Year-on-year at Jerez, the Formula 1 teams have made key strides in both lap counts and performance in the second year of the new power unit life.
That’s the early takeaway from the first official preseason test ahead of the 2015 Formula 1 season, even if lap times are not a determining factor.
Last year’s Jerez test was primarily a “get the new cars running” type of atmosphere, and only six of 22 drivers completed more than 100 laps over their days of running.
This year, 11 of 16 banked 100-plus – and the five who didn’t were either close (both Red Bull drivers were in the 80s) or severely hampered by track time (Romain Grosjean and Lotus did not arrive until Sunday and the car didn’t run til Monday, and both McLaren drivers had issues throughout the week).
After completing 875 laps between its teams last year, Mercedes upped its total by more than 100 laps to 983 this year – and that was without McLaren and Force India as they had last year, with Force India missing this test and McLaren now with Honda. Mercedes has added Lotus as McLaren’s replacement.
Even more importantly, both Ferrari (with a team reduction absent Marussia) and Renault (with two team reductions absent Lotus and Caterham) made major strides from this test last year. Ferrari went from 444 to 728 laps completed; Renault from 151 up to 516.
This of course leaves Honda, in its first real running beyond the installation runs at Abu Dhabi last November, on the back end and playing catchup in terms of running. With only 79 laps competed between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, the manufacturer spent the week working through issues with McLaren rather than gathering enough data and finding the pace. The Barcelona tests must see improved reliability, otherwise they could be in trouble. But for a first test, issues are excusable – and almost welcomed.
Driver-wise, the Mercedes pair of World Champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were the standouts, lap-wise. Rosberg banked a bonkers amount of 308 laps – compared to 188 last year – while Hamilton added 207 of his own. These two drivers led the field in total laps, with Rosberg doing so at Jerez for the second consecutive year.
In terms of lap times, Kevin Magnussen was the standout this test last year… and this shows you how much things can change in F1 over 12 months, and how little lap times at Jerez really mean.
Ferrari, more than Sauber, is the wild card in terms of pace from here. A year ago, Williams-Mercedes was the interloper among the factory Mercedes and McLaren-Mercedes teams, and their pace developed to become the second fastest car on most weekends throughout the rest of 2014.
Ferrari itself led three of the four days this year, and came second to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr on the Tuesday. But will the pace translate and continue beyond the headline-grabbing first week, where Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were no doubt keen to make an impression to the new managerial structure at the Scuderia? That’s the question.
As Ferrari’s power unit goes, so too does Sauber’s, and a points-scoring turnaround for them would be a welcome tonic after a pointless, fruitless and trying 2014.
Alas, here’s a day-by-day recap (Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday, Sunday) from this week. Meanwhile here is a link to last year’s times and analysis from Jerez.
With Barcelona next up, this is the only preseason test F1 will have as a year-on-year reference point – Bahrain was the testing circuit last year.
Jerez Test – Cumulative Results
1. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:20.841 (198 laps; 92 Tues., 106 Wed.)
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:20.984 (148; 60 Sun., 88 Mon.)
3. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:21.545 (197; 89 Mon., 108 Tues.)
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:21.982 (308; 157 Sun., 151 Tues.)
5. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:22.019 (185; 73 Sun., 112 Wed.)
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:22.172 (207; 91 Mon., 116 Wed.)
7. Felipe Massa Williams 1:22.276 (144; 71 Tues., 73 Wed.)
8. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:22.319 (134; 73 Sun., 61 Mon.)
9. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:22.553 (170; 73 Mon., 97 Wed.)
10. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:22.713 (137; 41 Mon., 96 Tues.)
11. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1:23.187 (182; 46 Sun., 136 Tues.)
12. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.338 (83; 35 Sun., 48 Tues.)
13. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.802 (53; 53 Wed.)
14. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:23.975 (81; 18 Mon., 63 Wed.)
15. Jenson Button McLaren 1:27.660 (41; 6 Mon., 35 Wed.)
16. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:35.553 (38; 6 Sun., 32 Tues.)
Jerez Test – Cumulative Laps by Chassis
1. Mercedes 515 laps (Rosberg 308, Hamilton 207)
2. Sauber 382 laps (Nasr 197, Ericsson 185)
3. Toro Rosso 352 laps (Sainz Jr. 182, Verstappen 170)
4. Ferrari 346 laps (Raikkonen 198, Vettel 148)
5. Williams 278 laps (Massa 144, Bottas 134)
6. Lotus 190 laps (Maldonado 137, Grosjean 53)
7. Red Bull 164 laps (Ricciardo 83, Kvyat 81)
8. McLaren 79 laps (Button 41, Alonso 38)
Jerez Test – Cumulative Laps by Engine
1. Mercedes 983 laps (Mercedes 515, Williams 278, Lotus 190)
2. Ferrari 728 laps (Sauber 382, Ferrari 346)
3. Renault 516 laps (Toro Rosso 352, Red Bull 164)
4. Honda 79 laps (McLaren 79)