Some things remained constant as testing moved into the second day. Sebastian Vettel remained at the top of the time sheets followed by a Sauber (this time driven by Felipe Nasr) and the Mercedes completed the most laps with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. Also maintaining the consistency, McLaren only managed six laps this time with Jenson Button sampling the Honda power today. The times recorded look like this:
Compared to this time last year, the number of laps completed was closer than they were on day one.
This is no doubt partly due to the rain shower that occurred this afternoon that curtailed the running for many of the teams. A few ventured out on the intermediate or even full wet tyres, but not enough to satisfy Pirelli who will want a greater number of laps run to prove their wet weather rubber. However a number of teams suffered a few more problems as the accumulate mileage increased. This is after all the real purpose of testing, to find the faults now rather than have them occur during a race weekend.
Mercedes started today as they had run yesterday, with Hamilton lapping strongly until just before 1 O’clock. He then stopped on the entry to the pit-lane with a water leak which proved to be due to a component failure which the team decided to take its time fixing, and by 3 pm Mercedes called it a day and concentrated on fixing the car for tomorrow. Mercedes still managed 91 laps though in less than five hours of testing, which was greater than everyone else managed with three hours more.
As an indication of how little yesterday’s times meant, four cars went faster today, with Vettel, Nasr, Bottas and Hamilton beating Vettel’s best time from day one. While both Ferrari and Sauber went further today than yesterday, indicating that the reliability of the Ferrari power unit is moving in the right direction, both Mercedes and Williams did fewer laps than yesterday. Hamilton stopped early with the water leak while Bottas didn’t go out once the rain arrived. Mercedes had a third team in action today though with Lotus getting their car out much earlier than they were predicting yesterday, and Pastor Maldonado managed 41 laps after a slightly late start to get the team’s first experience of Mercedes power. Unsurprisingly they were somewhat slower than the other two Mercedes powered teams and Maldonado was the cause of a red flag mid-afternoon when drive train issues stopped the car in the last sector and he had to be pushed to the pits.
Button once again showed that Honda have a mountain to climb at this stage of testing, only managing six laps in a rough sounding McLaren. He did at least manage to record a flying lap which is more than Daniil Kvyat who broke the front wing of the Red Bull on his installation lap. While this isn’t that unusual for a driver the first time he is in an unfamiliar car, at this stage of the year the team has no spares available, so Kvyat was limited to doing a series of single laps with no front wing fitted. Red Bull said they were hopeful of getting a replacement wing manufactured and flown out to the circuit to allow more meaningful running to recommence tomorrow. In Renault’s other team at least Max Verstappen didn’t suffer such a fate, and just got on with the job of putting laps on the Toro Rosso, clocking up 73 by the end of the day.
That Sauber have ended both days so far in second place in the time sheets is more likely to be due to the shortage of sponsor’s names on the car rather than a leap in competitiveness. That both times were set on the soft tyre indicates that they were trying for headline times rather more than the other teams where the medium tyre was used for most fast times. Unfortunately some of the Pirelli tyres used today were also without markings, so it isn’t even possible to be sure what compound of tyres were being used at all times. These may be Pirelli development tyres that do not match the current compounds specified that the tyre company want tested.
All in all a successful day, surprisingly few problems when compared with last year excluding Honda. Because of the issues that teams were having in the early tests last year, it isn’t possible to use the times recorded at Jerez to estimate how much faster the cars are this year. Maybe when we get to Barcelona it may be possible to get a better impression of how much the cars have improved.