The story behind Ferrari’s testing pace
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