Test 2: Day 1- What happens to a Mercedes with soft tires?

7

Guess what happens when Mercedes put softer tires on their new 2016 car? They go faster than anyone else. They even prompt comments from competitors such as Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas:

“At the moment it looks like they [Mercedes] are in a really strong position.

“Where we are now it looks like it’s going to be quite tricky for anyone to challenge them at the beginning of the season. That is a fact at the moment”.

So if you are looking for an Achilles heel, it isn’t easy to see at this point in testing. Mercedes haven’t had the niggles such as newcomers Haas F1 who suffered from a fuel delivery issue on the first day of the second test of 2016:

“Unfortunately in the morning we experienced some problems with the fuel system. We tried to fix it but we were unable to and had to stop running just before the lunch break. We will not be able to run again until tomorrow, so a little bit of a setback. But what makes you suffer makes you stronger. We take a step back, but we hope to make two forward tomorrow.”

For some teams, it was the first chance they’ve had to test their new 2016 cars and in Sauber’s case, they feel like they’ve made good ground as Felipe Nasr said:

“It was a smooth day overall and though there were some small issues, they was nothing major.

“The early impression was quite good. It felt like a step forward from last year in terms of the chassis, engine and gearbox.

“It felt like we had a step forward on everything.”

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had gearbox issues and as the team many are considering the best chance to catch Mercedes, the niggles didn’t help their testing session.

Position

Driver

Team

Best Time

Best / Total Laps

1.

N. Rosberg

Mercedes AMG F1 Team

1:23.022

67 / 82

2.

V. Bottas

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING

1:23.229

89 / 123

3.

F. Alonso

McLaren

1:24.735

81 / 93

4.

K. Raikkonen

Ferrari

1:24.836

36 / 72

5.

D. Kvyat

Red Bull Racing

1:25.049

50 / 69

6.

L. Hamilton

Mercedes AMG F1 Team

1:25.051

73 / 90

7.

M. Verstappen

Toro Rosso

1:25.176

141 / 144

8.

N. Hulkenberg

Force India F1 Team

1:25.336

120 / 121

9.

F. Nasr

Sauber F1 Team

1:25.493

99 / 103

10.

K. Magnussen

Renault Sport F1 Team

1:25.760

74 / 119

11.

E. Gutierrez

Haas F1 Team

1.26.661

12 / 23

12.

R. Haryanto

Manor F1 Team

1:27.625

42 / 45

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT for Bottas quote.

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Paul KieferJr

1. Note the difference between Rosberg and Hamilton. I’m betting that Lewis is feeling a bit nervous right now.
2. Surprising result from McLaren. I’m betting they’re pretty encouraged by this.
3. Looks like Williams got the message and decided to turn it up a bit.
4. I’m betting that RBR is feeling a bit nervous right now since TR is a mere 0.17 seconds behind them.
5. Disappointing day for Haas. I hope they get that fuel issue fixed.

longshot

Hamilton spent the afternoon in a long race simulation on mediums.

longshot

Interesting data from yesterday’s speed traps:- Nasr (Sauber), 346.1km/h Magnussen (Renault), 341.7km/h Hamilton (Mercedes), 338.5km/h Bottas (Williams), 337.5km/h Haryanto (Manor), 336.4km/h Verstappen (Toro Rosso), 334.3km/h Raikkonen (Ferrari), 332.3km/h Gutierrez (Haas), 331.2km/h Hulkenberg (Force India), 331.2km/h Rosberg (Mercedes), 327.2km/h Alonso (McLaren), 326.2km/h Kvyat (Red Bull), 322.3km/h I don’t believe for a second that the Ferrari PU in the Sauber, let alone the Renault in the … Renault, were faster than the Mercedes engines (which, by the way, recorded similar times last week). Indeed, speeds in the mid 330s are usual on this track – pushing above 340 implies an extreme low-downforce… Read more »

MIE

Depending upon the team, some may be experimenting with aero setups that are not optimised for Barcelona, but suited to faster tracks like Monza. Remember there is very little opportunity to test these things once there eight days of pre season testing are over.

Shocks&Awe

Also, I would guess that it’s cheaper to make a car fast in a straight line than in the slow and medium corners. Therefore I would expect smaller teams to optimize for top speed. To me the most telling is Ferrari to Merc, since I would expect their chassis to operate at a similar level in terms of downforce.

Though of course your point about aero setup may also apply.

longshot

Here’s the speed traps from day 2 – http://i.imgur.com/gGgLraa.jpg

RBR have lifted the pace, and even the McLaren’s reached 330km/h which is very encouraging to see – Button was certainly pleased after yesterday’s drive.

TheMan

The difference between Nasr and Kvyat is equal to 14.8 miles per hour.
Straight line speed alone rarely wins races, not even in drag races.
I label speed trap results as nearly insignificant compared to handling in corners.