2018 Formula One: Clues From Testing

Hamilton Bottas Mercedes
Deepti Narwani Deepti Narwani

The 2018 Formula One season is set to begin in just a few days’ time. As teams make their final preparations, let’s take a look at what testing has taught us about the upcoming season.

1) Mercedes Leading The Pack

Sebastian Vettel’s time of 1.17.182 on the hyper soft types may have been the fastest lap of winter testing, but there remains doubt as to whether Ferrari truly have the fastest car.

Testing timesheets are not always representative, as laps are set at different times of the day and on varying fuel loads.

As such, adjustments are necessary and it is suspected that after these adjustments Mercedes still have 3 tenths (maybe even more) in their pockets.

Mercedes technical director James Allison played down any possible advantage.

“There are three quick teams and it is still not possible to know whose nose is in front”, Allison told Sky Sports.

But reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton appeared more confident, stating that the new Mercedes car is awesome and feels much better than its predecessor.

The mood at the Ferrari camp seemed rather ominous as GPS data showed that the team were losing time at every corner.

The Ferrari also had a strange habit of producing large puffs of smoke whenever it left the garage.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was optimistic about the big step forward his team made but still remains cautious of Mercedes.

“Mercedes still have a bit more on the rest but I think we are in a decent position,” said Ricciardo.

The Australian’s opinion was supported by his boss Christian Horner who firmly believes that Mercedes still are the favourites.

2) McLaren In Trouble

Having suffered through 3 difficult seasons with Honda, McLaren were hoping for a smooth sailing run with their new Renault power unit.

Sadly, that was not the case. The McLaren suffered oil leaks, turbo failures, hydraulic failures and battery problems.

Nevertheless, the team put on a brave face in front of the media.

McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier emphasized that all issues faced were minor and that the team will be competitive when Australia rolls around.

Similarly, McLaren driver Fernando Alonso was pleased with the step forward made by the team.

“I am happy when problems occur at testing. We learn a lot,” the Spaniard explained.

On the other hand, the Honda engine that McLaren ditched looks to have made a big step forward in terms of reliability with their new partner – Torro Rosso.

The Torro Rosso completed a total of 511 laps with one engine during the second week of testing while McLaren only completed 394 laps over the same period.

“It has been a great start to the partnership with Honda,” said Torro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley.

3) Super Tight Midfield

The midfield teams appear to have come even closer together with Renault looking like the leaders at the moment.

The Enstone team completed 190 laps in one day, highlighting the improved reliability of their engine.

When asked if 4th place in the championship would be possible, Renault’s Carlos Sainz replied, “Of course it can be possible, but it’s going to be difficult. The midfield, as always, has very high competition. We already see people like Haas and Toro Rosso doing very decent lap times, so it is going to be particularly tough, but we will try.”

Haas seem to have a made a big step forward as well after Kevin Magnussen delivered a 1:18.360 on the super soft tyres.

Both Magnussen and team mate Romain Grosjean praised the team for the car’s improved speed and driveability.

Force India have not shown much pace throughout testing. But the team is likely to join the fight when they run with their complete 2018 package in Australia.

We now anxiously wait for the start of the 2018 season where all our questions will be answered.