We are back! We’ve had a great couple of days in Barcelona. Not only did we get to watch F1 cars in testing for a total of 16 hours but our pale blue skin is now a lovely shade of salmon pink and we’ve eaten enough calamari to last us till we hopefully return in May. Over the next couple of days we will be sharing our experiences in Barcelona, as well as a few videos of our drivers in action and a tale of how we ended up standing in the Manor garage watching Rio Haryanto’s MRT05 being fired up and sent out on track.
We may have had a great couple of days but sadly the same cannot be said for our heroes in Blue and Red who due to a host of technical issues preventing the team from doing the sort of mileage that will ensure at least a race finish come Melbourne.
Let’s look at the numbers over the past week. All data is taken from Autosport.com.
The above table shows the total amount of laps completed across 2016 pre-season. Manor are 9th with 484 laps on the board but none of the stints included a race distance with only Haas also failing to do so. Sauber only ran its 2016 car for the second test and put in a very respectable 406 laps. It looks slow but steady and was probably designed in mind to repeat last seasons early points scoring due to excellent reliability. This will also be our best chance. The harsh realities of F1 hit home at Haas, which struggled badly with engine and brake-by-wire problems in week two, after a solid debut at the first test.
Clearly, the tires make a massive difference when taking into account the outright times. Pirelli estimates a theoretical 0.5-0.6s gap from soft to super-soft, then another 0.6-0.7s from super-soft to ultra-soft. On the same ultra-soft compound, the 1:24.913 is not too far off times set in a McLaren but slower than the times set on the soft compound by the Sauber. Of course there will be discrepancies between conditions and fuel loads on different days so there is not too much we can read into this.
The running on soft tires is probably a better indicator of roughly where the teams are as the super soft and ultra soft tires are designed to work in heat. The performance of medium tires makes for happier reading. However, taking into account fuel levels it appears we are much closer to the pack than last season but still cut off a drift a little.
As for the drivers, Pascal Wehrlein seemed to catch the eye of many with his performance. He seems confident and undeterred by with the task at hand and managed to get 367 laps under his belt. Unfortunately for Rio Haryanto, most of the teams technical issues appeared on the days he was in the car and he only manage to get in 298 laps. Out on track Haryanto looked cautious which is probably due to his two spins during test 1 and was keen to ensure no more valuable track time was lost. His fastest time on the same tires was 1 just under a second slower than Wehrlein.
Having watched both drivers at all points on the track whilst at testing, it is clear to see there is a big performance gap between the two drivers at present. We have been informed by his fans that Rio is often a slow starter and always gets on the pace, he is going to have to pick it very quickly. We will be posting videos we took from the test which clearly highlights the difference in the two drivers at the moment.
Huge strides have been made within the team over the past few months and we are massively quicker than we were last season. However, I’ve seen nothing from pre-season to suggest that in-terms of pace that we will be joining that much allusive midfield pack this season. Unless Haas has some serious technical issues at Melbourne, I would fully expect us to start 21st and 22nd on the grid 0.5-0.8 seconds off our nearest challenger. The new Mercedes engine has made a big difference, it is now just a question of how much the team can develop the chassis over the season.