As we move into the last four days of testing before the opening Grad Prix of the 2015 season, the teams are bringing all their toys out and we can see the cars much closer to the specification that they will race in during the opening races of the season. Toro Rosso turned up wit a new nose, similar to the Williams style, presumably the earlier version was used as it was easier to get through the crash tests so they could get mileage on the car. Williams themselves turned up with a single pillar rear wing mounting and different turning vanes around the front of the sidepods. While Mercedes had different mountings for the camera positions on the nose. Force India weren’t at the circuit today, as the team are busy assembling the 2015 car which should make its appearance tomorrow.
McLaren had yet another poor day, with Jenson Button managing a grand total of seven laps before a hydraulic issue meant the team needed a power unit change, so they had to stop for the day. Hopefully this wasn’t caused by yet another failure of the MGU-K seal which has caused several problems during the previous test. Mercedes also stopped early with an MGU-K problem preventing the team adding to their morning tally of 48 laps. While they were running however at least they were fast, with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace in the morning and ending up third overall with his time set on the Medium compound.
Drizzle just before the lunch break gave some the opportunity to try out the intermediate tyres, but only Kvyat and Hamilton bothered. So far during these pre-season tests there have been several times when intermediate tyres were appropriate, but it has never been wet enough for the full wet. Given Pirelli’s wish to test these tyres, I wonder if an attempt will be madeto soak the circuit during the next three days.
Williams at last did some performance running today, and showed that they will remain strong competitors again this year. Setting the second fastest time of the tests at Barcelona so far on medium tyres, Felipe Massa then went fastest of all when he used the soft tyre, half a second faster than Grosjean’s fastest time from last week set on the super soft tyre. Given Williams standard testing practice of always doing performance runs with a reasonable quantity of fuel on board, this time is encouraging for the team.
Sauber again kept their times at the pointy end of the table, with Marcus Ericsson using the Super Soft tyres to set the second fastest time. This was however three quarters of a second slower than Massa, which may indicate the team may struggle (even if it is the third fastest time seen so far in testing this year). Ericsson did at least get a race simulation completed today on his way to recording the most laps (122) of any driver today, but unfortunately I do not have a record of the times he was doing to compare to the other simulations run last week.
Daniil Kvyat caused the first of two red flags this morning when his Red Bull failed to leave the pit-lane, but the problem was soon fixed and he was able to complete 75 laps. Romain Grosjean equaled this tally, and ended up with a fastest time just 0.15 seconds slower than the Russian as neither team appeared to concentrate on qualifying style runs. Similarly Ferrari set a steady pace with Kimi Räikkönen completing 80 laps. The second red flag was due to Carlos Sainz, or rather his Toro Rosso which stopped on the circuit and needed to be recovered. The car was able to be fixed though and he soon resumed circulating.
The times set by each of the drivers, and the number of laps completed are:
There are some interesting comments from Karun Chandhok on the cars behaviour over at the AUTOSPORT Live commentary page. In the absence of F1B’s own Paul Charsley, it is always interesting to get a drivers view on the characteristics of the cars.
With the new Force India due to make an appearance tomorrow, and hopefully a repaired McLaren and Mercedes we should start to see some more representative times. I am particularly interested in the race simulation pace as this will force the team to run from a full fuel load to empty and it will be difficult to disguise their true pace.