F1 testing ends with Ferrari setting the pace: New season is go in two weeks
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Mar 2018   |  8:14 pm GMT  |  319 comments

Ferrari set the fastest time on the final day of F1 testing; but do they have the fastest car? Few think so, as Mercedes has certainly not gone all out to set eye catching lap times.

Ferrari has been the pace setter the past few winters, including last year when it was clear that the car was really fast and stable. This year the car looks drivable, but so does the Red Bull.

Following the pattern of previous seasons, the Silver Arrows have spent their time pounding around on harder tyre compounds, higher fuel loads and very much focussing on their own programmes. They have done a total of 4,841 km of testing and there were some real highlights, not least a race simulation on Thursday by Valtteri Bottas which looked very fast and consistent, starting in the 1m 22s and ending in the 1m 19s.

If previous seasons are anything to go by they will pull out some surprising lap times in qualifying in Melbourne in two weeks and then everyone will know where they stand. But there’s little doubt that there was certainly a 1m16s lap in that car, had they chosen to extract it.

The tyres are softer and the resurfaced track also around 2 seconds faster, so quite a bit of the performance gain relative to last year’s 1m 19s pole are there. The halo has taken about 0.3s a lap of performance off the cars, according to most teams.

“We had some strong pace in testing at times, but then you see what others are doing and then you’re not sure anymore, but I think we’re looking OK,” said Daniel Ricciardo. “I think we still have to find a bit of time, we still have things to improve, but I think we are close enough to be in the hunt,”

Second fastest on the final day, despite another engine change, was McLaren with Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has had a miserable time of it the last few winter test seasons with McLaren, but here the team believes that it is in better shape than others are giving it credit for.

“I think there’s more to come from the car in terms of performance and also of course with reliability, but now we have two important weeks back in the factory to prepare for the first race. We will see exactly where we are in Australia,” said Alonso.

There were technical niggles also for Renault, who lost a lot of time with a gearbox problem,

Meanwhile Charles Leclerc had an off into the barriers in the morning, losing track time with repairs.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean will sleep well tonight have=ing knocked out 842 kilometres of running in a single day, one of the highest ever totals by one driver.

Another feelgood story is the way that Toro Rosso has managed to cover a massive 822 laps in the eight days of testing (despite the bad weather in Week 1). That’s a total of 3826 km for Honda to assess. The Japanese manufacturer brought a development unit this week and the signs are certainly more positive. Red Bull will be watching closely but also benchmarking Honda’s performance against the Renault engine in the Red Bull car for signs that might lead it to a decision on engines for 2019…

All photos: LAT Images

F1 Testing, Day 4

1. Raikkonen (Ferrari) – 1m17.221s (hypersoft) – 157 laps
2. Alonso (McLaren) – 1m17.784s (hypersoft) – 93 laps
3. Sainz (Renault) – 1m18.092s (hypersoft) – 45 laps
4. Ricciardo (Red Bull) – 1m18.327s (supersoft) – 92 laps
5. Grosjean (Haas) – 1m18.412s (ultrasoft) – 181 laps
6. Bottas (Mercedes) – 1m18.825s (medium) – 104 laps
7. Hartley (Toro Rosso) – 1m18.949s (hypersoft) – 156 laps
8. Ocon (Force India) – 1m18.967s (hypersoft) – 163 laps
9. Leclerc (Sauber) – 1m19.118s (hypersoft) – 75 laps
10. Sirotkin (Williams) – 1m19.189s (soft) – 105 laps
11. Hamilton (Mercedes) – 1m19.464s (supersoft) – 97 laps
12. Stroll (Williams) – 1m19.954s (soft) – 27 laps

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How about a thorough analysis of who looks fast based on all the data shared over testing including tires used, laps run, average race pace, etc? And include more than the top three teams. PLEASE!!! If I want a short fluff piece on F1, I can read ESPN.


Smart move from Red Bull with putting the Honda in the Toro Rosso. No doubt Honda will now be open to accepting outside help and Red Bull will be paying for outside engineers to work with Honda in getting that power unit up to where thy need it.


I agree this move can only be good for Honda, high maintenance teams have proven to be a nightmare on the grid… Does any1 think Honda would be keen on RedBull if their PU improves… Mclaren and RedBull are supa high maintenance…


Is HALO really most important topic about F1 experience right now?… or is the competivnes of the field more important? Emphasis of the subject of the people here shows the state of F1 it is right now.

V10 or V12 or V8 the same – who cares. Give Verstappen a decent car capable of challenging victories and people will watch F1 with dribble on their chest. All these locked advantages are beneficial only to corporates. It is good for Mercedes to have Ferrari in close proximity and it is painful to tolerate the show where they invent ways to not look like one man show.

All the HALOS in the world will not distract a self-reflective person to critically observe the competition of F1.


Ferrari will start the season with a different rear wing design.


I wonder what you good folks think of Gary Andersons lineup based on his analysis:

Adjusted performance

1 Mercedes 1m16.075s

2 Red Bull 1m16.527s

3 Haas 1m16.560s (day 3)

4 Ferrari 1m16.921s

5 Williams 1m17.089s

6 Renault 1m17.092s (day 2)

7 McLaren 1m17.584s

8 Toro Rosso 1m18.163s (day 3)

9 Force India 1m18.617s

10 Sauber 1m18.844s


Wait Ferrari fourth, RedBull 2 and Haas 3rd, r u sure about that… I know the McLaren wont light up any track but does GA really believe that it’s behind the Williams…. that would be really WOW indeed even more so than Haas in 3rd.


What source did you find this at? JA is short on analysis this preseason

Richard Mortimer


Just goes to show that testing does not 100% reflect true pace. Force India look in the right place based on testings, but, they will be higher come Australia, surely?

I can believe the half second between Merc and RB. But, nearly a second between Merc and Ferrari?

Also, are Haas really ahead of the ‘factory’ team? They’ve been going well, but, it’s not a Brawn fairy-tale is it? That would be, where Gary has them?

Williams ahead of McLaren? That can’t be right….




I seriously doubt it’s a Brawn fairytale! lol


Haas is essentially last year’s Ferrari so it’s a good car.

But I find it hard to believe Ferrari have made their own car slower than last year.


Utterly rubbish. Read Mark Hughes report and you can get the perspective. Even his calculations may be off and that’s totally understandable. Apart from teams, nobody has access to fuel loads, engine modes, setups, trial details etc. These are guesstimates at best.



To be fair I remember Gene Haas saying back at the start of the 2016 season that they weren’t expecting to make any big gains until their 3rd season. A very mature approach and it would be great to see it pay dividends!! 🙂


Haas above Ferrari?!? That would make for an exciting season!!!! 🙂


Wishful thinking!


Haas will spring a surprise, I think, along with STR. Top five in Melbourne is feasible.


I would really hope so!


@ redline

Oh yes, it’s nice to see Haas begin to benefit from it’s partnership with Ferrari, hopefully Sauber follows suit

Brian Boneshark

what is this abomination of this sport? halo? this is a manufacturers competition wtf. can i start a campaign to bring back bernie? hashtag brink back bernie and rite this nonsense


Bernie let the manufacturers have it there way. He did under the table deals with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull giving them a massive advantage. Bernie was the one who forced the teams to go to ‘crap tesco car parks’ of tracks where the racing is dull but the VIP sections are brilliant if you went there. Classic tracks got the dump.


Pretty smart move by Honda, pull the engine after each day and then inspect them minutely for any issues. Which can then be corrected instantly if it’s engine tune, fuel or lubricant related and/or back at the factory before the first race. Sound engineering practise at work.


Maybe, McLaren should’ve given Honda another year! If STR beats them it will really be embarrassing!


James, is there more to the deal between TAG Heuer and Red Bull other than sponsorship ? Is TAG group involved in anyway with development of the Renualt power plant ? Is there any relationship between Renault and Mansour Ojjeh in the Mclaren deal that may effect negatively on Red Bull and their engine situation in the future.

I think TAG and TAG Heuer are now separate entities and that Mansour has little to do with the latter ?


I’m will to bet an AI driver could hustle these cars around Catalunya faster than these human drivers. Could ditch the halo then too 😀


Twitch, did you see the autonomous FE car? It crashed.


I will take that bet,

By the time you add all the sensors and the mainframe computer to process all the data to allow an AI driver to even approach the skill level of an F1 driver, the car will be too heavy to move.



even if they get it right, would u watch that… There’s an RC track near my house, I’ve never been there once…


Who says the AI has to be onboard? NISMO is already driving their GT3 car remotely, so you could do the same with an F1 car. The main computing hardware could be sat in the garage, control the car by remote control.


Ever driven a remote controlled car. What happens when you lose the signal?

Singapore will be fun, with it’s comms issues, cars stacking all over the place, will be like Seb driving them all.



@ BK Flamer

Our condolences, R.I.P to dad and blessings to the family and friends


Nice picture. Is there a driver in there?


Testing, sandbagging, hiding, no real info regarding set-up etc etc. So hard to conclude anything beside the obvious being Merc, Fer and RBR are at the front. Nothing new there. Fer being fast, Merc having great race pace and RBR trying to nibble a few tenths of their time mostly by aero changes. New drivers making mistakes, old drivers doing their job. Lots of stories about this and that. So not realy exciting was it ? Surprises, well a few, McL’s reliability comes to mind and Honda’s ofc. What a joke in the making there, (a very costly one though). Further Force India, what has happened there, to much focus on selling the outfit ? Oh well, let’s wait and see in 2 weeks time. ‘All’ will be revealed then, won’t it ?


Did you guys see the Sky Sports F1 2018 trailer? The tag line is “Feel it all”. Obviously. It’s not like we’ll be able to “See it all” in 2018.

#HaloSucks #ObstructedViewF1

Meanwhile, who is this saint and were is he getting all this onboard footage from?

Here is all pole laps on-board 2004. He has full races onboard too. I’m watching German Grand Prix right now. Fantastic stuff. No commentary, just purest experience you can get.



Thank you Sebee.

That is the greatest link anybody has ever sent to me.

It brings back such fond memories.


You need to get the super plus VVIP sky package where the Halo will be airbrushed out by a team of artists in real time. Sound engineers will make the cars sound like any vintage F1 car you like at extra cost.

🙂 🙂


Jeez. You just cannot stop can you? You have no filter before you type, the whole website is now full of your comments about V10s and the Halo. Doesn’t matter what the subject is, you bring either or both into it, then the usual suspects join in, and the clap trap starts.

Sebee, you are ruining this forum for me, and others. James was going to look at fixing it, but it seems that’s impossible. The quality of debate has suffered almost beyond hope, and this along with Joe Saward was the last bastion of good debate on F1. Joe shuts down this sort of thing in a pretty brutal way sometimes, but the standard is way higher due to that.

Can you at least ask yourself four questions before typing? 1. Is the subject related to engines? If not then don’t type about V10s. 2. Is the subject related to the halo or aesthetics? If not then don’t mention it. 3. Is your comment replying to or promoting relevant debate? 4. Are you going to type utter drivel to entice the other three or four who dominate the threads into replying with more drivel, thereby making the thread worthless to filter through to make sense of it.

I’ve tried ignoring the “four spoilers” and skipping past them, but the thread is ruined.

The vast majority of posters make great debates possible on here, and certainly make me reconsider my own thoughts. Some who I disagree with are still very good at debate, and that’s what I like.

So Sebee, stop please. You don’t need to have 17 posts on the same thread of say 90 posts too.

Gaz Boy – Go and marry Fernando, gaze adoringly at his beard for as long as you want, just stop filling his forum with your utterings of love and desire for him and about his bloody beard. It really is the joke that’s gone on too long, but you’re unaware of it.

And anyone who types “fanboy” should immediately be banned. Are you 12 years old those who use this term?

Last words for Sebee – I love the scream of V10s, I hate the hybrids, the grid penalties, and the focus on efficiency. I hate the halo with a passion, and want the screen developed as it don’t think it’s acceptable to have drivers hit in the face with flying objects and killed.

Help us James Allen, you’re our only hope….

Richard Mortimer


To be honest, those guys you mention who are making so many posts: if they have so much time to do that, there is no hope.

They should go and get jobs in motor-racing to get a real ‘hands-on’ feel for the subject. That does not mean getting work with the creme de la creme in F1, but grubbing about at a wet Silverstone, etc.

Or, maybe, working in karting, where there is no money. Yes, OK, there is money in karting (rich dads paying for their son’s racing, or, importers selling equipment) but not much!

Either path would take all their time and prevent an ‘arm-chair’ view, which is skewed at best!

Also, totally agree on the screen. I don’t think the Indycar screen they are currently testing would be as ‘safe’ as the halo. (For example: the halo might have saved Justin Wilson, but, maybe that screen would not). I think what is needed is a combination: so ‘thinner’ halo, with 2 smaller struts at the side (on which the mirrors are mounted) rather than central strut and a polycarbonate screen (or whatever). That would mean a better view of the driver and even safer. Still ‘open’ cockpit as there is a hole over the drivers head, just like with the halo.


You need to go and post in a forum. This is a place for comments.


@PaulD Thanks for speaking for many of us… I actually stopped reading the forum for a while because this repetitive hoggers of posts. Now that the season is back, I suddenly realized why I left reading commenting.

We are all lovers and debaters of the F1 sport – but some can just spoil it with their insisting that their opinions are worth shouting about.

Guybrush Threepwood

Or you could, you know, scroll past his comments…

I’m sure you would think it equally absurd if someone had a rant about a poster ruining a forum because they discuss their support for the Halo, or any other opinion.


Give this man 5-stars immediately!


You are my hero! The lot of them have turned me off the website in recent times it makes me wonder how i was going to deal with them going into the 2018 season!


It’s my fault you feel unsatisfied? Not super efficient fuel saving PUs, which burn oil and probably spew huge amounts of environmental violating emissions through that oil burning to gain a slight advantage while “saving fuel”?

It’s my little comments, not Engine modes and engineers writing them and instructing drivers over the radio on when to engage them and follow the software shifting instructions as software deployed the ERS and recovery automatically belittling WDCs as their control inputs are overwritten by said software?

It’s my little reminiscing about “Peak F1” that’s got you steaming, and not the ugly appendage known as Halo?

Little ol’ me. The power I yield! Amazing.


Yep, the power you wield has wrecked the debate on the site. You have no capacity for self awareness. Your post is completely irrelevant to this subject or the fact you’ve been called out as the main instigator for spoiling things – see what happened to MCN comments sections – pretty much closed down by 4 absolute tools. That’s 4 people who can spoil it for the website owner, and all the effort that goes into providing a free service that’s otherwise great.

Sorry James, I’m out for now. I’ll take a look back in a couple of months to see if things have improved.


Have you considered reading the articles but not looking at the comments? Shame to let some great insights go begging..


I enjoy reading his comments, but if i didnt i would just scroll past when i read his name.



Enough’s enough!


I can’t believe your giving into these clowns. You’re literally going to let a vocal minority dictate what can and can’t be talked about, smfh.

You realize if you go down this road, every discussion is going to degrade into “your off topic, James, please moderate this.” The more you hold the hands of these cry babies, the more they will demand from you, mark my words.


I can’t reply to PaulD for some reason, so I’m replying to myself.

Paul, I think you’re confused about what a minority and majority are. The people who do not like Sebee’s comments and want him moderated do not make up more than 50% of this sites viewers/participants, therefore, they/you are in the minority. Just because your comment got 31 likes, that doesn’t mean you have a majority. By contrast, many of Sebee’s “rants” that people “hate” get hundreds of likes, figure that one out lol.


It’s not a minority, and I believe that I and the others have the right to comment too.

All that’s asked is that the subject is stuck to within reason, and that the Beavis and Butthead level comments stay in the playground. Who wants to read an inane back and forwards thread between 4 posters, and try and find the sensible and thought provoking comments in between?


It would be fan to watch Toro Rosso’s Honda beat Alonso’s Renault. I look forward to the coming season.


There is a direct correlation between a team’s budget and its relative standing post testing and later in championship.

Merc, Ferrari, and RB have biggest budget so they are in front. In spite of all their effort McL, Williams etc just don’t have that financial might which explains why things keep slipping through the cracks. It’s not a level playing field. I just wish fans understood this before criticizing specific teams for doing a bad job in testing. There is a reason why Merc is bulletproof. They have many more resources working and fixing the car.


Explain HAAS then?


F1, Formula one; is a Business first.a close circle business.then maybe after that a sport somewhere.The Jean Todt,Ross Brawn;Bernie Eclestone;Max verstapen;Nico rosberg;Nico hulkenberg are all cousins and family.It used to be called the circus.It is a show for sure,and a good one;a very good one when Bernie was running it.So ,please keep in mind that it is Show.Business.Enjoy the show for 2018:it will be “very close”.???? whatever that means showise.


Anyone got any idea why Ferrari engines smoke like an old diesel truck on start up


Autosport F1 explained this quite well.


For this season it was mandated that the oil from the crank housing must not be fed back into the cylinders for the FIA feared this was a loop hole to burning oil for performance.

Ferrari has taken the strategy to drain that oil into a sink located in the rear crash structure, where it, being hot from the engine, smokes. The smoke is vented out through two openings above and under the back light.


It’s a visual aid for all that hybrid efficiency and fuel savings.


🙂 🙂 🙂 . Viva! efficiency and elegance of hybrid engines. I wish they can be quieter too. Noise is a resistance derivative.


Maybe they are putting a squirt of ‘Redex’ down each plug hole before starting!


is not the engine… is Marchionne fuming as he knows RB and Merc are faster


…an issue with their new method of getting rid of the oil in the system that used to be piped back into the engine for oilburn?

They are smoking slightly when running as well, not like on startup where it looks like all the garage staff are exhaling these vaping cigarettes at the same time…

Wonder if it’ll affect their power or their consumption/oil levels over a full race distance?


Apparently it is an ‘oil breather’ housed in a letterbox shaped vent underneath the rain light.


I just hope that Jean Todt gets enveloped by smoke on the grid in Australia when they fire it up!


@Clarks4WheelDrift. No one seems to know. Even the FIA don’t understand what’s going on with ferrari.


Hundreds of millions of $ spent to develop the most efficient IC engines in history… and then make them spray oil out of the back :-/


@ Redline…What you are seeing is a throwback to the James Bond smoke emitting Aston Martin [ ? ] Ferrari are doing the same thing as the Red Devils too. Should any one get onto the back of the Ferrari then a squirt of oil will do wonders!!! I do agree though that they’ve spent a lot on a very easy ploy!!!


I agree it’s nuts!


Aw, Cmon! Where is the outcry?

Ferrari has dominated the preseason championships again. What is it, 2, 3 years in a row? It’s getting boring now. When are they going to let Mercedes or Redbull win the WTC?

Just messing about.

FP1 can’t come soon enough.


Frustrating watching Mcclaren struggle with the same Renault engine the works team and Red bull find quite reliable. Makes you wonder how much of their pain with the Honda unit was self inflicted with the overall design of the car, especially after watching the TorroRosso this test. I vaguely remember the rumours last year of how the size zero design was comprising the performance of the engine.

I always had the belief that Mcclaren was a super professional outfit where every minute detail was planned in a professional structured way, well thats the perception from the outside. Watching Grand Prix driver on amazon changed that view. How a team with so much financial and personnel resources struggled to get even just one car to its own launch and last years test was beyond me, and this was due to a floor issue in their own department nothing to do with Honda. If this same management team haven’t learnt the lessons of last year and fail to make this Renault engine work as other teams do then surely heads must roll.


RedBull and Renault had a few issues as well. Although McLaren had the specs from Renault they have zero experience with how close you can go to the specs. Red Bull and Renault both know how close to the specs they can push things. McLaren have learnt a lot and will learn more as the season continues.


Sound logic, except they didn’t learn with Honda whilst Toro Rosso picked it up straight away.


@ Gary,

And this is Honda’s fourth season, three of which they failed miserably to provide either a fast or reliable PU! Sometimes the facts are inconvenient.


Watched that program and thought exactly the same thing, maybe its just that standards have dropped since Ron and Martin left? For what was always described as a highly corporate outfit, the impression given was of scruffy, unprofessional and unorganised lot, I was quite surprised.


No, the decline started when Lewis Hamilton left….



Suprised maybe, but 3 years of living on what can go wrong must have had an effect. Not making an excuse for them, but with the benefit of hindsight it is to be expected. Red Bull have had that power unit for years, and they know it inside out. Mclaren will learn from it as the season goes on, but I still believe they will be better served as a team with Renault this year than Honda.


How do you explain Toro Rosso getting good use out of the Honda engine straight away? Is it that they learn faster than McLaren or maybe they actually listen to their engine supplier?


Unlike McLaren who have ambition to win races by pushing aero design to the limits, Torro Rosso are Redbull’s testing “also ran” team and supply drivers.


The documentary was shocking wasn’t it, for a business to have hundreds of employees, a year to plan and a eye watering £400+ million budget, the very least you can expect is to have is two cars ready for the Barcelona test. For me there is a serious leadership issue, and that begins with Eric Boullier, not sure if its just his act for the camera but his shrug the shoulders, ce la vie demeanour is sending out all the wrong signals to frustrated McClaren fans like me, and it’s beginning to grate. He must wake up every morning and wonder how he got to head up a multimillion pound race team and how many pay cheques he has left before he gets rumbled. Ron wasn’t perfect, and he may have taken the team in the wrong direction once or twice, but at least there was direction, and with it drive and determination, and i’d have him back in a heartbeat.


Can’t help but think by the time of the Spanish gp Mercedes will get pole with a high 1m 15 lap.


At least we will find out who was sandbagging in Spain!


Though Bottas kept driving ‘slow laps’ and many of them, his lap times were though very impressive! Reason being you should extrapolate the potential fastest lap for him based on his tire selection versus the others setting fastst laps here yesterday Friday. The others sat their fastest laps on the hypersoft tire, while Bottas clocked his 1.18,825-lap using just the slow medium tire.

Using Pirelli’s conversion parameters that gives Bottas a potential laptime yesterday at around 1.16,325 if he had used the hypersoft!
So way faster than any of the others teams during this winter test.

Hope I am wrong, but by Q3 in Melbourne we may all realize that we face another season totally dominated by the Mercedes machinery…


If Mercedes and Ferrari want to keep the MGU-H they will have to ‘make sure’ that There is some degree of competition between the top teams. Unless of course Mercedes plan to leave F1 and then you could expect a whitewash!


No it will be hotter then do not faster even if cars improve


Read it a couple of times and did not understand:-) But English is not my native:-)


I know it will be hotter. But Merc will turn their engine up and take fuel out which they haven’t done yet. Also between now and then the new developments will come fast. Just wish they would revert back to thevold layout.


Also, the Ultrasofts and Hypersofts wont be coming to Spain, so a time like that wont be happening…


well said.and furthermore hypersofts are to be used on very few tracks while mediums;mercedes preferred tyres are used in EVERY grand prix of the season.EVERY GRAND PRIX .Hypersoft Mc laren preferred tyre?Canada,Monaco and maybe another one.go figure people choices.


Mark, fastest lap in testing last year was a 1m18.6 for Kimi, but Lewis’ pole for last years race was a 1m19.1. Depends what tyres Pirelli take, they don’t normally allow the softest compounds for the race.


I really hope Toto has been working on his acting skills. I’m personally hoping for something more than just slamming his fist on the desk when Mercedes let Ferrari win in Melbourne. Maybe some convincing chin-dropping or some “accidentally caught on TV” back room shouting and slamming of doors?


Merc won’t let Ferrari win anything! They will have to earn it!
Pecking order…..


Treadhead, what would it take for you to believe that if Ferrari do win in Melbourne, that it was genuine?


Expect Butt heading Nikki this time. Lol


please don’t set seebee off on a conspiracy theory, seasons not even started yet


After a few years now, the conspiracy should be they’re actually struggling and Toto is genuinely double punching the desk as Lauda sniggers.

…either that or if Lewis ever has a cer failure the conspiracy will be they want Bottas to win the title 😉


From what I’ve read, that “incredible” race sim by Bottas was a two pit stop run but he’d have been disqualified if he had completed the race.

Why? Because he ran mediums throughout. I’ve also heard that Mercedes have been struggling with rear tyre blistering on softer compounds. Is there any truth to this?

A fact picked up from both the Italian media and Mark Hughes..


Bottas can still run 59 laps of the 60 laps with medium tyres.then with more than 1 second per lap faster as it is stated,change to supersoft on the last lap and win the race with 30 seconds plus to spare.Legally without disqualification.

If Lewis Hamilton lets him.


Finish pun was not intended


nice finish


Everyone had blistering to some extent

Paceisnt going to decrease with a stint n a softer compound is it?


Maybe yes, pace will decrease if the tyres are overheating.


Don’t you have to factor in the delta between tire types as well as how quickly one compound starts degrade over the other? We have seen many examples where a switch to a softer tire has not paid off because it actually resulted in having to lose time because of loss of grip.


too early to say but if you factor that then Merc did a 1 18 825 with Bottas on Medium while Vettel was fastest on hypersoft 1 17 192 difference 1.6 seconds… but Pirelli says that delta between Hypersofts and Medium is roughly 2.3 sec so Merc is 0.7 seconds per lap faster than Ferrari…


That delta varies from team to team according to Mark Hughes. It’s related to getting tyres up to working temperature. Softer rubbers are easy to work up to temperature and car is able to run near its full potential. Harder rubber is difficult to work with and teams lower down the grid found it hard to get heat in them eg. Williams and hence could not drive them to near their true potential. That is where the larger delta is coming from. The delta is more in lower end teams and more like 1.5 to 2.0 in top 5.


If they blister quickly, yes.


It seems it’s very much as you were at the top. Red Bull look close, but what happens when we get to Q3? It looks like another curious case of Mclaren, how much trouble are they in? How much potential do they have? How serious or otherwise are their issues?
It looks like we’re in for a real slug fest in the midfield. Renault look promising, as does HAAS. Force TBA and Williams have questions to answer, but I suspect Williams are in more trouble. At the end of the day, I hope it turns out to be an exciting season.


OK James, your choice of photos, especially the front page one for this piece convinced me, there is no way to ever get used to this hideous halo.

It’s like saying you’ll get used to seeing a 3 legged puppy. Not possible.


That side shot of the Ferrari is one of the ugliest F1 cars I’ve ever seen, period.


Twitch, the engine cover is a bit awkward looking, reminds me of a tea pot.



If teams have to buy HALO from one of the 3 approved manufacturers, and HALO being made of titanium, any idea why some of manufacturers (Mercedes and Ferrari for example) would add further weight on it (regardless how little), by wrapping it in carbon fiber?


Aero gains

Very little extra weight


The halo is an abomination. No two ways about it. Hate hate hate.


No worries Sebee. The Halo must and WILL go. Not immediately perhaps, and maybe not before Todt is ousted, but surely the unjustifiable and plain anti-beautiful cannot stay long.


So they will treat it the way the way treated the grid girls?

Do you really believe that?


Grid Girls was a Liberty issue. Halo is strictly FIA. I’m expecting a shake up and changes at the FIA in the coming years. If some things are thrown out, Halo will be one.

Any case it can’t survive long I’m convinced of that.


Completely disagree, you wont notice its there well before the end of the season. F1 has evolved greatly throughout the years with “purists” complaining they haven’t like this or that or the other down the years (ergo full face helmets can’t see the driver what a shame, wings,droopy noses,et al!!) It’s in, there to stay until something better possibly comes along but I believe that given all the brains, blue sky thinkers and design skills in F1 no better idea has evolved since the first mention of the halo and as such there may not be anything “better”, certainly in the near future, that meets FIA requirements.


To my eyes the halo is much different to everything on your list, unlike anything else on you r list its removes the viewers vision of the driver for much of a lap. I suspect that the coverage camera work and its direction will change once they realise how bad it is.


“it removes the viewers vision of the driver for much of a lap”

Come off it, I must be watching a different F1 as all as I have been able to see for years is the top of a drivers head. I tend to overall watch the cars and the ensuing battles and have never been too excited at just being able to see a drivers head. Maybe some of you guys just watch their heads, each to their own hey.


Oh, and only other option is windshield, which is equally bad, as it is a light reflective surface. Meaning we won’t see drivers as well due to light bend until thr angle is just right. And there is no way windshield can equal the halo in strength. This ugliness is here to stay.


@ Sebee…I wouldn’t be so sure. Ever heard of non reflective glass? I’d be pretty sure that there would be some treatment of a similar nature for these hi tech compounds. I would suggest that the issue is not yet over.


I won’t notice it how?

Because it’s not in the way of me seeing drivers?

Because it will become invisible?

It’s a mole on a face. Huge one. Try not to see it.


Stop you Seeing the drivers, you must benefit from x-ray vision cause I can only see the tops of their helmets.


Not your best example Sebee. I could get used to and love a three-legged puppy. A three-headed puppy could be different though. Or this no-headed frog that was in the news recently:


Ricciardo Aficionado

Oh come on KRB, Twitter is not even news.



I have a friend that has a 3 legged dog, it lost a leg when it was hit by a car as a puppy. You definitely don’t notice it when it’s running in the park – a bit like the halo perhaps 😉


You can love a 3 legged puppy, yes – but you’ll never be able to ignore the fact it has 3 legs. That fact won’t disappear one day.


I’ll take that frog and love it for its entire life if it makes halo do what the frog’s head did.

Ricciardo Aficionado

Kiss the frog Sebee…



I hate the halo too … I find myself always thinking these cars would look really, really good IF ONLY the halo wasn’t there, but it is what it is. It isn’t going away.

Not sure if you watch Indy, but gotta make the shout out to Robert Wickens, snagging pole position on his debut!! Race in St. Pete’s goes today at 12:30 EDT. Also just saw that Indy has gone to timing down to the ten-thousandths! Maybe it’s been that way for awhile for the official documents, not sure.


Some great races from Wickens:

Wickens vs Ricciardo 2011 WS Renault 3.5


Great battle. Wickens won the title that year, ahead of Ricciardo and teammate JEV.

I was looking for Wickens’ AMAZING win in Spa in 2010 GP3, where he ran out the clock … video of it used to be on the web, but now I can’t find it! If anyone can find it, please post the link here. All I could find was the chaos in the rain that led to a red flag earlier on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-8FealsfXw

A shame that he only got a couple of run outs with Marussia in F1. Unlike Stroll, Wickens had (has) the real chops to compete in the top tier.


…but then again, that is a lot of explaining KRB. And guilty do tend to over explain themselves.


I don’t know KRB. The way Rossi tells it seems to make a lot of sense. Also, illustrates he evaluated the move quite highly as per rules. After all, Rossi is not new around IndyCar, Wickens is.


Said Rossi: “Normally they don’t allow push-to-pass on restarts, you have to do a timed [racing] lap before you get it, but because of the late call to go green, that lap they allowed it and I got the call when I was in the middle of Turn 13/14.

“So I got a big jump on Rob and he got to the push-to-pass pretty late, so the run was perfect for me. Heading down into Turn 1, I knew there wasn’t going to be many other opportunities for me because he’d had a very good car all day and they did a great job.

“So I made the pop [out of the slipstream], he defended the position which he has the right to do but in doing so, by moving in reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner. It’s difficult with theses cars with how much we’re sliding around even on the racing line, so on the marbles it’s hairy.

“Super-unfortunate to see that happen – I feel bad because I think I could have won and he could have been second. Nonetheless it was a great job by the team all weekend. I think we showed we had a car that could qualify up front yesterday and we redeemed ourselves a little bit today…”

Asked if he felt Race Control’s “no call” on the clash between himself and Wickens was a vindication of his perspective on the shunt, Rossi replied: “Yeah, they made it very clear in the drivers meeting that the rule on blocking was that you can’t move in reaction.

“If he’d defended the inside initially out of 14 or even halfway down the straight, and I’d still continued to go to the inside, then yeah, that’s my decision to put my car in danger.

“But there’s no reason why I can’t pop and stay next to him. I don’t have to have all four wheels on the part of the track where nobody goes on.”

On the subject of braking, Rossi said he was in control until the door started closing on him. Asked if his goose was cooked as soon as he hit the brake pedal, Rossi replied: “My goose was totally rare until he continued to move in the braking zone and put me more into the marbles. I had no problem pulling it up, I wasn’t locked up or anything.”


Well, that was an exciting finish.

Halo is a terrible thing for open cockpit motorsport. If you look at motorsport in general, there are many examples of excitement and interesting developmental ideas and series, which faded ir folded. Maybe I’m just wrong to believe that F1 as a product could be better today. Maybe the golden era is behind us and this is just ancient F1 clinging on for relevance to ever shrinking audience? Maybe this is all there will be. Halo, engine modes, software driving under some human supervision?


As a follow-up, Wickens was dealt a cruel motorsports blow today. He bossed pretty much the entire race, then on the last restart, Rossi tried an over-optimistic pass, and ended up sliding into Wickens and putting him out of the race. That restart came about because Max Chilton couldn’t keep it out of the wall after the prior restart. Gotta love how drivers with lower ability, always seem to end up screwing it up for those with high ability.

Wickens deserved to win today, but instead gets only middling points. Rossi still ended up 3rd, and the stewards took no action (what?!), so others will similarly try their luck with reckless moves, in future races.


Probably a very tight top field, tighter middle field and distant tail end. Mercedes has the first few races in it’s bag whilst Ferrari sort out the new concept and maximize performance. Renault (and RBR-Renault) do need a major engine/powertrain upgrade – so count the two out of top 4 grid slots on car merit out. Mclaren-Renault may find itself a close 5th come Australia and upto the European leg, but with in season development and Alonso factor should close in to be there-abouts, closer to RBR and a bit ahead of Renault. That’s the top 5. Haas/Force India will be in an intense battle for 6th-7th, where the Perez-Ocon pairing may drive it forward to finish 6th or even close to 5th fastest (with merc engine) by mid-season. STR-Honda in a lonely 8th. Williams, I am afraid made a mis-calculated move to introduce a complex car with 2 inexperienced drivers and thus will struggle to drive forward from 9th. Sauber-Alfa Romeo, may spring a surprise later once Ferrari inputs show their Result.

Come Barcelona in may the order might be:

Mercedes clear #1. Ferrari a distant #2. RBR a close #3, and maybe #2 if Kimi doesn’t fire. Renault at #4 but with McLaren kicking on the doors. McLaren may not be placed # 5 (lower if the reliability issue hurt them), but definately Number 5 on pure performance. Haas #6, FI #7, STR-Honda #8, Williams #9 and Sauber #10.

BUT Come Spa-Monza (post Summer break) – Merc #1 but with RBR-Renault closing in at #2 on performance. Ferrari #3, Mclaren #4 and Renault #5. Force India #6, Haas #7 and STR-Honda #8. I will bet Sauber #9 and Williams at #10.

Come Abu Dhabi – Merc wraps up Constructors and Lewis wraps up title #5. McLaren maybe heading for #3 on performance if Renault power unit is reliable. If not then RBR #2 and Ferrari #3. But 2-4 will be the tightest battle, betting on Alonso factor to drive McLaren to #3. Renault will be a comfortable #5 and if Hulk-Sainz come good as promised, they may close on #4 with some luck (first corner incidents, political games with being works team). #6 is 100% Force India – can bet my savings here. #7 Haas or STR-Honda who knows. #8 the loser between Haas and STR-Honda. Sauber #9 if not on points, definitely on performance. Williams sorry to say #10 on performance.

Drivers – well these days its impossible to out-drive the car with 50% or more reliant on brute engine/power train performance – so Lewis can claim his title number 5. 2nd place will be Max and 3rd either Alonso or Ricc.

I feel this year will be the final year of Merc domination. Next year will be interesting with Renault finding performance gains, Mclaren coming to terms with Renault and also weeding out operations gremlins and RBR-Renault benefitting from a more powerful Renault. I feel if Ferrari do not make good changes (i.e. be less Italian in design/aero/engine dept) – 2019 will see them start as the 5th best team or 5th favorite behind a close top 4. 2019 is what I am waiting for as 2018 has Merc-Lewis written all over it given the obvious handicaps – Ferrari’s new design and weakness in Kimi’s ability to be a close/strong #2 and Renault’s (thus RBR) being 10% underpowered and Mclaren recovering from a 4 year slumber and slog.

Racing will be fast and furious this year but each car-driver in a race against the machine rather than racing the other car-driver.


Not sure what “be less Italian” means, in terms of Ferrari’s design department. They obviously made a great chassis last year, as most of the other teams have followed their chassis direction rather than Mercedes. Ironically, Ferrari has moved away from their philosophy of last year, going to the long wheelbase, which is perhaps causing them some grief at the outset.

Should McLaren be less British, or less “Cosmopolitan”, as they claim to have gone in recent years? McLaren are in far more trouble than Ferrari right now.

You really believe Alonso will finish 3rd or 4th this year? Anything’s possible, but I don’t see it happening, unless McLaren’s been hiding something.

Some decent preseason analysis:


At the bottom he’s put some teammate predictions. I can’t see it, but he has Vandoorne with a 46% chance of beating Alonso this season. His driver model has habitually overrated Alonso, and appears to be dragging Vandoorne’s rating higher as well.


@KRB – thanks for posting the link – the analysis looks quite well done, and provides some interesting insights.


@Anand – “less Italian in design/aero/engine dept”… can I presume that you’re cozy with the Maranello HR department, and know the breakdown of employee nationalities? Please do tell….

And in your esteemed opinion, what nationalities should Ferrari be targeting, to replace those hapless Italians?


Curious that you put max as the second in the driver’s championship and more surprisingly alonso as a possible third. Its as if Vettel doesn’t exist and i don’t see anything right now that shows that he wont be in a close fight with Hamilton similar to the first half of 2017. Kimi isn’t gonna bring it. Bottas will bring it. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.


Good catch! Vettel 3rd with Alo/Ricc 4th-5th.


Great analysis, Anand. Not much I can argue with there.


Thank you!


With all due respect, it didn’t feel like an analysis, but rather a series of unfortunate predictions.


LOL thanks


Lets call is the way it is James.

McLaren look like amatures. Brown is a complete failure -to call him incompetent would be a compliment. Put Claire Williams in there as well. These two have destroyed the teams they represent.

The halo is a farce. Hopefully someone with racing balls will take a chainsaw to this piece of crap. I suppose its a necessity with wheels flying off the McLaren…..

whats next – no bit babes….?


I disagree with the comment re. Claire Williams. I think their technical department was stuck in the past, and they couldn’t offer up the silly money salaries like Ferrari, merc and red bull etc.

The problem was retaining average drivers like Massa and bottas.

As for McLaren, yep they are a shower. Ridiculously over engineering everything.

A case of all the gear but no idea


The problem was retaining average drivers like Massa and bottas.

I beg to differ.

Williams greatest problem has been the tech department. They have since 2014 built cars that were focused towards being slippery in the air, making them fast in a straight line and use less fuel, but these cars lacked downforce compared to the competition at Mercedes and Force India. As a result, Williams cars have suffered in medium to slow corners and have had their fair share of problems with balance. Having the strongest and most fuel efficient engine from them all, this looks like a completely wrong focus from the beginning.

I do think that Paddy Lowe will change that with 2018, but this will be too late, as the competition has evolved their engines and closed a huge part of the gap to the Mercedes engine since 2014 and a change in aerodynamic philosophy needs some time to get right.

On the driver side, Massa has been the best driver choice for Williams for quite some time now. We can see that: Massa outperformed Bottas and Bottas is outperformed by Hamilton as well. Massa outperformed Stroll too. Stroll and Sirotkin were also outperformed by Kubica it is said. Clearly Massa has the upper hand here and Stroll and Sirotkin were pretty much signed for money reasons. Had it been for the drivers, Williams would have been better off with Massa and Wehrlein. But since Williams will lose Martini by the end of the year, they didn’t have any other choice but to sign Sirotkin and Stroll, and that will make things even harder for them, because now they don’t only need to improve the car with not a lot of money in hand and a change in aerodynamic philosophy, they don’t have the drivers to compensate anymore. I see them struggling to beat Haas, Toro Rosso, Force India and Sauber. Since Toro Rosso has better drivers to compensate a worse engine, Haas has better drivers and an engine to go with it, Force India has the same engine, better drivers and a tad less financial woes. Sauber has a promising but inexperienced driver and an experienced but notoriously slow driver with Ericsson). But as I said I don’t think they had a choice. Without the money that their drivers bring, they would lose even more than that 0.3 seconds that these drivers are slower than the competition. If you have the choice to lose 1 second caused by a lack of development funds and gain 0.3 from better drivers, or keep the development up and just lose 0.3 seconds from slower drivers that bring the funds, it is better to go with the cash and hope to attract some sponsors, so you can afford a better driver next season. It’s also safer for survival reasons.


When did Massa outperform Bottas?

2014: BOT 186 (4th) – MAS 134 (7th)

2015: BOT 136 (5th) – MAS 121 (6th)

2016: BOT 85 (8th) – MAS 53 (11th)

After the 2016 season, their respective quali head-to-head was:

BOT 41 – 18 MAS

That’s a pummelling.

In their time together, Bottas got 9 podiums, while Massa snagged 5.



Lets call is the way it is James.

McLaren look like amatures. Brown is a complete failure

I miss Ron as much as the next guy but, taking a good dosage of the reality medication leads one to the very unfortunate possibility that Brown is faced with the task of cleaning up the rather sizable mess that Mr Denis left…


I think you have to give a situation some time it’s only a year since the palace coup and that was a messy year with Honda etc

Clearly engineering have some questions to answer but the worth of ZB management culture on McLaren will take a bit longer to judge.

If Red Bull takes Honda in 2019 and starts winning ( with the £60m that comes with it) then McLaren’s decision won’t look so good !


If you look back – the last of the last operationally efficient McLaren was 2007 and 2008. Yes they were a winning machine in 2010-12 too. But what set them back was Mercedes deciding to spin off and set-up this operationally efficient machine. It just churns out winning machine after winning machine with seeming ease. Lewis is at the head and seems to extract every last second from the car.

If I recall – Mercedes wanted a larger stake in McLaren in late-2000s and Ron refused. Justified as that would mean the end of McLaren-Mercedes and the beginning of Mercedes-McLaren. Salute the bravery and ambitious decision making – but maybe that marked the beginning of this drought.

Back in 2000s a season where McLaren finished second or a close second/third was an epic failure. Alas, today 4th is the highest they can aim for. I used to follow the team passionately, Ron at the pitwall was a comforting sight. He is a true racer, maybe a poor businessman/corporate head but a true racer – only cared about winning, at all costs.

I fear if Zak/Eric harvest same culture of mediocrity (botched pit stops, inefficient cooling, $2 pieces falling off etc. etc.) McLaren is in perennial decline.

2018 is a 4th at best. 2019, if “we” do not compete for top 3 consistently – its the final chapter in the winning culture at McLaren.


I think McLaren’s biggest problem was the moment that Newey left to Red Bull. From there things spiraled downwards until they finally got Prodromou. It would have been great with the Mercedes Engine in the back, but unfortunately Honda came with a weak engine and Prodromou is a man who goes the Newey way of trading downforce for top speed. Bad timing! Bad combination! Now with the weak Honda in the back, McLaren was crippled: It was the same mistake that Williams did, just the other way round: Williams had the strongest engine with the best fuel economy from 2014, but built a car that was slippery through the air and fast on the straights, but didn’t produce a lot of down force, i.e. not taking full advantage of the head start their engine provided. That mistake was still overshadowed in 2014, as the Merc engine was so much better than the rest, so that mistake didn’t show as much and they looked so good, that they did not bother to adapt and 2 years later it was all down the drain.

McLaren had the weakest engine, and a quite thirsty one as well from 2015, but from the beginning they were all set on downforce at the expense of straight line speed. They were exaggerating their engines problems instead of compensating for it. Trading top speed for downforce you can do if you know you’ll be up front so you can pull away in the first corners and keep your distance, just like Red Bull did when they got their titles with Vettel, but if you’re in the field and stuck behind someone else in the corners, you’re not gaining an advantage, you’re just prey on the straights. This is what happened to McLaren, even when they managed to make it to Q3. They could only hope for the man in front to pull away far enough so they would not be held up in the corners and hold their position.

I’m curious to see how Toro Rosso will do with the Honda engine. I have the slight feeling that they might annoy the McLaren’s once in a while.


To be fair to the English Old Glory teams, with the possible exception of Force TBA, the standings are a reflection of budgets rather than capabilities. Budget buys capabilities buys titles. With the current economic formula, the feedback loop is very strong, essentially keeping top performers at the top and keeping poor performers at the back. I don’t think McLaren nor Williams have the $$$ to be champions anymore, and the monetary feedback loop keeps it that way. It’s no wonder that Ferrari can consistently be 2nd or 3rd best, the feedback loop is biased in their direction.


Ferrari has the budget so does RB and Renault. Honda has money. I do not see any recent titles from these teams – what I do see is a commitment to racing and a dedication to the sport of F1.

What I do see is an orange car with no sponsorship – no Honda badge and soon a white car with no Martini colours. I also see two team principles lying through their teeth to us and blaming their short comings on everyone else including your theory of budgets. Go ahead give them $100M and see what they do with it ?

Sponsors are not as stupid, the money is there , they just do not want to be associated with a losing mentality.

It would be a disaster if we lose Williams and Mclaren from F1. And it would not be from a lack of cash, it would be from a lack of leadership.


McLaren must be ruing the reputed $100m worth of Honda support…


One of McLaren’s biggest (continuing) strategic mistakes was to go into designing/manufacturing/marketing/selling its own line of sports + luxury cars; but failing to develop its capabilities as an independent and self-sufficient engine (or power unit) manufacturer as well.

If they had done so, then it could have directly benefited the F1 business. The same way its experience/expertise in F1 and motorsports enabled the McLaren Technology Group’s expansion into road cars, applied technologies and entertainment.

But priorities were not (never) set right.

Anyone remembers “Tooned”???


Several years ago I thought tbat a 1.6 v6 hybrid motor might have made the basis for future McLaren road cars but I assume it would have required too much investment for the cash strapped brits.


This is pretty devastating news. Let’s hope things turn out differently come Australia, for the sake of the sport.


The big story for me on this last day of testing is what happened to Kubica? He was supposed to run the whole day but Williams are saying that he volunteered to step aside to give the other two guys more time to practise. That doesn’t sound right to me- surely a guy who is incredibly keen to get a race seat is going to grab as much track time as he can? There is so much love for Kubica amongst all of the fans, and we want to see him in a car as much as possible!! 🙂



I don’t know… something fishy is going on.

Going by what he said in recent interviews, Kubicka has totally embraced his new role as developer/testdriver. Stepping down on a testing day is a possibility then. But I felt uncomfortable watching him say he’s satisfied with it, his words sounded studied.

I’m not one for conspiracy stories, but is it that wayward to be thinking Williams went for Sirotkin’s money and bought off Kubicka with a lofty carreer job? Can’t believe Sirotkin did better than Kubicka although I haven’t seen any actual lap time comparisons. If any of this applies, one sad figure, Kubicka – cannot even speak his mind.


Showing up the others and removed to save embarrassment more like


Mat, I thought that was strange too. Maybe it was because he keeps showing up the race drivers by going faster than them?


I think his repeated embarassing of both Stroll and Sirotkin by going faster than them might have been a factor. It’s rather driven a coach and horses through Williams’ claims that Sirotkin was faster at previous tests, unless they were using very, very specific metrics to measure ‘faster’.


forget the few tenths involved here. Unless they were sandbagging big time Paddy is up the creek with the brown coloured water!


I don’t buy what Claire Williams said that it was Kubica who approached them with the idea. I think he may have traded it for more FP1 time.


He called Paddy’s first Williams creation a bus. Claire moved him farther down the back of that bus.

Feedback’s a female dog.


Whilst a lot of people forecast that the ’17 cars would wreak havic on driver’s physical abilities it is interesting to note that some drivers have managed to cover the equivalent of three races, in length, in one day? Now obviously they are not under the same level of duress as when racing and they stop more regularly, nevertheless, it still takes a supreme level of fitness to accomplish. That and the fact that the cars must be very easy to drive!!!!


I’d love to see you do a lap or two Kenneth. Your neck muscles would be shot after 3 laps.


Kenneth most probably is not a racing driver, so would not have built up the neck muscles required over the years, but those on the grid have. Ever since they went from manual to semi automatic gearboxes, these cars see nowhere near as hard to drive as the type senna, prost etc used to drive


@ Aezy Doc… cheap shot! As if. My comments were made in the context of modern race drivers and the previous perceptions with the new regs.


Really Merc did a great job do we like it or not, they are so confident that didn’t surged PU to the max, say max 900bhp instead of available 1000 )


Hi James,

What would be your guess on the current pecking order and do you see mclaren challenging the big three as the year progresses? Thanks


I think the RedBulls will be 1-2 at Oz, followed by Lewis, with the McLarens fighting with the Merc of Bottas, and Ferrari of Kimi.


Red Bull
Force India
Toro Rosso


I’m more like:



Red Bull



Force India

Toro Rosso





Haas 8th on the list? I don’t think so James, Magnussen and Grosjean times with Supersoft were impressive (1:18.3 – 1:18.5).

Of course we don’t know fuel loads and engine modes compared to others but Pirelli said on Friday that gap between Hypersoft and the Supersoft is around 1.3 secs so, if that were true, the one lap pace of Haas with Hypersofts should be in the low 1:17s and similar to what Ferrari has showed (with sure more kg of fuel in the Ferrari SF71H)

What have you seen on track to place Haas so low in the rankings? I am quite surprised


If this is indeed the pecking order I’m looking forward to the two RB guys going after Bottas like dogs off the leash. Lewis might just be out of reach but Bottas would be gettable in my opinion.


Will assume you saw the article where Lewis said that a rumoured RB race one upgrade could give them 0.2-0.4 tenths, which could then put them top. The race sim by VB looked very, very good, but who knows what the order is really. We’ll only know real one lap pace in Q3 in 6.5 days time, and then see race pace the day after. With more stops predicted this year, that gives greater scope for teammates to throw wrenches in rivals’ races, assuming it’s just as hard to follow and pass as it was last year. Another crucial factor will be how teams do on the various tires. Last year Merc didn’t gain as much laptime, relative to Ferrari and Red Bull, when they went from the harder compounds down to the softer ones. If that persists this year, it will be a factor in the championship.


i’d have mclaren higher than force india and renault.


Gaps indicate tiers/certainty:



Red Bull



Force India



Toro Rosso



The spaces didn’t survive the formatting 🙄


So that’s it? Just giving up?!

Trying out double <br>’s along with &nbsp’s

 1. ???

 2. ??? 3. ???


Williams in front of Haas? I sure don’t come close to your knowledge, but it’s hard to fathom from testing:)


What’s up with Ferrari? Have they messed up the aero? Or is it purely the engine?


Haas way down? Been reading everywhere they’re around 4-5-6 and Williams second last…


Putting aside the likelihood that Mercedes have maintained their advantage, what evidence is there that RBR are ahead of Ferrari?

Of the two, I assume the PU advantage lies with Maranello? Race distance sims run by both showed equal pace early on with Verstappen losing chunks of time to Vettel later on the run.

As to last year, all three developed at the same rate and in fact Mercedes headed down more blind alleys than the others.

So is it gut instict suggesting the order?


@herowassenna Your assertion mercedes went down blind alley is baseless. Their spain upgrade worked as expected as did the malaysian.

Their difficulties centered around the pre-season suspension banning, which the entire concept was built around. If anything, it shows the dept and resourcefulness stationed at brackley.


It would help if you actually read what I wrote…

As to your assertion that their Malaysia upgrade worked, would that be the race that both drivers had trouble deciding whether the upgrade was working and Lewis chose to run the old set up? Was that also the race that Max waltzed past him on the second lap and disappeared?

Could Malaysia be the track that Ferrari would have dominated if it wasn’t for ‘faulty spark plugs’ that hit Vettel in qualifying and Raikkonen on the grid?

The most humourous defences I hear constantly is the ignoring of the teams press release and making your own truth up. By all accounts, Mercedes and Red Bull have stated the loss of FRIC suspension made no difference.

But hey why let the truth get in the way of a good story.


red bull has special wingtips on their car which double the efficiency of that wing. i thought all f1 wings were meant to have flat ends.


Red Bull gives you wings, bro.


@Hero … don’t you know – some people on here have CFD-eyes and can see the RB’s aero advantage, quantifiable at 0.3s/lap 😉


@ James…I am interested to see that you place Red Bull in front of Ferrari! From what little I know I thought that Ferrari had the pace, small advantage that it might be, on Red Bull. If this is

in fact the case are you putting them as a second due to the fact that the Red Bull drivers are both entirely capable of driving winning races as opposed to the slightly lesser chances of both Ferrari drivers being able to do the same?


No, just a reflection of where we think they are pace wise.


As a matter of interest, who are the ‘we’ you mention?

Richard Mortimer

From what I have seen:



Red Bull




Force India


Torro Rosso



Haas 8th? I don’t think so James, Magnussen and Grosjean times with Supersoft were impressive (1:18.3 – 1:18.5).

Of course we don’t know fuel loads and engine modes compared to others but Pirelli said on Friday that gap between Hypersoft and the Supersoft is around 1.3 secs so, if that were true, the one lap pace of Haas with Hypersofts should be in the low 1:17s and similar to what Ferrari has showed (with sure more kg of fuel in the Ferrari SF71H)

What have you seen on track to place Haas so low in the rankings? I am quite surprised


Hi James,

Do you have the “normalized” differences that are covering the top 3 in your opinion?


@ James – Why/How Force India above McLaren?


Hi James,

What did you see in Force India to rank them ahead of Mclaren or Haas? They were almost invisible during testing and did not do anything noteworthy. I must admit that I only paid attention to the top three and Mclaren and Torro Rosso, for obvious reasons. Thanks.


Well everywhere l look, all seem to agree that once again Mercedes are top of the class. Good for them but not so much for the season ahead sadly. Nothing is etched in stone yet of course but still the signs are there for another not so satisfactory championship. Now all hope will rest with either Ferrari or Red Bulls (better if both of course) out developing Mercedes. Who is willing to bet on that though?

Williams is also looking particularly poor and looked to be fighting with Sauber not to finished last. How sad is that as well.

Still, l am looking forward to Melbourne and hopefully and interesting and surprising race. Marc


@Cometef1, don’t loose hope. Both Ferrari and RedBull would be much closer to Mercedes this year. We had a lot of dose of Mercedes development and how it has improved the car. No disrespect to them; I acknowledge their amazing work culture and car advantage. But we only hear from one side.

Nobody is standing still in F1. Just look at Haas. Where have they found that speed? Their car is copy of 2017 Ferrari and lot of Ferrari spair parts have gone to the car. But you can’t ignore that it has got new Ferrari engine as well. Even Sauber has closed up on midfield. I have no doubt that Ferrari engine is not very far from Mercedes PU. Ferrari with wheelbase just 2mm shorter than Mercedes will no longer have speed disadvantage at faster tracks. RedBull is already very close to top 2. Mercedes is not running away with this Year’s title just yet.


Oh McLaren!!! They continue to let their fans down. All I can say is “New Williams”.


In reference to Ferrari’s pace compared to Mercedes. As you mentioned JA a few think so. That pretty much sums up the season already, which is no different to what we have been experiencing over the past 5 years.

My question JA – Before the hybrid era started, we saw McLaren and Ferrari were able to produce cars with very similar pace. So did Renault in 05 & 06. Even during RB’s rise to the top, we saw championships going down to the last race of the season. Why has it been this difficult for Renault, Ferrari and RB to even get close to Mercedes in 5 years? I want you and readers to know that no one is blaming Mercedes doing the best job. The question is, even with similar resources and personnel why the teams are still struggling to catch up? People can try to put lipstick on a pig as much as they want, the F1 championship has become that much predictable that no amount of lipstick will change the look of that pig.


Even during RB’s rise to the top, we saw championships going down to the last race of the season.

Since 2000 (so 18 seasons), there have been only 6 seasons where it’s gone down to the last race between drivers from different teams. Those years were 2003, 2006-08, 2010 & 2012.

2003 & 2006 were really only mathematically still alive, with the chasing driver needing to win the last race and hope for a no-score for the leader.

2007 was a truly close championship. 2008 was close too, but where a better driver beat a better car.

2010 should not have been as close as it was. Here are two stats of that year, compared to Merc 2017:

Poles: RB6 78.9%; W08 75.0%

Lead Laps: RB6 61.9%; W08 59.7%

Just as in 2017, the top 3 in the 2010 WDC scored the same amount of podiums (10 in 2010; 13 in 2017).

2012 was a weird one. The closest on pace to Red Bull – McLaren – were not reliable, while the ultra reliable Ferrari wasn’t a match for Red Bull pace wise. The RB8 was the best overall car, and that showed from them leading the WCC from the 3rd round on. It took a great season from Alonso just to keep himself in with a chance at the end.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. The closest seasons are those where the best drivers are in cars that are competitive, but not the best car, while slightly less able drivers are in the best car.


@Formula Zero. The answer is quite simple. Engines generally have very long lead times, even with comparable resource and man/people power.

According Andy Cowell, when the regs were released; within a week he had a primitive prototype on the dyno. Since them, they’ve been ramping up, iteration after iteration. Contrast that with renault, who were downsizing, unsure of it’s f1 future.

Ferrari had internal conflicts, which hobbled them.

Ontop of all of that, they have magic man lewis directing the engineers with his feedback. Especially on the fuel economy side. I should add, mercedes m09 EQ power +’s biggest advantage is not power, or driveability but fuel efficiency. Roughly 10% better than ferrari last year, maybe more this year.

The long run pace data from both mercedes and ferrari confirms this. According to AMUS, merc is struggling with rear tire deg and ferrari with fuel limit.


@Oblah – so Merc can run less fuel load, or Ferrari can’t exploit the full potential of the PU in order to conserve fuel?



According to AMUS. Ferrari does much more lifting and coasting. Their engine appears to be less efficient than renault. Essentially the car’s race pace is fuel limited.

Judging the large amount of smoke upon starting, methinks; all’s not well on the engine front. Seems reliable and fast though.


@Oblah – thanks for that. No wonder Seb looked so grim – lift&coast must be the ultimate frustration for a racing driver :-/


@Oblah, 2 things from your comments I agree with about why it had been difficult for the teams with similar resources…

#1 – Engines generally have very long lead time. Still doesn’t answer, neither solve the issue of why the other engine manufacturers have been unable to get anywhere near Mercedes with similar budgets and personnel in place.

#2 – Ferrari had internal conflicts. Most the sacked Ferrari employees have turned up in Mercedes and we know that. However, I hardly doubt that they had anything to do with Ferrari not being able to close the gap to Mercedes power, considering Mercedes already had best engine since the beginning of the hybrid era.

Rest of your comments are irrelevant (I disagree anyway) to my main point. So, I won’t comment on those.


@Formula Zero

#2. Ferrari has a storied history of bloodletting. Not the least, Costa and Allison. Now sassi. The reasons vary, but generally comes on the heels of a poor season. Contrast that with mercedes who do their utmost to; not only keep but enhance their engineers.

Not surprising you disagree with my Lewis comment. Most think, it’s luck and his cars drive themselves. I’ve read enough to know his feedback is invaluable to the development of his championship winning cars/engine. It’s fine to disagree.


They got the jump on tech – like WILLIAMS in 1992/3
Also planning and clarity of leadership and purpose


So basically, some people were hoping that Ferrari closes the gap to Mercedes (if not equal) this year and not giving any other team even a slight chance. Instead, we probably have the most dominant car in hybrid era by the Mercedes team. Wow we really are up for some championship!!


That’s the spirit Fzero, let’s ust write the season off before a wheel even turns in anger!!


@ James…I still think that they have the ‘jump on the tech’. Have you ever heard of ‘nanoslides’ ? This tech is covered by 40 Daimler patents and highlights the comments that Andy Cowell made earlier. Also Adrian Newey’s latest comments re ‘oil usage’ is interesting. Renault use 100mls per 100kms whereas Mercedes are using the full 600mls/100kms as per the max allowed by the FIA! Now i would’ve thought tech like ‘nanoslides’ and other friction reducing items would reduce usage……hint hint .


@ 300 km per race average that’s 1.8 L to burn away , which is probably not a bad idea.


@kenneth… hard to know. I doubt its a single tech factor that gives them the advantage. Probably the sum of a lot of little things.

Regarding the nanoslides – Ferrari have been using low friction DLC coatings on the IC engine internals for over a decade, maybe more. Seems similar in scope to the nanoslides. Probably all the manufacturers have their own variant either developed in-house or by a supplier.


@ Redline…I have no doubt that there are many different bits n pieces that contribute to the sum total but it was Cowell’s comments that caught my attention. He did place emphasis on this area. I am fully aware of the coatings industry and their part in F1 and have been for a very long time. I thought it of interest also to note the Patent Holdings which would lead me to believe that this is a very important ‘new’ area now controlled by Mercedes.

Richard Mortimer

Yes, a bit like the Schumacher / Ferrari domination years! Everything coming together at the same time!

Let’s remember there is always a long history behind this kind of domination – Ferrari took 5 years + to pull all that together.

Mercedes took on the championship winning Brawn team and struggled to start with. So, again, 5 years!

Red Bull took a similar time to get there!

Interesting you mention Williams 92/93 James. Of course, Williams were using the active suspension in 87/88, until they ditched it for the British GP.

And, before that was Lotus. Quite a long time before the heavy ‘active’ car of 1987.


@Richard – so, seeing one team winning everything every 5 years solve the predictability in F1? It’s s competitive sport with 21 race championship. I find FIA allowing the one team domination formula completely unacceptable. They might as well start virtual car racing, as the best machine will always win.



Who is blaming Mercedes for doing a good job here? Good for F1? Tell me you are being sarcastic!!

FIA is in charge of F1 before anyone else. As I said in my other comments before, we have seen championship going down to the last race between 2 teams at least even when one team was dominant. This hybrid era has hurt the sport earnings and viewership wise more than ever in the history. So yes, FIA allowing this to happen is like letting Al Qaida rum Afghanistan.


Formula Zero

Why should the FIA have anything to do with the serial winners. The others with similar budgets should get better to compete. This has been repeated so many times but i’ll do so again. Mercedes got a jump on everyone on the V6 hybrid power unit and are benefiting from the early investment since 2014. I say good for them & for F1. Obviously you disagree.

The FIA Allows?


Unless Ferrari brings back rocket launch at start and keeps it clean they are going to lose again..this was the case last year, same will be this year as well. They need to have better starts!! Can someone pass on this message to Ferrari??


So after running the numbers on thing is certain. Numbers mean nothing. Only race wins matter.

OK that’s obvious but Honda having reliability is surprising. One other thing I looked at that others might have missed was how well the customer teams are doing. HAAS and Sauber also seem fast with a pretty good amount of mileage. What they don’t have is all of the data first and I think Ferrari has a chassis good for street circuits and maybe vice versa for Mercedes.

I think we might see a close one this year.


Apparently Honda used three engines for the test, no big issues like all the Renaults, but perhaps this is hiding reliability issues. Plus will they have to turn it up a bit to compete in the races?


honda changed two engines on the first day of the first test to put them through the cycle and only used one power unit for the whole of the second test. they have nowhere to hide, racing will expose them.


James, do we know more about the Merc & Ferrari PUs? Are they now both at 1000bhp?



How annoying would it be for McLaren for the Honda engine to out perform the Renault, now that they don’t have it.


Plot twist: Alonso has been sandbagging for the last 3 years, playing the long game to go back to his old Toro Rosso (née Minardi) roots with the (now championship winning) Honda engine.


I’d watch that mercedes race pace. It’s early days but where are the doubters? Where are those that said LWB was the incorrect development path. Where oh where?

Last year ferrari played a blinder with the pre-season suspension ban. This year, merc got oil burning banned. Which, contrary to popular opinion – was being exploited by ferrari. Extra oil tanks and residual oil in all ferrari power cars in Canada.

The excessive smoke on startup indicates all is not well with the prancing horse. Or maybe it’s the new Philip morris advertisement.



Or maybe it’s the new Philip morris advertisement

Very good 😎


@ Oblah…I thought that you’d give up on your LWB tirade! Obviously you haven’t. Do you seriously think that 50mm is the differentiator?.


What are we talking about here, sorry?

If you’re talking about wheelbase, then this year’s Ferrari’s is 128mm longer (from 3550mm to 3678mm).



@KRB, wow ferrari is only 2mm shorter than mercedes. Common wisdom around here is shorter wheel = win. Oh dear….


TBH I think the common wisdom around here is most powerful PU / best engine modes = win.


I don’t see how Ferrari will be able to meet the oil consumption rules with the amout of smoke coming out of the car. Having said tbat why on earth would thd FIA ban crankcase breathers recirculating back into the engine which has been standard on road cars ad infinitum. Apart from anything else, that smoke will probably be harmful to humans and the drivers and crews should probably not be exposed to it. The oil consumption rules alone should have been sufficient. I note tbat the FIA have also banned EGR which is now being used in some petrol engined road cars to meet emissions legislation. If F1 has to be efficient well so be it but it is just ad important that it be clean! Coming back to the smoke if will not look good for the image of F1 so i expect either a fix from Ferrari or a change in the FIA rules maybe before the first race!



Everyone else seems to have found elegant solutiuons to these bans, why not Ferrrari, a team with one of the biggest budgets on the grid.


Ferrari set the pace……but omg merc long run pace is worrying


It’s all Bottas 😉


I’m curious about Williams – There’s everyone else (bar Mercedes) setting fast times on supersofts, ultrasofts, hypersofts (and wait until 2019 when they introduce the ludicroussofts), but Williams are happy to set a 1m19.189s on the boring old vanilla softs.

Is it possible that they know that they’ve actually built a decent car this year?


The tragedy is, that even if they have, that will be more than offset by the half second plus their drivers will lose will them.


Possibly – There’s no question what their motives are for having Stroll and Sirotkin in the car, but I’d like to be optimistic.

Stroll has been on the podium after all, and Sirotkin is still a bit of an unknown.


Can’t wait for Oz now.

Can’t wait for the Renault midfield battles to commence.

Will Dan ‘n Max be racing Seb or Kimi?

Don’t really care how much Merc are sandbagging…poles will be predictable and the desire to skip F1 on a Saturday, as in 2017, may return after Oz.

Lewis sounds bored with testing a super reliable car without being able to blast out a fast lap or two.

Hass may be a surprise.

Honda blinkin well should be reliable after all these years and a boot up the backside by McLaren leaving them, but, do they have any pace, can they turn up the wick?

McLaren better be the hardest working team in the next 2 weeks.

Force India look disappointing, for now.

Williams already are yet again wondering how to get the aero working and get heat into the tyres, perhaps not a good sign when you have a weak driver lineup.

Alfa 😉 should let us know if the difference between a ’16 and ’18 spec PU can close the gap or with the leap forwards in power still means their budget cannot bring decent aero to compete. Despite looking like a Williams head on, their car is interesting, good luck to them.

Still, after testing, the most interesting thing to come from F1 this year is the Red Bull car camoflague launch livery.

Oh, and I hate the halos as I identify cars by driver helmet. If Crofty and the various global commentators start getting drivers wrong because of the halo, it will compound the halo problem, it will not be fun as when good old Murray Walker sometimes did it.

Pit Girls, cover up and gentlemen, start the first of your three PUs, if you can, and go racing if you can see the lights behind your halos… (aaaaargh)


The identification issue has the obvious solution of painting the halos different colours. Just as in Moto GP where many teams run different coloured accents on their two bikes to make each rider stand out, the halos should be either painted to match the driver’s helmets or simply have a yellow or a black halo for the number 1 and 2 car in each team.


As usual, testing is very revealing & exciting without actually telling us much. Ferrari have done what they usually do by producing a super quick time, that hides their form & tries to scare the other teams.

The Renault engine must have great fuel economy, because McLaren probably sent Alonso out with about half a litre of fuel to achieve a 1:17.7.

All that testing has shown is that we are in for a really good fight this year. in cars with unseen drivers, that will be unseen by millions of fans.

I hope F1 Racing magazine extent their race reports so that I can get a clear indication of how the season is progressing, because there’ll be bugger all on TV.

Thanks FIA.

Thanks big thong.

Thanks unLiberty Media.

I’ll still be near turn 9 at Melbourne, so at least I’ll see a bit of the 21 races.

1 last thought, Red Bull & Torro Rosso should turn the thong around so that it looks like bull horns.


Unseen indeed.

Only F1 photographers have the angle to see the drivers. I wonder if TV cameras will even be able to see the drivers.

I cannot wait to see the onboard video farce.


The new headcam tried on hulk was horrible. Gave me headaches seriously. Halo is horrible. F1 will a lot of audience this year. Considering it’s fifth year of merc domination with all the crazy aesthetic changes to the car.


Some and desperation from Ferrari. Some close Ferrari journo stated that Vettel can’t do fake happy , he looked stumped at speed of Red Bull and Mercedes in race trim. Ferrari may be dumping fast laps and ejecting oil like an old 1970s Fiat… but Red Bull seem to be in second place. While Mercedes look hot to trot keeping their fast pace for thr first Grand Prix qualifying laps. When they unleash the 1000 bhp.

It’s going to be a Marchionne nut ringer for Ferrari designers if the smoking engine fails.

Mclaren need to sort their dung out or that high raked Mclaren will overheat in that air tight body.

Williams sad sad sad sad sad in it for the money💰 sad young rich kids💵 sad sad💷 omg its another cheque💴 sad sad paying the the rent 💰sad sad 💰yes they can join💰the💰team. Aspirational Team cha ching 💰.


Is that an 80s song lyrics mod?



If You are thinking of

Donna Sommers 🎵”Hard for the Money”🎶

Yep you are correct 👏

Also abit of “ain’t nothing goig on but the rent”


Agree on WIlliams, think there will always be the question of is it car issues or is it their drivers. The question of what would an Alonso or Hamilton be able to do in the Williams.

Interesting how Kubica/Williams played the final day. Basically saying he knows how the new car feels, he knows how to drive it, so he gave up his time to allow the pay drivers to get some more experience…


Whatever you think of him Kubica talks like a good team player and shows a lot more maturity than some drivers.




I understand it’s only testing, but i have read about Renault gps data that would indicate a 0.3s advantage by Mercedes to red bull and then Ferrari trailing but still close.

Reliable source or cheap journalism?


The fact that merc continue to just pound round on medoum tyres doing race simulation runs is ominous.

Is just me though is just everyone else stupid? Merc have had a long wheelbase for the last few seasons and concentrated on medium tyre use- most of the circuits seem to favour a long wheelbase car which is stable, and if you can work the medium tyres well you can eek out longer runs. Seems all very well designing a shorter wheelbase car for the odd track like Monaco but there’s not enough of them with that characteristic for the car to perform well enough elsewhere?


People love buzzwords – LWB or Rake; as if one concept is superior to the other. When in fact, there are many ways to “skin a cat”.

Mercedes traditional run low rake, with complex serrated bargeboards creating mini vortices combining into bigger ones. This principle results in stable efficient downforce – maximizing their engine power. Essentially playing to their strengths.

RBR, Mclaren, and now ferrari run high rake, which is a completely different concept. Because the nose is closer to the ground and the rear higher, the car becomes pointy. Can change direction quicker at the expense of drag. Hence the reason RBR generally suffers on straights and has to compensate with skinny wings. Or suspension systems that lowers the rear.

No one philosophy is best. Both have pro’s and con’s. Best to stick with what you specialize.


I am aware of the concepts, not just use of buzzwords.

You have answered my point in your response ,clearly everyone else bar Mercedes are designing appropriately to the current formula. Back before the engine reg change everyone marvelled at the red bull running SWB and high rake storming away with both championships. Now everyone is mimicking that principle except for Mercedes. Too much of coincidence? I understand engine power is a huge factor, Mercedes clearly have it, but their principle clearly is to cover the ground quicker between corners and sacrifice some speed on slower, tighter section (for which there are fewer of in the calendar).

What you have to ask yourself is are all the other teams boxing them selves into a corner before the season already starts?


Too often in formula 1 teams tend to copy others ideas. The fw41 being a prime example. Every part of a formula one car works in unison with the other. William toet said; a mercedes front wing on a ferrari will make the overall package worse and vice versa.

Mercedes is the personification of teamwork. No one department supersedes another. They’ll willingly weaken an aspect if it makes the overall package better.

To answer your question; mercedes attempt to make a car that is fast in every condition, every corner type and all temperature ranges. Redbull, typically make a car that excels in tight twisty tracks even before the hybrid era.


I think as James put it in a response above or an earlier article; Mercedes set out a clear strategy from day one with the new formula.

All elements of the team are working towards one clear vision, even if it does mean certain disciplines are designing sub-optimally or along a certain path, they are working together as one.

If Red Bull design that way then fine, but they aren’t going to be champions unless they change philosophy; the same goes for the rest.


As usual Mercedes has put together a great package. They were in race simulation very fast (and consistent). Apparently one of the very few able to take curve 9 full throttle even when heavy (fuel wise).
RB is the most interesting chassis and that car looks very very quick. But p.u.is less than the others and they can be fragile.
Ferrari it is close but slightly behind M / RB. Car is reliable though and easy to setup Kimi says (was one of his issues with the one last year).
McLaren beautiful but fragile and draggier than the other 3… it will be in the mix.
All the others are another class f1/b… (they are fighting for position 9/10 – 7/8 if someone of f1/a has an issue). Of those Renault can close the gap a little… Toro Rosso can be rather quick too and once Honda has found the right way they will progress nicely… Haas seems to have improved, Williams seems behind, sadly (drivers?), Force India… I hope they have the money to upgrade package… otherwise they will be behind Sauber (which has money and a good wind tunnel).


Lewis and Merc to win title #5. Btw, who os Ferrari going to fire this time and who is left?

I started to believe that if McLaren wants to reverse its fortunes, Alonso shoul go


James, it would be fun if you could give us your prediction (based on what you saw in these test and your long experience) how the teams will finish (1-10) in Australia…

Which team will be the underdog and surprise us?


Red Bull
Force India
Toro Rosso


If everything lines up like you predict, I will send you a case of beer!


I’d put Haas higher for the first fly away races. In fact, switch Haas and Force India and I think that’s about right.


James, HAAS has <—-lol. Impressed. Methinks they're better than force india and williams. I'd say they're behind renault.







Force India

Toro Rosso




red bull
force india


Do you believe Red Bull is ahead of Ferrari on quali pace, race pace, or both? Mark Hughes believes that the Ferrari is struggling to complete the race distance with the 105 kgs of fuel, so is held back by that. That is a bit hard to believe. Any idea of what the white plume of smoke from the Ferrari is, everytime they set off?

As for Renault, you knew they’d rise through the ranks eventually. Three factory teams in the top 4.


from my student days when old worn out cars were the only transport affordable, oil burnt in the engine gives the exhaust a blue tinge.

White smoke would be oil burn in the exhaust, probable from oil fed to the turbo.


You heard it hear first. Ferrari are oil burning!! LOL



Just letting you know my Dads Tag

“P Kara” is now not required.

Sadly my Dad passed away after a long illness.

His posts became infrequent as the illness took hold.

So his info can now be removed.

Assume he will be drinking a can of “Winade” somewhere in heaven if there is such a place.

Have not had the heart to cancel it, but its time to let it go.



@ BK Flamer….Knowing that my comments gave him a chuckle [ maybe ] is all good. Sadly another fan goes. Best wishes. The good bits last longer than the others.


Thank you

Kenneth, Sebee, DrG, C63, TimW, Oblah, Clarks4WheelDrift, Ionut E, Twith_6, KRB,

for the condolences.


Condolences BK. Didn’t know Pkara was your Papa. But I remember his regular presence and chats.

Remeber, energy cannot be created or destroyed. There is comfort in that.


Very sorry for your loss BK – remember your dads posts well.


@BK Flamer

I’d just like to echo TimW’s post below.


Sorry to hear of your loss BK flamer, I didn’t realise PKara was your Dad. I remember his posts very well.


@BK Flamer, Commiseration. Almost lost my dad early this year. Really tore me up. All the best for the future.



Sorry for your loss, take care condolences to you and yours.


I’m also sorry to hear it, I enjoyed his posts. I’m sending you and your close ones a good thought.


Really sad to hear that BK, my condolences to you and your family. We’ll miss him around these parts.


Sad to hear that BK. Condolences to you and yours.


Sorry to hear that. We appreciated his support. Condolences to the family


Thanks James

It was his favourite F1 site and avidly read the articles. When it got too much it was me reading the articles and the posts . He enjoyed Sebee’s rants about V8 engines and Kenneths hidden love of Lewis (& his subtle attack mode).

Thanks again for the post.


This season seems to be shaping up to be an unexpected and interesting one (at least with the midfield battles anyway). Hope Ferrari and Merc have a good close fight with Redbull and it would be nice to see Alonso grab a few podiums or wins before he retires.

Having said that, McLaren are very difficult to judge, having had lots of reliability issues while also showing some relatively good pace and actually completing a fair few laps despite the poor reliability so far.


No point really judging any sort of pace until Melbourne -that’s when it counts although I suspect Merc and Ferrari will be the top two teams again . The thing i’ve learned most of all James is that Pirelli have developed two seemingly utterly pointless tyre compounds in the Hard and Superhard . I don’t think either will see a GP weekend and quite why Bottas chose to run the Hard tyre this afternoon I have no clue. Pirelli aren’t bringing either the Hard or Superhard to the Spanish GP . In fact James can you remember anyone running the Superhard tyre at all in pre-season testing because I can’t?


The superhards aren’t meant to be used. They are backup tires, just in case pirelli got their calculations wrong.


Well…. I can honestly say, apart from the obvious, I’m none the wiser😊 which makes it even more exciting for the first race in AUS👍

But obviously, I think a lot of eyes have been on McLaren and Torro Rosso, instead of everything being about Merc and Ferrari….. nice change imo.


2 stories out of this week…both “H’s”

1. Honda -VERY encouraging signs for the sport if they have finally got their act together.

2.Haas -a tonne of laps by both drivers, and although times are not indicative, they are relative…and it looks like they will be a mid-field contender…even if they are under the radar…

JA, you also normally give us a bit more on the teams long run pace and consistency…any bombshells?


Not much to add to yesterday’s article comment:


We’ve seen about two cards of a five card hand.

So, there will be a lot more tricks brought out of bags by Melbourne ‘lights-out’; most likely, the ready but more easily adapted (by other teams) , and useable.

So, we have historic trends, like, Mercedes are sandbagging, it is just a matter of degree, and McRenault continues to plagued by problems, furthermore, on the long-term trend-side, Renault keep getting better and better, slowly, but surely.

And we also have intuition (which has little basis in observable fact ,but is more fun):

1. (everybody in the know, knows), MERCEDES IS SANDBAGGING BIG TIME! That car is going to be very fast!

2. I think Renault are playing hyper-conservative, and will introduce their race-spec, as a much closer-to-Merc power unit; it’s just a feeling,

which would suggest

3. RB will be the prime challenger this season (sorry Ferr), and they could look massively better with a PU closer to parity; if/when it happens, and they win Melbourne ,don’t bet the farm on them beating the Merc, who have so much stuff in the bag, they’ve had to invest in new bag technology (probably successfully).

4. I’m looking forward to see the Force I (aka the Pink Panther) and a. what they show up with, and b. what they move to; also to comparatives between them and Williams

5. Speaking of Williams, conspicuously flying beneath the radar?! That new Frankie is a revolution, not an evolution; Paddy came from the aforementioned team that had to make a new, better bag to hold all of their super-duper ready-to-go tricks; since it is a drastic change, and the similarly Merc-powered Pink Panther is a smooth, steady, successful evolutionary design, it will be interesting to see the comparatives between these two teams, and how they evolve over the season; I give the driver edge clearly to The Pink Panthers, as I am a big fan of Ocon, and a big believer in Checko too, who has a clear trend of solid driving capability.

6. Best for last HONDA; the usual suspects know of my ‘negative outlook’ on the Mc team, due to a potent combination of two drastically dysfunctional key team members (for the overall team as it stands today, i.e. mismatched at least! one up high, the other up high of himself; it ain’t workin’); some amongst you usual suspects may even remember my late (@017) season prediction of Toro Rosso getting 4th in the constructors; Honda has clearly shed some of their issues… and successfully ramped up their development effort, FINALLY!

Too bad about only three chances to upgrade the engine during the year, but you can still always take strategic engine penalties, to accelerate your development curve, and I believe that we may see Honda use more than the penalty-free limit of three in 2018, not because they have to, but because it makes sense from a points-garnering perspective. Also, RB would be pretty happy about an accelerated development curve for the Honda PU (wouldn’t they?!)

7. Sadly, I’m not getting a very crisp image in the crystal ball for our good friends in RED, but you never know; Italy is like a magic place, and they can somehow get remarkable stuff done, at emotionally loaded times; I’ve got my fingers crossed.


Dean, I don’t think you can really say that Merc are sandbagging. They haven’t run the hypersoft at all, if they had run the quickest tyre, deliberatly driven well within the car, and then said they had gone flat out, then you could say they were ‘sandbagging’. As it is, by their own admission they haven’t been chasing ultimate lap times.



“…they haven’t been chasing ultimate lap times.”

I think we totally agree.


Getting exciting now, all of the stories and rumours will be put to the test in a couple of weeks.

So now all of the whining and moaning about how they look and sound can stop and lets just concentrate on what matters. The skill of the drivers and the amazing tech that makes F1.

I’m hopeful of a good year of racing with RedBull taking it up to Merc/Ferrari for a genuine three way fight, with McLaren/Renault/Haas nipping at their heals.


Not long now !


Well done to the prancing horse having topped the last two days of testing whilst re-writting the record times… however, the experts are of