Just as it seemed that McLaren’s 2015 preparation had turned in fortunes, the MGU-K gremlins returned again today, with Jenson Button managing just 24 laps. While the Woking team faced another un-productive outing, day three yielded five centurions – a record for this pre-season so far – with Max Verstappen’s haul of 129 setting the benchmark for the day, while the W06 surpassed the 800 lap mark and with five days of testing to spare.
The most prominent trend today has been the growing reliability enjoyed by the teams, (excluding McLaren of course.) Sauber’s low lap count came as a result of loosing the morning to technical issues and while Toro Rosso may have ground to a halt late on, the mileage total’s being recorded by team’s continues to impress at this stage of proceedings. Race simulation runs are now being completed by teams other then Mercedes, with Kvyat equaling the 66 lap run managed by Ricciardo yesterday, only this time, Red Bull’s race was not interrupted by an untimely red flag.
Lotus may have topped the timesheet in two sessions out of three this week, but with both chart topping efforts coming on the supersoft tyre, this performance should be noted with caution. The fact that Verstappen’s best time today also came on the stickiest of the four dry compounds may provide somewhat of a yardstick to judge Lotus by, but ultimately, the likelihood of both teams running identical programmes and having had identical fuel levels on board at the time is somewhere between slim and none. However, in the struggle we fans face to decipher testing times, the gap between Maldonado and Verstappen is perhaps a vague hint as to the pecking order.
Ferrari had another good day. Sebastian Vettel’s only mistake came so early on that I doubt the marshals had taken their green flags in before having to display the red ones for the first time. The German was otherwise a smooth operator once again, clocking 105 laps and seemingly displaying a grin at all times. Either he is very happy at his new team or he has caught a trait from his former teammate.
Judging by how well Ferrari’s pre-season has passed thus far, I imagine it is the latter.