F1-TESTS: WHERE DOES FERRARI REALLY STAND?

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Ferrari Test Barcelona Vettel
Ferrari Test Barcelona Vettel. Credit: Jerry Andre

Is Ferrari really that bad after the first week of Formula 1 testing in Barcelona? And how close is Red Bull to Mercedes? Our test analysis before the second week in Barcelona

Formula 1 fans had high hopes that the dominance of the silver arrows of the past few years could be over in 2020. Extreme optimists justified this as follows: There will be no major changes to the regulations between 2019 and 2020. Means: Not only Red Bull and Ferrari should be on par with Mercedes on paper, but the whole field consisting of ten teams should move closer together.

So much for the theory. In practice, however, the first three of a total of six test drives in Barcelona showed that Mercedes, again, is the benchmark for every other team. Not only did they set the best lap time at 1.15.732 minutes, they had the fastest pace in the racing simulations and they covered the greatest distance of everyone in the three days – they also surprised with a technical innovation that everyone caught off guard.

Test drives Barcelona comparison 2019/20

TeamTime 2019Time 2020Difference
Williams1:20.997 (C3)1:18.168 (C3)-2.829-2.829
Racing Point1:19.664 (C2)1:17.338 (C4)-2.326-2.326
Mercedes1:17,857 (C5)1:15.732 (C5)-2.125-2.125
Red Bull1:18.780 (C3)1:17.516 (C3)-1.264-1.264
Alfa Romeo1:17.762 (C5)1:17.091 (C5)-0.671-0.671
McLaren1:18.431 (C4)1:17.842 (C3)-0.598-0.598
Renault1:17.393 (C5)1:17.102 (C4)-0.291-0.291
AlphaTauri1:17.637 (C5)1:17,427 (C4)-0.210-0.210
Haas1:18.563 (C3)1:18.380 (C3)-0.183-0.183
Ferrari1:18,046 (C3)1:18.154 (C4)0.0900.090

The DAS system (Dual Axes Steering), that Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas used can change the lane and/or camber (experts do not yet agree) by pulling and pushing the steering wheel. It was the number one topic of conversation in Barcelona. The competition was shocked and impressed at the same time.

Ricciardo impressed by Mercedes

Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo sums it up: “Incredible. One would have thought that the pursuers came with special technical tricks. And then who comes with this exciting technology? The team that has dominated the past few years. That shows why they were so superior. ”

Red Bull is convinced that the DAS system takes the two-tenths of a second that Mercedes is currently at the forefront according to internal calculations. Chief Advisor Helmut Marko on AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT: “They gain time on us because they have no understeer when cornering in tight bends… ”

These are the first projections

Forecasts after a test week should always be used with caution, but projections by Red Bull showed: Mercedes is just ahead of Red Bull, after which Racing Point comes. The team from Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll was able to develop the new car in the Mercedes wind tunnel in Brackley. The result was a car that is identical to the Mercedes anno 2019, especially in the front area – and correspondingly fast.

Test week 1 Barcelona 2020

Driver Team Time Residue Round
1V. BottasMercedes1:15.732-.—221
2L. Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.5160,784273
3K. Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:17.0911,359134
4E. Ocon Renault 1:17.1021,370190
5L. Stroll Racing Point 1:17.3381,606168
6S. Perez Racing Point 1:17.3471,615203
7D. Kwjat AlphaTauri 1:17.4271,695178
8A. Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:17.4691,737231
9M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:17.5161,784254
10D. Ricciardo Renault 1:17.5741,842190
11P. Gasly AlphaTauri 1:17.7832,051206
12C. Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:17.8422,110237
13A. Albon Red Bull Racing 1:17.9122,180217
14S. Vettel Ferrari 1:18.1542,422173
15G. Russell Williams 1:18.1682,436189
16C. Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.2892,557181
17R. Grosjean Haas F1 1:18.3802,648206
18N. Latifi Williams 1:18.3822,650135
19R. Kubica Alfa Romeo 1:18.3862,65459
20L. Norris McLaren 1:18.4542,722186
21K. Magnussen Haas F1 1:18.4662,734110

Renault is said to be preparing a protest against Racing Point. Background: It is not allowed to take aerodynamic parts from other teams. The French argue that Racing Point did just that.

Marko: “Our sister team Alpha Tauri is doing well, not far from Racing Point. This shows what a good job our two motor partners Honda did over the winter. You have improved the Power Unit in every respect. The engine has more horsepower, consumes less and has become more mobile. ”

However, the Austrian admits: “We will only get a clearer picture during the last test drives that start on Wednesday. We’ll be driving the Melbourne version on Friday in particular. I assume that others will do the same. But I am convinced that we are Mercedes’ first challenger. Ferrari has always driven with a lot of fuel and a moderate engine setting, but the statements by both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc show that they were not where they had hoped in the first week of testing. ”

Ferrari with many question marks

One thing is certain: Ferrari gives us some question marks. Are they bluffing? Binotto already expressed concerns for the season opener on March 15th. “We won’t have a winning car there yet.” Whether this was a political statement by Binotto or just the truth will be seen in the coming days.

In any case, Mercedes doesn’t trust the results just yet. The company’s own website, therefore, points out the following circumstances: “Will Red Bull bring a significant upgrade package for the second test? Or: Why did Ferrari run its PU consistently at a lower level than that of its partner teams in this test? ”

Renault has not improved the engine

What can already be said: The midfield is close together. Williams is about to give the red lantern to Haas or Alfa Romeo. Only McLaren and the Renault factory team are still difficult to assess. In terms of chassis, McLaren is among the top four. But Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris have a problem right now. ABMS learned: In contrast to Mercedes, Honda, and Ferrari, Renault has NOT further developed its engine since 2019. An insider: “Then you lose two to three tenths at once – due to the power unit alone.”

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