The first pre-season test has finished in Jerez for the new Formula 1 season, and it proved to be extremely interesting for many different reasons. One of the surprise performances in Spain came from the sport’s most famous team, Ferrari. After another disappointing season, the recruitment of four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, will help turn things around for the Italian outfit. Their new car, the SF15-T, looking identical to last year’s car really surprised Ferrari and the other teams in the paddock. Both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen seemed very happy with the car; with the Fin describing how he knew straight away that the car had vastly improved from last years. He showed it on track too, setting the quickest lap time of the four-day test. It was Vettel’s quick lap on medium tyres that really turned heads in the paddock, Mercedes now consider Ferrari to be their closest challenger for the title. Although it’s still early days, it looks like Ferrari could once again be challenging for world titles, something that is great to see for all Formula 1 fans.
There was a great deal of anticipation before the test as to what the new McLaren-Honda would look like and how it would perform. Both were disappointing in Jerez. The team didn’t revert back to the iconic livery of the Senna/Prost days, but opted for the same silver and a lick of red paint, it also looked bare with very few sponsors on. Ron Dennis has since revealed that the colour scheme will change. The car’s performance was disrupted by reliability problems, McLaren never really got the car to a competitive pace and didn’t manage to set many laps, less than 70. The problems are to be expected due to Honda’s return into the sport, but they will be hoping that the major issues are now out of the way. If not they will have a very tough start to the new season.
Red Bull turned up to the test in a car that truly caught the eye; the striking black and white design was used to camouflage the car from rival teams. A clever tactic to prevent other teams adapting their ideas and hiding new parts that designer Adrian Newey had designed. Red Bull will be hoping to improve on last season with more race wins, they’ll be without superstar Vettel but Daniel Riccardo was extremely impressive in his first season for the team last year, being the only driver apart from Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to win a race. However in Jerez, the car suffered similar problems to last year. The Renault power unit again failed on the Austrian owned team, with them having to stop due to reliability problems. They’ll be hoping that Renault have made a far better engine this year, one that will mean that they can compete against Mercedes and Ferrari.
Mercedes had a strong and impressive test in Jerez, both Rosberg and 2014 World Champion Hamilton, were happy with the car. Although they didn’t set any of the quickest times across the four days, that didn’t seem to be their plan. They set out for mileage and to test the reliability of the new car. Rosberg was superb in his first day in the car, setting a quick time whilst still doing 157 laps. Mercedes completed 600km more across the four days than the other teams. This already shows that they have another outstanding car that they will be hoping can set up another showdown between their two drivers for thechampionship.
Another surprise performance from the test was Sauber, after having their worst season in the sport last year, failing to score a single point. They turned up with an impressive and a completely different looking car. The car now has a blue livery thanks to the sponsorship Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr brought in from Banco Do Brazil, who are paying £16 million to be lead sponsor. The car was quick in Spain, the Ferrari engine proved to have vastly improved from last year for them as well. However it is still early days, as we don’t know the full potential of the car.
Although not all the teams turned up to Jerez, it was still encouraging to see a change in fortune for teams like Ferrari and Sauber. It’ll be interesting to see what the performance of all the teams will be like at the next test in two weeks time in Barcelona. Hopefully McLaren and Red Bull can iron out reliability issues and show off the true pace of their new cars. I believe that after this encouraging test, Ferrari can be considered title contenders. As an avid Formula One fan, I welcome their return to the top of the grid.