The 2016 silly season has been more about musical chairs among F1’s current roster, rather than teams taking the plunge on fresh blood. Sure, Williams have taken a punt on Lance Stroll, but this largely goes against the grain.
Even Stoffel Vandoorne feels like a known quantity having raced for McLaren in Bahrain and being a familiar paddock personality already.
Sauber’s seem to be following the seasonal trend. Marcus Ericsson has unsurprisingly been confirmed at the team for 2017, leaving just one available seat at the Swiss squad.
After key player Kimi Raikkonen signed a contract extension to keep him at Ferrari for 2016, the 2015 silly season was somewhat of a non-event, with the driver market remaining largely static. So far, this season has more than made up for last year’s deficit.
The rumour mill has been in overdrive over the past few months, with enormous speculation surrounding seats at Force India, Renault, Manor and Sauber. As always, a case of too many drivers vying for too few seats.
Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon, Felipe Nasr, Dave from the chippy and Steve from accounts have all seemingly been linked to the Force India seat for 2017. In Thursday’s Drivers’ Press Conference ahead of the Mexico Grand Prix, Esteban Gutierrez threw his name into the ring in not-so-subtle fashion.
Monaco marked the first appearance of the purple marked ultrasoft Pirelli tyre at a race weekend. Introduced at the start of this season and initially billed as a qualifying tyre, the compound seems decidedly similar to a supersoft in both pace and longevity. An assertion supported by Haas and Renault’s decision to take just soft and ultrasoft tyres to the Canadian Grand Prix, avoiding the supersoft completely.
Haas have made an early impression on the paddock. The American based squad converted their excellent pre-season into a strong debut weekend, as Romain Grosjean took full advantage of a timely red flag to secure sixth place. Eight points already on the board for F1’s youngest team and their lightening start has certainly put pressure on Sauber and Manor as the teams who stand the most to lose should Haas continue to shine.
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 final chequered flag has fallen on the first pre-season test, with Ferrari topping the timesheet for the third time this week. Kimi Raikkonen managed 80 laps in the SF16-H today, with a 1:23.477 recorded on a ultrasoft run. While the Finn’s benchmark was a full eight tenths clear of Daniil Kvyat’s time for Red Bull, it was half a second adrift of Sebastian Vettel’s equivalent run on Tuesday – which has remained the fastest time set during the entire test.
Here are five things we learnt on the final day of the opening pre-season test… (more…)