Team Mercedes sets the pace at Catalunya Circuit in last F1 pre-season tests
German manufacturer Mercedes AMG Petronas have confirmed during the last Formula 1 tests at the Circuit de Catalunya that they are two steps ahead of the rest of the teams. Nico Rosberg notched on Friday the quickest time of the second week of tests, with a time of 1:22.792, with British driver Lewis Hamilton also dominating Saturday’s time trials. Williams seem to be the second-best team in the paddock according to these test days that have also confirmed problems with the McLaren. After two weeks of tests at the Circuit de Catalunya marked by the accident suffered by Fernando Alonso last week, the teams will now take a break until 13 March, when the first round of the F1 World Championship will be held at the Albert Park track in Melbourne (Australia).
Barcelona (CNA).- Mercedes AMG Petronas have confirmed during the last Formula 1 tests at the Circuit de Catalunya that they are in another league. Nico Rosberg notched a time of 1:22.792, the quickest time over the second week of tests; while his teammate Lewis Hamilton also dominated Saturday’s time trials. Williams seem to be the second-best team in the paddock, and McLaren still have some work to do. After two weeks of tests, marked by the accident suffered by Fernando Alonso last week, the teams will now take a break until 13 March, when the first round of the F1 World Championship will be held at the Albert Park track in Melbourne (Australia).
Apart from setting the fastest lap of the tests, the Mercedes cars also completed 378 laps over the four days and carried out many race simulations. On the other hand, the great surprise of these tests has been the good performance of Williams. On the last day of training at the circuit, the Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas was the fastest and completed 88 laps on the track. It seems that the British team could complete the podium in Australia, confirming that Williams and Mercedes have raced ahead of the others during the pre-season.
In addition, good vibes for Ferrari on these tests as they have confirmed their good results during the start of the pre-season at the Jerez circuit. Despite the noise of the prancing horses, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have completed a total of 488 laps of the track with relatively few problems and seem to have improved their performance in comparison to last season.
Hard work for Toro Rosso, Sauber and Lotus
As for Formula 1’s ‘middle league’, the redecorated cars of the Sauber team have shown their reliability. Despite the fact that their times are far from those of Mercedes and Williams, their drivers have completed lots of laps during the four days and their best times have been around 1:24.000 day after day. More inconsistent have been Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado with the Lotus Mercedes. Frenchman Grosjean achieved the best time for the team with 1:24.200 at the Saturday training sessions. However, over the other days their laps have generally been around the 1:26 mark.
In addition, the young promise of Red Bull, Toro Rosso, has been confirmed. The team’s two racers, Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr. and Dutch driver Max Verstappen, form the youngest pair of drivers of any team on the grid, being 20 and 17 years old respectively, so their objective was to do as many laps as they could and learn as much as possible about the world of Formula 1. Sainz Jr. confirmed on Saturday that “he needed a test day like that” after completing a Grand Prix simulation of 65 laps. However, the Austrian team has had some reliability issues.
A great deal of work still to do for McLaren and Red Bull
The negative side of these pre-season tests has been the newest tandem McLaren Honda and the Austrian team Red Bull Racing. McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have had lots of problems and the team has recognised that it will be difficult for them to be competitive for the first race of the season. Apart from the different water and oil leaks and the problems with the McLaren’s power unit, there has also been a great deal of controversy around Alonso’s accident last week. Although the driver and the team have said that he is okay, the last four days of tests have been marked by rumours about and reasons for the accident. In the same way, Red Bull needs to take a step forward after these tests. They have posted fewer laps than the other teams and their times have been far from what was expected.