F1 2017 winter testing : Lessons from Barcelona

I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.

The good news is that F1 is back and the cars look fierce. The bad news is that Mercedes might just run away with it again.

Mercedes look strong

If the regulation changes for 2017 were meant to shake up the grid in a big way, I don’t suppose anyone told that to the boys and girls back at Brackley and Brixworth?

Even though a lot has changed in terms of design and procedure and even though Toto Wolff stresses that they’re “back to square one”, you’d have to be a fool not to see it – Mercedes are top of the time sheets, and have completed the most laps spanning all four days of testing.

f1-barcelona-pre-season-testing-i-2017-lewis-hamilton-mercedes-f1-w08Photo credit : motorsport.com

Lewis Hamilton seems to be loving life at the moment. “The car is amazing”, he said describing the Mercedes W08, “It’s the fastest I have ever been in F1“.

Barring an electrical problem for Lewis on the morning of day four, reliability doesn’t look too shabby either.

Speaking of reliability, McLaren have none of that

The only way McLaren’s Honda power units could’ve had a worse start would be if they were dropped off a cliff or eaten by a bear.

McLaren Honda are excited to write a new chapter, but the pen won’t work.

The reliability issues with the power unit did seem to get better at the latter half of the test but both the drivers, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne have been left utterly frustrated by the frequent breakdowns.

fernando-alonso-mclaren-mcl32Photo credits : Motor1.com

This is the third season of McLaren – Honda and the second coming of the Honda partnership, and I think it’s fair to say they have under-delivered in a big way.

This was supposed to be the year Fernando challenged for the title. Yeaaaah..probably not.

Ferrari look promising

I keep telling myself not to get my hopes up, but Ferrari do look promising.

I am still very apprehensive because Ferrari showed great promise same time last year and I think we all know how that panned out. However, the maranello spirits in the paddock are high. It seems real. Somehow, this time it could be real.

I take heart in the fact that Ferrari have shown very good reliability at Barcelona. Now does this mean that I think they’re going to smash the Mercedes come Australia? Of course not, I’m not that naive.

But when Kimi comes out and says things like “The first feelings are good” and “It has been good so far”, there is cause to be excited. In Kimi talk, good = incredible.

7db1a10d084ff399b13d6d2927fb31e4Photo credits : Autosport.

It is long overdue. Let’s just hope that the Ferrari SF70H can mount a title challenge this year.

What’s going on with Red Bull Racing?

RedBull seem to be quietly getting on with work, giving very little away. Although they didn’t dominate the time sheets, you wouldn’t imagine they’d be very far away.

The paddock speculated as to why a high aero team such as RedBull ran their cars with lesser aero than other teams and rumours starting floating as to what they were up to.

“If you start at a highly complex level, it is easy to get lost”, Adrian Newey replied.

f1-barcelona-pre-season-testing-i-2017-daniel-ricciardo-red-bull-racing-rb13Photo credit : motorsport.com

RBR pilot, Max Verstappen said that whilst Mercedes might still have an advantage over RedBull right now, that gap shall diminish over the course of the season.

There’s every reason to think that and I hope it does quickly. We’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for RedBull at the second test.

We like Liberty Media..so far

Liberty media’s efforts to reduce the broadcast restrictions have been welcomed by the paddock wholeheartedly. One of the big implementations of this has been the fact that a lot more filming is being allowed in the pit lane.

That’s Christmas for Hamilton then.

Current world champion, Nico Rosberg dropped in to get amidst the pre-season hype as well and applauded Liberty media for the looser broadcast restrictions as well.

3dd4a24700000578-4270946-image-a-33_1488367457919 Photo credit : Getty Images.

All in all, it’s been an interesting part 1 of testing. A lot to take away from it, a lot to look forward to. Hey, I’m just glad F1 is back!

The second test begins tomorrow on the 7th of March and I shall update you on proceedings as they unfold. See you in the next one.

– Aditya Bhat.


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