Drafting the Circuits

Formula 1 Report

February 9, 2015

By Steve Aibel



It’s that thing, where everyone goes away for a few months, on vacation or holiday, and when they return, you ask them…whachagot?

Christmas is like that. Returning to work or school, everyone wants to know if you’ve received the hot new item that everyone needs to have.

It’s also the primary question rounding the Formula 1 paddock this month as cars are tested for the first time in 2015.

Whachagot…Anyone got more power?   Lemme have a look under that cover.

Whachagot…What’s Honda bringing to the table? Their engine sounds different. Deeper, throatier!

Whachagot…how are we gonna catch Mercedes?

February brings to us a new year and a month of testing on the Iberian peninsula of Spain. The first test in Jerez has been completed and we have two upcoming in Barcelona. By months end, testing will be have revealed the preseason favorites for the upcoming 2015 Formula 1 season.

The Jerez test was the first, opening reveal where we got just the smallest taste of whatchagot.

Many folks will remark that you can’t pull anything out of these early tests. I would disagree. Although times matter little, direction is often revealed in the first test. Who is moving up and who is struggling or changing direction? For the teams, this first test is like Christmas morning where you get to open the packages that have been kept under wraps all winter.

Take Ferrari for example…whachagot!

Ferrari SF15-T

Ferrari SF15-T

It is easy to say that Formula 1 benefits when Ferrari is near the sharp end of the order. No team has gone through a larger reshaping than the Scuderia over the past year.

New driver, new managers, new personnel!

By the looks of it, Ferrari has changed direction and we may see them back toward to front of the pack.   They dominated the opening test and although times matter little, their uncluttered running and speed gives hope where there was none previously.

Sauber, too, could be riding the Ferrari swell. With new, bold, blue and yellow colors, the 2015 Sauber entry topped the time charts on day 3, although it must be mentioned that the top Sauber times were set on soft rubber. Still, to see Sauber with the faster teams again stands well to them being, at least, a mid pack contender again this year instead of an afterthought.

Sauber C34

Sauber C34

Again, lap times matter little, but with Ferrari power atop the time sheets every day, this was the major surprise of the opening Jerez test…and a pleasant one at that.

Unfortunately, Red Bull and Toro Rosso must be asking engine supplier that same age old question…whachagot?

Their answer, not much! At least in the first test.

The Renault engine package was drastically down on power last year and Red Bull worked hard to push Renault to treat them as their primary works team. Unfortunately, what Renault brought to the Jerez test was limited due to a small shaft in the water pump which limited full bore running.

The mark left by the Milton Keynes squad at the Jerez test came down to their livery. The dazzle camouflage scheme, often used by car manufacturers to hide specific aspects of technology, surprised everyone and was generally received well. Red Bull historically brings an awesome chassis to the show. We will have to wait until the next set of tests in Barcelona to get an impression of where Red Bull and Toro Rosso will fall in the order.

Red Bull RB11 Dazzle Camo

Red Bull RB11
Dazzle Camo

The same goes for McLaren. The McLaren-Honda package only managed 79 laps across 4 days of testing and frankly speaking they were slow each day. McLaren may be the only team where lap times mean absolutely nothing as they are still going through the main integration issues that other teams worked through last season. The word is, McLaren could be the team to surprise everyone, but we may not see their true pace until well into the season.

The ultimate whachagot is still Mercedes! Have they moved up or let others gain ground.

From the look of the opening test, it appears that Mercedes will again be the class of the field. The new W06 logged over 500 laps which was over 20% more than any other team. This focus on reliability addresses the one, tiny concern that Mercedes had in 2014. Sometimes their car broke…..but rarely!

Mercedes W06

Mercedes W06

In a sense, it looked like the Mercs were evaluating the field before revealing the cards held in their hand.

As far as whatchagot, Mercedes is not telling. At least not yet! We will have to wait for the next two tests and the first quarter of the race season to see if anyone has anything for the powerhouse championship Mercedes team.

Bring on Barcelona, we have more packages to open!