What We Learned At Barca 2

Date published: March 2 2015

At the second Barcelona test, the teams found out exactly what they feared. Mercedes are still a second clear of the pack…

 * Mercedes finally showed their true pace relative to the low-fuel headline-grabbers when Nico Rosberg  put on some soft tyres and went for a time on Day Two. His lap of 1:22.792 compares to the 2014 pole time of Lewis Hamilton, which was a 1:25.232. The lap was 1.2 seconds quicker than nearest rival Valtteri Bottas in the Williams.

 * Before testing began there were estimates that cars might be 2-3 seconds quicker this season and Rosberg’s lap could have been 0.8 quicker if he’d opted for the SuperSoft tyres run by some of the other teams. So expect to see a 1:21 pole in May and an end to drivers saying that F1 isn’t so much faster than GP2.

 * McLaren head off to Australia without having fully resolved their MGU- K problem and having discovered more areas where the new Honda engine unit falls down. On Day Three Kevin Magnussen (driving for the sidelined Fernando Alonso) was limited to 39 laps thanks to an oil leak. This can be added to the problematic MGU-K components , hydraulic leaks and sensor problems that have inhibited the MP4-30’s running. Over four days they managed just 177 laps. On Day 4 Sauber’s Felipe Nasr managed 159 in a single day.

 * McLaren racing director Eric Boullier tried to put the best gloss he could on the situation, emphasizing that Jenson Button had managed 101 laps on Day Two. "There are many areas on the car where we know all the systems on the engine are working,” said Eric. “Cooling is working, and the more mileage we put in the future the more problems we will discover. But the base is exactly as per plan. So that is something positive…"

 * The Force India team brought their 2015 contender out for the first time, the VMJ08. The team managed a very impressive 365 laps across the three days with a car straight out of theb ox. Despite all that, boss Bob Fernley was forced to reveal that the team are suffering from a  lack of cash and that they have touched up Bernie Ecclestone for an advance payment to get them through the coming months.

 * What a difference a year makes! One year on from the problems teams suffered with running race simulations prior to Australia 2014, the combined running of the nine teams was a staggering 1010 laps on Day Three and 1021 laps on Day Two.

 * Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene revealed that he is having a bit of a stand-off going on with Formula One Management over the number of paddock passes he is being allowed to hand out. “I learned  that in Australia there will be more restrictions in terms of passes and I think this is not acceptable,” said Maurizio. So at Barcelona he made his point by going to sit in the grandstands with the fans on the final day. "I have to say it was a good experience because the people were very well-educated, we were with our headphones following the test. They were respectful, asking for pictures. It was a good experience and I hope to have others like this."

 * Williams had a very productive test running through all their programmes and wrapping them up early. One of the problems of 2014 for the team had been overheating rear tyres and Felipe Massa now believes that their new rear wing, tried for the first time in Barcelona 2, gives them the balance and the ability to make their tyres last. Although the ambient temperatures at Barcelona didn’t get above the teens centigrade.

 * Many teams added substantially different aero parts for Barca 2, but Toro Rosso arrived at the final test with a massive update – the STR10 getting nearly a complete makeover on its aerodynamics from nose to tail.

 * Testing is often a case of ‘smoke and mirrors’ with cars not being weighed and running a variety of fuel levels. However the unofficial pecking order as we head off to Melbourne looks to be: 1.Mercedes, 2.Williams, 3.Ferrari and 4.Anyone’s guess, but it could even be Sauber.

 * Pastor Maldonado ruined what was going to be a crash-free final test by hitting the barriers at Turn 4 after 36 laps of running on the final day.  His Lotus E23 was too badly damaged to continue and he ended the day bottom of the timesheets.