As we go into the final day of the pre-season testing in Barcelona, the F1 teams are beginning to play games to hide their true levels of competitiveness. Yesterday Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the pre-season tests with a lap of 1m19.024s, using ultra-soft tyres, but was noted to back off at the end of the lap, thus disguising the full pace of the car. Lewis Hamilton pointed this out, but Vettel said that Mercedes too is hiding its potential. Hamilton was second fastest, also on ultra-softs, with a 1m19.352s. It is still worth keeping an eye on mileage as this tells an important story, while pace can be manipulated to a lesser or greater extent. Vettel completed a total of 156 laps to add to Ferrari’s 690 beforehand. This means that it has a total of 846. Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both ran yesterday with the Briton doing 52 laps and the Finn 95 (using only soft rubber). This means that the Mercedes total mileage is now up to 991 laps, still a long way clear of Ferrari.
Esteban Ocon was third fastest yesterday with his Force India, completing a mammoth 137 laps, with a best of 1m20.161s on ultra-soft tyres. This means that the team now has 657 laps under its belt.
Dani Kvyat was fourth with a lap of 1m20.416s, on super-soft rubber, after 94 laps, which raises Toro Rosso’s lap total to 452. Kevin Magnussen was next for Haas with a 1m20.504s lap set on ultra-soft tyres, but 119 laps of running, which means that Haas is now up to 640 laps.
Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull was sixth overall, but he was using only soft tyres and so his 1m20.824s is no real indication of his ultimate pace. He clocked 128 laps, lifting Red Bull’s total to 613.
Next up was Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren-Honda, who did just 48 laps because of engine glitches, but set a best of 1m21.348s, albeit on ultra-soft rubber. This means that McLaren’s total number of laps is now still only up to 382.
Sauber ran both Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein, the two clocking up another 132 laps to take Sauber’s total to 686. Renault ran Jolyon Palmer but only for 53 laps, which lifted the Renault total to 562 and Williams did not go for times, instead concentrating on mileage and data-gathering, the two drivers notching up 165 laps between them, bringing the Williams total to 668.
This means that Mercedes is still well clear of the rest in mileage terms with 991 laps, followed by Ferrari with 846, Sauber with 686, Williams (668) Force India (657), Haas (640), Red Bull Racing (613), Renault (562), Toro Rosso (452) and McLaren (382).
Engine-wise the scores are interesting, with Mercedes at 2,316; Ferrari at 2,172, Renault at 1,627 and Honda at a meagre 382.