By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer
Gold? I’m afraid not!
The color of the year for Formula 1 still looks to be Silver!
While Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari led Day 4 in testing, it was Mercedes who fired the warning shot across the paddock. The Silver Arrows completed 675 laps across 4 days of testing while never using a tire other than the Medium Pirelli compound. To put this in perspective, Toro Rosso was a distant second in laps completed, over 200 laps in arrears.
Stealing a page from their successful 2015 season, Mercedes focused on preparation and reliability. Using new parts in the form of a new nose and a new floor, Nico Rosberg saw improvement in some of the smaller elements to an already startlingly successful car. For sure, the Mercedes team is setting the bar for the 2016 season.
Their closest competitor looks to be Ferrari as it was last year. Sebastian Vettel led both days he was in the cockpit and Raikkonen led the final day. While it was nice to see the Scuderia atop the leader board, Ferrari as a team would have liked to have logged more laps. Much of the Ferrari testing plan involved systems integration. Next week the process of setting up the car for speed will become the focus.
Still, a strong start for the Ferrari team and it appears they will have a stronger car to battle Mercedes this year.
Force India has also had a very successful week, leading the timesheets on Wednesday and coming in a strong third on the final day of the test. At the hands of development driver and rookie Alfonso Celis, Force India claimed third position in his second day of testing. Strange that Force India would choose to use Celis instead of giving Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez more time in the VJM09.
While the team has shown strong lap times all week, questions were asked as to whether Force India was tying to improve their showing by running low fuel loads to improve performance. Sergio Perez strongly denied this, stating that the team times were genuine.
Keep an eye on Force India. This may be the year where:”The Force Awakens.”
Haas F1 Team can consider this week an enormous success. Getting the Haas VF-16 on track, totaling 281 laps, and presenting respectable lap times, the American based team ran strongly enough to complete a full race simulation. Team Principal Gunther Steiner found the week to be a pleasant surprise although they are still faced with a long laundry list of integration issues to resolve.
The second and final week of testing will pick up next week on Monday where we will gain significant insight into the players and the pretenders for the upcoming season.
Day 4 Test Times
|Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:24.293||96|
|Alfonso Celis||Force India||1:24.840||75|
|Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:25.393||110|
*Fernando Alonso did not set a time for McLaren