More McLaren Woes While Wehrlein Impresses
The Abu Dhabi test was always going to be a bonus for McLaren – some quality time for the engineers to get to know their shiny new Honda-powertrain. Ultimately, mileage has been severely limited but for the aforementioned reasons, McLaren seem unperturbed. Elsewhere, Mercedes’ reserve youngster, Pascal Wehrlein, received his first public opportunity in a F1 car and had the privilege of taking the all-conquering W05 to the track for its final day of running.
While five laps is the most modest of modest totals after two days of testing, Honda are not about to panic just yet. This test was aimed at ironing out the initial issues which inevitably plague such a complex powertrain when it comes out of the box. It is better to have electrical gremlins now than when winter testing commences in February. Ultimately, any running completed in the MP4-29 would not be totally representative anyway, on the basis that the powertrain is not a fully integrated part – merely strapped onto a car which has been built with a Mercedes unit in mind.
The man who will likely be most disappointed by completing just two laps today will be Stoffel Vandoorne. With a McLaren seat up for grabs, I imagine the Belgian youngster would have been chomping at the bit to hit the track and demonstrate the extent of his talents. However, I doubt that the decision to run Vandoorne across the past two days was motivated by the fact that McLaren need to assess his potential – they could not have anticipated to have the car clocking enough mileage to allow Stoffel an opportunity to impress anyway.
Honda will have learnt a lot from the past two days. McLaren engineers now have an understanding of the operational rubric which will stand them in good stead to hit the ground running in Jerez. More mileage would have been welcomed, but it was by no means a necessity. Alarm bells will only start ringing if the first two days in Jerez yield a similar lack of ‘lappage’.
A name which many F1 fans were unfamiliar with prior to his appearance in Singapore as the newly appointed reserve driver at the Brackley based outfit. 20-year-old Wehrlein would most certainly be known by fans of DTM, as he made headlines and broke records by becoming the youngest ever race winner, earlier in the campaign. Clearly, he has future superstar potential and Mercedes have recognised this. His first chance in a public F1 test came today and while testing timesheets are famously unrepresentative, Wehrlein placed his name on top of the pile, which rightly or wrongly, attracts attention.
What a fitting way for the W05 to return to the garage for the final time of its working life. It has been a car which has rewritten many parts of the record books – most wins in a season is one of the most notable achievements, as its 16 triumphs overhauled the mighty McLaren-Honda MP4/4, a car driven by Prost and Senna no less. Mercedes’ dominance has been spellbinding this season and as the W05 heads into retirement, I am sure that it will be pounding around a track for old-times-sake again soon and for many years to come.
The Mr.Mileage Award Goes To…
Sauber’s new recruit completed his second day behind the wheel of his new office and certainly had plenty of time to become accustomed to the stationary, clocking 112 laps – not quite eclipsing Rosberg’s 114 lap benchmark set yesterday, but certainly a promising total for a Sauber team looking to recover from their worst season EVER.
1 Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 96 laps.
2 Raffaele Marciello Ferrari 91 laps.
3 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 78 laps.
4 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 112 laps.
5 Will Stevens Caterham 76 laps.
6 Spike Goddard Force India 89 laps.
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 88 laps.
8 Felipe Nasr Williams 83 laps.
9 Alex Lynn Lotus 52 laps.
10 Esteban Ocon Lotus 34 laps.
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 2 laps.