F1: 6 things we'll find out at the second test

The cars are back in Barcelona this week - here's what to look out for

3y ago
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The 2017 F1 season is so nearly upon us.

We got our first glimpse of the cars on track at the first test in Barcelona last week, and now the runners and riders are all back at the Circuit de Catalunya to have another go in the final test before the season opener in Melbourne in two weeks' time.

The first test was all about getting the teams getting their new cars up and running (or not so much, in McLaren's case), reliability (again, not so much in McLaren's case) and learning about how their 2017 challengers cope out on track (again... well you know where we're going with this now, don't you?).

The second test begins today, and while we won't really know who is quick and who is not until qualifying in Australia, we should at least get a better idea of the order over the next few days. Here's what to look out for.

1. What have Mercedes got in the tank?

Bottas ended week 1 quickest of them all - how will Merc fare in week 2?

Bottas ended week 1 quickest of them all - how will Merc fare in week 2?

Yes, they posted the fastest time of the first test last week with new boy Valtteri Bottas putting in a 1.19.705, but that was on the ultrasoft tyres, and, as we all know, the first test is rarely about opening up the taps fully and blasting round at top whack.

After the astonishing reliability they showed last week - they completed 557 laps, more than 400 kilometres more than the next best team - this week will see them running a heavily updated car, with a spec that is much closer to what the race car will be like in Melbourne in two weeks' time.

Mercedes are not prone to running light in testing to flatter the car (in the past three years, why would they bother?!), so if we start seeing some qualifying time runs this week from the Brackley boys, we need to take them seriously.

2. Is Ferrari's pace for real?

The whole of Italy is hoping Ferrari can take the fight to Mercedes this year

The whole of Italy is hoping Ferrari can take the fight to Mercedes this year

The Scuderia ended week one second in the time sheets after Sebastian Vettel put in a lap just two-tenths of a second down on Bottas' time.

It was an encouraging start for the team who are playing things very cautiously after last season when they failed to win a single race.

This time there have been no pronouncements, predictions or promises from team boss Maurizio Arrivabene - and the whole team is under instructions to keep their heads down and get on with it rather than briefing journalists at the Barcelona track.

However, last year Ferrari were quickest in five of the eight days of testing and yet they failed to convert that into convincing race performance. This week should give us a better idea of where they really are.

3. Have Honda found their quick fix?

Maybe if they took that fence thing off it would run better? Just a thought...

Maybe if they took that fence thing off it would run better? Just a thought...

The first test was little short of a disaster for McLaren - more specifically their engine partners Honda.

Their running was curtailed by a series of serious failures that saw them put in the second lowest number of laps, as well as the second slowest time.

It left engine boss Yusuke Hasegawa admitting he is 'worried' about whether they can find and correct the root cause of the problem.

To add to their disarray it was revealed on Monday that former Ferrari engine specialist Gilles Simon has parted company with Honda, reportedly after disagreements about the direction the project needed to take to be successful.

It already looks like it might be a long season for McLaren-Honda - and this test is crucial if they are to have a hope of a reasonably competitive car for Melbourne.

4. What have Red Bull really got up their sleeves?

Has Adrian Newey got something sneaky up his sleeve for Red Bull?

Has Adrian Newey got something sneaky up his sleeve for Red Bull?

Red Bull had a solid, if surprisingly unspectacular first test last week. They ended the week third quickest, but many had predicted the new RB13 to come with a host of clever aerodynamic toys from master-designer Adrian Newey.

In the end their car looked disappointingly conventional - but the paddock whispers are that Newey and Co were holding back all their really clever tweaks for this week, partly so they could understand the car better and partly to give rivals less time to copy them.

'First we wanted to keep it clean and simple so we understand what we have,' Newey said last week. 'I like to start with a simple and clean car - and then you can start adding to it.'

5. Can Stroll hack it?

All eyes on Stroll: The Canadian is under pressure to deliver

All eyes on Stroll: The Canadian is under pressure to deliver

Teenage rookie Lance Stroll had a first test to forget last week.

The 18-year-old Canadian twice went off-track, both times damaging the Williams to such an extent that it severely curtailed their running.

He has had support from Lewis Hamilton though. 'I feel for him in the sense that it's the toughest year to come into Formula 1, being in the fastest cars and the most physical cars,' the three time world champ said. 'You can't just jump in and drive from no experience at all to being consistent and not spin. That's to be expected. It's actually good for him to go through this now, rather than at the first race.'

We'll see if he can get to grips with the car this week.

6. How is the midfield shaping up?

The Toro Rosso STR12 looks the business, but is it quick?

The Toro Rosso STR12 looks the business, but is it quick?

We can fairly confidently expect Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to have the three quickest cars this season - but who will be snapping at their heels?

Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and McLaren will all have hopes of being best of the rest - but who has done the better job over the winter?

We won't truly know until qualifying in Melbourne, but this week should at least give us some hints as to who is on the right lines.

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Comments (2)

  • I hope the Toro Rosso is quick, looks absolutely superb!

      3 years ago
  • Genuinely, this year the pecking order I believe will go a little like this:

    1. Mercedes

    2.ferrari

    3.williams

    4.redbull

    5.haas

    6.force India

    7.torro rosso

    8.mclaren

    9. sauber

      3 years ago
2