New cars, fresh faces. The opening Formula 1preseason test at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona certainly threw up some intriguing ingredients for the 2019 Formula 1 season ahead.
After four long days of pre-season preparations, we look back and discover the five things learnt from the first F1 test as the countdown continues to the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 in Melbourne on March 14-17.
Mercedes keeping a lid on it
The reigning world champions approached testing differently to their main title contenders Ferrari, taking a more conservative approach across the four days. While Mercedes kept low key on the timesheets, exactly 610 laps were covered by the duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas measuring a total distance of 2,839 km – the most of any team.
However, Mercedes are yet to show their true hand after electing to run on slower tyre compounds for most of the week while experimenting with different car setups on shorter runs. As always, they’re a big team to keep an eye on heading into next week’s second four-day test.
Ferrari might be the fastest at this stage
From the outset, Ferrari’s pace was one to watch as Sebastian Vettel pumped out 169 laps around the Circuit de Catalunya to finish top of the timesheets on Monday. His new teammate Charles Leclerc followed on, covering another 157 laps in the new SF90 on Tuesday and heading the times by three-tenths of a second.
Holding back on pace during Wednesday and Thursday, the Scuderia still managed two 100+ lap days, asserting their challenge to Mercedes heading into the upcoming the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship.
Renault has encouraging pace
Despite getting caught up with minor disturbances throughout the week, the Renault F1 Team still displayed solid pace – especially over the final two days. A promising Wednesday afternoon session by Daniel Ricciardo – finishing the day third fastest – encouraged the Australian, who is eager to hop back into the R.S.19 next week in preparation for his home race at the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019.
Hulkenberg backed up Renault’s intent on the final day by posting the fastest lap of the entire test by two-tenths while continuing to endure persistent teething issues. The million dollar question is where Renault’s pace will stand alongside the sharp end of the grid when it comes down to qualifying and the race at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019.
Honda can do the distance
Honda flexed their long-run reliability this week, racking up 957 laps across their two teams – Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso – during the four days. Honda logged an impressive 146 laps with Pierre Gasly in the RB15 on Thursday, proving their power unit as a reliable long-run asset.
Their speed may also be present as returning F1 driver Daniil Kvyat propelled himself to the top of the timing screens during Wednesday’s proceedings. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will so far be delighted with their decision to join the Japanese manufacturer for the 2019 Formula 1® World Championship and beyond.
Williams has a steep climb ahead of them
Regrettably missing the first two days of the opening test, Williams has plenty of work to do in preparation for the season-opening Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019.
Even with an impressive driver line-up featuring Formula 1 rookie George Russell and returning racing veteran Robert Kubica, the pairing will need plenty of preparation in the FW42 in time for the upcoming 2019 Formula 1® World Championship.
Next week’s second and final test in Barcelona, Spain from 26 February to 1 March will be the team’s last chance to prepare for the season-opening Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 on 14-17 March.