Here's another review of testing for you, where I will run through each team assessing how well they've done in Barcelona. In the first test we saw incredible reliability from the teams, as well as some good performance upgrades. However, there was a general impression that Ferrari were the team to beat, but will that continue into this second week or will Mercedes show their true pace?
Here's the timesheet for today:
1) Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:17.709, 80 laps
2) Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, 1:17.715, 136 laps
3) Lance Stroll, Racing Point, 1:17.824, 82 laps
4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:17.925, 81 laps
5) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, 1:18.589, 99 laps
6) Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso, 1:18.649. 103 laps
7) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:18.651, 29 laps
8) Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:18.769, 131 laps
9) George Russell, Williams, 1:19.662, 119 laps
10) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 1:20.107, 77 laps
11) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:20.167, 7 laps
12) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:20.332, 83 laps
13) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:20.348, 80 laps
In a day where Fernando Alonso turned up to support the team, in what was deemed a 'social visit', his replacement Lando Norris topped the timesheets for the first time. The young Brit set a time of 1:17.709 to go first, but this was on the soft C4 (supersoft) tyres. However, putting the time aside, it was a troubled day for the team. They missed the last hour and a half of the morning session due to a loss of hydraulic pressure, which caused Norris to pull over onto the gravel in his MCL34. Then, with not long to go in the session, the McLaren stopped at turn two yet again bringing out the red flags.
I've said this before and I'll say it again, it is nice to see McLaren topping the times. Even if it was just a glory run on the soft tyres, I'll take what I can get. However, what is slightly concerning is the number of stoppages that the team have had on track. They had a couple last week, and they've had another two in one day. Reliability issues have been a constant problem at the team under both Honda and Renault power in recent seasons, so I hope they can get things sorted before Australia.
Norris had this to say:
"On the whole today was a good day, although we didn't get to do quite as much running as we wanted. We've improved the car slightly since last week, especially on the longer runs, so we're going in the right direction, which is positive. It's important that we keep doing that.
"Overall, I'm feeling more prepared. I now have one last session in the car on Thursday, to finalise everything before Australia."
Gil de Ferran added:
"Unfortunately, we didn't complete as many miles as we had on the programme today, due to some small issues. Nevertheless, on balance, it was a positive day.
"We were again able to complete some important work in preparation for Australia, with regards to the development and our understanding of the car, as well as getting Lando ready for his debut grand prix. Onwards to tomorrow."
Red Bull had another strong day in Barcelona, with their Honda power units taking them across the line more times than any other single driver, with 136 laps for Pierre Gasly. Gasly was also second in the timesheets, with a best time of a 1:17.715 around the Circuit de Catalunya. The Frenchman also came second the morning session, and his best time was set on tyres a compound harder than Norris'.
I know it's still really early on to make any sort of predictions for the season, but it definitely won't stop me (and you I'm sure) from trying. In a day where Red Bull said that they were expecting to have to take tactical grid penalties across the course of the season, I don't see it as being any worse than it was with Renault, and it could even be better. For example, neither Red Bull or Toro Rosso have had any power unit related problems (or any at all for that matter) over the first week of testing, and it isn't like they didn't cover some distance. The real test will be whether the engine can handle being put under the stress of qualifying (there have been rumours of vibrations), but if I were to bet on it I think they could be in for a good season.
“We pushed a little more today, but really it’s all about understanding how the car works. There were a lot of aero tests and a lot of items to evaluate for the Team today, and that’s good for me as it helps me get more comfortable with the car. Lap after lap it’s getting better, but of course there’s still work to do. The pace was good, but we just have to focus on ourselves and work through the programme we’ve defined for each day. So far it’s been positive; we’ve managed to get through our plan and we’ve gained a lot of mileage. The potential is there so we’ll just try to improve in the areas we can, keep our heads down and keep working.”
Head of Race Engineering at the team, Guillaume 'Rocky' Rocquelin added:
“We had a successful first week of testing here in Barcelona. To start the week, we changed the run plan today slightly and focused on shorter runs, which enabled us to work through a greater number of test items. That obviously meant more time in the garage between runs, but it went very smoothly and we were able to tick a lot of boxes – including some purely procedural things that we wanted to get done. We were also able to look at performance a little more, hence Pierre’s run in the afternoon, so in all it’s been a very solid start. Tomorrow, we’ll start to look more at race preparation.”
Racing Point had a relatively strong day compared to what they were doing in the first test, with Lance Stroll putting in 82 laps with a best time of a 1:17.824 to go third fastest. This was on the fastest compound available however, the C5's (hypersofts).
As I predicted last week, Racing Point have announced that they are going to bring a substantial upgrade to Melbourne, as they are running many parts from their 2018 challenger as it stands currently. This is because when it came to designing the RP19, the team were doing so with next to nothing as they were in administration, not even knowing for sure if they were going to be able to compete in 2019. This upgrade should give them a big performance boost, as even though they've finished up the timesheets today they haven't exactly been consistent thus far.
Lance Stroll said:
"It was our smoothest day of testing so far and we completed some valuable mileage. The car felt good so I think we are heading in the right direction. These days are about building confidence and getting to grips with the new car, but also getting used to this new environment. I am getting on really well with the crew in the garage. They're great people and everyone is working so hard. We ran on a mix of different tyres today and tried a lot of test items. There's a good atmosphere in the garage and I'm feeling pleased with the work we did today."
Tom McCullough, the Performance Engineering Director, added:
"The car ran reliably all day, which allowed us to complete our testing plan. It was a good day that allowed us to catch up on some of the items we had missed last week. We worked through an aero test programme in the morning, while in the afternoon we were able to focus more on rebalancing the car. We also had the first sample of the softer compounds Pirelli have introduced for this year. In general, we continued with our strong data-gathering programme: there still a lot of work to do, but our understanding of the RP19 is increasing every time we run it. We need to keep doing that for the rest of the week."
For the first time this year, Ferrari have decided to split the driving duties between Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel each day, rather than having each one driver in the car for the full day. Sebastian Vettel was the faster of the two, with a time of 1:17.925, compared to Leclerc's 1:18.651. However, Leclerc was in the garage for most of the morning, so he only managed 29 laps, with his teammate eclipsing that in the afternoon with 81.
This is the first time that we have seen Ferrari run into problems, as they were flawless throughout all of the first test. However, I wouldn't take this as anything to be concerned about, as they were back to their usual selves in the afternoon. The speed that the Scuderia have shown over the course of pre-season testing so far is impressive, but it has also been in the past. They need to carry this kind of performance advantage through to the start of the season, as Christian Horner pointed out yesterday:
“Ferrari is always strong in winter,” he told Marca. “If there was a World Championship in winter, they would win it every year. But the points are given in the summer.
“Of course they have arrived here with a strong car, but these are not even close to the temperatures we will race in. But you can see they are in good shape.”
"This morning we did fewer laps than planned, but I'm sure we can make up for lost work in the coming days. Track conditions were slightly different today compared to the first test, so it took a moment to adapt to them".
Vettel had a bit more to say:
"It was a busy afternoon, but it was good to make up for the laps lost in the morning. We are still trying to understand the car, trying various set-ups. This afternoon, we also had a first go with the supersoft compound, just to get some more information. The next couple of days will be important for us".
Antonio Giovinazzi was at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo today, and he had a fairly decent day with 99 laps completed, with a best time of a 1:18.589 which was enough to put him in fifth place. The Italian rookie also topped the timesheets in the morning session, just pipping Pierre Gasly to the top spot twenty minutes before the compulsory lunch break. However, just before the end of the day, the car stopped at the end of the pit lane.
Even with the slight stoppage at the end of the session, I don't think the team have anything to worry about as they go into the first race. This is because they have two good drivers in Giovinazzi and Raikkonen, but they look to have made a big leap forward in comparison to where they were at the end of last year. I think this is partly down to the extra money that they have at their disposal now they are officially Alfa Romeo, but also you can't help but think that their ever closer relationship with Ferrari must help out a bit (this isn't to take away from the amazing job that their designers have done over the winter).
"We have concluded another constructive day and started the second week of testing on a positive note. With another 99 laps down, I feel good in the car and am satisfied with the progress we are making. We continue to learn about our strengths as a team with every day spent on track and are motivated to continue of this path. I look forward to being back in the car on Thursday."
Alexander Albon was back in the cockpit for Toro Rosso today, and the Thai-British driver managed to clock up 103 laps, with a best time of a 1:18.649. This time was enough to put him into sixth place, in what was another trouble-free day for the Italian team.
Albon, according to the team's technical director Jody Egginton, has "ticked all the boxes" and has been "exceeding" their expectations. This is high praise from somebody that is high-up in the team, and I personally think that this praise is justified. Before the filming day in Misano just before the first test, Albon had never even driven a Formula 1 car. However, since his spin on the first day (which was not his fault), he has been flawless. There have been no more incidents in the 341 laps that he's completed so far, and he also set the second fastest time of the first test. Daniil Kvyat is going to have a tough time trying to beat the new kid on the block this season.
"It wasn't a bad day today. We made a lot of progress in the afternoon session learning more about the car and how it performs in longer runs, so hopefully we can build on that momentum for tomorrow. I'm still getting used to the car and there's a few things I need to work on and improve, but I think it's more a case of fine tuning. I'm still getting comfortable with the high-speed of the car and race management of when I can and can't push, but that will come with the more laps I do. We did a lot of runs to see what suits the car best and also help me prepare for my first race in a couple of weeks."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda's technical director, added:
"Today was the start of the final four days of testing before we go to Melbourne. Therefore, our main aim was to ensure that both our teams got as much track time as possible prior to the first race of the season. Today, we managed 239 laps between our two teams, without any major issues. It meant we acquired a lot of data, making it another smooth day. It has also been useful as we continue to learn together with our teams regarding the operational side and from the drivers' perspective they are gaining in understanding about the PU and indeed the whole car package."
Kevin Magnussen was at the wheel of his VF-19 today, and he managed to set a record number of laps for the American outfit with 131 on the board in Barcelona. However, they didn't really decide to show their pace, only setting a 1:18.769 to finish the day in eighth place. This time was set on the C4 (supersoft) tyres, so it mustn't have been at full power/low fuel.
I hope to see that that Haas have fixed the reliability issues that plagued them during the first test, as they could not only do with the running but I think they could be a key ingredient in what is shaping up to be a massive battle in the midfield this season. The team had amazing pace this time last year, but it's whether they are able to keep up with the development race of bigger teams such as McLaren and Renault. They have two strong drivers in Grosjean and Magnussen, so it will be interesting to see what they can do.
"It's been a good day with lots of laps. I'm very happy to have had a problem free day, it's been good just to run all day with no issues. We needed to start the week off like that. It's nice to get those laps in and see that the car is reliable. The car feels good and we managed to get some long runs in on different tires. Overall, it's been a very positive day."
Team boss, Guenther Steiner, added:
"It was a pretty good day. We managed to achieve our highest lap total since we started testing last week. We just got on with the job today, I think we've caught up a little bit with what we missed out on in week one. It's been a positive start, hopefully we can continue like this tomorrow."
I think this is the first day of testing this year that I can talk about Williams without either having a moan, or taking the piss. George Russell was back in the FW42 and managed a respectable 119 laps for the Grove outfit. His best time wasn't too bad either, with a 1:19.662, but it was clear that Williams were not looking for lap times.
I think the team and the drivers are still getting to know the car, which is why long runs were the theme of the day. I am really hoping that this car can give Williams something to cheer about, as at this point it would be nice just to see them back in the midfield battle, nevermind near the front of the grid. Russell has said recently that the team have "no idea" about the potential of the car when it's at 100%. Robert Kubica is back in the car tomorrow, so let's hope that this good form can continue...
"It was a good day. Our plan was to get as many laps on the board, make sure we had no issues and that's exactly what we did. We have learnt so much about the car on lower fuel and higher fuel which gives us a good indication moving forward into the next few days. All in all, it was a huge relief to have a day like today and we completed our test plan as intended."
Paddy Lowe, CTO of Williams, added:
"It was a good day of testing with George driving the car. We completed 119 laps without any significant reliability issues, so we achieved the entire programme that we had planned from the start of the day. We completed a mixture of data gathering and performance running at low and high fuel on a range of different tyre compounds. It is early days with our familiarisation with the car, so there is a lot of work to do to understand what we have got and the directions that we need to take. We have already identified some opportunities though, and we will keep pushing through the remainder of the week to prepare ourselves for Australia. Well done to the team, a great job by everybody to get a car that can do the laps without incident to make a solid start to the second test."
In terms of laps completed, Renault had a really good day. Yet again, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo shared driving duties for the day and they had a combined lap count of 157 - the most out of any team. Ricciardo was the faster of the pair, with a 1:20.107 the best of his 77 laps. Hulkenberg propped up the timesheet with a 1:20.348 being all that he could manage from his 80 laps in the RS19.
I think that it is pretty obvious that the French team were not going for lap times, as they are widely expected to be up at the front of the midfield battle when we get to Melbourne. We have already seen a little bit of what the car is capable of, as the Hulk finished the first test as the fastest of them all. However, in the first week they had problems with the reliability of the car, most notably Ricciardo's wing popping off down the home straight. If today is anything to go by, they seem to have moved past these teething problems, and I hope to see some low fuel runs later on in the week.
"We had a simple plan today where we ran a lot of laps and played around with setup on longer-based runs. We're building an understanding on the characteristics and gathering a lot of positive data for the car. It's good to see how the car reacts to different things and to find certain preferences on days like this. The morning went well, the conditions were great, and I was pretty satisfied with how things progressed. We have more things to put on the car and test over the next couple of days."
"It was good mileage for is today. We pounded the laps in with longer runs and also completed some aero tests. It's good for me to sit in the car for a few hours to keep learning and building our knowledge on the car. Nico did a bunch of laps this morning and we achieved the most mileage of any team today, which is positive. I missed out a bit last week in terms of lap count, so it was important today to put a lot on the board."
Mercedes kicked off the second test with a whole raft of aerodynamic upgrades to the W10, which included a new nose, front wing and floor. The Silver Arrows also decided to split their running between Bottas and Hamilton, but it was only Hamilton that put any substantial mileage on the car. Hamilton completed 83 laps in the morning session, with a best time of a 1:20.332. Bottas just edged the world champion with a 1:20.167, but the Finn could only manage 7 laps.
In what was a rare occurrence, Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes stopped on the circuit today, and the issue kept him in the garage until the last few moments of the afternoon session. The problem required a full engine change.
As was the case with the Ferrari, I really don't think that this problem will be a recurring thing for the team, and is certainly not something that they need to be worrying about. The German team have again been focusing on long runs however, with many analysts thinking that the team may even be behind Red Bull, nevermind Ferrari in terms of outright pace. We will begin to see how true this assessment is later in the week when they start to focus on low fuel runs, but until the first race nobody can really be sure.
"It's been a beautiful day here in Barcelona and it was great to see that even more fans turned out today. We got through our run programme and the car was feeling relatively good. It was an improvement from last week which is a good step. The tyres are also working a better now that the track temperature is a bit higher. We have to continue to analyse everything and keep pushing."
"Unfortunately, after four days of flawless reliability last week, I spent most of the day waiting as we had an oil pressure issue on my first outlap and had to change the Power Unit. But I'm glad I still got to do a few laps, the team did a really good job to get the car out again; it was important to get a bit of a feel for the new aero package. My running was obviously very limited, but it seems like we've made improvements. We need to review everything in more detail tonight and I'm looking forward to continuing our programme tomorrow morning."
James Allison also commented:
"It was not exactly the day we hoped for, running for the first time with the bodywork kit that we expect to use in Melbourne, with a large part of the day lost to an oil pressure issue at lunchtime. Nevertheless, either side of that problem we did do some useful things, finding that the car behaves a little differently with the new package. We're looking forward very much to have a trouble-free day tomorrow to get a better feel for what it can do."
I hoped you enjoyed reading this, and I'll be doing the same everyday so make sure that you've joined the tribe to be the first to see new stuff.
Please leave a comment with your thoughts, and I'll do my best to reply to all of them. Also, there is a poll below: