Formula 1 2019: Testing Diary, Week 2

2019-03-06 06:01

PRESEASON testing has concluded but it hasn’t revealed a definite pecking order you’d be comfortable putting your money on.

Ferrari set the quickest time of all eight days of testing, while Mercedes racked up the most laps. Mercedes arrived back to the circuit de Catalunya for the second week of testing looking quite different. The silver and turquoise paint scheme was just about the only thing that was the same from the first week of testing as Mercedes rolled out, effectively, a B-spec car for the final preseason test.

It was later revealed that the Week 1 car was a “safe” design built with the assurance that it would be delivered on time.

The B-spec, the team said, was the car it always intended to run.

It seems just a bit unbelievable that a championship winning team as clinical as Mercedes would overestimate their own ability to deliver a package in time for testing. Instead, the introduction of the B-spec package in week two could be as a result of being under more pressure than they thought it would be. There is no denying that Ferrari has built an impressive car that raised more than a few eyebrows over at Mercedes.

It’s completely plausible then to suggest that while the B-spec package was always in the pipeline Mercedes probably would have wanted to introduce it in Melbourne instead of at the preseason testing.

Based on preseason testing numbers, it appears that Ferrari is hot favourites at the start of the season. But while many a pundit has proclaimed Ferrari fastest by at least half a second there is simply no way to accurately and precisely predict this.

Has Ferrari built a good car? From the car’s body language on track it most certainly looks that way. But what of their other weaknesses that cost them so dearly in the last two seasons? Have they sorted their strategical missteps? Have they solved the issues regarding team management? These are the questions you simply cannot answer until the teams are in the thick of the competition.

There is some tangible good news for Williams as Robert Kubica says the FW42 is a “huge” step forward from the 2018 car.

He feels the new Williams is a far more drivable car than its 2018 predecessor which he tested a fair amount last season.

Most vitally, Kubica, and technical director Paddy Lowe, have stated that the new car is a solid platform that can be developed throughout the season. Despite missing two days of testing overall Williams completed only 44 laps less than Racing Point (formerly Force India), underlining the car’s reliability.

Kubica is making his comeback to F1 in 2019 and is joined by rookie driver and F2 (GP2) champion George Russell.

The new aero regulations were introduced ahead of the 2021 schedule, with the intention that it would allow the ability to follow each other more closely without being disturbed by turbulent air. But the new rules found more sceptics than they did enthusiasts in the paddock. However, Kevin Magnussen has said that he felt a “big difference” following a car on track during testing in Barcelona.

“The whole car just feels more consistent and stable behind another car. I’m looking forward to seeing if other tracks are the same.”

One prediction that will hopefully be accurate is that the midfield will be incredibly tight. So tight in fact that several teams appear to be within a 10th of each other on pure pace. But even if you were able to decipher the true pecking order, it still wouldn’t matter an awful lot in the context of the season opening race.

Albert Park is a unique semi-street track that stands out above all the others on the calendar. It’s highly possible that a team could perform brilliantly in Melbourne and not be able to deliver the same level of performance elsewhere. And lest we forget the 2019 Formula 1 calendar is a mammoth 21 races long.

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