Five things we learned from test­ing

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA: For­mula One’s faster and more pow­er­ful cars for 2017 were put through their paces for the first time in Barcelona this week.

We look at five things we learned from the first four days of pre-sea­son test­ing:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Af­ter three years of to­tal dom­i­nance, even a dras­tic over­haul of the sport’s rules hasn’t stopped Mercedes from set­ting the pace.

Valt­teri Bot­tas showed he can prove an able re­place­ment to re­tired world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg by post­ing the best time of the week and since 2009 at the Cir­cuit de Catalunya in 1min 19.705secs.

Bot­tas and Lewis Hamil­ton were also car­ry­ing out race sim­u­la­tions whilst some at the back of the pad­dock were struggling to get out of the garage on the first two days.

How­ever, those hop­ing for more of a con­test at the front of the grid this sea­son will have been en­cour­aged by the early signs from Ferrari’s SF70H.

Kimi Raikko­nen was fastest on Tues­day and Thurs­day, whilst Se­bas­tian Vet­tel out­paced Bot­tas when both were on the same soft tyre com­pound on Wed­nes­day.

If Mercedes’ dom­i­nance has be­come pre­dictable, then so have the woes of a for­mer cham­pi­onship con­tender in McLaren.

Two years on from join­ing forces with en­gine sup­plier Honda, McLaren look fur­ther off the pace than ever.

More un­re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems meant McLaren were sec­ond last when it came to laps com­pleted and only Toro Rosso were slower once they did get on the track.

Hamil­ton ad­mit­ted on Tues­day to hav­ing “bruises and bumps where I’ve never re­ally had them be­fore” as a re­sult of the in­creased phys­i­cal toil in drag­ging big­ger and heav­ier cars at much greater speed.

Ros­berg claimed the “mon­strous” new ma­chines would make the driv­ers “proper gla­di­a­tors” and warned races could be de­cided on who is the fittest and strong­est driver.

“We might even see driv­ers los­ing race wins be­cause of just be­ing game over phys­i­cally and that’s what we need,” said the Ger­man.

The need for tyre man­u­fac­turer Pirelli to try out their new wet and in­ter­me­di­ate tyres on Thurs­day led to the un­usual sit­u­a­tion of wa­ter spray­ing up be­hind cars bathed in the Barcelona sun­shine.

With no help from the el­e­ments, and no sprin­kler sys­tem on hand, huge trucks dump­ing gal­lons of wa­ter were needed to cre­ate the ar­ti­fi­cial wet sur­face both overnight and again in the lunch break be­tween morn­ing and af­ter­noon ses­sions.

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