So the first test has come and gone. Testing for some can be a frustrating time with cold track temperatures, red flags, teams running with different fuel loads and shocks at the top of the time sheets. So with pre-season test one out of three out of the way, what did we actually learn from the first four days of Formula One in 2015?
Whilst they did not actually set the fastest time at any stages across the first test, the defending champions Mercedes blew the field away once again. You may think otherwise bearing in mind neither Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg had set the timing screens alight, but the sheer amount of mileage that the duo covered over the four days was simply breathtaking. Right from the off Mercedes looked in control. On the first day of a test the teams tend to do short runs and just hope nothing breaks, but not the Silver Arrows. Nico Rosberg was in the car on day one and managed to complete a race simulation, something that is usually unheard of at this early stage.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 18, 2015
Mercedes managed to clock an unbelievable 516 laps in total, 134 more than next place team Sauber managed in Jerez. Mercedes came away from Jerez learning much more than any team and are in the ascendancy already; the team will likely go to Barcelona for a further two tests and have an upgrade. The car will only get better from here.
Whilst Mercedes blew the field away, Ferrari turned a lot of heads in the paddock. Kimi Raikkonen and his new teammate Sebastian Vettel set the two fastest times through the week, something that had caught the eye of the teams up and down the grid. Whilst it is dangerous to read too much into the times set in testing, especially the first test, it is clear that Ferrari have made a clear step forward following a win-less 2014. Ferrari managed 349 laps and did not run into too many problems with the SF15-T.
After running with the new Honda power unit for the first time at the end of season test in Abu Dhabi, McLaren once again struggled to get to grips with their new engine. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso could only manage 79 laps, with 12 coming over the first two days. Reliability thankfully improved on days three and four until an oil leak on the final day led to the team packing up early. These issues were expected coming from a new engine and chassis combination. Button and Alonso set the two slowest times seen across the week and whilst things don’t look bright at Woking the team is highly confident that they have a good package that can challenge for wins. Whilst optimism is high it is clear that McLaren have a lot of ground to make up in Barcelona.
This time last year Red Bull were a team that looked to be in big trouble, whilst this season has been a much better start. Previously nagging issues got in the way of the team getting in serious millage. Renault, like Ferrari, have made a big step with the power unit, ERS and battery problems plagued the RB11 from the start. Red Bull managed just 166 laps and did not make any real impression on the time sheets. Whilst Jerez left a lot to be desired the best is still to come from their package.
Williams quietly went about their business and continued where they left off in 2014. The team are said to be delighted with the way that the test went. Whilst Williams never troubled the business end of the time sheets it is clear that they have a quick and reliable package with the FW37. The car looks to the naked eye to be an evolution of the highly impressive FW36. Whilst the team feel as if this years car is a big step forward we shall see just how much of a step forward it is in Barcelona.
Sauber and Lotus are two teams that can be very happy with the work that they put in over the four days. Sauber seem to have improved a great deal from their troublesome 2014 challenger. The Sauber seems to be a very simple and basic car in terms of design. Felipe Nasr even topped the time sheets on day three. Many expect Sauber to have another difficult season in 2015 but with a better Ferrari engine this season and on paper perhaps a strong driver line up, one would expect to see Sauber score some points this season.
Despite not arriving until the second day of running Lotus have made a huge leap following a disappointing 2014. Lotus did not arrive until late on the first day, they worked through the night to build the car and hit the circuit on the second day. Powered by a Mercedes engine, the E23 could be the car that springboards Lotus from back markers to point scorers. Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean managed to clock 190 laps over three days and optimism is high in the camp. The team will hope that their good form carries over to Barcelona.
Which teams that were at the first test caught your eye and stood out for you? Make sure you check back in the run up to the season opener to see what happens over the next two tests.