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F1 teams set to hit track again for Barcelona Test - what to look out for

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F1 teams set to hit track again for Barcelona Test - what to look out for
Feb 18, 2015, 7:24 AM

As the new F1 season approaches, nine of the ten teams on the entry list for the 2015 F1 championship are in Barcelona this week for the second of...

As the new F1 season approaches, nine of the ten teams on the entry list for the 2015 F1 championship are in Barcelona this week for the second of three pre-season tests, which run from tomorrow (Thursday) to Sunday.

There will be much to digest from this test; Mercedes worked on reliability at the opening test in Jerez, but should start to chase performance this week, Ferrari looked much improved from last season, but it was hard to benchmark them against the Mercedes, while Red Bull didn't cover much mileage and the Williams didn't look quick on the Jerez layout, but will reveal more of its potential in Barcelona.

There will also be close scrutiny of straight line speeds, for indicators of the progress made by manufacturers on energy recovery and discharge in the second season of the hybrid turbo power units. This will give some sense of the degree to which Ferrari and Renault have closed the gap to Mercedes.

The eight squads which took part in the first test at Jerez at the beginning of the month will be joined by Force India for the four-day test at Circuit di Catalunya.

The Silverstone-based outfit has lost a race against time to finish its 2015 machine and will instead run a modified version of the VJM07 2014 machine with the aim of gathering valuable data about this year's selection of Pirelli tyres.

Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein will drive for Force India on Thursday and Saturday at the behest of the team's engine supplier with Sergio Perez in harness on Friday and Nico Hulkenberg due to complete the test on Sunday.

Manor F1, the rump of the old Marussia team, is due to come out of administration on Thursday, but had its plan to run 2014 cars thwarted by Force India in a vote of the F1 Strategy Group. The F1 world waits to see whether they can make it to Melbourne on March 15, or to one of the early flyaway races.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 4 - Jerez, Spain

Mercedes approach the test in perhaps the best shape of all having managed 515 laps in the Jerez test, fully 20% more than their nearest rivals and 40% more than they achieved in the equivalent test in 2014. World champion Lewis Hamilton will kick off this week's test for the Brackley team with Nico Rosberg taking over on Friday.

The duo will alternate the remaining two days of the test. Red Bull finished the Jerez test with only the troubled McLaren team behind them on test mileage completed and will be hoping that the engine problems which blighted their Jerez running have been eradicated. Daniel Ricciardo  conducts the first two days for the team before handing over to Daniel Kvyat.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 4 - Jerez, Spain

 

Susie Wolff will be behind the wheel for Williams on Thursday as the Grove squad look forward to more running than they managed in Jerez in what was a quieter first outing of the season than they managed in 2014.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 4 - Jerez, Spain

Ferrari began 2015 by topping three of the four days and, while relative performance to Mercedes has still to be established, clearly it was a very strong showing and a considerable boost after the turbulent pre-Christmas period of personnel change for the Maranello outfit.

Kimi Raikkonen will look after the red machine for the first two days before handing over to Sebastian Vettel on Saturday.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 4 - Jerez, Spain

McLaren grabbed most of the headlines in Jerez for all the wrong reasons as its new Honda-powered machine, described as "a masterpiece" this week by Ron Dennis, presented continuous teething problems. The aggressive rear-end packaging is a bold bid to regain lost ground to Mercedes with a returning engine manufacturer and the team's desperate need for reliable running led to them using one of their two 'filming days' at Barcelona this week.

Jenson Button was behind the wheel for the promotional running and will begin the test proper on Thursday with Fernando Alonso set to conduct the final two days.

Toro Rosso was restricted to short stints in Jerez as it suffered from the same engine reliability woes that afflicted the senior Red Bull team and with two rookies on board will look forward to consistent running to fast track the F1 apprenticeship for Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Junior.

Lotus have produced a 2015 design said by their drivers to be a considerable improvement on their 2014 effort in terms of driveability and will be looking forward to a complete programme this week having joined the Jerez test a day late.

Reserve driver Jolyon Palmer will take over driving duties from Pastor Maldonado on Friday ahead of his schedule of Friday practice runs on race weekends this year. Maldonado is back in the car on Saturday while Romain Grosjean will get a single day of running on Sunday.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 4 - Jerez, Spain

Finally, Sauber is another team desperately in need of a better machine than they managed in 2014 in order to attract more sponsors. And if their Jerez test form is any useful indicator, they appear to have achieved progress. Felipe Nasr was fastest of all on day two in southern Spain and both he and Marcus Ericsson were second only to the Ferraris for the remainder of the week on the end of day time sheets.

Whether this form is a sign of a new dawn at Hinwil or a soft tyre-low fuel move to clutter up the 'Ronnie Peterson circa 1976' livery with some much needed sponsorship logos remains to be seen but certainly Sauber will not be the only team looking to press on in a bid to unlock performance this week.

Having established baselines and come to terms with the operation of their 2015 cars in Jerez, most of the teams will be hoping for consistent running to find out just how fast their new cars really are. It promises to be a fascinating four days in Montmelo.

 

Barcelona Test Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mercedes Hamilton Rosberg Hamilton Rosberg
Red Bull Ricciardo Ricciardo Kvyat Kvyat
Williams Wolff Bottas Massa Massa/Bottas
Ferrari Raikkonen Raikkonen Vettel Vettel
McLaren Button Button Alonso Alonso
Force India Wehrlein Perez Wehrlein Hulkenberg
Toro Rosso Verstappen Sainz Verstappen Sainz
Lotus Maldonado Palmer Maldonado Grosjean
Sauber Nasr Ericsson Ericsson Nasr

 
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