F1 Testing Diary: Week Two

2018-03-14 06:00

TO do well or be quick in preseason testing is one thing, but to be quick come race day is quite a different prospect. Chances are that most teams will have an update for Australia which will transform the cars that ran the two weeks of testing in Spain.

While most are in agreement that Mercedes is leading the pack, it is difficult to definitely state what the pecking order is ahead of the first race of the season. Nevertheless, the overall picture of the long-run pace suggests that Ferrari has a bit of work to do in order to consistently mix it with Merc but still holds a power advantage over Red Bull.

For Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen the news is good. The RB14 is the best launch car that Red Bull has built in years and they should be more competitive at the start of the season than they have been in previous years.

There is little doubt that McLaren heads to Australia significantly underprepared.

McLaren has continued to suffer a slew of reliability issues and completed a comparatively low amount of mileage.

McLaren’s problems have run the gamut from the turbo to cooling to the engine. It’s likely that the team has been reluctant to adjust their aerodynamic design to ensure that the Renault power unit is installed according to the French manufacturer’s specifications.

Team principal Eric Boullier has called for the team to be judged on their race performance instead of what they’ve produced in testing. There can be no denying though that McLaren is, once again, behind the curve.

Ironically, McLaren’s previous engine partner, Honda, has continued to churn out the mileage with Toro Rosso while American team Haas has impressed with their early form as Romain Grosjean turned out 187 laps on the final day of testing.

Elsewhere, Williams appears to be struggling despite having a Mercedes power unit at their disposal. The FW41 looks a handful, especially on corner entry.

Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli has revealed that its new pink, side-walled hypersoft tyre is roughly seven to eight tenths quicker than the ultrasoft. Pirelli has also introduced a superhard compound that will serve as a precautionary compound in case of emergency.

While teams complete thousands of kilometers in testing and generate a seemingly inordinate amount of data, mystery as to where everyone stands in relation to each other, still abounds. The true pace will only be revealed come Saturday qualifying on March 24 for the Australian GP.

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