The second and final pre-season test in Barcelona commenced today and it was a familiar face at the top of the timesheet. Nico Rosberg managed 82 laps this morning before handing driving duties over to his teammate, and sat on top spot throughout with impressive times on both the medium and soft compound Pirelli’s. For the first time this pre-season, Ferrari and Williams looked adrift of the Mercedes on pace.
Here are five things we learnt on the fifth day of winter testing.
Mercedes are five tenths clear
Until now, extrapolation has been the order of the day. Armchair pundits, (myself included), have seen the W07 relentlessly pound round the circuit and assumed that when they pull the pin and unleash the raw speed with the car, it would be markedly faster than the competition.
While it seems likely that all teams are holding pace in reserve at the moment, today’s did see Mercedes stretch their legs to a far greater extent than last week. They were half a second clear of Ferrari and Williams, both on the medium and soft compound tyre. It is certainly an ominous sign of potential, if not a hammer-blow to the opposition just yet.
Mach II engine for McLaren
McLaren managed to recover from their dire end to the previous test, by recording 92 laps today. With the hydraulic leak resolved, the team set about gathering data for their “Mach II” powertrain, which they will be using this week.
The unit is reported to contain a number of elements not trialed last week. The engineers will evaluate the performance this week, compare it to last week, and bring a package to Melbourne which contains the best elements of both.
Haas a lot to learn
There is no time to sit still in Formula One – particularly when your the new guys – and Haas made the most of their enforced break from track action today. Despite their surprisingly reliable running last week, Haas’ bubble burst today, as a fuel systems issue curtailed Esteban Gutierrez’s efforts.
However, the US squad made the most of their time by simulating an FIA deflection test this afternoon. It is easy to forget that new teams have to not only monitor the stopwatch but also learn the procedures that to their rivals are simply second nature.
Fuel system: a weakness for Ferrari?
Haas’ fuel system problem today is the second of time a 2016 Ferrari powertrain has suffered the problem this winter. Kimi Raikkonen lost an entire morning of mileage last week when his SF16-H endured a similar fault.
Notable weakness or not, Ferrari have certainly not enjoyed the bullet-proof reliability of their rivals Mercedes so far. The Scuderia stopped on track yet again today, and once again, Raikkonen’s mileage was hindered. Kimi’s lack-of-luck seems to have rolled over from 2015.
C35 provides a good baseline for Sauber
Today marked Sauber’s first day running their 2016 challenger. The C35 ran reliably on its maiden voyage, clocking an impressive 103 laps and giving Felipe Nasr a solid first day of running in his new office. Technical Director Mark Smith’s first Sauber seems to have provided the team with a solid baseline upon which to build.