So that’s that. Pre-season testing for the 2015 Formula 1 season is officially over. The next time we’ll see the cars out on track, it will be under sunny skies in practice for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 13.
How the winter has flown…
Valtteri Bottas was the man to claim the final bragging rights in testing, posting a fastest lap time of 1:23.063 to finish four-tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets.
However, the smart money will remain on Mercedes in Melbourne. The German team opted to focus on its long run pace on Sunday as Nico Rosberg combatted the setup problems that had hindered him on Friday, meaning that he could only finish seventh at the flag.
For one last time in Barcelona, here’s the full round up in the Paddock Notebook.
- For the second time in the final test, Williams finished the day as the fastest team thanks to Valtteri Bottas ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.
NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK
- On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton explained why he chose not to use the #1 designated for the F1 world champion in 2015, preferring to stick with his #44.
- McLaren racing director Eric Boullier expects the team to be up to speed by the Spanish Grand Prix in May following a difficult winter.
- Pastor Maldonado believes that Lotus can fight with Red Bull and Ferrari in 2015, with the teams being tightly-knit behind Mercedes at the front.
- Ferrari technical director James Allison is pleased with the Ferrari SF15-T, believing it to be a “well-mannered” car.
- Nico Rosberg finished the winter testing period with the fastest time overall, and although it is not worth much in the grand scheme of things, he thinks this will give him a small edge over Lewis Hamilton.
- 17-year-old Max Verstappen is ready for his F1 debut after what he called his “best pre-season ever”.
- Valtteri Bottas may have been the quickest man on Sunday, but he believes that the true strength of the Williams FW37 lies in its reliability.
- Pastor Maldonado’s testing programme ended in the wall on Sunday thanks to a brake failure.
- Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has called on the team to remain grounded despite enjoying a strong pre-season.
THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK
Done and dusted
That’s it for winter testing in 2015. It seems crazy to think that as of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, we have 100-and-odd days to go until the first race of the 2015 season. Now, we are just 14 days away from the lights out in Australia. It’s all very exciting. As testing wrapped up on Sunday, most of the teams opted to focus on their long run pace in an attempt to iron out all of the final issues before they head down under, and the pecking order appears to be shaping up.
I’m going to stick my neck on the line here and try to predict some kind of pecking order. Mercedes is by and large the quickest team once again, enjoying one second-plus advantages. If you don’t think that it can repeat its domination from 2014, then think again. The W06 Hybrid is just as powerful as its predecessor, and it poised to give Mercedes yet another double title success. Williams appears to be second fastest, with Ferrari and Red Bull then just behind. Lotus is then a solid fifth, and you could argue that McLaren (when it works), Toro Rosso and Force India are anywhere in the following order. Sauber has improved, but still props up the order – until Manor Marussia turns up, that is.
Let’s not blame Pastor
When Pastor Maldonado crashed into the barrier at turn four on just his second lap of the afternoon, Twitter burst into a series of jokes and accusations. “Classic Pastor” et al. However, this one wasn’t his fault at all. A brake problem on the E23 Hybrid meant that he could not make the corner, resulting in the crash. It was an unfortunate end to what has been a very good winter for Lotus. Keep an eye on the team to make a strong comeback in 2015.
Nico and Lewis prepare for round two
With Mercedes enjoying another sizeable advantage in 2015, it seems as though the drivers’ title will prove to be the second round of Nico Rosberg versus Lewis Hamilton. If it lives up to the treat that we were offered in 2014, then that is no bad thing at all. Nico said today that although posting the fastest time of testing means nothing in the grand scheme of things, it is still a nice edge to take into the new season. When asked about it on Saturday, Lewis couldn’t care less. Let the games begin…
Coming your way in the next two weeks…
So you’ve survived the winter and now have just two weeks to go until the first race of the season. Eek! How can you get your F1 fix between now and then? NBC Sports has you covered. Following on from their adventures in 2014, we’re sending Will Buxton and Jason Swales back off for a second season of Off The Grid in 2015, starting with a digital-only special in Mexico at Force India’s new livery and sponsor launch. It will be available to watch online ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, but if you can’t wait that long, check out a teaser here.
So that’s all for testing. Thank you as always for following our F1 coverage on MST, and be sure to join us in two weeks’ time for the first race of the year in Australia. It promises to be yet another thrilling season.