Formula One – A new season to look forward to and the first of three tests in Spain completed
2015 F1 test schedule
No testing this year at BIC but you can catch the first official F1 action of the season from Spain on the following dates:
Jerez, Spain - 1-4 February
Barcelona, Spain - 19-22 February
Barcelona, Spain - 26 February-1 March
The first Grand Prix is the Australian race in Melbourne on March 15th
A year ago the Formula One teams were testing at BIC (out of the three tests – each of four days – two took place at the Sakhir circuit). This year all the testing is taking place in Spain – at Jerez and Barcelona much to the disappointment of Bahraini and regional F1 fans.
The first of these tests took place this week in Jerez de la Frontera. The Jerez circuit was home to the Spanish Grand Prix on occasions in the dim and distant past and today plays hosts to Moto GP and the first four days of this year’s F1 test sessions.
Nine teams will contest the 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship; or so we believe. Caterham has left the stage while there is a chance, and a very slim one at that, that Marussia may return albeit under its original name of Manor. To be on the grid in Melbourne though they will need to seek approval from all team to use last year’s car. For now Force India is blocking this request. So as things stand we can expect 18 cars on the grid when the season starts down-under on March 15th and again three races later when the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix takes place at the Sakhir track on April 19th.
Of those nine teams, eight appeared in Jerez this week. Force India, fending off rumours of limited budgets (already?) and non-payment of suppliers, did not attend due, apparently, to the fact that the construction of the carbon-fibre monocoque was delayed. They expect to be in Barcelona in two weeks time.
With new colour schemes and new driver line-ups (and in some cases new engine partnerships) the eight teams took to the track on February 1st to usher in the new season. Mercedes, the defending World Champions, arrived in Spain determined to iron-out the reliability problems that beset them on occasions last year. What reliability problems you may well ask – didn’t they win 16 out of 19 races? But when you are Mercedes, domination is what you are looking for and, just as in 2014, they again set the benchmark. On day one they completed 157 laps! A record in F1 testing. In total they completed over 500 laps in the four days leaving everyone else with that sinking feeling – “here we go again…..”.
Of the rest – and with this sort of performance that is exactly the way we have to refer to the other seven teams in attendance – Ferrari will have left pleased with an improved performance over a dire year last year. Both Ferrari new boy and four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen topped the timing sheets on three out of the four days. Sauber’s new driver Brazilian Felipe Nasr was quickest on the third day. No doubt the Swiss cheeses will be happy with the fruits of their labours over the winter and their performance - they were second quickest on the other three days - underlines the improvement in the Ferrari engine.
This time last year Red Bull were in a mess with little or no laps at all in the entire 12 days of testing. This year things were not a great deal better – the Milton Keynes team, complete with ‘dazzle’ paint scheme, did less laps than anyone else apart form McLaren. McLaren though were in Jerez for the first public appearance of the new car and its brand new Honda engine. They expected problems – and got them. Neither new boy Fernando Alonso or old boy Jenson Button completed many laps (79 in total) but then they weren’t expecting things to be rosy straight out of the box and were probably not running the engine at anything like full capacity. Indeed, if you compare their efforts to those of Red Bull at this stage last year then they can be happy. With little or no laps at this point a year ago, Red Bull eventually went on to win three Grands Prix during the season. Nobody else won one!
Williams were solid while Lotus were in much better shape than a year ago, helped no doubt by a change to Mercedes engines. Toro Rosso blooded the youngest driver line-up on record with both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz putting in reliable performances in a car that should go well.
So round one in terms of times to Ferrari but it is difficult to see them keeping this up when the wheels turn in anger in Melbourne. In terms of reliability and outright confidence then nobody can match Mercedes. Feverish work over the next two weeks before the first of the Barcelona tests may produce some changes. We wait in expectation and anticipation.
Pictures as always from our friends at Sutton Images.
Barcelona Testing 19-22 February 2015
Formula One: Pre-season testing reaches the halfway point
The completion of the second day of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday brings the F1 teams to the halfway mark of 2015 Formula One pre-season testing.
Eight teams have been pounding round and round the Catalunya circuit to the North East of Barcelona trying to eke out the smallest improvements in pace and performance. Force India continues to be absent from the proceedings with the UK-based team struggling to ready themselves in time for the new season that starts in just under a month in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix on March 15th. Speculation still surrounds Manor’s ability to make it to the grid for the season-opener. The team formerly known as Marussia will certainly not be testing.
It is notoriously difficult to read too much into testing but day six of this year’s programme gave perhaps the first real indication of what to expect when the season starts in earnest down-under. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo posted the fastest time of the day. The Australian set his time on soft rubber but it was the performance of Lewis Hamilton that got people talking. The World Champion was just under .4 of a second slower than Ricciardo, but crucially he was on a medium compound known to be a second and a bit slower in normal conditions. Armed with this information it is safe to say that the Mercedes looks quick and is also continuing to demonstrate reliability.
The first of two Barcelona test finishes on Sunday by which time a stronger performance pattern should start to develop. Temperatures are a lot cooler than can be expected in Melbourne but nevertheless the even playing field will give some indication of what we can expect next month.
The opening round in Melbourne is followed by races in Malaysia and China before the circus arrives in Bahrain for the night race at Sakhir on April 19th.
Barcelona - Last tests
Tried and Tested – now for the real thing
So that’s it. F1 testing is completed for another year. Twelve days in Spain have left us with a few certainties and many questions left un-answered.
Mercedes look like they will continue where they left off as the dominant force in the sport and are, therefore, one of the certainties. Williams look like they have the pace to continue their fine form from last year.
Red Bull ran a fancy dazzle test paint scheme that everyone talked about more than their performance and Ferrari look to be in better shape. Sauber were quick and need to be to make up for a dire season in 2014. Lotus looked a lot better with Mercedes power. Force India looked a lot sharper than most with almost a quarter of the testing of the other teams, while with Caterham gone there is little danger of F1 having to stoop to the ignominy of seeing “crowd-funding” place a car on the grid in Melbourne.
McLaren, unsurprisingly, have a lot of unanswered questions and are seriously short of laps and, one presumes, information about the new car/engine combination. A year ago though Red Bull were in similar dire straits yet finished the season with three more race wins than anyone else other than Mercedes. So there’s hope for the men from Woking and who would bet against Honda repeating some of the ol’ Senna/Prost magic from 1988-1991?
So that’s testing completed and all that is left is for the teams to pack up and make the relatively short road-trip back to their respective European bases, For some their will be more frantic work prior to the departure by air for Melbourne for the opening round of the 2015 FIA Formula 1 World Championship down under on March 15th.
How the championship begins to unfold will all become clear in a little under two weeks from today. Will Mercedes continue to dominate? Will all ten teams turn up? Will Manor Marussia make it? Will Fernando Alonso be in the McLaren or will it be a surprise return for Kevin Magnussen to the scene of his only F1 podium to date? For the answers we’ll have to wait and see.
It seems only yesterday that we were congratulating Lewis Hamilton on his second World title. Just ten days from now he will be embarking on a season that he hopes will bring him his third. All will be revealed during the course of the season’s twenty races.
Yallabahrain will bring you the story from Albert Park along with upside-down images from our friends at Sutton-Images. Enjoy the anticipation!