For what it is worth…

Lap times in testing are not always the most important thing – because one never knows what teams are up to; and whether they are producing sensible results – or trying to give the impression that they are faster than is really the case. One can write learned treatises about this tyre and that tyre and fuel load calculations, but you still don’t know if drivers are lifting off to produce slower times than the cars are capable of doing and it’s hard to be sure if people are running underweight.

It is much more sensible to look at the number of laps covered to get an idea about which cars are troublesome and which seem to be behaving well. This covers both mechanical reliability and incidents caused by drivers fighting cars that don’t do what they want them to do.

Using this method one might be forgiven for thinking that Mercedes is not very competitive this year. That be a bit of a stretch as you cannot write off a team with a record like it has, but one can note that the four teams using Mercedes engines (Mercedes, Williams, McLaren and Aston Martin) have covered the least ground in the first two days.

The other teams have all done about the same, give or take 12 laps. Is this significant?

In terms of the most mileage, it’s effectively a tie with Alpine having done 257 laps, one more than Red Bull and Alfa Romeo, four more than AlphaTauri and 10 more than Haas. Ferrari is just two laps behind the US team and then there is a 30-lap gap back to the first Merc-engined team: Williams. McLaren is 20 down on that while Aston Martin might perhaps look lovely, but being 80 laps down on Alpine is not a great start. And Merc is 15 laps down on the green machines…

Laps are limited in F1 these days, more than ever, and so losing time is painful for two reasons: the drivers have less time to get to know (and tame) the cars, and there is less data for the engineers to scratch their heads over and to use for their simulation programmes.

In terms of lap times, Merc’s Valtteri Bottas leads the way with a 1m30.289s, ahead of Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) with a 1m30.413s and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) with a 1m30.460s. McLaren’s Lando Norris is next with a 1m30.586 and then we have Max Verstappen’s best from the first day at 1m30.674s in his Red Bull.

Let’s see how things change on Day 3, the final day of pre-season running – apart from a few filming days that are due.

7 thoughts on “For what it is worth…

  1. It seems we will find out where the cars are pace wise at the race in a fortnight.

    This test seemed like the old “Winter World Championship” Ron Dennis of McLaren used to talk about, where nothing conclusive could be assumed by what the pace of the car in winter suggested.

    It will be interesting to see how close Team Bahrain is to the works Mercedes though and if they leap from Aston Martin.

  2. For what it is worth…
    i think HAAS have to start to do something different – the only good F1 car Dallara have produced during 5 years and many co-labs was 1991 and even then sadly that was struck by a bad engine…

  3. Sorry off topic and not even F1; but sadly Sabine Schmitz, Queen of the Nurburgring, has died. She was never in F1 but huge personality who won a place in the hearts of many UK tv viewers when she said to our Top Gear presenter, who had just completed his best circuit of the Nurburgring Nordschleife “I could beat that in a van!” (Which kicked off a whole project)
    BBC Sport page has a nice tribute.

  4. Hi Joe, apropos of nothing, but what do you think of the new autosport website?

    Where is the news? How the mighty crumble in the face of commerce.

    The epoch for me was 1985 when I was 12 to 1991, I remember every Thursday running to the village shop to get my autosport for £1.20.

    I would read you Joe, and nigel roebuck, and then when I could afford motorsport, Denis Jenkinson, George Donaldson, i read a great republished piece in autosport in the late 80’s by louis stanley who wrote an amazing book about his exploits in and around motorsport.

    There was no internet, I was reliant on your written words.

    I remember October 1990 (japan) going to the red telephone box and putting in my last 70 p into a call to Haymarket to be told over the phone that Ayrton had won, one of the best days (and best 70p spent ever!)

    So even in 1990 the wrtitng was on the wall calling to hear an update.

    Now in 2021 you cant find the journalism at autosport, at least not from the website.

    That is why I am going to sign up properly this year to you, because as the years go by you are not in a growing club, which is a shame because could you imagine if you had been around in the 60’s/early 70’s F1 the colour and detail of your race reports would be insane.

    Social consumption of information, may eventually die, but the written word wont.

    With all due respect to Lawrence Barchetto, a fine writer he may be, but a Saward or a Jenkinson he wont be remembered as within his genre.

    1. The print version is little different. I used to walk from Bayswater to Earls Court at about 10pm on a Wednesday evening to buy a copy. I couldn’t afford the bus fare. Now I wouldn’t walk to the front gate for it.

      It used to be such a brilliant magazine, proper specialist press. Now it’s just gutter press.

      I have hundreds of old copies, from the 1960’s through to when I stopped buying it about 20 years ago. It’s amazing how it’s been dumbed down. Sad really.

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