So Mercedes may look to have the edge on the field once again, and while I hear you neutrals – or fans of any team bar Mercedes for that matter – bemoaning another season of dull continuity, it might still be too early to call.
Hamilton may have been half a second clear of the field today, but with the Englishman surely desperate to unsettle the newbee on the other side of the garage early on, and with Vettel indicating that Ferrari have plenty more performance up their sleeve, I’m not ready to declare Hamilton the 2017 World Champion just yet.
Next weekend, the talking will stop and the racing will start. Waking up on the first Grand Prix Sunday of a new season is like Christmas morning for motorsport fans.
Aside from the new look cars, harder tyres and perhaps heightened competition for top honours, this season’s curtain-raiser will be the first since 1994 that doesn’t feature the reigning world champion.
As the sun rose over the Circuit de Catalunya this morning, teams entered into the final 24 hours of testing prior to the curtain raiser in Melbourne. Unsurprisingly, the intrigue continues to build as teams begin to reveal more clues providing hints as to what this season’s pecking order could look like.
After yesterday’s revelation that Hamilton percieves Ferrari to have the best package heading into the season, today was particularly intriguing, as we armchair pundits frantically studied the times in an attempt to find evidence for Hamilton’s suggestion. In reality, it was Williams who provided further evidence that they could, in fact, be dark horses.
Meanwhile, Mercedes seemed to turn up the power on their W08.
Here are FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day six of pre-season testing…
It’s crazy to think that today’s chequered flag marks a quarter distance in 2017’s winter test programme. Melbourne seems an age away to fans but not for teams anxious to reach the bottom of their tick lists prior to making the trip down-under.
For McLaren’s sake, I hope their to-do-list is decidedly short, as limited running today as a result of yet more power unit woes has once again considerably hampered their progress. Honda left with egg on their face and embarrassing parallels to 2015 are already being drawn.
Here are FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day two of testing…
The first day of pre-season testing. Christmas morning for F1 fans, who have been deprived of track action for an entire winter. Having my Twitter timeline engulphed in F1 sights and sounds was simply brilliant.
Simply brilliant is also how Mercedes would describe their first day of official track action in 2017, as for the fourth season in a row, they have exploded out of the blocks. Meanwhile, Red Bull and McLaren endured a baptism of fire as reliability woes serve to provide some early season question marks.
Here are FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT on day one of pre-season testing.
I’m not sure what works harder? Mercedes’ engineers, or air going over the W08.
As I mentioned in Wednesday’s article, this launch season has been absolutely fascinating. So many different concepts have already been showcased, with the likes of Force India unveiling machinery which is visibly more complex than that of their rivals.
Mercedes, however, have significantly raised the bar. The W08 was launched on Thursday and is by far the most complicated design unveiled so far.
It looks like a winner, but then, we really shouldn’t be surprised.
It’s taken some time, but Thursday brought the confirmation of a story that has been brewing for several weeks. James Allison, former Lotus and Ferrari Technical Director, is to fill the void left at Mercedes by the departing Paddy Lowe.
On the face of it, Allison’s signing seems to be a like-for-like substitution. In reality, it has several significant plot points.