The first of the pre-season tests ended on Thursday. Along with the dry runs, Pirelli sprayed water on the track on the last day so the teams could do a wet and an inter test run. Mercs are still ahead but nothing can be stated for sure.
McLaren started of the 1st day of testing with some oil tank issues. They didn’t do many laps prior to the problem occurring. They later found that a faulty oil tank design caused the problem.
They put a temporary modification in place which allowed them to run the next day. Due to the faulty design, the engine would be starved of oil under high G forces. The 2nd day was much worse for McLaren with a complete power unit failure.
They did not do any running on Tuesday due to the issue. The engine was sent back to Japan to find the cause of the failure. They finished 7th on the time sheets on the final day. They seem to be struggling for performance and the new power unit doesn’t seem to be helping.
Stoffel did get to run half a day of laps before all of McLaren’s problems. He didn’t have many spins or close calls with the barriers. He did a good job. Got some laps under his belt. Difficult to get used to the new car with increased pressure on the driver.
Lance Stroll on the other hand didn’t have a great week. On Tuesday he spun across the gravel trap damaging the front wing. Williams did not have a spare and that ended their day.
He again had a spin Wednesday morning but didn’t cause much damage. Later that day he crashed into the barriers on an out lap. The crash damaged the left front suspension and front wing. They did not run on Thursday for the wet test.
The reason for the crash is still unclear. But Stroll said, “Racing, pushing, things happen. You just have to figure out how to make the best of it. Everyone’s quite positive. It was a good day. It was obviously unfortunate what happened at the end, but little issues and things like that happen and you have to move forward.
“There was an issue on the car. I was kind of a victim of the situation. We are still figuring it out so I can’t give you any detail about it. What happened, happened, and that’s it.”
The Front Runner
The most important conclusion to be drawn from the first test is that Mercedes still look like the dominant team and will continue their wining streak this year. With Valtteri Bottas putting in the fastest lap of the week in 1:19.705 on a set of ultrasofts.
Lewis and Valtteri were at the top of the time sheets with the two fastest times. With Sebastian Vettel coming in third only two tenths behind Bottas albeit on a set of softs.
The fuel loads, engine modes, downforce levels the cars were running are a secret to the teams. Ferrari were the fastest in the first test last year but we saw how the season turned out.
With engine development allowed through the season it is uncertain what might happen. But as of now it looks like Mercedes are still the fastest with Ferrari and Red Bull not far behind. But only in Qualifying in Australia is when we’ll be able to see the actual pecking order.