Some of you may have noticed that pre-season testing wrapped up last week as the teams prepare for the start of the F1 2017 season.
This time last year we were in the paddock in Barcelona, rooting for our favourite team and full of excitement for what lay ahead for the team. It really did look like Manor had finally turned the corner. Those memories make the current reality hard to bare and for that reason alone we barely paid attention to any of the going ons in Barcelona.
However, We did have a sneak peak at the final times and once we had stopped laughing at McLaren we found it it rather interesting data to go through. Last November we were in contact with a team member who was working on next seasons car. They were really enthused by the progress that had been made and told us, much to my surprise, that they genuinely believed finishing 8th was a real possibility for the team in 2017.
Beating Sauber was always going to be a possibility given that they are running a 2016 Ferrari engine and Manor would have had the best 2017 engine available in the back of its car but they would also have to beat another midfield team. I found this predication a little too optimistic.
This seasons regulation changes meant that there was a chance to close the gap somewhere as inevitably, some team would have got it wrong. Some more than it others it appears! Haas also seem further off the pace than they did last season and posted a 1.20.504s. McLaren laughably were second last on a 1m21.348s and as expected, Sauber were at the back of the pack.
So we got in touch with the afore mentioned member of staff last week and asked his opinion on where the team would likely have been if nothing had happened during the winter and it was their opinion, based on the simulations run, that the car would have lapped quicker than the Haas, Sauber and McLaren in Barcelona. They even believed that it would have been very close to the Torro Rosso. for the first few races of the season at least.
Now of course, being reasonably fast in testing counts for very little at the end of the season and with some new innovations being predicted for the future from the teams, given budget restrictions, the team would more than likely have struggled to stay ahead of some of the better funded teams but make no mistake about it, the 2017 Manor car was going to be a massive step forward.
It only makes the owners decision to close the doors even more frustrating.