The second and final day of in-season testing at Barcelona in 2015 saw Lotus’ Jolyon Palmer secure a mini victory, finishing the day fastest after a late effort on the supersoft tyre saw him usurp Mercedes’ pilot for the day, Pascal Wehrlein. After missing yesterday’s running, in which he was billed to drive at Force India, due to illness, the German recorded 137 laps, once again underlining the reliability of the W06. It has been a great week for Mercedes in general – but then again – its been a great season so far…
Just 48 hours after taking his first race victory of the 2015 campaign around the Circuit de Barcelona, column inches are once again being devoted to Nico Rosberg this evening as he topped the timesheet in the first day of in-season testing. The German’s table topping effort was marginally faster than his best time posted on Saturday afternoon, good enough for pole position. However, today’s best was posted during a tyre test, in which an unmarked compound was used, making the testing timesheet even more academic than usual.
It was the grand finale of the pre-season programme today, as drivers and cars took to the track for the final time before the 2015 curtain-raiser at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. As teams looked to finesse their 2015 challengers, Valtteri Bottas ended a positive period of testing for Williams on a high, as a supersoft run took the Finn to the top of the timesheet. However, Mercedes were certainly not chasing times today – an ominous statement in itself. They know that pace is readily available in the W06 and few pundits will be able to look past the Mercedes duo to take the spoils of victory down-under.
The penultimate day of pre-season testing was another story of mighty lap totals and Mercedes pace. The W06 was again the class of the field, as Lewis Hamilton completed his final session prior to FP1 in Melbourne, topping the timing screens for the first time in his 2015 testing experience. However, as Mercedes “experimented” with set-up within the confines of the garage, competitors stole a mileage march and among today’s big-hitters were Toro Rosso, Ferrari and astonishingly, Force India.
Anyone track-side for today’s session was treated to a feast of action as all teams placed some pleasing mileage on the board – it is evident from the briefest of glaces at a mileage chart that not one team could say that they had an unproductive day. The big headlines following such a busy affair; Mercedes strapped the soft compound to the W06 for the first time and displayed the type of speed that we have all been anticipating and McLaren have finally had a breakthrough, as Jenson Button became a centurion for the first time in 2015. In fact, Button was one of a number today…
Its the final pre-season test folks, otherwise known as ‘squeaky-bum time’ for any team who is short of pre-season mileage. As such, the pressure and spotlight is certainly on McLaren Honda this week, as we search for any signs which suggest that either MP4-30 has a chance of seeing the chequered flag in Melbourne. With just 7 laps before a session ending hydraulic leak today, it is yet another story of disappointment. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Williams have finally stepped out of the shadows and revealed that the FW37 has the pace that everyone was anticipating – perhaps even more than was first imagined.
The final chapter of the second act of pre-season 2015 has been dramatic. McLaren have made headlines once again, yet it is Fernando Alonso rather than reliability, the focus of today. The Spaniard crashed heavily on the exit of turn three and was subsequently air lifted to hospital. Thankfully, following a CT scan, the team have confirmed that the two time champion is “uninjured and fine.” Elsewhere, Mercedes gave us a taste of just what the W06 has to offer and on the medium tyres, Rosberg posted some emphatic times.