Sure, it’s only testing. We don’t know fuel loads, we don’t know programmes and plans. So, it’s very tricky to make any clear or definite statements after just four days of running.
But there are still quite a few things we’ve learned and taken from the first taste of F1’s new era in 2017. Let’s delve right in:
It’s not been the easiest F1 debut for Williams rookie Lance Stroll, but before everyone starts saying he’s the new Pastor Maldonado, let’s remember a few things. Firstly, he’s only 18 and hasn’t had all that much time behind the wheel of F1 machinery – despite his tests last year, which were in a 2014 car anyway.
Secondly, Lewis Hamilton brought up a good point after Stroll binned it into the Turn 5 wall on Wednesday – this year is probably one of the toughest in some time for a rookie, because the new cars are physically much harder to drive and there’s a lot more speed. So, the spins and crash haven’t been great for Williams, as the team has lost crucial track time. But, it’s hardly a surprise that some drivers are struggling.
Another team that hasn’t had the greatest start to F1 2017 is McLaren. It all seems a bit familiar, doesn’t it? The new MCL32 has suffered a number of seemingly engine-related troubles, which have significantly hindered the time behind the wheel for Nando and Stoffel Vandoorne. The car literally broke down after one lap on the first day. We’re in the very early stages of 2017, of course, but it must still be a bit frustrating.
As we previously explained, these cars are very quick. Much faster than the previous generation of F1 cars, for example Valtteri Bottas smashed Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s 1:22.000 pole time from last year’s Spanish Grand Prix when he did a 1:19.705 on the ultra-soft tyres on Wednesday.
Of course, there are a lot of different factors when comparing those two times, but the fact the cars are already a couple of seconds quicker is an encouraging sign of things to come as the development race kicks off.
Even without running much on the final day of the first test, Mercedes has still been by far the most productive of all the teams so far. From the get-go, the W08 was out doing race runs and long stints with Bottas and Hamilton at the wheel. An electrical issue on the last day was the only real hiccup, it all went pretty smoothly for the Silver Arrows in Spain.
Hamilton and Bottas were putting in quick times too, and we know Mercedes has a tendency of turning down the engine and keep people guessing before showing what its car can really do. So, not only does the T-winged W08 look invincible but it apparently looks super-fast and stable around the track too. This gives us a bit of a flashback to last year’s winter testing too… a glimpse at what’s to come?
We all know Bernie Ecclestone wanted F1 to introduce sprinklers, but the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya desperately needed some on Thursday as teams tested Pirelli’s wet tyres. The circuit was artificially dampened by trucks packed with water but the problem was it dried out way too quickly. It limited the amount of running completed, although we’re sure any data is helpful to Pirelli.
Last week saw the F1 beasts unleashed from under the launch covers, but the test gave us a proper look at them on track. Damn, do the cars look good. From the striking orange McLaren to the stunning blue Toro Rosso (which won our best looking 2017 car poll) and the elegant Mercedes, the grid is shaping up very nicely.
F1 relaxed the rules regarding teams and drivers sharing videos on social media for the first test and there was so much awesome content to digest and look at. Only short clips seemed to be allowed and we’re not sure if this’ll continue on, but it was great to see fans getting even more hyped for the season by seeing clips of cars on track or in the pit lane. F1’s finally getting social media!