That’s a wrap. The final chequered flag of pre-season testing marked the conclusion of F1 action until the cars roll out of the pitlane in Melbourne in two weeks time. Sebastian Vettel ended what has been a positive test for Ferrari on a high, topping the timesheet yet again. Hopes of a titanic title duel between the Silver Arrows and the prancing horse have grown again.
Here are five things we learnt on the final day of pre-season testing.
Mercedes cannot complete a problem free pre-season
After spending the last two weeks convinced that the Mercedes W07 was effortlessly bullet-proof, the bubble burst for the team today, as Lewis Hamilton ground to a halt with a transmission fault. Regardless, Mercedes managed to complete the equivalent mileage of 20 of the 21 Grand Prix to come this season – in just eight days. Sublime.
“It’s been an incredible two weeks for the team,” Hamilton stated when speaking to Sky Sports. “They have done an amazing job. We’ve done more mileage than ever before – which has been tiring!”
Ferrari and Mercedes look even
The curtain raiser in Melbourne is poised to be fascinating throughout the field, including the intriguing battle for top honours between Ferrari and Mercedes. On the basis of both yesterday and today’s running, Ferrari have leveled with their Brackley rivals.
While his comments may be a ploy to downplay the team’s strength, Nico Rosberg has admitted that Ferrari could in fact be ahead of Mercedes leading into round one. Rosberg and Hamilton have certainly not been focusing on pace this winter. The latter is a notable absentee from the top ten times of testing, as the champions refrained from using either the supersoft or ultrasoft tyre for the duration of testing.
Assuming Ferrari have run with similar amounts of fuel to Mercedes during the past few days, the fight at the top is set to be defined by fractions. However, you know what they say about those who assume…
McLaren will be learning on the fly in Melbourne
Despite making huge gains in reliability this winter, McLaren will enter the first race weekend with a lot to learn. The Woking squad have been evaluating various engine specification in order to find the optimum combination of components, yet will run with 2016 parts in Australia that have not yet been tested.
“We are going to turn up in Australia with more bits on the car that have unfortunately not been signed off here,” Eric Boullier stated. “But it is what it is – we have been able to run most of the days, which is very good news.”
Haas end testing buoyed by progress
Following a disasterous start to the second test, Haas ended their maiden pre-season period on a positive note. Romain Grosjean and Esteban Guteirrez managed 91 laps today and while they appear to be sort of pace to trouble the regular points scorers at present, they appear to have eliminated the teething problems which derailed them earlier this week.
Sauber are only just ahead of Haas
Rather concerning for Sauber, is the fact that they seem just a few tenths clear of F1’s newcomers. After arriving late to testing with their 2016 challenger, Marcus Ericsson finished just two and four tenths clear of Grosjean and Gutierrez respectively today. With Manor Racing and Pascal Wehrlein in particular threatening to shock some established midfield names, Sauber could easily find themselves on the back of the pack.