While the crowds may not have flocked to Jerez in the manner in which they did on Sunday’s pre-season launch day, the second winter test session offered up plenty of talking points and reinforced many early conclusions draw yesterday. Sebastian Vettel once again topped the albeit academic timesheet, once again posting impressive times in the SF15-T. Meanwhile, Mercedes again conquered in the mileage stakes, but a water leak prevented Lewis Hamilton from reaching a century of laps – the first chink in the W06’s armor.
It could be said that Mercedes’ unprecedentedly reliable start to testing yesterday set the bar too high for Hamilton today However, throughout the morning, the Brit was posting consistent times and racking up the miles in an equally impressive manner compared to his teammate 24 hours previous. He managed to hit the 50 mark, just after noon and I for one was convinced that the Brit would easily march past the century.
Ultimately this was not the case, as the W06 ground to a halt at the end of the pit-lane two hours later. After close examination, the water leak which had resulted in the stoppage was in fact caused by a component failure. After specifically targeting reliability over the winter, Mercedes may be disappointed to have lost three hours of running this afternoon. However, all is certainly not lost – as highlighted in the graphic below, Mercedes still managed to top the mileage stakes for a second day running and of the three hours lost, one was during a deluge of rain. As such, it was not the worst time to have an issue.
As the graphic above indicates, Mercedes’ issue meant that mileage was distributed fairly evenly today, (at least compared with yesterday’s Mercedes-show.) Ferrari were once again very impressive, as Sebastian Vettel built upon his 60 laps yesterday, clocking another 89 today and finishing just two short of Hamilton’s mileage. What impressed me most was the quality of the laps posted. While a timesheet can, and usually does, deceive during testing, Vettel’s consistency is certainly eye-catching. This morning, a flurry of times in the 1:21’s and 1:22’s were recorded across an eight lap stint. His fastest lap of the day may have come on a shorter run, but his general running suggests that Ferrari are not simply emptying the SF15-T for glory runs – there seems to be real substance behind the early test pace.
In a similar vain, Sauber once again impressed and proved to be Ferrari’s closest table-topping challengers, with Felipe Nasr recording the only personal best time in the 1:21’s. The mileage was impressive from the Hinwil based squad, as they clocked 88 laps. This has been a key storyline of the opening two days – Ferrari have suffered few engine issues. Both the Ferrari and Sauber cars have run very effectively, completing solid mileage on both days. 310 laps have been recorded so far and while this is 113 less than Mercedes, the void between the manufacturers has perhaps shrunk over the winter, with both powerunits now running reasonably smoothly.
What Honda would give to have their powertrain running smoothly. Teething problems aplenty have recurred today, with Jenson Button failing to even exceed Fernando Alonso’s 6 lap benchmark set yesterday. Sensor problems for Honda are just what their rival manufactures suffered from last season. McLaren’s strife would therefore have looked far less daunting had this been 2014 – the fact that this is 2015 means that they have plenty of ground to make up and just a small amount of time in which to do it.
To summarize, McLaren need laps, Ferrari power looks much improved and Rosberg already has the upper hand in what could be “Hamilton vs Rosberg: The Rematch” in 2015.