The F1 circus reconvened in Barcelona today, as 2017 testing fired back into life. The first week of pre-season testing offered a few clues with regards to the pecking order, yet this week promises to reveal far more as teams begin to show their hands by testing the true performance of their package.
Today was a tale of winners a losers. Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull all enjoyed excellent outings, while McLaren and Honda’s relationship has taken another sour turn, with the partnership now under “maximum” strain.
Here’s FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day five of pre-season testing…
Engines fired into life at 9am this morning, at the Circuit de Barcelona, as the first green flag of 2016 marked the start of pre-season testing. For the team widely regarded as the likely title protagonists – Mercedes and Ferrari – day one provided plenty of positives. Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheet while it was Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton who completed a marathon 155 laps.
Here are five things we learnt on the opening day of pre-season 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.
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.
McLaren and Honda need no introduction. Perfect partners since the first lap in 1988, the association produced one of the greatest machines the sport has ever seen in the MP4/4. Brought to life by Steve Nichols and Gordon Murray, the car took all but one race victory in the hands of Alain Prost and eventual champion Ayrton Senna. The first McLaren Honda certainly set the bar high. However, with one of the most technically advanced powerunits ever constructed providing the MP4-30’s roar, the partnership has reconvened and so far missed the sparkle in performance to match that of the paintwork.
The most hotly anticipated car launch of this winter took place today, as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button’s 2015 office was unveiled. The MP4-30 is to be the first Honda powered McLaren since the iconic partnership ended at the close of the 1992 season and as such, this car in particular has captured the fans’ interest. Throughout the launch event, #MakeHistory has been a constant and it seems that regardless of whether it is a successful machine or not, the MP4-30 is not going to be forgotten in a hurry. Still, a handful of victories would certainly help to cement this status…
Following the discovery of the homologation loophole which brought a sigh of relief to Renault and Ferrari, a debate has been rumbling on in regards to how the regulation, (or lack of it), will apply to Honda, who are introducing their first generation powerunit this season. Following an appeal to the FIA, it appears that Honda will in fact be granted permission to develop their unit throughout the 2015 campaign, but the scale of the on-going project will essentially be defined by their rivals.