The new Formula 1 season is creeping into view, and the first real glimpse of how each team is doing comes with the pre-season testing, which has begun in Barcelona. Unsurprisingly, it was a Mercedes driver who set the pace in the Catalonian city, however it wasn’t the current world champion, Lewis Hamilton.
Instead, Nico Rosberg took the limelight, as he clocked in a time 0.207 seconds quicker than his nearest rival, Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton came sixth in the standings, however it is thought that he was concentrating on race simulation, and not on trying to set the fastest possible time. There was also some encouragement for Fernando Alonso, who set the third fastest time of the day, and Kimi Raikkonen, who came in fourth.
The first day of testing gives some clues as to the main challengers for next year’s crown, and Rosberg seems to think it will be Mercedes, Ferrari and “one other team.” The identity of this other team is unknown, but it will probably be Red Bull, Force India, Toro Rosso or Williams. The most likely of these candidates is Williams, judging by the performance of Bottas. Fans shouldn’t be surprised if Toro Rosso eclipse big brothers Red Bull though.
But what exactly has this testing told us so far? Well, the first thing is that Mercedes still seem to be a long way ahead of the competition, with some thinking that they have a 0.5 second advantage over Ferrari. Reliability could also be a problem for the Italian team, after Kimi Raikkonen saw his car get stuck in eighth gear yesterday.
The newest team in F1 also looked good in their outing in Barcelona. Haas saw some good performances, however they were hit by problems with reliability, which is often the case for newer teams. They certainly won’t be challenging for too many podiums, but should be able to give the lower-rated teams a run for their money.
Of course, the pre-season testing tells us a lot, but it can also be slightly misleading. The different teams don’t provide all their details, and it’s never certainly what their exact plans are. So, fans can get a glimpse of what’s to come with the pre-season testing, but they’ll have to wait until the first race, which takes place in Australia on 20th March, to really see how their favourite Formula 1 team or driver is progressing.