F1 2015: Barcelona Test Preview 1 – 19th – 22nd February

Following the first pre-season test in Jerez at the start of February, teams will travel to the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona for the second and third tests. The first of these starts on Thursday.

In Jerez Ferrari topped the times in one way or another on all four days. New recruit Sebastian Vettel went fastest on day one and continued to set the pace on day two. On day three Felipe Nasr was the pacesetter with a Ferrari engine powering his Sauber. Kimi Raikkonen ended the week fastest of all, keeping Ferrari in pole position. Of course pre-season testing does not give a true reflection of the order as teams will be running different programmes and different fuel loads. Jerez was also the first opportunity teams had to shakedown their cars, getting initial niggles out of the way before testing recommences later this week.

The driver line-up for each team present is as follows:

TEAM DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4
Mercedes Lewis Hamlilton Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton Nico Rosberg
Red Bull Daniel Ricciardo  Daniel Ricciardo  Daniil Kvyat  Daniil Kvyat
Williams Susie Wolff Felipe Massa Valtteri Bottas  Felipe Massa/Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen Kimi Raikkonen Sebastian Vettel Sebastian Vettel
McLaren Jenson Button Jenson Button Fernando Alonso Fernando Alonso
Force India Pascal Wehrlein Sergio Perez Pascal Wehrlein Nico Hulkenberg
Toro Rosso Max  Verstappen Carlos Sainz Jr Max Verstappen Carlos Sainz Jr
Lotus Pastor Maldonado Jolyon Palmer Pastor Maldonado Romain Grosjean
Sauber Felipe Nasr Marcus Ericsson Marcus Ericsson Felipe Nasr

Mercedes’ reserve and test driver Pascal Wehrlein will drive for Force India on two days with the team bringing their 2014 car to the test. They chose to sit out Jerez so this will be their first appearance at pre-season testing. Lotus’ new test driver Jolyon Palmer gets his first run in the new car while Williams’ test driver Susie Wolff also gets a day.

The Circuit de Catalunya is traditionally a track where teams can get a more realistic demonstration of their pace, although this is unlikely to be seen in pre-season testing. As a track where they race during the F1 season – unlike Jerez which is just used for testing purposes – they can learn a lot more about their car, and how it performs in the high speed straights and corners. It is widely believed in the F1 paddock that if your car performs well in Barcelona it will perform well anywhere. It was not on the pre-season calendar last year with F1 instead travelling to Bahrain for two of the three pre-season tests.

As is always the case at this time of year, there were more questions than answers after the first test. Is Ferrari’s pace genuine? Can McLaren-Honda find a solution to the niggling problems which kept them in the garage? When will Mercedes show their true pace?

Mercedes completed most laps of anyone in Jerez, signifying a strong start although they were not without their own reliability problems. Lotus started a day later than everyone else but made a positive start as they work with new engine partner Mercedes. McLaren completed just 79 laps over the four days but the team revealed afterwards that they believe Barcelona will be better for them. Sauber were another team racking up the mileage and they set a number of fast laps, with Felipe Nasr topping the times on day three. There was also solid running for Toro Rosso and Ferrari, while Red Bull struggled with a few power unit and ERS reliability issues, although not on the same scale as last year. Force India sat out the test in Jerez.

The Australian Grand Prix is just three weeks away and teams have eight test days between now and then to prepare.

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