We’re all hoping that this season will bring about much more competitive racing. The two weeks of testing are over and we’re counting down the days now to the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday March 20. The first week of testing saw the Mercedes cars going round and round and round with no sign of breaking down. The second week was pretty much the same but with some promising moments for Ferrari supporters but are they closing the gap on Mercedes?
The final day of testing saw Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in his Ferrari. That made it five days out of eight days testing in which Ferrari had finished the day top but are they closing the gap with Mercedes enough to really challenge their domination of the sport?
The time set by Vettel on Friday was just 0.04 seconds slower than the fastest time set in the two weeks of testing. The fact that was set by his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on an ultra-soft tyre, must be giving Ferrari some hopes. Vettel was using the super-soft tyres which are estimated to be between 0.4 and 0.6 seconds slower.
Sebastian Vettel was being cautious though and commented, “The new car gives us the chance to close the gap. How much? We need to be a bit more patient.” Tell that to their legion of fans who are desperate to see Ferrari on top of the F1 world again.
Lewis Hamilton finished fifth on the final day 1.6 seconds behind Vettel. However, his Mercedes was using the medium tyre and that’s about 1.7 seconds slower than the tyres Vettel’s Ferrari were using. The two testing sessions had seen the Mercedes cars going round and round the tracks without any problems. That did come to an end on Friday though when Hamilton’s car had a transmission problem.
That probably cheered Hamilton up who isn’t a fan of testing and had been moaning that all the laps they’d completed meant “it gets boring after a while going around and around without learning too much.” At least finally having a problem in testing gave Mercedes a chance to sort it out before getting to Australia.
Mercedes are definitely aware of the improvements that Ferrari have been showing in testing. With the Australian Grand Prix less than a fortnight away, Nico Rosberg admits “We know that Ferrari is very close. They’ve been very quick.”
Of course we can’t read too much into the times being achieved. We don’t know the specifications on which each car is running so that has to be taken into account. However, Rosberg added, “All of the teams have their strategists, so we know more or less what fuel the other teams are running and they know our fuel. So we know more or less where we are compared to Ferrari – that’s why I say it’s close. But we’re not sure if we are ahead or behind.”
All will be revealed soon, I’ll be back at the weekend with another blog looking at what we can expect from the 2016 season.
By Steve Ashfield