Pics & article F1 in 2015: A rundown of how each team fared in the first Barcelona test | Features & Experts | Sky Sports Formula 1
Who's looking good for the new F1 season - and who's not...
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 23/02/15 7:08pm
Mercedes: Even when prioritising lap count over lap times, Mercedes still look too fast for the rest of the field. The world champions ran almost exclusively on the medium compound all week but Nico Rosberg's lap of 1:24.321 on the final day was, tyre-corrected, still by far the fastest of the week. And there's still more to come. "I've not really started dialling the car into how I'd like to perfect it," said Lewis Hamilton. "But it feels good, similar to last year but better." Ominous words - and deeds.
Red Bull: The completion of two full race simulations means that Red Bull are already in far better shape than they were twelve months ago. The RB11 will be heavily revised for next week's third and final test of the winter but doubts are growing about the likely competitiveness of the Renault engine. It could be a slow start to 2015 for the former world champions.
Williams: The Grove outfit have remained under the radar this winter, quietly but efficiently going about their business, and devoting the whole of Day Three to pit-stop practice - itself an indication of their confidence. Although the FW37 is yet to appear prominently on the timesheets, insiders believe it represents a clear improvement on the FW36 car which carried the team to third in the 2014 Constructors' Championship.
Ferrari: The surprise package of the winter so far, although the team itself is remaining cautious. New boss Maurizio Arrivabene continues to insist that two race victories would be satisfactory in 2015 while Vettel has cautioned against any conclusions being drawn from the F15-T's performance so far. But an improvement has definitely been achieved over the winter. "It's a very nice car," said Kimi Raikkonen after his week's work, "which is completely different to last year's".
McLaren: An acute shortage of laps means that the team are unlikely to be ready for the season-opener in Australia, with their running in Barcelona repeatedly hampered by a faulty seal in their MGU-K - a hefty price to pay for a componenent worth just a few pounds. But despite the paucity of running, the team's confidence remains undimmed - both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, speaking prior to his mysterious accident on Day Four, are adamant the team will be winners.
Toro Rosso: The long-distance runners of the Barcelona test with the STR10 completing more laps than any other 2015 car. Although Carlos Sainz blotted his copybook by crashing out on Day Two, Max Verstappen continues to impress. The youngster, who completed over 120 laps on Saturday, is yet to put a wheel off line.
Lotus: Could a switch to Mercedes power do for Lotus in 2015 what it did for Williams in 2014? After a wretched season with the under-powered E22, Lotus have their swagger back with the E23. "There is a clear improvement," said Pastor Maldonado after topping the timesheets on both of his days of running. Starting the new season as the third or fourth-fastest team is already a realistic prospect.
Sauber: After an encouraging test in Jerez, Barcelona constituted a big step back for Sauber as they struggled to put any meaningful mileage on the C34. Felipe Nasr's afternoon-wrecking collision with Susie Wolff on Day One was followed by a series of niggles on Friday and then a crippling gearbox malfunction which restricted the team to less than 100 laps across the weekend.
Force India: Although Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, as well as Mercedes loanee Pascal Wehrlein, were on duty at Barcelona, the absence of Force India's 2015 car rendered the Silverstone outfit peripheral figures. The VJM08 will make its belated debut next week at Barcelona but, already eight days behind most of the field, Force India have a lot of catching up to do.
The third and final winter test starts on Thursday and the Sky Sports F1 Digital team will be providing live commentary from all four days at Barcelona. Sky Sports News HQ will also have live updates from trackside.