Statistics are key in any sport. One of the favourite past-times of the armchair pundit is to dissect all the key facts and figures and whenever a record is broken, it is quite the occasion. As such, Max Verstappen’s shock win at Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix took on greater significance than the typical first time win. The 18 year old obliterated the previous record for youngest winner, in turn toppling top spot for the youngest driver to both stand on the podium and lead a lap, all in his first weekend at a new team.
The Dutchman is quite the record breaker, but follows in the footsteps of numerous other emerging talents who re-wrote the record books over the years.
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.
The second day in Barcelona was largely a case of status quo at the top of the timesheet. Sebastian Vettel made it a brace of table topping days for Ferrari, with a run on the brand new ultra-soft tyre. Mercedes, however, were once again supreme in the mileage stakes, with a record 172 laps and finishing fourth on the timesheet after a run on the medium compound.
Here are five things we learnt on day two of winter testing…
The reassembly of one of the sports most successful partnerships was meant to be the springboard that a struggling McLaren outfit needed to return to pre-eminence. While the first races on Honda’s return to the sport were always set to be filled with trials and tribulations, few could have predicted the extent of their troubles at the mid-way point of their first season in the V6 Hybrid era.
Just 17 points on the board, from ten races plagued by unreliability, the first half of the season has certainly been a character building experience.
The big book of superlatives has certainly been put to good use today, as Lewis Hamilton took an emphatic pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix. At arguably his best circuit of the year, Hamilton was imperious, following on from three untroubled practice sessions and managed to post a masterful flying lap to end his charge in Q3 and leave teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg trailing in his wake, to the tune of a rather surprising six tenths. Rosberg’s qualifying was hampered by balance issues, which seriously hampered him in the technical sector two.
It may be the usual front row, but in unusual circumstances, with Rosberg left scratching his head after another tricky Saturday afternoon.
Honda are certainly not unfamiliar with the pressure-cooker that is the Formula 1 paddock. Their struggles to adapt to life in the post-2014 formula has seen both them, and their partners at McLaren, face a barrage of difficult questions. This barrage has become more potent of late, as the team continue to languish towards the tail-end of the grid. While Honda have the resources and expertise required to win races and championships, such a turn-around will not simply be the work of a moment and McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier, has suggested that Honda should seek outside assistance. However, with such a proposition being a departure from typical practices at Honda, Boullier’s suggestions could be shelved.
Earlier this week, Kevin Magnussen sparked speculation regarding both his and the similarly McLaren-backed Stoffel Vandoorne’s future prospects, with the Dane admitting; “Stoffel is doing a good job – he deserves to be in F1. There’s something wrong if he doesn’t.” With Vandoorne carving a pre-eminent figure in GP2, leading the championship by a commanding 44 points, McLaren could find themselves making tough decisions this winter as they have too many drivers for too few spaces in the team.
“Will Vandoorne have an F1 drive for 2016,” was the question that I posed to my Twitter followers on Friday. As with all good debate questions, the complexity of the argument was evident in the responses.