The story be­hind Fer­rari’s testing pace

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Blis­ter­ing speed sug­gests smoke and mir­rors, but their en­gine’s look­ing pretty good

Did Fer­nando Alonso leave Fer­rari at ex­actly the wrong time? That was the tan­ta­lis­ing ques­tion thrown up by the first pre-sea­son test. F1 Rac­ing closed for press just be­fore the fi­nal two tests in Barcelona, but the open­ing salvo of 2015 in Jerez gen­er­ated plenty of in­trigue, much of it sur­round­ing Alonso’s for­mer team.

Fer­rari rac­ers Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Räikkö­nen set fastest times on three of the four days at the Span­ish track, and Felipe Nasr’s Fer­rari-en­gined Sauber set the pace on the fourth. In it­self, this does not mean any­thing. F1 pre-sea­son testing times are a no­to­ri­ously un­re­li­able guide to true pace be­cause there are no con­straints on what teams can do to their cars. For ex­am­ple, Räikkö­nen set the pace for Fer­rari on the open­ing day of testing last year.

But while reign­ing cham­pi­ons Mercedes had an enor­mously im­pres­sive test, com­plet­ing some 25 per cent more laps than any other team and lap­ping con­sis­tently and quickly through­out, even Nico Ros­berg ad­mit­ted Fer­rari’s pace had been “an eye-opener”.

Yet the con­clu­sion of many was that Fer­rari’s speed, for all the con­sis­tency with which Vet­tel and Räikkö­nen topped the times, can­not have been real. For one thing, it just did not add up. Fer­rari are fresh from their least com­pet­i­tive

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