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GP Week : Issue 197
Leading into Melbourne, there was a lot of media chat dissecting the technical outcome of the winter testing, in Jerez and Bahrain: was it a reasonable guide to the relative position of the teams? We decided to look at some of the data: the relative kilometers driven and the first data on the performance of the cars. Predictably, given the complexity of the new hybrid systems, all teams ran more kilometers in Bahrain than at Jerez, reflecting a lot of ‘recovery’ work done at their factories. In particular, the recovery of Red Bull was a pointer to its much- improved performance in Melbourne. While for some teams the situation has not been as bad as thought, it is also correct to say that the situation remains very serious for some teams. If we look at the histogram of kilometers run at the two venues we can see that while Red Bull ran significantly more kms in Bahrain than they had in Jerez, it didn’t remotely approach the kms logged by Mercedes and Ferrari-powered cars. Indeed, if we calculate some averages, we can see that the world champions covered less than a quarter of the road travelled by Mercedes ... although on one good day, Ricciardo covered almost a race simulation distance at the last test. This is not the first time a team has arrived at Race 1 with relatively few test miles under its belt. When there were no test limits, McLaren was famous for it – and other examples of teams turning up with winning cars completed on the Thursday are legend. However the complexity of the modern car, and especially this year’s all-new hybrid systems, require seamless integration just to be able to fire up the Power Unit (nee engine). The infinite variables in play cannot even be satisfactorily assessed by calculation or simulation. Track miles are fundamental. However, it isn’t the number of testing laps that is critical, but the quality of the work done, and thus the outcome in terms of sheer performance. And, from this perspective, we can see that the situation at Red Bull and Renault was serious, but showed potential. While Ferrari continued its testing program focussed on the development of the various systems, ignoring outright performance, Mercedes and McLaren did run some laps in qualifying trim to see how far the new cars could be pushed. The outcome was some interesting times. Contrary to predictions of ‘slow’ cars at the start of the season, by some experts – as slow as GP2, some said – the time set by Rosberg is only just more than a second slower than last year’s pole time set by the same driver. On the other hand, the best times from Renault-powered cars appeared worrying, apparently. But let’s just say apparently. Why? continued next page Did pre-season testing provide a realistic guide? TeCHNICAL PAOLO FILISETTI Technical Editor 38 GPWEEK.com // 38 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> AUSTRALIA PARTNERS: