With the news that Manor GP have had their entry to the 2015 season approved, they are the only team not to have run the 2015 car as Force India finally presented their new challenger today. The car managed a handful of laps before lunch before getting down to some more serious mileage in the afternoon, although unsurprisingly it did the fewest laps during the day, but even with only just over half a day they managed an impressive 77 laps. This was however a much better day for McLaren, with Jenson Button putting more laps on the car than they have managed in any single day before, despite causing a red flag in the last hour of the day the McLaren managed over one hundred laps today, a very impressive run, and the times weren’t too bad given the lack of running so far.
Several teams attempted race simulations today following the aero work that most were engaged in in the colder morning session. AUTOSPORT has an interesting comparison of the two race simulations run this time last week by Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo printed in this week’s magazine. They look at three stints totalling 47 laps that exclude any out or in laps. The conclusion is that the Mercedes is some 38.4 seconds faster of this distance than the Red Bull. As an indication of the pace of development in Formula 1 when compared to the last 47 laps Lewis Hamilton did in the race last year (also excluding any out or in laps), he was over a minute faster in last week’s test. It will be interesting to compare overall race times (on those occasions when we have a dry race without and red flags) to see if this is truly the case once the season starts.
The big news of the day though was late in the afternoon when Mercedes used the Soft tyre for the first time this winter. The result was unsurprisingly the fastest time set so far in winter testing (the track condition will have steadily improved day by day as more rubber is laid on the surface), but Nico Rosberg managed two runs within a hundredth of a second and topped the timesheets with a 1 minute 22.792 second lap. This seven tenths of a second per lap advantage over Massa’s Williams time yesterday being very similar to the Mercedes advantage over the Red Bull in the race simulation conducted last week. Unusually the top times (at least the top six) were all set on the same (soft) compound of tyre, though of course there is no way of knowing how much fuel each team had in the car at the time, and while Rosberg’s two soft tyre runs were each an out lap, a single flying lap and an in lap, it is possible that others set their times as part of longer runs.
For comparison, Lewis Hamilton’s pole time from last season was 1 minute 25.232 seconds, but before we get too carried away, the outright record set in testing was a 2008 lap set by Fernando Alonso in 1 minute 18.483 seconds. The fastest lap during a Grand Prix weekend was set by Rubens Barrichello in 2009 Q2 with 1 minute 19.951 seconds.
There are comments again from Karun Chandhok on the AUTOSPORT live page, indicating that while the Mercedes unsurprisingly looks well sorted, the Lotus appears to be very twitchy.
The distances covered are steadily increasing, and the reliability problems are fewer now for the teams. Williams certainly packed up early to prepare for tomorrow as they had completed their programme, while four teams managed to cover well over twice a race distance today. McLaren and Force India certainly still have some work to do given how little running they have had with their new cars, and I am beginning to wonder if the lack of Renault development is hurting Red Bull and Toro Rosso, or whether they are planning to work on performance over the next two days?