chance of suffering an engine failure this year........hmmm I'm not sure Lewis would like those odds especially if he was running neck and neck on the points table with a Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo or Vettel.

68

It's all relative though. If all of Hamilton’s MGU-H engine trouble in qualifying for 2016 could be wiped out, with only Malaysia remaining, I'd take that.

If Rosberg had 2 race-ending failures, then Hamilton could absorb 3, etc.

Rosberg's near perfect reliability in 2016 was and is the exception. It's very rare to not suffer at least one DNF during a season. That's why I went with 5%. Asking for perfect reliability is greedy. Really I just ask that the reliability evens out, more or less, between title competitors over a season.

69

KRB:

I agree with what you’re saying. I’d just use different words in that it was Merc’s responsibility (I mean they provide the machinery, engineers and mechanics etc..) to provide both their drivers with a level playing field on which to compete and clearly that didn’t happen last season and Lewis had every right to be aggrieved although once the dust settled he was gracious to say ‘we live and die as a team.’

In the event of last year showing signs of repeating itself if I was Lewis I’d be by-passing Wolff and Lauda and demanding answers from someone higher up the food chain. Just imagine the criticism he’d cop though.

70

@ Adrian...after re reading your post it seems as though you are implying that the failure to provide both drivers with a 'level playing field' was somehow influenced by the team? It may not be the case but that is how i interpreted it. I cannot conceive that mercedes would do anything to compromise any of their drivers or their team within the overall task of winning both titles. Maybe i have misinterpreted your post......

71

Kenneth:

Thanks for your post. No, I wasn’t stating or implying that Mercedes knowingly did anything to compromise Hamilton’s car. Far from it. Rosberg and Hamilton were given identical machinery and back up support (mechanical, engineering, strategy etc…) to compete for a WDC and while Rosberg experienced virtually no mechanical issues Hamilton experienced a number (including a DNF) that affected his campaign. If they both suffered equal reliability (or unreliability) then this whole issue wouldn’t have got the exposure it had. What makes it even more bizarre is that Hamilton’s engine, one of eight Merc powered cars on the grid, was the only one to suffer problems.

Mercedes being a ‘works team’ had full control over the design, manufacture, assembly and maintenance of its cars. Nothing, to my knowledge, was out sourced to another entity. Did some act on the part of their engineers or mechanics result in Hamilton’s new engine to blow when he was seemingly cruising to victory 16 laps from the finish? I don’t know? In any field of human activity there are at times going to be unintended consequences simply because humans are imperfect beings. No surprise here. We think we have all the bases covered only to discover that something that wasn’t thought of or something that was thought to have been of no consequence has triggered, either directly or indirectly, a disaster. Just look at the events surrounding the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

No doubt Hamilton was given the same machinery and support systems as Rosberg and yet for whatever reason he wasn’t able to compete at the same level or his efforts were compromised by the very systems that were meant to support him. And this is why I described it as not being a level playing field.

I have no particular axe to grind only that I find the whole thing interesting. By all means let me know your thoughts Ken.

72

@ Adrian...thanks for the response and your comments. I certainly didn't want to imply that you were 'grinding an axe'. Rather old fashioned statement that hahaha. As basic tenet that covers all aspects of engineering elements , nothing is perfect, and sooner or later there will be a fail. It's when that fail will occur which is the great unknown. From what i've read and gleaned from research on the singapore fail it has been mooted to have been a bearing failure. The main factors in a bearing failure [said to have been a 'big end' by memory] could be one of many such as 'load / temp/ friction/ lubrication and or metal fatigue/ failure at a molecular level as a result of any of the former. If in fact it was a bearing then the failure may well have been in the support systems such as oil delivery, breakdown of oil etc etc etc. It is hard to believe that with a giant like mercedes, with probably the best engineering infrastructure in the entire motoring world at their fingertips, something like this could occur but it did!. Was it down to malicious intent ? Obviously there are some people who think that that may be the case. Based on what evidence? Never say never. To my thinking it would be almost impossible to bring about but where there is a will there is a way. The fact is that no one at mercedes has ever delivered a satisfactory comment revealing the actual cause...that is if they do in fact know? i'm sure that we'd all love to know what happened.

73

@ Adrian...Yes....my mistake, it was malaysia, not Singapore. As for paddy lowe's comment, i had completely forgotten that and as you point out, what did he actually mean? At the time i thought that it was just a throw away to salve hamilton's apparent severe discontent. "somebody doesn't want me to win this championship'. This latter comment was very quickly massaged by the mercedes PR machine. Maybe there was something untoward going on or maybe it was just one of those 'fails' that i have mentioned!.

74

Kenneth:

Thanks for your post Ken in which you make some interesting observations. And by the way no offence taken from your question, no problem there.

As you mentioned it was a big-end bearing failure resulting from a loss of oil pressure which caused Hamilton’s engine to fail in Malaysia. You mentioned Singapore but I’m sure you meant Malaysia.

Similarly I don’t buy the argument that sabotage was at play. With so many engineers/mechanics working in the garage at any given time – seemingly as a self-managed team- how would any one individual orchestrate an engine failure unless it was a conspiracy involving a number of people. But what would their motivation be? Absurd really.

After the incident ESPN’s F1 Site quoted Paddy Lowe as saying: “We let Lewis down in a big way.” Now this could have been no more than a PR exercise on his part to placate Hamilton and his fans. But I wonder what Lowe specifically meant by saying that?

75

funny, Lewis would be unhappy with those odds but Alonso would jump at them!

76

Axel:

He might well settle for those odds or want his contract paid out because at this stage it doesn't look like McLaren is going anywhere fast this year. Sad end to a career if he can't find himself a competitive drive.

77

Hopefully Hamilton's hyperbole is just that.
Hopefully Ferrari's (Go Kimi) initial showing is sustained.
Hopefully Red Bull will step up to the mark.
Hopefully Mclaren will be able to iron out the Honda gremlins and Alonso will be able to mix it at the front.
Hopefully those hideous shark fins will disappear.
Hopefully we will get some mixed results this season.

78

Looks like the BTCC will have my undivided attention this year for wheel-to-wheel racing.

79

Lets go dude, 8 years of giving F1 second chances has convinced me as well. For the first time last season I gave the WRC a chance and i liked it, maybe motogp this year as well and i'll be able to rid myself of this unsatisfying F1 addiction that I have. My therapist will be happy.

80

You haven't been watching Motogp? are you serious? watch two races and you will be hooked for the year!

81

the trouble with Motogp is it's only available in the UK live as PPV on BT Sports. I like it, but I fell out with BT a few years ago and vowed they wouldn't see another penny from me and I can't be a$$ed with messing about watching it on a laptop or whatever. So I watch the highlights sometimes (mostly not as I've already found out the results) so Motogp has to get along without me.

82

@ C63....As a result of your 'penny pinching' you are denying yourself some of the most electrifying racing available.

83

As a result of your 'penny pinching'...

Now here's the thing kenneth - which part of my post referred to me not wanting to pay the subscription fee and led you to conclude it was a matter of penny pinching? Seriously, which part led you to your conclusion - I'd be interested to know.
Besides, you couldn't be further from the truth - nothing to do with penny pinching - on the contrary, it's a matter of principle and if anything, has cost me money. I had been a customer of BT for over 20 years and about 7 years ago I was moving house. The cheeky fellows wanted to charge me £60 (IIRC) to connect me at the new house. Fair enough apart from the fact that had I been a new customer they would have waived the fee. I felt somewhat aggrieved at this and despite numerous conversations about whether that was a fair policy they wouldn't budge. So I bade them farewell, sold my shares in BT (several thousand) and told them very nicely they wouldn't get another penny from me. Now what would you do - would you go back on your word or would you stick to your guns? I would have thought you were a stick to your guns type of guy (but I might be wrong).

84

@ C63...my attempt at posting a TIC comment failed! I do sympathise with you and i MAY have done what you did but sometimes one has to just suck it up and get on with it no matter how aggrieeved one feels. The end result is what matters and for me i do try and make absolutley certain that i get to see every Moto GP as the racing is brilliant and not to be missed.

85

Generally speaking you tend to err on the side of aggression when replying to any of my posts - it is therefore difficult for me to spot the odd TIC remark. Pease accept my apologies if I was mistaken.

86

@ C63 it's all cool.

87

True but at the very least it is a product worth selling.

88

I'm not denying that motogp is generally good - but like any racing series, not all the races are nail biting fights to the finish. Some are, just like they are in F1, but plenty aren't. Out of interest who do you support in motogp and who in F1?

89

red bull red bull red bull red bull black numbers are just impressive and they said they're taking it easy on the engine. imagine when they go in anger proper.

90

But are they reliable enough? I don't think so. So far it's clear that Ferrari and Renault both improved. But that's irrelevant because Mercedes improved just as much, if not more. Therefore, the gap hasn't reduced at all. For example, Ferrari set fastest laps consistently in last year's winter testing. But we saw the Mercedes winning 19 out of 21 races!!! This year the Mercs are faster and more reliable. So, you can expect the same or even better numbers for Mercedes this season.

91

am waiting to find out.

92

Excellent analysis and the reason I read this site. So many seem to be fixated on the headline numbers totally without any context.

93

Hi James couple of questions was red bulls top speed on first day of test drs assisted?if not do you think renault have made a decent step with the engine. Ps do you think red bull will come up with a lot more stuff next week. Ps looking at the photos today the red bull sidepods look so much smaller in cross sectional area compared to torra rossa. What is your thinking? Ta

94

How can Honda with all their resources and all the money they have thrown at this engine have such horrible problems straight away?

I don't understand, do they not have a test rig like you mentioned James? It's embarrassing and so frustrating for us fans.

95

Look, this is the bleeding edge of automotive performance technology. Its not easy, and there is no guarantee of result, specially when you are working to such tight timelines.

Honda may be one of the best automotive R&D companies in the world, but its different when you have a 20 yr program to develop hybrid systems for commercial applications or 1yr to develop them for an F1 car: Irrespective of the size of your chequebook.

Its exactly why Mercedes acquired Ilmor, and let them get on with the PU development, rather than do it in-house, albeit with any required tech support from Stuttgart.

96

Have a theory with Honda and that is they just cannot get enthused about this pu.They would be excited then they put it on a testbed and give it a few revs and they just go mmmmkay

97

A really good article James. A lot of information including the mention of some variables which I had not thought of, like whether-or-not DRS is being used when comparing the pace of various teams.

98

I would like to know how James knows Ferrari and Williams did a step change with fuel loads on day 1??? Have they told him or his team???Or maybe they have xray eyes 🙂

Autosport and Gary Anderson (former technical director no less) has a different view of things.

So who's right? A former technical director or urrrrr a journo?

🙂

No offense!

99

dude I can't even remember which team Anderson was a TD of, was it Super Aguri or something like that...
I'm not gonna quible about who's who but James has been supplying good material since this website went online... [Mod]

[Please change the way you interact with other posters or your comments will be permanently deleted - Mod]

100

@ pepe_le_pew

Oh no, Ferrari is not on fumes, Harko and Rosberg have both said their pace looks real so yes 2017 is going to be very different from 2016.

As for Rosberg, he sure had talent for how many drivers can qualify in the top 2 for the entire season

101

You can see it in the lap times

102

What will happen if all the noise about the suspension of.some team being considered illigal? Is the gain so important that it may change the order of competition? Thank you for a clarification. Marc

103

Just read that the FIA is inspecting suspensions today, and have already asked one team to make changes, and that team apparently wasn't Red Bull. James, do you know which team it was? Would have to think it's either Mercedes, McLaren, or Ferrari.

104

"When Bottas is in the car, it’s on the same pace as Ferrari. When Hamilton is in the Silver Arrow, it’s faster."

Well it could just be that Bottas had more fuel? Um he did just do a race sim in the afternoon which Hamilton didn't! Or is memory going? Hmmm

Logic eh? Makes sense no?

Well then, Hamilton fans should start celebrating according to James seems like his already the champion.

Maybe I've misinterpreted this article to be a little 1 sided. Who knows?

🙂

105

Well having see Bottas' times this morning my optimism for a competitive season is fading fast.

Bookies have now installed Bottas as 2nd favourite. I fear the competition could be even worse than the last 3 years.

106

I'm not saying you are wrong - what do I know. But I can't help but feel that you are allowing your judgment to be affected by what you want to believe. Time will tell - only a few more weeks and then the guessing will be over.

107

@ C63...C'mon, you know that hamilton's got it in the bag already?

108

Was that reply intended for me - I only ask as it has no relevance to my comment?

109

I remember it suggested to me, over the winter break, that Mclaren would outperform Ferrari this year. This after I had written about my doubts on the Woking outfits turnaround.

What a shame Im not a betting man....

I wonder who Macca will turn to when Honda pulls out again

110

Give the guys at Tag Heuer a call. They seem to build a proper fast engine just using watch parts.

111

Certainly the surprise of testing so far has been the fact Ferrari seem to have some good speed because the fans were expecting a two horse race for wins, however, a 3 horse race would turn the season into a blockbuster

As for Mercedes, it can't possibly be another whitewash year because Rosberg isn't in the team. Yes, the early indications are Bottas may not be as good as Rosberg

As for the new Pirellis that don't degrade much, perhaps these may cause issues during qualifying as they will need heat to turn them on as Lewis said they don't have good performance at the start of stints

As for Redbull and Torro Rosso, it's about time they got their hands on a good engine making the sport a more even playing field in terms of engines.

As for Mclaren, unfortunately reliability may always be their achilles heel for even with the fastest car, they still suffer from reliability related issues

112

@ goferet.... regards Red bull. I don't think that you can possibly write off the renault engine. This is a 99% new configuration i believe and the fact is that these new engines need to bedded in and explored for potential problems. That is why it's called testing. Renault have said that the first few races will be making sure that the engines have reliability then the big performance enhancers will be installed either at or after the Spanish GP. This all makes sense and why these first few days really have no bearing on the the outcome of the first GP. That said, given the bulletproof nature of mercedes it does look as though it will be same old same old unless someone pulls a rabbit out of their .....hat?

113

@ kenneth

Oh no, I wasn't writing off the Renault engine but rather I was saying it's about time Renault too got an engine on par with Ferrari/Mercedes

114

@ Goferet...they may well have an engine on par with ferrari and mercedes...no one knows until they all turn up the wick in quali in melbourne.

115

Ferrari were quick at this stage last year as well....

116

@ redline

But the difference from last year is Ferrari were quick whilst using only the softer tyres

117

@goferret

I'm just trying to keep my enthusiasm in check. I'd like nothing more than to see Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes ...

118

Hi James,

I was just wondering if these current aero rules are more related to the 2004 - 2008 era than post 2009? Because from what I remember Ferrari was really good aero wise back then whilst Adrien Newey didn't fare so Well at McLaren and early Red Bull. It wasn't until the changes for 2009 that Newey really excelled. So could it be that their (Ferrari ) philosophical thinking about car design is more in tune with today's aero rules? Not that there's a doubt in my mind that Newey won't produce anything less than genius, but where was his genius on the McLaren in 2002, 2003, 2004?

119

Pirelli is expecting much more performance to come over the remaining six days of testing – and predicts that laptimes drop by another two seconds before running finishes.

When asked where he expected laptimes to be by the end of the two tests, Pirelli F1 racing manager Mario Isola said: “In my opinion, we should be around 1m18s – so you will have to come back on the last day and see if I am right or wrong.

As per Motorsport.com:

120

Is there any sense where McLaren is concerned whether the issues are simply teething issues or are there significant issues with the Honda PU (gee, doesn't read well - no pun intended)?

121

Honda was saying it was related to their oil tank design... How a hugely successful motorsport brand can design an oil tank not able to deal with g-forces boggles the mind.

122

They weren't going fast enough for G-force to be the problem 😉

Joking aside, i don't think the fans quite understand what sophisticated pieces of tech these PU's are... to imply that Honda don't understand the effect of acceleration on the lubrification systems is really stretching the imagination...

123

@ redline...but it was confirmed by mclaren that the problem was with the design of the oil tank. It wasn't pure fan speculation.

124

@Kenneth - Yes, I read that, and have no reason to doubt it. But to infer that the problem is specifically related to it "not being able deal with g-force" is frankly ridiculous....

Please, lets give these guys some credit - Honda have a rich history in racing at the highest levels.

125

@ redline...you are twisting my words. I have never inferred that "G force' was problem! I merely repeated what was confirmed by the team! As for Honda having a rich history, well that is true but it is just that...history. Today their latest entree into F1 is anything but rich but, excuse me saying this, ' isn't it a bit rich?'

126

@ kenneth... Good grief, it wasn't directed at you! Another poster above stated that it was a G-force issue.

My point is that whilst Honda are clearly under-performing, I am sure they know how to design an oil tank to cope with the lat and long accelerations the vehicles experience on track...!!

127

@ Redline...then why was the 'oil tank' ever brought into the discussion? Someone is telling porkies then?

128

@Kenneth - No one is telling porkies. If you scroll up to message no.103 you will see quite clearly where the "oil tank" came into the discussion.................

129

@ Redline.... Autosport wrote that hasegawa thought that the 'oil tank design' was the problem...they were checking. Now if hasegawa says that then i would put a great deal of store in his comments. As it now appears, they seem to have overcome the problem. Let's move on

130

Perhaps you didn't get my sarcasm in my post.

The point is, Honda with all their supposed "technical abilities" shouldn't be encountering these type of issues now no matter how complex this [Mod] are. If they cannot cut it, then leave. Don't blame the [Mod] being too complicated when other manufacturers are doing fine. This is Year 3 now for Honda so no more excuses.

131

@Rockman

Fortunately the teams don't subscribe to your "if they can't cut it, then leave" thinking, otherwise we'd be sitting here watching only the two Mercs....

As a fan of the sport, I am personally grateful for Honda's commitment and perseverance, regardless of their current struggles.

132

What's impressed me most about Ferrari so far, from what I have seen of it, has been how it hugs the ground around both slow and fast corners. So maybe that's Sanchez's aero, but more likely the suspension kinematics.

Sanchez is a Frenchman with a Spanish name, and a former employee of Renault and McLaren.

133

F1 is in desperate need of another team challenging Mercedes this year. If Mercedes wins in the end, that's great for them. But it can't be just Lewis and Bottas up front challenging each other and all other drivers just moving chicanes.

134

I am a longtime F1 fan, and I am also a very positive person. So I hate to be negative about this, but.... is this just the last couple of years all over again? Mercedes way out in front, followed by Ferrari and Red Bull, then Williams, Force India, etc.

So exactly the same as usual then, but with shark fins?

135

We might hear the Jaws theme playing during some races 🙂

136

Stop saying "curated"!

137

So long Mercedes and Red Bull suspensions, we hardly knew ye.

If the FIA only had some balls about budget caps....

138
Clarks4WheelDrift

What caught my eye was just how crazily the HASS sharkfin and wing was vibrating, especially over kerbs.

Sounds like a perfect excuse to get rid of these nasty looking fins and nasty looking T-wings.

Newey admits the massive shark fins are really ugly and are only there to provide a behind the center of gravity wind vane stability effect on the rear of the car, giving very little benefit. Get rid of them, a looser rear that leads to the odd driver mistake or slide and save is a good thing.

The Mercedes looks worse with shark fin, cheekily vented on top, and especially hideous with that massive dual t-wing that looks like a huge razor blade sitting so high up above the rear wing height. Ban them asap for a start.

Other things that stand out are:
The big hole in the nose of the Red Bull,
The sandbagging of the Mercedes not wanting to show their '1000 times better' with their slow sector 3 and probably heavier fuel,
Sainz saying he feels no difference between the new Renault engine and the two year old Ferrari engine from last years Torro,
Finally that Honda is soooo soooo bad that their PU either goes faulty or has to run turned down to 'pathetic' mode to get a few laps in.

Is it going to take Honda pulling out (like BMW or Toyota or Audi LMP or Honda again before in 2009) and possibly Renault quitting for Formula E marketing, before they realise that Mercedes £800million etc PU development has been and still is the main issue stopping racing at the front.

Racing, the MOST important thing for FOM the FIA and F1 to improve as racing for victory is BROKEN! They need to find a fair way to resolve this and not wait till 2020/1.

Lastly, anyone remember Lou Ferringo who played the Hulk in the tv series, check the similarity with Lance Stroll 😉 Good luck to the lad, he should at least be able to beat one double world champ driver in his customer Merc.

139

The T Wing is a coat hanger found at the back seat of a car. Who says tech only filters F1 down. Sometimes it's the other way around.

140

Think the spelling might be "Ferrigno" - but an interesting observation.

141

Why ban them? Just because they're ugly? That opinion can vary, so you probably need a better reason than that.

There's far more benefit to the shark fins than just a weather vane. They act as a wing during cornering, proving a turning moment.

142

Thanks you for a great article James.

James, what are those wire frames attached to the Red Bull car in the picture? I saw it on some other cars too in the pics of Day 1 testing.
Thanks

143

If you look carefully at the framework, you can see it is covered with tiny forward facing tubes. The teams are therefore able to measure the airflow in different places as each tube is connected to a sensor. Sorry if that is not a very technical explanation but I hope you get the idea.

144

Measuring air flow off the front wing to make sure it is doing what it is supposed to

145

Plus it's great for drying the washing 🙂

146

this might be a bit random Random, but when they have the air sensors fitted on both sides of the car, it reminds me of the scene in the 4th July when the helicopter tries to signal the alien ship 🙂

147

Yep, I remember that bit: It was right before the Mercedes destroyed the Red Bulls.

Could be worse though - At least it wasn't the [insert expletive] sequel 🙂

148

LOL - I've just realised my comment was so random that I got the name of the film wrong - it should have read Independence Day (which is on the 4th July). Even more random is that I think you knew what I meant 🙂

149

I did indeed 🙂

I did consider calling you on getting the name wrong, but I think there's been a bit too much of that around here lately.

Whatever works I say 🙂

150

true, it's only testing but the midfield seems to have closed up with Williams and Haas showing good potential

151

Shaping up to be a boring season....Lewis is going to walk this in.

Honda and Renault - can they build PU that holds together? - that is a serious question.

152

Great piece!
From the releases, I didn't see the differentiators on the Ferrari.
Certainly the Merc is fast, and has a lot in the bag; it's a large evolution, tuned with more resources than any other team for the 2017 regulations; critical to this discussion, it is a continuance of the previous design concept.
Ferrari represents a new design concept.
It is difficult to tell if Red Bull is another evolution, or a Newey revolution.
Potentially three different design concepts, with new regulations, early in a development cycle.
Potentially three different development directions.
Good!
Who knows the depth of head gaming that the teams may be doing, even the step changes, known to be monitored for comparative intelligence...
Impressed by today's running of Magnussen/HAAS.
Ocon has acquitted himself very well.
And almost out of the blue, Antonio Giovinazzi, boom! Right on the business! Very impressing. I think he will get the drive.
I'd enjoy hearing contributor opinions about that one.

153

So in other words, nothing has changed. Wonderful, just wonderful!

154

There's been a bit of argument over how the new cars look, but if the race director(s) use their noodle this season there'll be lots of on board shots looking at the car ahead because from the rear at least they look 100% right.

155

Agreed, from the front I can't see much has changed but the rear view of the car is beautiful!!

156
Christian Horny

So here we have the JA on F1 team saying Ferrari doesn't have anything on Mercedes. Over on Autosport plus, we have Gary Anderson et al saying Ferrari were running similar fuel loads to Mercedes. What gives?

Whatever it is, the true pecking order will only begin to emerge towards the latter half of the second test. In the midst of the media blackout by Ferrari, there has been no word on when their fully updated engine is going to make its debut. I think everyone heard about the 3D printed piston solution. Should be interesting to know when they'll run it.

157

My thoughts exactly...
I've been reading autosport plus as well.

Quite frankly I choose to believe a former technical director with 20 + years of F1 experience over this.

This whole article smells 1 sided too me

158

Hmm, I recall Gary Anderson at the end of 2013 pre-season testing declaring the Mercedes the best car and his pick for the championship. I like Gary, he has good insights. Not sure if I would bet money on anything he says though.

159

Our view is that in the afternoon they were on similar loads and pace was comparable Bottas to Raikkonen

In morning with Hamilton Merc pace was faster

160
Christian Horny

I'm not saying I value one's opinion over the other. I love the analysis I read over here, but their analysis is highly regarded as well. Since this is the comments section, I was trying to get a bit of a discussion going :).

Secondly, still haven't heard anything about Ferrari's engine plans.

161

From what I have gathered so far, it looks as though RedBull feel confident that they will be able to challenge Mercedes this year.

I think it's very likely that Red Bull are running their cars without a lot of the aero bits that will allow them to get the lap times they need to challeng the Mercs.

It's also conceivable that they haven't even decided on the final aero philosophy yet and they will use the test to gather data that will allow them to start the season with a strong aero package and build from there.

162

Very much sounded exactly as you say, will be interesting when they finally bolt some stuff on.

163

Oh dear! Merc look scarily good. This year HAM is going to run away from the rest of the field including Bo77as! Ferrari look to be their closest challengers. Haas look good and may just break the 2nd year jinx that have hit new teams before. It is early - but is the Renault engine as good as promised? As for McHonda, the less said, the better - tense times for them I think.

164

so the tires are 5kg heavier what's the total weight of the tire now?

165

Lewis Hamilton said on Monday that his car is “1,000 times better” than its rivals.

I think he was referring to the looks of the car .

166

I think so.He said he would like other teams to be competitive.

167

@Manu

Indeed he was. But it's Lewis......

168

We already see a cliff? After some 2nd day "push" at "wintry" Barcelona? Really?
Am I right to expect Lap 1 cliff at Abu Dhabi?..

I also read comments from drivers regarding following the other car. And it looks like we'll se no overtakings. "Great",

McLaren... McLaren... as I already posted in another article - they are lucky F1 has only 10 teams this year.

169

I love the HDTV antenna on the Red Bull. Danny must get amazing pictures. Shame F1 is not available over-the-air.

170

Thanks for the insightful analysis James.
Have the cars been running closely to one another so the drivers can gauge the 'dirty air' issue that may or may not allow increased overtaking opportunities?

171

Pretty good summation of the state of play thus far James. We've only had two days of testing but early results indicate that it looks like being a three horse race with Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari dominating although not necessarily in that order, especially with unrestricted in-season development permissible.

If driver reactions are anything to go by - with Lewis dubbing is car the "beast" and Verstappen and Ricciardo expressing their satisfaction with the development of the RB13 - we could be (hopefully) in for a fight for the top step of the podium. Unless of course if Ferrari have got something to say but it seems that they're leaving their talking to Melbourne.

172

@ Adrian...It's called 'cautious optimism' and i recommend it. There is no need to show anyone 'their hand'. I sometimes liken F1 to playing poker as there are many similarities. Firstly validate the new engine then bolt on the bits and away we romp hahaha. Melbourne quali is eagerly awaited.

173

Considering Honda problems any chance they would try and get outside help like Mario Illien since his not working with Renault anymore or try and poach people form Merc or Ferrari engine team or is Honda to stubborn and want to do everything in house ?

174

A fair bit has been written about Honda liking to keep everything "in-house" in terms of Japanese personnel. Still, if Ferrari prefer everyone in their team to be Italian, then it suggests that this approach can work...... eventually!

175

"Mercedes a fair bit quicker than Ferrari"
Hamilton faster than Bottas, who,is struggling for pace.
Oh well, write this season off.

176

Not at all development will be huge with new rules over next nine months

I think there's every chance of a competition

177

James, If I may ask, how much input did James Allison have with the new Ferrari?

178

A lot - the concept for sure, the layup will be done before Raster

They probably changed quite a bit of aero programme etc after he left in August

But still..

179

In my understanding a lot of this car actually comes from "the little kids" at the different departments at Ferrari. What Allison brought was really the step stones, the parameters to match... he was involved in the first steps but besides the personal sad events, there was no love left at Maranello as he was not listening to ideas that were brought to him, making the structure too vertical to the point nothing was getting done. So after he left an overhaul in working has happened; and it seems that they are in the right direction. If that is the case we can see a Ferrari working very fast on development in the future. Don't get too excited though... It seems to me that Merc has still quite a bit in the pocket but I wonder if they just pushed their idea a little bit too far... that long wheel base is now VERY long... hope it does work well in all tracks (I am sure they ran their data)... as it can make the car difficult on the front and snippy on the back. RB looks strong as well.

180

Oh dear, I just asked this question on a newer article, and now that I see the answer I am worried. I am afraid that James accomplished exactly what he was trying to do, which was to get Ferrari to focus on the future, and now that he is gone they will be lost at sea with an amazing vessel but nobody to guide the development and improvement of it.

And nobody to do a good job with the 2018 car.

Vettel to Merc in 2018.

181

Interesting this Ferrari so far looks decent and JA is about to get credit for it?
The '16 car fully developed by him flattered to deceive, as he stopped coming to races in '15 to get the car right!

182

Well, here's hoping Ferrari are "there".
Hopefully we get to see you in Melbourne, always a pleasure listening to your insights and intel'.

183

Then why as he allowed to join Mercedes after just 6 months? He obviously brings a lot of knowledge about the Ferrari car over to Mercedes, not that they need that info. It still seems very fishy to me and Ferrari should've let him go with a non compete disclosure of without permission to work for another team for at least one full season

184

Maybe Ferrari thought, "good, let him go to Mercedes and cause havoc there!
(that's based on personal experience when certain staff have left to join a competitor)

185

I just hope this is Ferraris true pace and not just as a result of an underweight car. Fingers crossed there is actually some competition this year.

186

so situation normal all over again.
LH has the WDC in the bag. Without his team mate beside him on the front row, Lewis will disappear into the sunset.
So the big interest this year will be whether Macca beats Sauber into last place.
let's hope this is a transitional year before Liberty starts with a clean sheet to fix this sport.

187

I recall everyone saying the same thing last year ... did Lewis snag the WDC? Anything can happen in a season. You can have the fastest car, but be derailed by things out of the driver's control.

I will be more surprised if it's a Mercedes steamroller again this year. I think we'll have a decent fight up front. If Mercedes win over two-thirds of the races, I'll be surprised.

188

@ KRB.... 'did lewis snag the WDC!' According to most hamilton fans as in their mind they 'thought' he did as they devalued rosbergs's win saying it was only because of hamilton's unreliability.

189

Such an odd statement. I don't recall any Hamilton fan thinking that Hamilton won the WDC last year.

Facts are that Nico won the WDC, and the biggest factor in him winning was the uneven reliability between the Mercedes teammates. Simple facts.

kenneth, is this a factual statement? "Ricciardo drove better than Kvyat in 2015, but scored less points owing to worse reliability over the season." To me that is true; don't know about you.

190

you're on... i accept your bet!

191
The Grape Unwashed

Ferrari makes a habit of flattering to deceive during testing, so I don't expect it to overhaul Red Bull this season - let alone Mercedes. It's looking like another Mercedes whitewash to me, but perhaps Red Bull can have a stronger development race thanks to Adrian Newey's renewed interest.

Ferrari needs to push hard for the trick suspensions to be banned in order to stand any chance. And let's not talk about McLaren 🙁

After rubbing my crystal ball... The story of 2017: Max Verstappen goes mano-a-mano against Lewis Hamilton after the mid-season break. 🙂

192

"What we must avoid is races becoming mostly one-stoppers, as in the Bridgestone days"

I'm not against one stoppers per se, but I am against the regulations that force the drivers to start on their qualifying tyre and then make a pit stop to run another tyre that's been chosen by Pirelli. These two regulations severely reduce the opportunity for strategy variances between teams.

With the 3-tyre regulation now in place, I'd be keen to see drivers being able to start on whatever tyre they wanted, and for us not to find out until the tyre blankets come off on the grid. I'd also like to see drivers allowed to use whatever tyres they wanted during the race; whether that's an aggressive series of stints where a driver uses the softest tyre available or a more conservative one with fewer stops.

There's a bit too much over-regulation at the moment with the tyre strategies and it takes a lot of the fun away.

193

@ Anil That is identical with what i have been saying for the last three/four years and i am in full agreement.

194

Excellent comment - regardless of the improvement in these new tyres, the start rule and Pirelli 'choosing' the tyres simply restricts some possible variations in strategy.

Everyone focuses on Aero being the major issue and overtaking.

I think the above is where matters could be vastly improved and shake up the trully train type races

195

Will Hamilton win every race this year, it's very possible and it must be in his thoughts? Comments please

196

Only if his car doesn't break down 🙂

197

Oh c'mon. That will never happen, there's too many variables that would have to come together perfectly for that to ever transpire. You'd need an extremely fast car, with perfect reliability in every qualifying session and race, with a teammate that is a definite tier below.

198

Sure are a lot of observations which seem quick to render judgment and/or assume. Not so sure that the situation with VB is necessarily as characterized above.

And, McLaren might even get things working.

Guess that's why we have a season to reveal the order. With luck, Haas will continue to be well presented. Only time will tell, eh?

199

extremely fast car - check
team mate a tier below - check
perfect reliability - not sure but 150 laps on day one is a good start

200

@ KRB...Ye of little faith hahaha

201

Interesting to hear Ted Kravitz interview with Adrian Newey on Sky, Adrian stated that Red Bull have a very clean car at the minute with very few aero trinkets attached as they are using this test to understand the aero movement around the car.

Here's hoping they learn lots from this test and can make massive gains in the very near future.

202

James,

Which cars have had the most downforce 2004 era or the cars in 2017?? I've always thought the 2004 cars had very powerful diffusers or are these cars the most downforce ever??

203

Stroll can't even keep it on the track when he is on his own. I am not sure the other drives will be too happy lining up next to him at the opening GP. He doesn't look like he has control of the car which would concern me if I was at Williams.

On the plus side daddy Stroll can pay for all the extra bits Williams need to bring to the race...

204

Papa Stroll but be wondering why he has forked over a shedload of dosh to a buch of amateurs who turned up with a hard to drive new car and only one wing and then after a minor off on Wednesday could not fix the thing overnight to run on Thursday. I can't see Red Bull or Mercedes failing to patch the car up for the following day. It was almost as though Williams were trying to make some perverse point!

205

After following the testing and apart from the usual front runners:
Mclaren car looks nice with its brave and original styling. Hope they can iron out the problems and it is testing after all.
Regarding what Honda are getting out of it? being as diesels are pretty much mobile poison machines Honda getting hybrid experience is a must and they will end up with a vast store of knowledge and trained employees.
people fawning over the torro rosso shows how much a consumer brand can be imprinted in people's minds.
Seeing Rosberg reminds me of a bloke that keeps turning up and hanging around outside his ex job.
Eventually security should move him on lol.
This new ability to report live snippets from the track looks promising. If all the inane celeb bits
can be consigned to this then we can just concentrate on those actually involved in the teams during the race.
Finally glad to see Ferrari looking good. Just goes to show boffins you had never heard of can do great things.

206

Had my fingers crossed we'd see Alonso putting in lots of laps with competitive times. My guess it's this season will be much like 2015 for them, it is starting the same way. Sad to see FA in such a weak team. You could not blame him if he walks away, surely cant see him pushing a broken down ugly orange beast down the pit lane. I would be completely out of patience if I were in his shoes.

207

lance stroll seems to enjoy stroling in the park.

208
Tornillo Amarillo

Cars are faster this year, we'll have less pitstops because of less degrading tyres, therefore less opportunities for midfielders to be at the front staying on track...

...and Renault is at the very back so far, so...

bye-bye any hope for a maiden podium for Hulk?

209

I know its early days !! But it would ould be sooo funny if Palmer would outpace Hulkenberg and Magnussen do the same with Grosjean ; )

210

Magnussen outpacing Grosjean, I see as a possibility. And I actually consider both these two drivers very strong and capable. Probably also both stronger (or at least with bigger potential) than the Hulk.
Palmer outpacing Hulkenberg would though be more of a surprise to me.
That is of course if the Hulk has not run out of date and Palmer still has more to show, than what he demonstrated last year. ;o)

211

What I would like to see in this new media friendly era of formula one is no screens allowed in the pit lane and an FIA steward in each garage who will tweet the fuel level of each car as it leaves the garage. Let's end this secret testing!

212

I think it will be more of the same as last year. Not sure about McLaren and even if they caught up in terms of power, I still expect the grenade Honda engines we know of from Jensons days. Maybe not as bad but reliability could be an issue this year.

213

i dream of the day Ferrari pull out of F1 and we can all watch F1 die

214

Yes its just a test I am sure more things would be their in 2nd test but if a big team have a problem will they have time to solve that by Aus GP. Also in 1st test surly Ferrari didn't shown us all if we see their run they did very less soft and supersoft runs in other hand Merc did ultra soft run and too as Red bulls what this tell u that like previous year Merc are less confident on Medium tyres . whatever the engine and fuel level are it was slow. also in last day they had a problem were Ferrari had no Problem. and this wasn't case last year were Ferrari had reliability problem.so they spend time on solving that. I also believe last year was really unlucky year for Ferrari they lost their key person and was really unlucky in few races were clearly they were match to Merc. Let hope this year Ferrari can win

215
Graham Schmidt

It would be a pity if Mercedes dominated again this year

216

Some interesting points from Gary Anderson who was trackside in Barcelona.
The Ferrari was easily the most planted and stable car in the corners.
The Mclaren chassis was struggling. So it's not a Honda problem reliability aside.

217

Honda has lost face.
There is absolutely no excuse for their engine not being reliable.
They look incompetent and it makes the entire team look, at best poorly run, and at worst stupid.
The "Honda Way" & culture clearly is not up to the task.

218

After seeing yet again a Honda-meltdown at start of 2nd week of testing in Spain: Very surprising and disappointing, considering the proud Honda history and their access to unlimited R&D resources, e.g. dyno-benches to run all they want 24/7.

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