This time next week F1 will be back! F1 Top 10 looks at what we learned from winter testing.
Ferrari will be challengers in Melbourne
Ferrari always impress during testing but this year was different. Kimi Raikkonen finished fastest over the eight days with an impressive lap time of 1:18.634 which is over half a second quicker than Valtteri Bottas who set the quickest lap for Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel was second quickest with a time of 1:19.024 and he backed off in the final corner so could’ve gone even quicker. With 956 laps completed the SFH-70 was largely reliable and this all suggests that they will be Mercedes’ nearest challenger in Melbourne.
McLaren Honda won’t be winning anytime soon
What a dreadful couple of weeks it was for McLaren Honda during testing. The least amount of laps completed out of all the teams with a mere 425 laps. It brought back the nightmare of Jerez 2015 but at least Honda had the excuse it was their first season back in the sport in 2015. Now three years into the current partnership and they appear to be going backwards. Stoffel Vandoorne was 17th quickest with Fernando Alonso 18th on the timesheets only ahead of the Sauber’s and Force India reserve driver Alfonso Celis. The reliability of the Honda engine is the big issue and also the lack of power. Even if they finish the race in Melbourne, which is a big if, they’ll be lucky not to finish last. If their is not a drastic improvement from the team then they can wave goodbye to Fernando Alonso with the Spaniard’s contract ending at the end of the season.
Felipe Massa is Back
Felipe Massa should be three months into retirement but instead he’s driving the new FW40 for Williams after Valtteri Bottas signed with Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement. It was a big risk for the Brazilian coming back with the new regulations but it’s a risk which looks like paying off. The FW40 has impressed during testing and it appears Williams have taken a big step forward over the winter. Massa set the fifth fastest time with a 1:19.420 and also completed 414 laps. The new regulations which give the cars more downforce suit Massa’s driving style and don’t be surprised if we see Massa fighting for regular podiums in 2017.
Mercedes still the favourites
With the major regulation changes many people were hoping this would end the dominance of Mercedes. However, the team amassed 1096 laps during testing- the only team to pass the 1000 lap barrier. Valtteri Bottas finished marginally ahead of Lewis Hamilton with the pair around 0.7 seconds slower than Raikkonen. The reigning world champions won’t be too worried just now though as they’ve not ran their engine to its maximum potential due to a few minor issues which they hope to sort before Australia.