F1 test analysis: Is Ferrari really ahead of Mercedes? Here’s what to look out for
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Mar 2017   |  5:29 pm GMT  |  312 comments

Today is the 70th anniversary of the first Ferrari car being driven out of the workshop by Enzo Ferrari. And the signs from the winter testing are that the newest Ferrari F1 car, the SF70H, is set to race at the front in 2017.

But it’s not the headline lap time of 1m 18.634secs, set by Kimi Raikkonen on the final day, which makes F1 insiders believe that Ferrari is able to challenge for wins from the first round.

Single lap times in qualifying simulations during testing are smoke and mirrors; main rivals Mercedes are notorious for masking their one lap pace in testing and practice but then for pulling out stunning times on extreme engine modes for qualifying when it matters.

So is the Ferrari really a Mercedes-beater? Or is it all hype and conjecture?

Ferrari F1

Rather than single lap analysis, it is the study of the long run pace of the Ferrari that provides the real insight into how strong they truly are relative to their main rivals. And that also tells us the pecking order of the field as a whole after testing.

This is because the teams are obliged to run the maximum fuel load at the start of a race distance simulation and from that we can work out the underlying (fuel corrected) pace of the car. Mercedes could be running with some extra weight and with the engine slightly turned down and we would expect some of that. Ferrari tend to be under pressure to look good at this time before the season. But whether Mercedes are masking 0.3s or 0.6s is impossible for anyone outside the team to say with certainty.

But even so, the numbers here say that Ferrari is ahead by a good 3/10ths on long run pace after the second test. So in all likelihood they are very close on pace in reality, even if Mercedes is sandbagging on the upper end of the scale.

Red Bull has some work to do, as it trails Mercedes by an easily identifiable 4/10ths of a second per lap on long runs, so that is six or seven tenths to Ferrari. But their aerodynamics have been sparse so far, so there is likely to be more to come and they have opted to leave it to the first race to reveal their ideas, rather than let other see them with time to react.

Here is how it looks when the lap times from the best race sims for each team are plotted together.

A plot like this is exactly what the F1 engineers will be studying now as they assess the performance from testing.

In our race plots above (click to enlarge), you can see the relative pace of the cars in action. These are generated using the best long runs of each team during the tests (Key: Purple = Red Bull; Red = Ferrari; Green= Mercedes). We can see that Hamilton is the faster Mercedes driver, Verstappen heads his team mate at Red Bull, while Vettel had a faster race run than Raikkonen at Ferrari. The vertical axis is the lap time (faster times lower down on the plot). THe horizontal axis is the lap number in the stints and the race distance as a whole.

What is particularly interesting here is the parallel line between the Mercedes and Red Bull, using the same tyre order, that shows the Red Bull 4/10ths slower per lap. It’s harder to read across from Mercedes to Ferrari as they use a different tyre order; Vettel uses medium tyres in the final stint and softs at the start, where he is extremely quick.

Nevertheless, this is the plot that teams will be looking at when they tell you that Ferrari really was the fastest car in testing, whatever games were going on over single lap qualifying pace.

The equivalent plot to this 12 months ago showed Mercedes clearly ahead, despite the headline lap times showing Ferrari with the fastest single lap. The Scuderia had a chance to win the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, but gradually fell away as the season went on and they ended up winless.

In the second plot we include some other teams, like Williams and Force India for comparison (also as they use the Mercedes engine) and Toro Rosso (which uses the same Renault engine as Red Bull).

Comparing their best runs from week two, it is important to note that the tyres are used in a different order (look in the legend at the bottom) – so Perez and Vettel are on soft in the middle stints when the others are medium. This makes them look particularly fast at this point but the flipside is the others pick up in the last stint on soft tyres, when the Ferrari is on medium. You can see that the pace increases significantly; it looks like the soft is over one second per lap faster than the medium.

Worth noting here is that the Red Bull doesn’t look great in the middle stint on medium tyres. However the Red Bull is on Mercedes pace in the final stint on softs. Considering some of the comments from Daniel Ricciardo it is possible that this is because they are generally a bit on the knife edge with balance. If we are reading this correctly it is something they will be working hard to rectify before Melbourne, where they are expected to bring a revised aero package.

There is real encouragement again for Ferrari as the car seems to work well on all the tyre compounds available this year. In recent years they have been weaker on the medium and harder tyres than Mercedes. That seems not to be the case any longer.

Ocon Force India

Esteban Ocon did a strong race run on Day 3 for Force india, using different tyre choices, like super soft tyres on the first stint, while Sergio Perez did do a more ‘normal’ race simulation on Day 4 which started on Soft then soft again in stint 2 and this has enabled an easier comparison to the rest of the midfield.

From this we can deduce that the Force India is a quick car, very close on pace to Williams. It’s just that they haven’t run on low fuel like others, and so are beneath the radar somewhat. Williams is a shade faster at this stage, but it is noticeable that Lance Stroll had obviously been given strict instructions to drive more calmly in week two, after having two incidents in week one. He was not pushing hard and aiming for consistency so he could get his and the car’s mileage up.

Some way back Renault are hard to place as they didn’t seem able to recreate in week two the pace they had at the end of week one. We believe that they are in the very tight midfield battle with Toro Rosso and Haas. We cannot separate them.

The further down the grid you go, the more the tyre become a problem, for the teams with less downforce it is very hard to ‘switch on’ the larger format Pirelli tyres. The Italian company has selected soft, medium and hard for the Spanish GP, despite the fact that we are looking at one stop fewer anyway due to the tyres than last year. This exacerbates the gap back to the teams with less downforce.

Sauber are very slow, while McLaren are the real surprise of testing. They covered just over one third of the mileage of Mercedes and were slow.

Fernando Alonso

Instead of taking a further stop on from 2016 and moving into the space behind the top three teams, as they were targetting, they are two seconds a lap off the pace of the Williams, which is the benchmark for the front of midfield. As most of the problems are in the Honda engine, which is both underpowered and unreliable, they will not catch up quickly and it is set to be a very frustrating season for the team.

Other notes from week two were that Valtteri Bottas improved his pace relative to Lewis Hamilton on the longer runs and we will see in Melbourne how far off he is in qualifying trim.

Conclusion
The conclusion is that Ferrari has an innovative car with low wishbones, high sidepods and deeply undercut bodywork that is working aerodynamically, while the engine has improved and did not miss a beat in testing. The single lap pace looks promising, but it has been a Ferrari weakness for many years and we will only find out where the car stands relative to its rivals for qualifying after the first four rounds, using a variety of tyre compounds. It is no use having strong race pace if you qualify behind your rivals on a tight track where the strategy is likely to be one-stop.

Red Bull has work to do, but will improve a lot over the season and we expect all three teams to win races. One suspects that the weight of history will weigh on Ferrari, who tend to go strongly in testing, but fall away as the year goes on, while Both Red Bull and Mercedes will be powering on with development. Can Ferrari buck that trend in 2017?

Both with also be studying the Ferrari aero solution closely – Mercedes will have an advantage there because new technical director James Allison oversaw the concept of the 2017 Ferrari and its development up to July.

Whether the concept is easily copyable is open to question.

Everyone will have updates in Melbourne that will affect their competitive situations somewhat, but this is the way we believe things stand after winter testing.

What conclusions have you come to after testing? Leave your comments in the section below

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312 comments

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1

How to tell where Ferarri is at? Check Quali times in Q3 in Australia for a definitive answer.

2

Despite ferraris pace last year in testing, james' analysis showed the mercs would be at least half a second quicker come melbourne. Hopefully he's bang on the money again if we want a competitive season. Also James is there a way of highlighting the biased pro/anti HAM and VES comments so us general fans can skip past them? 🙂

3

well mate. your thoughts along with Alan analysis is WRONG.
Ferrari outpaced mercedez by Wolf analysis.

where I was born, we have an old saying " Leave the baker do the baking". so unless you know what racing is( in real) it would be better to be quiet and learn.
Btwn, Hamilton starts cracking under pressure already ! Read his comments and learn there is difference between champ naturally born and other born by British media

4

We can try to delete them before they appear!

5

Exactly my thoughts. We have seen Ferrari setting the pace in every winter testing over the past 4 years. And yet, they didn't even win 1 race last year. I would love to see Ferrari and Mercedes are in equal terms. But it's all smoke and mirror right now.

Question to JA - What can FIA do during the season when 2017 cars don't need more than 1 pit stop to finish a race consistently in every race? From what I have seen so far, apart from McLaren all the teams are extremely reliable this year and the tyres are just too good too. Any thoughts?

6

The difference this year as compared to last year or the years before is their long run pace & mileage.

7

I think I read somewhere that Pirelli have a reserve set of compounds available to fall back on in the event that the tyres prove to be too durable.

It's ironic though - for years people have moaned about the tyres degrading too quickly and being too sensitive to temperature etc. Now Pirelli have come up with a compound which looks like it might be more durable and which the drivers can lean on a bit more - and you are worried that it won't degrade quickly enough!
Can't please everyone I guess 🙂

8

I think the problem with tyres is that neither Pirelli nor Bernie seem(ed) to understand that there is gulf of difference between "tyres that degrade and lose grip very quickly if pushed hard" and "tyres that retain their grip levels for significant number of laps while being pushed hard but THEN degrade very quickly" and "Tyres that just last and last with very small incremental grip and speed drop-off" so it seems that what we've ended up now in 2017 are "Tyres that are stable for long stints AND degrade slowly"
What F1 really needs are tyres that can be pushed HARD so that the car/driver ability is the limit and not the tyre BUT when the tyres do start to degrade they do so quite significantly and quickly so that it's not possible to simply become a reasonably-fast-but-unpassable roadblock by staying out. Instead you want to be able push and push right up until they go, but then you pretty much have to pit-stop for more tyres rather than trundle round.
Does that make sense? It seems harder to write than to think about!

9

It does make sense - I was just remarking upon the apparent irony of someone complaining already about the new tyres being potentially too durable.
Tyre management (and fuel for that matter) has always been part of the art of a successful race driver and if you listen to commentary from races 30 odd years ago that's what they talked about back then - just like they do now. Whatever tyres they produce I am quite confident that some fans will like it and others will be sure that if they just did what they suggested the racing would be better - twas ever thus. Complaining about the racing appears to be part and parcel and indeed, the fun for some people 🙂

10

"tyres that retain their grip levels for significant number of laps while being pushed hard but THEN degrade very quickly"

Good post, this exactly what's needed.

By the sounds of things this seemed to be the case in testing.

11

I think you'll have to wait for the chequered flag in the race to have a preliminary answer, actually.

12

In fact, in that case, I would say wait till the second race.. Australia typically is not a true representative.

13

Hamilton is the faster Mercedes driver, Verstappen heads his team mate at Red Bul.....

That's gonna upset a few people 😄

14

Actually, looking back at it, Seb was called the faster driver, that would caused more trouble!! James put it lot nicely out there 🙂

15

It would have been the other way around, my take is that many more people would have been upset. Marc

16

@Cometf1

Although I copied the quote from the article as a whole, it was more the reference to Ves v Ric that I was referring too. Besides there are legions of 'anyone but Ham' fans out there - just wait to see how many Bot fans start to appear from nowhere. He'll inherit all of Ros fans for a start 🙂

17

C63 makes a good point

18

C63, "He'll inherit all of Ros fans for a start" Ros who?

19

Nico Ros, aka - anyone but Ham 🙂

20

C63, oh yeah, I remember him....

21

He'll inherit all of the Ros fans for a start.

Maybe one or two C63, but all 3 of them? That's a big statement 😉😄

22

@C63,
I know how you feel. I am partial to Vettel, and man was he disliked when he was winning. Would be glad to see that finger raise again and look forward to it. Marc

23

I'm hoping for some good competition and some Ferrari wins - but please no finger.

24

Comet, I have to admit to taking a bit of a dislike to Vettel when he was winning all the time, only to come around to the guy in his first year at Ferrari. I went off him a bit last year after all the grumpiness, but if he keeps that finger in his pocket I wouldn't mind seeing him on the top step again.

25

It's not so much the 'finger' as the girly squealing I can't abide.
Wouldn't it be better not to hear the drivers over the radio when they win? More often than not it's excruciatingly embarrassing.

Any road up, let's hope we get a variety of teams driving for the line and a championship that goes down to the wire. It would be nice to see a WDC that wins the title for the first time.
Any preferences?
My vote would be for Grosjean, outsider I know, but having seen him from trackside a number of times in GP2 he's got the speed and is a racer.

26

Just sayin, I think it will be closer this year, but a freshly minted WDC would have to be either one of the RB boys or Bottas realistically. I think if Romain can get himself into Kimi's seatfor next year then he has a good chance.

27

wouldn't mind seeing him on the top step again.....

On the clear understanding that it would only be a very occasional visit, I guess I could live with that 🙂

28

C63:

Now mate that's just being a bit greedy don't you think especially as your man has won it two out of the last three years. Time to give someone else a go don't you think......if they're good enough of course.

29

Adrian

Greed is good, greed works - at least that's what Michael Doulas said 🙂

30

C63:

Actually it was Gordon Gekko and look what happened to him!!

31

Adrian

Actually it wasn't Gordon Gekko that said those words as he is a fictional character in a film. The actor who played the part was Michael Douglas - ergo it was Michael Douglas who said it.

32

C63:

Thanks for clarifying who Michael Doulas was. I thought you had the husband of Catherine Zeta-Jones in mind.

It was actually the character, Gordon Gekko, played by the actor Michael Douglas in the movie who said those words. In the context of it being a movie it was indeed Mr Gekko who uttered those words which came back to bite him.

But as you say this is all fiction and the real stuff commences on March 26 in the land of Alan Jones, Jack Brabham and Danny Ric.

And no doubt there will be the usual suspects posting their opinions (er, non-fiction) on JA's Forum. But this is what makes it entertaining as well as interesting. I'm sure you agree.

All is cool.

33

Some people are of the belief that the era of "alternate facts" began with the Trump campaign. Longstanding readers of this forum know that this is not the case. Virulent pro & anti HAM fans have been at it for quite some years.

34

Graham;

Ha, ha.......How true you are. You can add some of the Verstappen converts to the "alternative facts" brigade.

35

Who's Michael Doulas - I'm sure I didn't mention him .
As for whether it was Gordon or Michael - see how far you'd get asking Gordon to speak without involving Michael first. Then you'll have you're answer.

36

C63:

“Michael Doulas”? Have a look at your post from 6.20pm on 13 March 2017.

That Michael Douglas gave voice and flesh to the character of Gordon Gekko is correct. I’m not disputing this but my question to you is who or what character in the movie made the comment “greed for want of another word is good”? The only possible answer is Gekko. And there is no shifting of the goal posts here as this has been my position all along. Whatever Michael Douglas the actor/person thinks about greed is unimportant but it was of great importance to the central character in the movie, namely greedy Gordon.

In line with Gekko’s “greed” philosophy on life it will be interesting to see what F1 driver has the most greed (or to be polite “desire”) to be successful this year. Unfortunately F1 being what it is some very good drivers (and potential world champions) will be limited to the quality of machinery they are given.

37

Really guys? Let's steer it back to F1 now ...

38

KRB:

Well I tried to with my last paragraph. As you previously posted me its all a bit of fun.

39

didn't u post something similar at the end of 2014,,, with Vettel making it 4/4

40

pepe:

No I didn't. BTW Vettel was four from four at the end of 2013.

41

Even as a non-LH fan, I never doubted VB will be even close to him. I have never seen any one beat LH if he couldn't beat his team mate first.

42

Doesn't matter anymore, as Ferrari drivers will give a run for his money at least till European season starts ( where Ferrari messes up usually in dev. race). Not to mention VER at the aero intensive tracks.

43

The first one - common, not really; the second one is going to make this year interesting.... this is a make or break year for Daniel.

44

We'll see when hamilton comes under some real pressure from the other teams

45

Lewis wants to show that it is not only the car which makes him the best. He hopes that the other cars close up so he can show it.
But just that: close up. He doesn't want another car as fast or even faster than the Mercs.
There are still all these parties he couldn't visit if he would actually has to work for a win.

46

Selfenkistler, He had to work pretty hard at Monaco, and everyone did in Brazil. Like all drivers good enough to be hired by a top team, he has had some straightforward victories, but he has had his fair share of hard fought ones too.

47

Ha ha ha, does Lewis look to you like a guy who is scared of a punch up on the track.I have noticed him looking cheerful in the few pictures I have seen of him during testing. I think he is similarly excited that the Ferrari may be competitive. Too many people misconstrue his emotional reaction when things are not going well.Those are the competitive temperament you see with many real winners, even people much older than him ; Sir Alex Ferguson, cantankerous, jumping up and down like a teenager on the sideline , and not talking to BBC reporters for two years ; even the urbane and professorial Arsene Wenger getting into a little physical altercation with Jose Mourhinho on the sideline ; Mourhinho himself always in a scowly punchy mood. Are these signs that these people are falling apart ; nonsense. That's their way of keeping the competitive juices flowing. But some uninsightful fools just throw useless and futile insults.

48

Spot on best comment of 2017 so far....

49

'Those are the competitive temperament you see with many real winners'

I don't see what SAF not talking to the BBC for 2 years because they wrote rubbish about his son has to do with Lewis Hamilton.

50

Reporters write rubbish about all sorts of people in the public eye all the time , but most don't stop talking to reporters. Sir Alex shares a trait with Lewis : fieriness,bloody mindedness, and success ; I love it. Does who want to cry their useless and futile insults can carry on.

51

Think you're stretching quite hard to create similarities between two sports stars you're clearly a fan of.

Most inside football saw it as just another example of how stubborn SAF was.

One dissimilarity I can draw between the two is that SAF never aired his dirty laundry in public unless the player in question was already on his way out the door.

52

@Chris

See what?

53

History has shown that when Hamilton is under pressure he usually crumbles.

54

What history would that be? Specific examples please.

55

Very true. And don't forget Mercedes winning was as result if Brown work. Or why do you think paddy left? It's cuz Mercedes are done

56

Sure Brawn did all the work... only 1 person to build and develop an F1 car, who knew?

57

Ha ha ha,the crumbleness that arrived at mclaren as a 21 years old rookie, and looked across the garage, and saw Alonso,2 times wdc,and did not shrink, but instead said to himself : I don't give a damn who you are,i am going to beat you, which he did,despite being told by Ron Dennis that he should'nt be too disheartened if he find himself half a second slower than Alonso. The crumbleness that beat Button in their first season of clash as teammates at mclaren, despite having seven years less experience .It is interesting how the brain of the Hamilton detractors work. Button, who by Italy 2010,was pretty much mathematically out of contention for the tittle, did not crumble,but Hamilton who remained in mathematical contention to the last race,crumbled. God deliver us.j

58

In 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2016 Hamilton was in a car that was capable of winning a WDC. Instead of winning he crumbled.

59

Instead of winning he crumbled....

I think you might be stretching the truth just a teensy weeny little bit there.

60

Silly. Did Alonso crumble too in 2007, 2010, and 2012 then? 2010 both he and Alonso should not have been close to the Red Bulls, but were. 2012 is your most ridiculous though ... how can you win in a car that doesn't finish 30% of the races, and the team regularly screws up pitstops? I guess Kimi crumbled in 2005 too?

2016, you can't give 51 pts away to your teammate in unreliability and expect to win.

TL;DR you have no idea what you're talking about.

61

Well said KRB. Using CC2002's criterion, perhaps we can say Kimi crumbled in 2008 too--he had a championship winning car but failed to deliver.
I'd actually argue Vettel, last year, was the worst for crumbing under pressure. All that swearing at Charlie Whiting, constantly crashing on the first lap. He dealt with the pressure so poorly Ferrari issued him with a warning to calm down

62

I dont agree with it, it is not all his fault. Charlie's many decissions last year to me were partial (Favouring RBR) so better move on! Ferrari warned him for his own betterment not because of difference in ideas between him n Ferrari regards to decision taken by charlie.

63

@ KRB... thank you.

64
Spinodontosaurus

I think you are being very unfair to Hamilton there. In 2007 and 2010 he was in the title fight despite not having the best car. He didn't "crumble" - he drove better than just about everyone else (perhaps bar Alonso in 2010) but it still wasn't enough.

In 2012 he did have a car fast and reliable enough to win the championship, but he was taken out by another driver 3 times and McLaren were perpetually finding creative ways to destroy their own drivers' races. His advantage in qualifying over Button in 2012 was the biggest margin Hamilton has ever had over any of his teammates. And "crumbled"? He should have won the final 3 races, but was taken out in one and suffered mechanical failure in another.

And again with 2016, reliability was a big part of Hamilton's failure to win. It wasn't the only reason, but a big reason. Maybe if Hamilton had driven as well as in 2014 or 2015 he would have still won despite the reliability problems, but if that is how you define him as "crumbling" then I'm afraid we'll have agree to disagree on that.

65

"In 2012 he did have a car fast and reliable enough to win the championship, "

Fast, but very unreliable. James Allen did a fantastic piece on the 2012 McLaren, and how reliability issues and operational errors outside of Hamilton's control cost Hamilton approx 110 points. Here's the link
https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2012/11/analysis-how-the-points-and-the-title-slipped-away-for-lewis-hamilton/

Hamilton drove flawlessly in 2012, hardly made an error. With Alonso, was the best driver on the grid that year. Anyone who suggests Hamilton or Alonso crumbled in 2012 simply do not know what they are talking about or are blinded by hate,

66
Spinodontosaurus

I think the unreliability of the McLaren that year is overstated - Hamilton suffered the same number of mechanical DNFs as Vettel did, the difference being that Red Bull didn't systematically destroy their drivers' races every other weekend (and people kept running into Hamilton).

67

I think you are being very unfair to Hamilton there...

+1
It's a very clear cut case of the "I know this argument is nonsense but as It's Hamilton I will say it anyway' syndrome 🙂

68

get him Dino, u tell him.

69

CC2002, perhaps you would like to provide us with the name of a driver that you think has never "crumbled" in this way.....

70

Care to go through that history with us? He was 29 pts back of his teammate in 2014, with 7 races to go. He won 6 of 7 to win the title, including passing his title rival teammate, for the lead, twice on track. No one has ever come back from such a deficit to a title rival in the sister car.

He was 43 pts back last year, but came back to lead by 19 at the break. More unreliability, and aftershocks from prior unreliability, kept him from the title.

People will point to 2007, yet I would lay the blame at McLaren's feet for China '07. He was a rookie in a title fight. Others in title-challenging cars have usually screwed up earlier and more often (e.g. Vettel in '09 at AUS09, TUR09, GER09, SIN09, etc.), that they never were really close when they should have been.

71

me thinks that after Ham clawed back those 43 points last year, thats when Ros decided to quit, and daddy Wolff threw some spanners in the works engine... (Reducing the deficit was incredible)

72

CC2002, I'm sure you are fishing for a reaction, so here's one for you. People who crumble under pressure don't succeed in any walk of life, they certainly don't become three time world champions in arguably the most high pressure sport in existence.

73

I suspect CC2002 is another one blindly following the pack, quoting Montoya.

74

Quoting Montoya? What are you talking about?

75

What do you expect to happen then? I don't get anyone who believes Lewis cracks or whatever, when fighting in tight. For me, that's when he's at his best. Rosberg said just weeks ago that Hamilton's a natural when it comes to placing his car during wheel-to-wheel racing.

Vettel with a slightly faster car and no. 1 status? I think Lewis would love that challenge.

76

If the red team is able to challenge the Mercs on equal terms then we are on for a blockbuster season...with sticky tyres atleast we can take away the incentive for drivers to go slow to go fast in a race which is really good for F1...
I really hope Ferrari takes the battle to Merc this time unlike last year when they blew it in strategy in Australia last year when a win was there for taking. Also if these two teams are within 2 tenths then we are in business unlike last year when Merc had 8 tenths over Ferrari. Keeping fingers crossed for Australia.
James, if Ferrari has the pace to win from the front...do you see Kimi coming back to winners circle this year? I wonder if the team dynamics will become strenous between their two drivers...Also Ferrari needs to run their team as two number 1s rather than Alonso Massa model...they need the sister car to eat points from rivals..I hope Ferrari doesn't mess up strategy...lets see how that turns out

77

A welcome surprise! And to think no one gave them a chance when they unveiled the car. I have backed Ferrari to win the Constructors championship.

78

I hope you are right. I'm happy to lose this bet. I put my money on Mercedes with both championships.

79

One thing you don't understand. Mercedes winning last 3 yes goes to Brown work. Think fur a min what made paddy Lowe leaves??

80

how much do you stand to win?

81

Not a life changing amount but more than enough to make it interesting!

Got Ferrari at 11/2 during the test and now they're as low as 3/1.

82

how much money did you put on Ferrari to win?

83

No chance. Guarantee ferrari were running lighter than mercedes and wait till melbourne when mercedes turn their engine up to warp 10. I predict mercedes on pole by 6-7 tenths.

84

Mark, how can you guarantee this? You are aware of the difficulties involved in "running light" during a race sim?

85

Mark said "running lighter than Mercedes". Ferrari were probably at the optimal weight/aero/engine trim for a race sim. Mercedes are likely to be literally sandbagging in the true sense of adding weight (OK I know it is more likely to be tungsten rather than actual sand) and playing with the engine modes.

I believe Ferrari will be closer than they were last year and likely to grab a win or two when Mercedes make a mistake, as long as they don't make silly strategy calls.

Red Bull are still the dark horse. They didn't appear to have much in the way of innovative aero stuff, which would be very unusual for a Newey design at the start of major regulation changes. Expect a big package of updates in Australia. Also possible race winners if the Renault engine stays together.

Mercedes will find it harder this season but if they can consistently qualify on pole and get the grid start consistent then they will scamper into the distance and rely on the increased inability of the cars behind to overtake to win races.

86

Mr Banana. you are making the same assumptions that Mark makes, note these assumptions are not made in the article. Why do you say that Ferrari are running an optimal fuel weight and Mercedes are sandbagging? How could you possibly know this? Don't you think that Mercedes might like to know what their own car is capable of with an optimal fuel weight? To a certain extent it is true that the teams don't want to show their hand in terms of ultimate performance, but the need to have correct data about how the car behaves in race conditions is much greater than the need to mask their true pace. The gain to a team from "sandbagging" is very small, the potential loss from turning up in Melbourne having never run your car in true race conditions is huge.

87

Different assumptions to mine are made in the article, both are valid explanations. Neither mine here, nor those above can be confirmed as true without the full details from the team data. We just don't know for sure. But, historically Ferrari have always showed their hand early on, Mercedes just the opposite. I believe the same is happening in this case.

With so many test laps under their belt, Mercedes will have very good information on the effect that extra weight and different engine modes have on their lap times, tyre degradation, and fuel usage. They will be able to extrapolate the data to remove those self imposed penalties. Just as they have done in the previous years.

88

Mr Banana, the same analysis last year showed the Mercedes to have a clear advantage, this proved to be the case. Extrapolation and simulation only tell you what should theoretically happen with a certain fuel load, to find out for real the car must run in that configuration, not doing this in order to hide your true pace would be a massive risk with no real reward.

89

Massive risk with no real reward? The last few years of testing sessions and championship wins for Mercedes would not bear that assessment out.

When you know all the parameters it is possible to account for overall car weight or any other parameter that you want to change. All other things being equal, which it will be for testing as you don't have to account for race strategy variations. The data they have gathered over the many hundreds of non-race sim laps, with different tyres, specific engine modes, set fuel levels, known downforce configurations, etc, will be plugged in and they will be pretty sure how to sandbag a real race sim and still get meaningful data.

They have done it before, I suspect they are doing it now, I would hazard a guess that they will do it in the future.

90

Mr Banana, again you making the assumption that Mercedes were sandbagging in those seasons as well. I have already stated why I think that running a car in testing with a none representative fuel load during a race sim is a risky move, perhaps you could explain why you think any team would do this. What gain is there for them?

91

Last year was last year, this year is this year.

92

I think that is a pretty sound analysis of the situation. Challenge is for Ferrari to keep competitive

93

Aah yes that bold tactic of running light during a race sim..

94

That would be one more blow to F1 really, one that the sport can ill afford. Would not Lewis winning but with a tough fight be more rewarding at the end? For his and all other fans of the sport? l would think so. Marc

95

How much lighter can they run when doing a race sim...
Most of us are skeptical but James is convinced, I'll take a little bit of that action thank you.

96

Ah but that would be terrible to watch wont it? HAM will have no competition while BOT takes his time to up his game getting to HAM's level. F1 will finally loose the fence sitting fans. Probably Ham may get bored and quit aswell.

For the joy of everyone, let us hope what you say doesnt turn out to be reality eh?

97

Am I the only one who notices LH gets critisises for just about anything?

Now we have the 'level headed anti Hamilton fans' on all sites telling us that if he should have the temerity to actually be a little sore about last year and coming out and wiping the floor with everyone, close fight or otherwise, it will be the 'end of F1' viewers will sign off in the millions and, sorry folks it's all over...

I honestly wonder at the mind set of so many so called fans. It looks like a closer year and we have a fired up fantastic racer who happens to be the best on the grid statistically itching for a fight with possibly a return to cars that look like F1 cars at last and...

Nope sorry it's all bad, wrong colours, wrong tyres, wrong winner (despite not winning anything yet) wrong teams, wrong looks, you name it.

Just what is wrong with people here?

98

Nomad, people have been predicting the loss of those "fence sitting fans" for a long time now....

99

If I remember correctly, the British TV audience fell by 5.1 million during 2016 leaving plenty of room on the fence for 2017.

100

Just sayin, the total number of people who watched an F1 race fell from 26.9 million to 21.8 million in the UK, but this has been attributed to the switch from BBC to CH4 in the articles I have read. The overall drop in world figures has also been strongly linked to the shift from free to air to pay per view by the experts who compile these figures. The numbers may be lower than they were previously, but they remain very high and with track attendance continuing to increase it seems that the end of F1 is not coming any time soon.

101

Which tracks attendances are continuing to increase? I am genuinely interested.

I am trying to think which ones it could be and I am struggling.

The 'premium draw' tracks like Spa, Silverstone, Monza, Monaco etc (historic circuits) are surely rammed every year, so it can't be those.

102

Nick, there were stories on this site about increases in the uSA and Mexico and I believe the Max effect has caused increases in Spa and Austria.

103

I have personally witnessed at least 10 of my friends (and not because of TV rights) who have stopped following F1 in the last 2-3 years and couple of them are big Lewis fans - I never used to miss a single race; last year or two, I would have missed at least 5-6 races. Let's not for a moment pretend that we aren't losing fans.

104

I agree...

But those remaining are paying a substantial amount more to view hence the income to F1 increase year on year.

That's why the figures are not really of interest in the F1 is dying debate. Because it's not.

You do not really think the purchasers are bothered do you?

They know the only way is up.

Unless of course those anti Hamilton chaps across the forum suggesting another Hamilton win is the death of F1 are actually wrong and that the view is little other than closet dislike disguised as some humanitarian 'F1 must survive bunk'

105

Gravity, 10 of your friends? As surveys go I have seen larger sample sizes. Fans come and go, this has always been the case.

106

Well, I don't see it that way... on fans come and go part. If fans of 10+ years are going that ain't a good sign. Let's just agree to disagree.

107

Gravity, track attendance continues to improve and the TV figures, while down (due to charging people for something they used to get for free) are still measured in the hundreds of millions.

108

Last year, we continued to see track attendance drop - where did you see it increase?

109

Gravity, here's a link to an article reporting on a major survey of track attendance and revenue that showed a clear and sustained increase in both measures. http://www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk/2016/07/formula-money-grand-prix-attendance-report-reveals-f1-ticket-revenue-increase/
There were stories on this site last season about an increase in numbers at COTA, Mexico and many of the european events. I wonder what has lead you to believe that ticket sales were falling?

110

I don't think it's just down to that Tim. I know people that have sky sports (comes with F1 channel) and used to watch most of the races but their interest has all but gone the last few years. One of my friends now usually just asks how the race was instead of watching.

111

Nick,your circle of friends is a minute fraction of the 400 million people that watch an F1 race very year. Bernie took the decision to go for a smaller audience who would pay for the pleasure of viewing. This strategy has certainly worked in terms of raising revenue, but perhaps will be seen to be counter productive in attracting new fans to the sport. I read an article recently that described a 40 million drop on viewing figures in one year, that sounds a horrific number but further analysis showed that 36 million of those lost viewers came from just two countries, France and China. It should come as no surprise to learn that the tv feed was switched from free to air to pay per view in those two countries in that particular year.

112

I've already backed Lewis to clean up this WDC completely.

But I hope the universe will spite me and have Ferrari and Redbull put up a fight at the very least.

113

I hoping the new starting process may mix it up a bit. We may see some incredibly wide cars heading down to the first corner.

114

I hate this start lottery exercise. Take away any driver aids for it, but keep it so that any driver can get a reasonable getaway, as they all would if they had a manual gearbox and clutch.

If a driver can take a risk to have a lightning start, or a big bog down, that would be fine, but it should be relatively predictable to get a decent start.

115

I think it will be predictable - they will Learn real quick... I don't think it will be a lottery.

116

There is not much scope to run lighter in a race simulation. That's the fundamental premise of the article, and what makes the analysis possible.

117

I wonder if they could temporarily fit a bigger fuel tank, to effectively sandbag on the longer run. Not sure how much fuel teams can do a race sim with, as a minimum.

118

It would be easier to put some ballast here and there....

119

That's why they compared the times from race simulations when the teams are forced to fill the car to the brim and Ferrari had three tenths. Maybe the Mercedes will have an extra engine mode that will put them ahead in qualifying but you get points from the race not qualifying.

120

Mercedes on pole by 6/10ths? Mark, pass over some of that stuff you're smoking pal.

121

Or not!

122

I really hope we have a great battle this year between Ferrari and Mercedes. F1 deserves this as it's been way too long. I'll be rooting for Ferrari all the way

123

That makes for an exciting opener in OZ. Some close racing at last.

I will look forward to Max another race, seeing Kimi on the podium often and seeing the pressure on Lewis spur him on to great racing (rather than boring social media posing). Ferrari for the constructors title?

Much will depend on who wins the development race throughout the season, Could a lack of Paddy take away Merc's edge or will James A be even better? Can Renault come through with the engine updates or will RB be handicapped? Is there anyone at Ferrari to ensure the race day/ strategy doesn't lose them positions & points?

Really looking forward to the start of another season.

124

Can't see a legend for the diagram. Would be nice.

125

Yeah agreed. The line tagging leaves a lot to be desired on these charts. Normally clear and precise -but this one is a bit of a schmozzle! Very hard to relate the commentary to the graphs..

126

My fear here as a Tifosi is Ferrari winning the 1st half of the season, but falling off and losing what should have been there constructor title. I know they've made improvements to culture at Maranello, but Merc's organization is just unrivaled, if Merc keeps James Allison from thinking he is a god and just strips some knowledge out of his very hard head. Merc needs to tap JA for his Ferrari insider knowledge and keep him away from the rest of the aero upgrades, or they'll be aero downgrades. I never understood anyone's fascination with James Allison. I think Merc is wise to have him, just as a hedge against Ferrari's fundamental aero approach. Hopefull, Rory Byrne is enough to counterpunch Merc.

127

Mercedes does seem like such a well oiled machine as an organisation. Very few weaknesses in all key areas.

128

2014- Mercedes tagged as favourites, along with Ferrari being the other works team.
Red Bull turns out to be the closest challenger.

2015- Will Red Bull catch up to Mercedes and launch a title challenge?
No, Ferrari are 2nd best.

2016- Surely Ferrari will continue this upward trajectory and finally challenge Mercedes?
Red Bull leap ahead of Ferrari.

2017- Newey has been designing an aero monster, this regulation change has Red Bull success written all over it.
Oh, now you show up Ferrari?

Gotta love this sport.

129

Too right....
Make the same prediction regularly enough and eventually it will be correct. Is ferraris clock fixed? Recent history would suggest no but even a broke clock tells tells the right time twice a day.

130

Ok Mr Skunk. Must admit its been many years since i last saw a digital watch...but the comparison is a good one. Digital watch: cutting edge tech from days of yonder. Sounds like a certain team in red to me.
I once had digital watch as a boy..... The excitement as i saw the packaging as i unwrapped it..... The promise that this would be it....the watch that changed my life....never again would i be late for school.....then....2 weeks later....i realised it was just a false dawn...just a lump of high tech composite that changed nothing. Seeing any similarties here? When ferrari win something lets talk again...until then...

131

So, the real question now is can Ferrari keep Mercedes/Red Bull's development pace over the long season?
Looks like we are going to see a fascinating season this year for God's sake.

132

That is going to be key. Ferrari apparently did a good job with some real innovation, but now they have to keep pace with the upgrades if they are to preserve any advantage they might have, as well as addressing whatever weaknesses the car has.

133

Woah! Comparisons included last years graphs even. In conclusion, this article just smashed it outside the ball park! :O

134

I'd also like to see comparisons to 2015 though. It's clear Ferrari will be better than they were in 2016. But F1 really needs Ferrari to be better than they were in 2015 on top of that.

135

How much of the Ferrari was Allison built???

136

All of it!

137

Many here thought the same about Brawn. His leaving Mercedes does not seem to have affected the team all that much. Lets hope that hold true for Ferrari as well. Marc

138

True. Although it could be argued that Brawn's strengths lay in setting up the infrastructure and organisation, things that would last without him.

Whereas Allison had a more hands-on role with car design. Concepts which won't necessarily stick around now that he's gone.

Not to mention the fact that Allison appears to have been properly ousted out. Brawn, though, left on his own accord.

139

f1 has moved on, light years, from the brawn days.

140

You must be a sorcerer to know that

141

A lot less than the British media claim.

He missed about 3 months last year following the death of his wife.

He was in dispute for several months with Marchionne before being dismissed.

His record with the 2015 and 2016 cars prove he wasn't the answer.

According to sources, this car has had quite a bit of input from Rory Byrne who was criminally underused in previous seasons.

Mercedes? Glad to see them pick up Allison. He proved with Lotus and Ferrari that despite the budget he designs a car that won a handful of races...

142

Didn't ferrari off load Aldo Costa claiming him "overrated" too? How did that work out? I'll believe ferrari have made a winner when I see it win not a second before.

143

Ferrari didn't off-load Costa due to ability, or lack of. He was made the scapegoat because the 2011 car was poor.

The same thing happened in 2014 with domenicalli.

Pressure in Italy regards Ferrari can be suffocating.

Todt managed it brilliantly and whilst Montezemolo was succeeding he was safe but time ran out for both.

Now we have the big boss in control and his ability as a true business genius gives him the power to ignore the press.

If you thought Todt and Luca had power, it's nothing compared to this guy.

145

You do know the meaning of the phrase scapegoat, right?
You are only made a scapegoat if you are deemed surplus to requirements and not good enough. Why would ferrari get rid of someone they thought had the ability to help them succeed? Let's face it...Ferrari are a basket case. Their fans tend to get a little over excited at the smallest hint that they may....sometime in the future....possibly ........win a race. This is what ferrari and their fans have been reduced to.... so sad. Funny....but quite sad.

146

I tire of this pointless backing and forthing. If you are 'surplus' to requirements or not 'good enough', inevitably you are sacked.

According to Wikipedia,
"A scapegoat is a person or animal which takes on the sins of others, or is unfairly blamed for problems. The concept originally comes from Leviticus, in which a goat is designated to be cast into the desert with the sins of the community."

I would assume that most fans of any sports team tend to get over excited by the prospect of glory for their chosen team.

How many years have England fans been bleating on about winning a world cup. Citing the premiership as evidence they are the greatest.

If it happens this year I will celebrate the victories. If it turns out to be more silver domination I'll applaud their work and just pray that Hamilton has some competition - otherwise 2017 could be a long year.

Anyway, I would imagine that Mclaren and Williams - two former successful teams - would embrace the 'problems' Ferrari has endured.

If he were honest, I'd wager Alonso would trade his 3 years at Mclaren to have had the problems Maranello has endured

147

This is why I love coming to your site - very insightful and backed up analysis. Very interesting. I really hope it's going to be a 3 way fight for the title and not again a Mercedes walkover. Big props to Ferrari, I was one of many to think they would fall back given their state of play in the management and technical areas but the opposite seems true. Remarkable and well deserved. Now I'm going to keep my fingers crossed Red Bull have done something interesting today on their filming day and that 0.4 sec deficit is now gone...

148

I dunno, analysis is a bit skewed by the fact that Barcelona is a front limited, understeer circuit and testing was conducted in temps of around 20C..........

Most circuits these days are rear limited, oversteer circuits with a long straight, heavy traction zones and big braking areas. It's a pity testing didn't take place at Imola, which IS a rear limited track with very heavy braking zones - and where aerodynamic efficiency is more important than raw downforce. Alas............

For those reasons, I wouldn't write off Red Bull, who always excel with their supple, compliant suspension and greyhound like traction out of slow corners. Plus, without stating the obvious but high track temperatures can make a huge difference to the "feel" of a car...............

149

It will also be interesting to see how wheelbase length affects things on various tracks, considering the Merc is very long, though I seem to remember Leo Turrini saying Ferrari might have a longer wheelbase option later

150

Now I'm confused . Again. Do you mean this is good for Ferrari but not as bad for Mercedes and the odd nature of Barcelona layout and temperature will mean Red Bull can only get better? 😥

151

Simply put, that is exactly what @Gazboy meant.

152

Amazing, if Ferrari and Mercedes are close on pace or Ferrari is faster, we will get a manufacturer battle on our hands which theater will get played out both on track and in the stock markets

So yes, 2017 will be very competitive at the front with driver skill making a difference plus track characteristics favouring one team from the other.

The data shows Red Bull aren't quite at the sharp end but we have seen in the past that the team are good at in-season development so will catch up and join the battle upfront, particularly with Max picking a bone with the Ferrari pilots

Another surprise from testing was the fact Williams look pretty decent after a tough 2016 and under the right conditions maybe able to sneak the odd podium or two

As for Force India, I am surprised too that the car has some speed because the car has a unglamorous forehead and not a very nice lively, in other words, I was expecting Torro Rosso and Haas to be faster than Force India.

In conclusion, thanks to our JA on F1 and paddock spies, the teams are no longer able to keep their cards close to their chests in testing which means the fans know who has got what before the first race

153

If all the comments about overtaking being difficult this season are correct, it will be the single lap pace in quali which is most important. A driver could get ahead at the start and stay there even if another car has better long run pace. Vettel and Hamilton are both past masters at the qualifying lap so it may turn into a battle between the pair of them. Alternatively, strategy may become very important, and that is one area where Mercedes have the advantage over Ferrari if past performance is anything to go by. It is shaping up to be a more interesting season than the past few.

154

While a battle restricted to Hamilton and Vettel would be a treat already, l really home the Fins will come and play as well and not just for third place. Throw the Red Bull lads and we are talking about a season to be long remembered. I know I sound greedy, but the euphoria of pre-season you know. Marc

155

It would be interesting how Max V would feel about this lack of over taking stability. I dont think he will care much. So if you suddenly find him behind you, he will probably just jump at the gap anyway -however unstable- and then let you decide the out come. Both cars off, and you get no points, or you let him by and get some points. 😀 Senna anyone!? I think I saw a few lines from Helmut Marko saying exactly the same thing about Max, that this fear of Max is what will take him ahead. We are all living in a time loop it seems. Bigger tyres. Fins keep coming and going, Turbos. and playing chicken! I think it will be awesome Max Ham Ricci if they land up fighting for the same piece of track!

Too bad for Alo, for the salary he gets, he could easily set up his own team and buy a customer mercedes car if he wanted. THAT is the REAL reason customer cars are NOT allowed 😉

156

Remember, though, that Lewis is not one to shy away from passing

157

Vettel and Hamilton have created that perception that they are unbeatable in qualifying. But that has been busted in recent years. Last year, Raikkonen beat Vettel 11-10 in quali. Rosberg had already beaten Hamilton in quali in 2014. Both were equally surprising to me as I too had thought they both would be unbeatable in quali.
Anyway, they would still be difficult to be beaten in races by the two Finns in their respective teams. There's more of a chance of Bottas beating Hamilton as Mercedes give equal opportunity to both drivers unlike Ferrari which show slight tilt towards Vettel through strategy decisions.

158

Vettel also had a gearbox penalty in Russia, where many forget he had inittially managed to qualify on the front row before being relegated, and started at the back in Singapore after problems in Q1.

159

Sri, I think Lewis created that impression by beating all his team mates in quali up to 2014, I believe the final score against Jenson was 44,14! Nico did extremely well to out qualify Lewis that year, but it is worth noting that Lewis had a couple of car failures in germany and Hungary quali, it's also worth noting that Nico didn't manage to out qualify Lewis over a season in any of the other three years they were team mates.

160

This could be vettels last year at Ferrari too not just kimi. Should be fascinating to see how he handles it compared to Raikonen.

161

If the car is competitive, would he not stay? Also Mercedes equal opportunity game will be tested if they had a real competition from another team throughout the season. They claimed the moral high ground in the last few years only because they as a team had nothing to lose.

162

when was the last time you observed a car running 3rd or 4th on the grid caught up with a leader other than merc in this hybrid era?

163

I surely do hope Ferrari is competitive it will bring back fans to f1 coz most f1 fans I know that are not European follow coz of the prancing horse

164

how can that possibly attract fans?
i understand the fans being better entertained but do not understand how that could 'bring back fans'.

165

Actual competition will bring back fans, Ferrari being competitive maybe more so but any real competition will. How many time have we read in the comments on this site people saying they had given up on watching races? I read somewhere that F, the sport has lost 200 million tv viewers over the past few years. Part of that is surely due to F1 not being shown on free tv, but many have given up because of the one team dominance we have had for too long now. Not just Mercs' by the way. Marc

166

The consistency of the Ferrari during the middle stint on Softs is impressive, there's no meaningful dropoff in pace. Which means the decrease in performance due to tyre degradation is matched by the increase in pace due to the diminishing fuel load.

Also with Ferrari, the noticeably sudden slowing by ~1 second a lap at lap 55 is interesting, is that sandbagging so as not to reveal the true pace on mediums with a light fuel load?

If Mercedes are simply sandbagging on engine power then their already noticeable tyre degradation is just going to get worse. They can, as they have in the past, use their extra engine power to run higher downforce (increased drag) whilst maintaining top speed.

We will have some answers in a couple of weeks, can't wait.

167

I think Ferrari dropped in pace because it was stuck behind a TR or RB for one lap in their race simulation.

168

Good insights!

169

Brilliant stuff. Bring on the hype!

170

James should consider moonlighting as an epic hype man...

171

Maclaren are off the scale. For Honda this is an epic marketing disaster that will be used in textbooks for decades.

172

Even worse than New Coke?

173

WOW! I though JAF1 was dipping his balls in the pool. xD

Why Ferrari will challenge Mercedes for the 2017 WDC/WCC. IMO.
The changes in regulations {wider tires and bigger wings} came in handy to cover most of Ferrari technical deficiencies.

1> Traction.
Ferrari cars had a lot of problems putting power down to the track due to the narrow and fragile tires last years.
The drive-train has always been powerful, but the engagement after gear shifts was too abrupt and brutal causing the tires to slip and break-up the traction.
This behavior could be seen at the wet track of Interlagos when both both Ferrari's spun going uphill.
Wider and resilient tires solved the harsh grip engagement problem.

2> Stability.
Since the tires are much wider, the top element of the suspension arms were redesigned - close to the front tires. It is made to run lesser camber {front tire angle}, otherwise – compared to last year – the inside half of tire would wear much faster reaching the tire bead belt.
So beyond the wider tire, there is more contact area in the front tire, almost zero grade camber, similar for all cars, which cancels some of the advantage Mercedes and RedBull had with their {FRIC} aero adjustable suspension.
However Ferrari's suspension arm was rubbing/cutting the front tire wall, which made Pirelli warm them to change it.
For Kimi, bigger front tires and wing helped Ferrari to get a more “planted” and steady steering feel, which inspires much more confidence to him.
For Vettel, bigger tires and wing helped him on high speed corners. Compared to Mark Webber, Vettel is more precise in slow corners gaining a lot of time there, while Webber was brave and faster in high speed and challenge corners. Wider tires and + downforce will make fast corners easier – child's play, according to Alonso.

3> Aerodynamic.
I have to swallow my worlds when I criticized the All-Italian Ferrari team.
The team excelled here with innovative aerodynamic concepts.
The high sidepod shoulder seems to work really well.
The sidepod-inside-sidepod concept that explores – regulation loophole - the shift from 90º to 75º in the sidepod angle seems to punish cooling as the arrow shape is not good for F1 in this aspect.
Most teams are using radiators at a 75º angle, while Ferrari kept it at 90º – from the cockpit side.
The Ferrari contender also divided the powertrain cooling ducts into several ones, directed for several different places in the drivetrain, which made the whole system more efficient and less draggy.
There is a smaller main scoop {compared to the Mercedes single one} over the driver's head and another oval shaped one right bellow it.
Two naca-ducts over the sidepods with dual entries through the top and inside the sidepods too.
I suppose each aero hole/slot opening feeds fresh air to different ellements of the drivetrain in an optimized way.
There is a loop with cooling and power: power generates heat, which demands better cooling; better cooling allows to increase the power output.
Just compare the Merc and Ferrari main scoop. The Merc one is much bigger and must interfere more w/ turbulence over the rear wing.

4> Better race strategy, qualifying performance and in-season development.
What stops me saying that Ferrari are franc favorites is the poor and slow and confusing race strategy management.
Also the qualifying performance should be improved to start in the front row.
If Mercedes can dominate the front row it will also allow them to dictate the race pace and make Ferrari vulnerable to crazy pit-stop undercuts from RedBull.
Since tires have a bigger durability, RedBull can start messing with race strategies much sooner – or later - with only one pit-stop for the entire race.
It is said that Mercedes is capable to extract more power in Q3 due to the clever use of motor oil in the combustion chamber.
High performance engines always consume motor oil.
Regulations say that motors can use/loose up to 5 liters for the entire race.
So Ferrari is developing a dual needle injector that will supply the fuel mix with more precision.
I guess the second needle is used to add a bit of motor oil in the mix – for higher compression ???

It seems that the regulation changes were taylor made to solve all the Ferrari problems and finish the Mercedes dominance.

174

OMG !!! xP
I can't believe so many people read this insanity. xD

175

i wonder if any of the above theories will apply when the racing starts..

176

@ aveli

i wonder who's in for a surprise.
---------------------------------------------

But this is what surprises are all about, it will be a surprise

177

am in for a surprise.

178

Nice details. I admire your knowledge (assuming all you said is right).

179

Thought the use of motor oil in combustion has been banned...

180

Interesting ananlysis, James. The only unknown on the long run race simulation is the engine settings; you would tend to believe that they will want to simulate real race scenario to the extent possible without showing their hands.

I do believe that Ferrari are going to start this year at a much better baseline. But Merc is going to be equally competitive and they do have James Allison joining them which will nullify the Ferrari advantage over a period. I also think Red Bull will be challenged due to their dependence on Renault which will be their Achilles heel. Great opportunity for both Lewis and Seb to show what they can bring to the table when things are pretty much even... it's going to be a big insightful year! Bring it on..

181

James Allison joining them is undoubtedly going to cause serious mirth in Italy.

He was part of the title winning teams at Ferrari 1999-2004 and Renault 2005-6.

His follow up teams designed cars that won a small number of races, ie Lotus 2011-2013 and Ferrari 2014-16 - this proven irrespective of budget size.

In other words, Allison, similarly to Costa, is not a tech director, he's an important part of the background team.

When he was part of a title winning team he worked under Ross Brawn/ Rory Byrne and at Renault under Mike Gascoyne and Bob Bell.

182

I still believe Ferrari made a major blunder letting James Allison go - they are surely benefiting from his work on this car but will they sustain its development? Do not forget he was very much in charge at Enstone and designed the race winning "Lotus" - with a serious lack of budget/resources. Whatever title one gives him he's a seriously good catch for Mercedes.

183

The plots look fascinating, but there's nothing to identify which teams and cars are represented by each color. Please provide.

184

It was with the drivers' names in the key
But we have amended to spell it out

185
The Grape Unwashed

Hi James, on behalf of the colour blind community, can I just ask that you don't use both red and green in the same graph - I couldn't make head or tail of it! (Loved the rest of the article, though.)

186

I'm also RG colour blind and the graph was fine for me, but the problem is that there are many kinds of colour blindness so if James fixes it for one type it might very well screw it up for another type.

Quick tip: If you're having trouble with that graph (or any other graph or chart) try opening it in some kind of paint program and then do a hue shift.

If you think that sounds strange try it on a standard test panel - You might be surprised at what you can see 🙂

187
The Grape Unwashed

Thanks for the hue shift tip Random 79. Red/Green 'blindness' is by far the most common type, so if James were to avoid that combo it would help most people. The easiest solution is to use different shaped nodules (circles, triangles and squares) for similar colour groups.

188

Sure would be good to see 5, maybe 6, teams able to seriously compete for the podium positions. Let's hope McLaren's issues are going to be fixable, however, the comment from Honda the other day ". . .Hasegawa admits he is more worried. . ." is a yellow flag on that proposition.

189

as long as they keep throwing money into the kitty who can complain...

190

"Hasegawa admits he is more worried"

Rough translation: "We have well and truly screwed the pooch."

I think 5 or 6 teams might be optimistic, but it will be a welcome change to have Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull genuinely fighting at the front 🙂

191

a 2 second deficit to midfield is like climbing everest in F1 terms...Mclaren will have done a great job to leap frog to 4th...this will be a repeat of 15 for them sadly

192

If Mercedes have one extra engine mode to switch on for the qualification lap they can lead from the front and with even more difficult overtaking this year that can be decisive for the race.

193

Then again, Ferrari proved last year that they launch better...

194

Interesting analysis James. I had thought nothing could really be taken away from the testing as the top teams would be sandbagging but the long run analysis I didn't anticipate. At the end of the day though we know its going to be shoot out between the top. As to if it will be close between them? We will still have to wait and see. I am eager to get on with it actually.

195

James,

You say that Mercedes could be running with the engine turned down, but Ferrari could've done the same, yet you do not mention this. Do you know what engine mode Ferrari was running in? The 3 tenths gap could be real...

196

Everyone was running a low power engine mode McLaren included...

197

McLaren can't run it on full power it would shake itself to bits!

198

guesswork.

199

A superb analysis of a face value of F1 testing at Barcelona. Mr Allen some time ago I call your site a Numero Uno of F1 and I repeat my belief again, simply its the best of the rest , I thank you and keep it up.

200

I read that these unique Ferrari sidepods solution is the work of David Sanchez and Enrico Cardile. Are they those hidden talents in Maranello that were overshadowed by the "big names"? It does seem that the new organization under Binotto is showing it's worth at the moment. The main thing for Ferrari is to stay competitive throughout the year and not sustain in a relentless development war.

201

Hey JA - Great analysis - useful that there are guys like you do the heavy maths lifting us guys like me.

That said, maybe it's just me, but I have no idea which car is which on the charts?

202

Nice analysis, as always, James. Thank you!
I don't remember ever being so eagerly waiting for the first race

203

Looks like good racing ahead.

204

James, could we have a color key for the teams, I'm assuming Red is Ferrari, Purple is RBR and Green is Mercedes, yes?

205

Yes, it explains with the names of the drivers

206

I hope we have a competitive season - the last one we had (between different teams) was long back in 2012.

207

Good

208

Maybe Ferrari and Mercedes are so close with each others race speed it's going to be all about which team gets first in the first corner. And since Mercedes will dominate the qualifications again and take all the pole positions they will keep dominating. Maybe not? Maybe Kimi will retire with the title after this year.

209

I don't think Kimi would retire as WDC.

210

If Vettel isn't being retained, or Ferrari think he is leaving for Merc, the temperature will go up a few more degrees at Maranello.

211

bring back refuelling bernie and we wouldn't have to worry about first corner issues.

212

Exactly! Refuelling would make things soo much more exciting.

213

So Allison knows all the Ferrari tricks and he is now at Mercedes, they must be fuming !

214

Of what use are ferrari specifics when Merc are out front... Maybe Macca would like to have a look at the details but Merc, Nah...

215

James thank you for this fine analysis which gives me hope of of a close season between the big 3 teams ( RBR, Merc and Ferrari) . I still feel that when Merc turn their engines up in Quaifying they still have the the ultimate 1 pace by around 0.2-0.3 seconds as you say although Ferrari may have the edge in race pace. RBR should be joining the front 2 teams on pace I think by Spain. Note I think McLaren will improve throughout the season and I think it is a bit of a relief for Honda that the token system has been scrapped for this year but in my opinion they won't challenge the top 3 teams at all regardless. They will probably end up 5th or 6th in WCC again will Macca. James can you also answer a question for me. Can you clarify for me whether teams will now from 2017 be prevented from changing tyres during a red flag scenario or was that idea binned James?

216

Has anyone analysed the relative performance of the updated engines? It would be interesting to see how the Ferrari compares with the Mercedes for top speed.

217
Clarks4WheelDrift

Good call though the first representative speed test may not be till qually when Merc inevitably turn it up as per usual.

A bit gutting for racing that there's an engine speed gap back to the Renault still and a Grand Canyon gap to the Honda. 30k's slower!!

218
Fulveo Ballabeo

Even though modern F1 cars aren't the product of a single person, if the 2017 Ferrari is a race (championship?) contender, then who gets the core design credit: Allison or Binotto?

Honda is a proud company with a rich heritage and talented engineers. So how is it possible that they've gotten it so wrong...for so long? Going back to even the BAR days. Seriously, is there an answer to that question?

219

those successful honda engineers of the past no longer work for honda.secondly f1 has move on since then

220

Neither are the designer, Simone Resta leads that design team

Allison was in charge when the concept was developed. From July onwards, Binotto will have made decisions on which development path to take

221

How much of a Rory Byrne influence do you see in the new design?

222

Great analysis James. Looks like it's going to be close in Melbourne.

Please make the font size on your axes larger. As a scientist this is a pet peeve of mine.

223

If I remember correctly it was the wind tunnel that caused the problems for Ferrari last season and it looks like they have fixed it for 2017.

224

There is rarely a single issue that causes a failure - usually a combination of factors. Wind tunnel may have contributed, but I sincerely hope they addressed more than that over the last 12 months....!

225
Clarks4WheelDrift

wind tunnel... and their strategists, and their laptimes on mediums, and their top speed in qually 😉

226

True but without accurate information coming from the wind tunnel development is comprimised. It is an issue that has dogged them for years and affected the corelation of information with computer simulations. They seem to have used the second half fo 2016 as an extended test, lets hope it pays off. 🙂

227

Thank you for the analysis; I like it very much.

Of course, we've been burned, for these past few years, hoping for legitimate competition in the top formula, only to watch (less, and less) the MMC (Mercedes Managed Championship).
Mercedes MUST manage the championship, because with all of their very substantial investment, if the fans don't believe there is competition, they will... do just what they have been doing, abandoning their patronage.
So, superficially, it still looks quite a bit like last year.

The triumvarite will all come with substantial updates, components for Melbourne, as they are all playing at camouflaging all of their goodies, lest they be more easily replicatable.

The development race will be as intense as we've seen this past decade, especiallu now with the engine token system gone.

I'm reservedly hopeful about the competition this year, based on the analyses, however, if neither Ferrari, nor RB/Renault-TAG have a comparative 'extreme' engine mode, then we will continue to have frequent front row lock outs by Merc, and with passing even more difficult this year (presumed on universal consistent team/driver feedback), this capability effectively guarantees world championships for the season.

228

Good post. I'm at the point of not caring who wins, as long as the competition is strong and the racing is good. Another Mercedes snooze fest, and I will turn off permanently.

229
Clarks4WheelDrift

Great analysis.

Seems to be a good gap between tyres. Wonder if in the races where ultra, super and soft are available, whether the team that can go ultra then pit for undercut and super till the end will make it with a strategic advantage.

230

With all due respect the last technical article I read on here (Hungary last year) stated Renault were only 15HP behind Mercedes, and it turned out to be way off the mark.

231

You need to understand how this engines works to get that being on par bhp wise does not matter, its how long you can deploy and quick yo can recharge it.
Which is where Mercedes is beating everyone!

232

It's possible that the changes to this years regulations have had an effect on fuel consumption, which could be an issue for some of the teams. The extra downforce, drag caused by the bigger tyres and higher lap averages haven't been offset by the extra 5kg of fuel. Apparently the first few races are likely to cause the most problems.

It could be a case of he who coasts bests wins.

233

James I was reading elsewhere that apparently teams are quite concerned that the increased downforce and grip could potentially mean that the increase in fuel loads may note be enough, resulting in a large amount of lift and coast during the race.
There goes those lap time targets!
Heard anything?

234

The usual

Let's wait and see

Melbourne usually has Safety Cars that help with fuel consumption

235

Having seen the new rain Safety Car rulz, I can see confusing times ahead. Especially the pre-start laps not being counted towards the race distance. I detect a sniff of Bernie about them.

236

Well, they are in a way. For Brazil last year, was there 7 laps behind the SC before green? So there it counted as 7/71. Now it will reduce the race distance, with the race now being 65 laps (the first lap behind SC is a formation lap).

237

Great analysis James.....I am still wary of the numbers though as there is no guarantee that even in the long runs that 'they' weren't running at slightly reduced levels which would vary between teams. I also still think that mercedes are the team to beat as the last three years have been a whitewash and they may still have that edge as a relative point of reference. Another point which has as yet not been mentioned is the forecast fuel issues. I have read where certain engineers have claimed that on some circuits, melbourne, bahrein etc that in order to make it to the finish they will have to practice fuel saving whereas they didn't in the past! That causes me to believe that we are going to see some races that may well be decided on fuel efficiency rather that outright hard racing! I also think that Red Bull are very very close and that their development will be quite quick given the simplicity of what they have at the moment and their ability to respond. I think that Newey's approach is one which gives them 'elasticity' in development which would be quite advantageous. Roll on melborne.

238

I think RB need more power to get to the sharp end. Renault /TAG upgrades (or whatever name is being used) will decide their fate.

239

They have been given an extra 5kg of fuel for the race to avoid issue of fuel saving as these cars are more draggy

Melbourne is rarely a problem as there is usual a Safety Car period which saves fuel and let's them off the hook!

240

I thought it was known that the Result engines were nursing some issues that will be resolved by AUS? If Red Bull were even close in testing, they must be even closer as soon as the ERS is sorted. And we expect them more than the other to make a good aero improvement before AUS as well as the possibility of sorting the balance? Just seems to me that RB have more potential to improve than the others over the next 2 weeks?

241

It can the Ferrari top up the fastest car or even the Merc.. probably Red Bull will be sandwich in between.. at the end of the day.. all down to the driver and their team strategy.. and Ferrari always screwed up when it comes to pit strategy.. but yeah, hope to see lots of fireworks on 2017, as pass years its been a very boring race.

242

I do believe that Mercedes are sandbagging by quite a bit and have there engine in conservative mode as the second test has been ideal for them with some aero parts not working but don't mind it being close at least Mercedes still wins though

243

Great overview James. One thing that is interesting in the data is the final stint from Seb. His pace drops by 1 second a lap, 8 laps before the end of his final stint... When you look at the race trend lines for Ferrari and Mercedes they intersect at this point where the lap times increase for Seb by a second. So in review of this it is fair to say that the overall race pace shown favours Mercedes, however if a race was being run and assuming Seb was in front, the Mercedes drivers would need to overtake to win the race; something that may be challenging as we saw last year and even more challenging this year.

However there is another important point to mention regarding the race runs, this being the sudden 1 second drop off from Seb 8 laps before the end. If i recall correctly, Seb got help up behind Massa on this race run and failed in an overtake attempt at turn 10.

I believe he then resigned himself to run behind the Williams for the remainder of the stint. Had seb been able to clear Massa and then run at his own pace, chances are the race sim trend lines between Ferrari and Mercedes would not have intercepted at all.

It is also worth noting that Ferrari seems to have learnt from their strategy errors last year also with their S-S-M tyre strategy which would provide them with track position, even if not the outright fastest strategy. Once bitten twice shy it seems. Bodes well for a more mature and prepared F1 campaign from Ferrari this year.

244

Strategy options are in part a function of the performance envelope of the car. Last years Ferrari had issues with certain tyres - limiting their strategies. That's not to say that was the only issue - they screwed up some decisions, but within an inherently limited field of options.

245

Just terrific analysis, James. When it comes to the most complex of all sports, this is exactly the sort of article I want to read when it comes to making predictions and setting expectations.

The most pertinent question for me regarding 2017 is how accurate this analysis was in the past of predicting team performance.

246

The higher sidepods and lower front suspension seems to be a big advantage as long as the engine holds up. Ferrari didn't do as many laps as Mercedes but they are very close. Yeah I think they have the car to beat.

247

James, do know to what extent Merc were running sub-optimum engine performance? What likely impact on lap times of the power deficit?

248

Well the race plots show they are 3/10ths down so if it's 30kW down then that's the amount of time dropped

They have various race modes

249

James, what is your opinion of the black sweater's (Segio Marchionne) influence on Scuderia Ferrari? If they actually contend for the championship this year, will he have earned any credit for the turnaround?

250

Hard to argue no? In fairness SV did say that much of the groundwork (infrastructure & organisational) was set in place in 2015-16, but we're seeing the results now. I don't think that any single silver bullet bought them to this point.

251

The Mercedes design concept is fascinating but they have compromised the suspension geometry in order to channel as much air flow as possible to the barge boards and turning vanes. This in turn will have a massive effect on tyre deg, while this isn't likely to be as destructive as seen in the last three years, this will cause them headaches and may compromise them slightly in races.

The Ferrari concept is very unique to such an extent that I have no idea how the sidepod air flow structures interact and the effects they cause.

Red Bull have a very clean looking car with little in the way of aero frills, we should see strong development from them over the season.

We will know who's done the best job in less than two weeks!

252

Really hard to answer question, but how does the McLaren chassis rate? Ie, if Honda suddenly brings a new spec engine, could they drastically improve? Or are they chassis limited as well?

253
Clarks4WheelDrift

McLaren chassis is awesome, Alonso said most corners are flat 😉

254

Sure, flat out, but 20 mph slower than the rest of the field.

255

Even if Ferrari is going to start well and will fight Mercedes, it will roll back as the seqson progresses. The guy behind this car just we to Mercedes, so it will only mean Mercedes will become even stronger. Red Bull might start behind, but if Renault will will improve the engine, they will be better and better. Ferrari will finish 3rd because of the chaos in a typical Italian team.

256

As far as I am aware, there are many hundreds of smart people behind the car, not just a single guy.

257

Sure, but they must be orchestrated and given a direction. What happened to Ferrari after Brawn, Todt and Schumacher left? Hundreds of small people stayed! And?

258

Oh please; Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 title, Felipe Massa almost won in 2008 and Fernando Alonso went close in 2010 and 2012.

Not bad for a bunch of disorganised Italians...eh? Compare with the recent record of McLaren; the team that is the paradigm organisational excellence, and quintessential Britishness (and lately Japanese efficiency.......).

259

A typical Italian team?
You obviously don't watch GP2 or GP3. Undoubtedly the Italian teams in Motogp are run by non Italians too!!

Get over yourself!

260

Who are great Italian run MotoGP teams? It's certainly not Ducati, who have designed their bikes totally ignoring the input of the riders who knew how to fix the handling problems. The race mechanics had to deal with a bike that used 10 different sizes of nuts and bolts, which slowed their repair and adjustment times during practice. Ducati is now German owned. Let's play spot the difference.

261

Ducati were a joke, no question.

One straight off the top of my head, Lucio Cecchinello, runs the Honda outfit with some success.

Look through the Moto2 and Moto3 teams and you'll see plenty more examples.

Speaking of Honda, considering how people get carried away with their great work from the 80's, surely instead of lauding them we should be vilifying them. In 25 years since their withdrawal from f1, their input is barely worth a chapter in history. Then again, Honda in the 80's was spending over 100mill a year. No one else came close.

Italians supposedly fall apart, yet Ferrari having designed a turkey in 2014 were winning races 12 months later.

Renault went backwards before moving forwards.

Honda, this supposed brilliant tech company, has struggled for 3 seasons now and I'd go so far as to say it's worse than ever.

If I could look back through comments easily I could point out all the times I called Honda out. I knew they'd fail.

Ironic really, these passionate Italians who cannot achieve anything without outsiders involved seem to be doing quite well.

Yet an anglo/Japanese partnership with all the supposed benefits of said nationalities is shocking in their performance.

Honda - pathetic!
Mclaren - it's 3 years and counting for their last victory.

As an Italian Ferrari fan, I've laughed heartily for some years now.😂

262

Well, then you do not follow what President Marchionne is trying to do? Not talking about a team being Italian, but about all top levels being played by Italians. This has been the case for 20 years prior to Brawn/Todt/Byrne and Schumacher era.

263

@AlexD - To my knowledge, Marchionne has never said anything about Ferrari being "all Italian". If you know otherwise, please show me a direct quote by him stating his preference for hiring Italians over foreigners at Ferrari.... And I don't mean speculation by some third rate journo that Alison & De Beers departure means Ferrari don't want foreigners.

264

@Herowassenna ... Unfortunately I can only give you one up-vote, but thanks for saying what I was thinking, albeit rather more elegantly.

265

Twas a pleasure 😆

266

Who else is ready to see KIMI BOT fight? KIMI BOT part III. Just when one Finn thought he had shaken off the other last year, the other got back right into the mix again. Who is cheering for which Finn on JA? KIMI BOT?

267

Thanks James, very detailed. It will be fantastic to see Binotto's Ferrari win.
Do you know how/if the FIA will be able to police Mercedes oil burn (illegal) qualification engine mode though? They are also thought to use this mode on out laps, and post safety car.

268

Hey. How does mixing fuel & oil give more power? I thought that would adulterate the fuel & decrease efficiency.

269

Apparently they've been blending performance additives in with the oil - according to Mr Horner. If that is the case, and it removes Mercedes qualifying advantage, then Mr Hamilton may get the competition he keeps saying he wants. I hope so. Doesn't do me much good though, I support McLaren!

270

Actually the rumour is that they are bleeding oil into the cylinders during off throttle race conditions thus saving fuel for later use.

I can accept a little of this but as an engineer of many years, I can assure everyone there is absolutely no performance improvement to be obtained from any kind of oil being added to petrol. It just is not so. It will allow some small possible saving of fuel but to dump 5kg through an engine during a race somehow making it more powerful just made me laugh - it will only be related to cooling valves or similar during off throttle (Ie save the fuel moments) or similar.

Honestly the stuff I have seen about how this is the magic qualifying mode and thus the reason they have such? I do really wonder at some fans understanding of the calorific value of any oil performance or otherwise, mixed in fuel.

There is a reason two strokes went from 10:1 through to 150:1 through race development and research you know. And they simply had to have oil in combustion. Or they blew up.

271

Mercedes stand accused of adding oil to their fuel. McHonda have an issue with there not being enough oil in their engine! Has Tonto been nicking it ?

272

Hi James, I read somewhere that Ferrari's ERS system(160BHP) could be unleashed 50 seconds per lap. is there any truth to it? i was under the impression that its restricted to few seconds.

273

It's 33 seconds max per lap; same for everyone.

274

No that isn't true.

33s is just the total time the battery can send max power to the mgu-k.

It's doesn't count the energy transfer done directly from H to K, bypassing the battery.

275

That's still covered by the 33 seconds I thought. MGU-K can only recover 2 MJ/lap while MGU-H recovery is unlimited. H recovery can go straight to ERS-K or to the ES, or to drive itself (the turbo). Maybe it's that last part you're thinking?

276

Nope the 33 seconds is the total time the battery can send power to the MGU-K. That's it.

Mercedes have been rumoured to be producing over 50 seconds of power per lap since like 2015.

277

Do you have a source for your version of how the ERS-K works?

https://www.formula1.com/en/championship/inside-f1/understanding-f1-racing/Energy_Recovery_Systems.html

Electrical power to the drivetrain is max 4MJ/lap, 160hp for 33 seconds. The MGU-H can spin the turbo, which will increase power, but only 4MJ (from the myriad of sources) can directly go to the drivetrain each lap.

278

As I said, that says nothing about passing energy from the H to the K, which is where the additional power comes from.

Here is the diagram - see the unlimited arrow going from H to K: http://thekneeslider.com/images/2013/12/2014-f1-ers.gif

279

The first exciting graph I have looked at in my 40 years on this planet! Vettels stint on the mediums at the end shows good pace relative to others on softer compound. As my preferred team will not be finishing any of the first races I'm fickle and following red. But more importantly some competition between teams may be possible in this unimpressive hybrid era . Thank you JA F1 for this translatable news.

280

James I think if Ferrari & Mercedes are close then Bottas will be key. If Lewis has to battle two strong cars he'll drop too many points when they win, and pick up small when he wins. Good luck Ferrari! 🙂

281

I was very much looking forward to this article and l am very please with its conclusions. I hope that Ferrari will be competitive in the one lap department on all occasions as well as Red Bull. I am not much of a fan of Mercedes but even if they were to win it all comes the season end,if it is against real competition, l would not mind it much. what l would dislike is a repeat from them or the over 2 possible contenders to win it in the fashion of the past 4 seasons (2013 was a bit tedious as well even as a fan of Vettel.).
So we can also look forward to a good battle between Williams and Force India if we follow this analyze. I like the thought of it. The article does not say whom of the 2 Force India drivers seems to have the better of the other during the tests. It seems clear in Williams, at least for the time being. I would really love to see Massa having a big season and a return ticket for 2018. Going back to Force India, I believe Ocon is going to be this year surprise and that he will outdo Perez.
I hope that Renault will be able to join the above twosome later in the season or that they will at least top Hass and Toro Rosso in the category they are put in now based on testings.
Sauber will be impaired by too small a budget to develop their cars as fast as all the other team but still wish them to do well enough that they will still be on the 2018 grid.
McLaren. Too sad a situation to comment on. Let just wish them luck. lots of it. Marc

282

To paraphrase Ron Dennis - I bet Mclaren would love to be winning the winter testing World Championship right now...

😂

283
The Grape Unwashed

Ferrari is astonishing, how can they have produced something so good after such a chaotic and shambolic 2016? If James Allison can claim credit for the new car, Mercedes will think they've won the lottery - will Ferrari revert back to their usual form, come 2018?

I've got high hopes for Red Bull this season, it's got the strongest driver pairing and Newey is apparently fully committed to the project at the moment - I expect them to be challenging for the title after a shaky start.

I assume Mercedes will ace qualifying again this year, so even if Ferrari have a small advantage on race day, they will struggle to beat their rivals. With that in mind, I think Hamilton will earn his 4th title this year - but it should be a thrilling three-way fight this year. Can't wait for it to start!

284

James
Do you know how many engines each team used for both the tests? I read somewhere that McLaren used about 9 or 10?

What about Mercedes? Do they use 1 engine per test?

285

With potentially only one stop races and cars harder to follow each other and overtake qualification will be very important and Mercedes does have that extra quali mode, they will win a lot of races just based on that.

286

As an F1 fan, this promises to be an awesome season!

As a McLaren fan, this promises to be a nightmare! Ferrari at the top and Macca bottom of the pile!

287

Yeah man hurts me to see mclaren suffer like this .. and I am a ferrari fan . hope you guys are at least in a respectable position by the summer break.

288

the only missing ingredient is how accurate last season's predictions were.

289

Question James. While I know that an F1 car comes apart and goes back together on many occasions and of course all the parts wont be the same,especially the PU and gearbox after testing but do you know who in each team gets the test car chassis etc... or are they effectively retired and each driver gets everything new?

290

Great question. No I believe they build up one more complete car at the factory and then a spare monocoque is shipped also to Australia.

As for who gets the test car and who the chassis #2 that's a great question and I suspect it varies, but I'll ask my team of ex-chief F1 ops engineers

291

I'm taking Ferrari's performance with a pinch of salt. They flattered last year in testing and it led to one of the most disappointing seasons I can remember.

I'd love to see a true battle between Hamilton and Vettel. One of the big problems with F1 is how it has managed to keep its top stars away from each other due to the performance differences between teams. Other sports don't seem to suffer this issue and it has really hurt F1.

292

Too bad we couldn't flip flop the positions of Ferrari and Mclaren. It is funny, we may have a more competitive field at the pointy end, yet we will likely have a lot less passing due to the change in regulations.

293

Hi James, do you have the speed trap times for each team?

294

Varied from day to day. Will add in to the post

295

This comparison might interest you in & many others on here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uedec5NkO5o

296

Starting to get excited again! Hopefully Ferrari are genuinely quick and can take the fight to Mercedes. I don't doubt that Mercedes are reserving their warp speed engine setting for Melbourne. That got me thinking, Mercedes have had the ability to do this for the last two years anyway, surely Ferrari and Renault must have been thinking, we need some sort of quali mode that can rival this? I just hope there is still plenty of scope for overtaking with all the new aero rules. Redbull have historically been good sandbaggers too so hopefully they have something up their sleeves. Fear with Ferrari is that even if they have a good car, with Allison going to Merc I doubt it will be very long before Merc catch up. Also fear their operational capabilities, they have been very good at shooting themselves in the foot recently and will need to improve if they are to capitalise on a good car.

My prediction is that Hamilton will win but he will have a fight on his hands and the season will end with people having much more respect for Nico Rosberg...

297

"James Allison oversaw the concept of the 2017 Ferrari and its development up to July."

I am not so sure he was that involved before July in that his wife was sick as early as April according to some accounts.

298

She died as he was on his way home from Melbourne in March

He had some compassionate leave but was very much involved until he left in July

299

The Ferrari is a James Allison car but now he's gone will the team know how to develop it during the season?
Mercedes seem to know where it has issues and will no doubt resolve over time.
Red Bull always develop and improve.

Smacks of a very close and competitve top 3 as Mereceds and Red Bull inevitably catch up and over take Ferrari.

Williams car looks simple and clean to me which makes me wonder if there is little scope for improvement. I expect the Williams to start the season well but fade.

The rest of the mid-pack looks to be very competitive this year with Sauber and McLaren bringing up the rear.

Unfortunately I can see McLaren locking out the back of the grid for most, if not all, of the season.

In hindsight Zak Brown must be cringing at all that hype over the car being orange.

Should've painted it lemon.

300

In hindsight my post could appear down beat! Not the intention and I should put that right!

I think we are in for a treat in 2017 with a tight top 3 and Ferrari fending off an advancing Merc and RB.

Plus the midfield looks extremely competitive. Am expecting some choice radio broadcasts from Alonso too.

Roll on Aus!

301

I so hope this is going to be accurate and that the Ferrari is not only fast, but reliable as well...and that they don't stuff up the strategy.

Not long now till Australia, so we will soon see (my fingers are tightly crossed).

302

Whatever happens in 2017 F1 WCC, congratulations to James Allison . Wish him all the best in his new team !

303
Tornillo Amarillo

Sorry a little off subject, I was asking if PUs are louder and some people say they are 6 decibels louder, better but not being enough yet.

James, is that a good answer?

304

Yes I didn't really notice a difference sadly

305

Great article!

Thank you.

Does any one know how much of this year's car is James Allison.? ..I can't imagine their new TD had enough time to create a car to these regs since james left, we assume they've been working on this for a cpl of years now...I'm thinking it has to be the 1st clean 100% James Allison car they wanted & have been focused on since he joined,..even tho he has left