2019 Formula 1 Pre-season testing: Ferrari dazzles and Mercedes hides its cards.

This season’s 2019 Formula 1 Pre-season testing concluded on Friday. The ten teams on the grid have been assessing the mechanics of their cars for four days, squeezing them to their maximum performance.

There have been the usual classification simulations and short stints at top speed, as well as some mechanical faults and minor accidents. All the Formula 1 Scuderias have been busy fine-tuning their vehicles ahead of the start of the season in 14 days’ time in Melbourne. And please, don´t forget to check the 2019 Formula 1 calendar to follow everything that happens in this exciting season.

Ferrari, very strong; Mercedes, hides its cards

Ferrari and Mercedes have made it clear during the 2019 Formula 1 Pre-season testing second week that they will again be the only true contestants for the 2019 F1 title. They started the week on the wrong foot with both suffering some minor mechanical faults, but on Wednesday any doubt over their mechanical prowess dissipated. Both the German and the Italian teams have completed more laps than any other team, 1.190 and 997 respectively.

The team from Maranello seems to be one step ahead of the current champions, both during short stints and race simulations, with Sebastian Vettel sealing a new testing lap record (1: 16.221) on the last day of testing, breaking the one set by his teammate Charles Leclerc the day before.

Both their times show that the red missiles are fast and fearsome weapons, but send the alarm bells ringing over a likely fratricidal duel.

On the other hand, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton left Barcelona with the second-best time. The five-time British champion stopped the clock three-thousandths of a second behind his German rival, no trace of those five-tenthsof advantage that Hamilton assures Mercedes has over Ferrari. The wolves of Brackley are dressing on sheep’s clothing again.

In any case, the performance of both teams seems almost identical. Perhaps the real measure of a difference is going to be Valtteri Bottas. The Finn was third on the final day, at only three-tenths of a second from the Reds.


It seems, however, that Mercedes has not shown all its cards. On Tuesday, they surprised everyone by putting on the track an almost new W10 with a sensational front spoiler. Rumour has it that the Brackley team could be working on two different aerodynamic specifications simultaneously to better suit the different track layouts.

Red Bull: In no man’s land

The team from Milton Keynes has left Barcelona on a bittersweet note. A number of incidents prevented them from completing any more than 833 laps, that is, the third from behind out of the 11 teams, and only ahead of Racing Point and Williams.

Pierre Gasly‘s performance was a major let down. The French driver has suffered two accidents in eight days, the last of them, on Thursday, for no apparent reason. It happened on lap 19 at a ‘moderate’ speed. The driving error destroyed the car, generating a great loss of time for the Red Bull work program.


It seems Gasly is rising up to the challenge ahead of him but perhaps,  as his own boss Christian Horner said, he still has too little experience for the blue car. His teammate, Max Verstappen, is sure to add the know-how necessary for the energy drink team to leap forward. 

 To accentuate the bitter feelings from Milton Keynes, The Red Bull of Pierre Gasly arrived behind Alex Albon’s Toro Rosso on Thursday. The staff at Milton Keynes has some work to do in the development of their car, and for this they are in luck, counting as they do with, Adrian Newey, the aerodynamic guru, amongst their ranks.

Weaknesses aside, Red Bull has one very valuable asset: Honda. The new Japanese engine of both Red Bull’s RB15 and Toro Rosso’s STR14 has shown great reliability. They haven’t suffered any mechanical fault during training. They are still far from the head but firmly ahead of the rest of the grid.

Renault: A safe bet

The car from Enstone was third in number of laps during the training days (961). The RS19 has also shown a good behaviour in the hands of its prime pair of drivers: Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

The French team has declared to have increased their power between 20 to 50 hp. Red Bull’s-ex, Ricciardo, in his position as the fourth better driver of the grid, is bound to put up a fight for the ‘best of the rest’ title. They should continue to grow if they do not want to get stuck in their ascent to the title.

Toro Rosso: Surprising reliability

Toro Rosso has given one of the positive surprises of the pre-season testing. With 995 laps, they have classified in fourth position by number of kilometres. It is apparent that the STR14 shares a good number of elements with the Red Bull RB15, which raises its chances on the asphalt.

Its Honda engine has not suffered any damage either. The Russian driver Daniil Kvyat and, above all, the rookie Alex Albon have shone. They are sure to put up a good fight in the middle of the table.

Alfa Romeo Racing

The new ‘subsidiary’ team of the Prancing Horse has taken advantage of the technological and economic transfer from Maranello. Dubbed the ‘Ferrari B’ of 2019 for its ‘similarities’ with the red missile, the C38 has taken a leap in quality compared to its predecessor. With the arrival of Italian capital, its development possibilities have skyrocketed. The car has shown a steady rhythm on the track. 

The question is, will its drivers rise up to the challenge? Kimi Raikkonen is forty years old and Antonio Giovinazzi seems far from being a top driver. The Italian’s career is also under the pressure from Mick Schumacher, who is knocking at the door. 

Haas: Down in performance

Haas, the other team with Ferrari mechanics, seems to be far from its best version. They have ended up being fourth by the tail due to various incidents. The team has been displaced by Alfa Romeo at Maranello, and this is going to have a negative impact on their chances of success. The inconsistency of its two drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, will be one of its greatest burdens. 

Racing Point: What a disappointment!

Despite the third place of Lance Stroll on Tuesday and the second place of Sergio Pérez on Wednesday, Racing Point has been deeply disappointing. Besides Williams, they are the team that has made the fewest laps: 625, and all because they have come in short supply of spare parts for their RP19.

Aware of this issue they have purposefully train at a very low rhythm. Some sources say that the ‘real’ car will arrive in the Melbourne race. Their plans include a development program that continues for the first five races of the year.

The final result is therefore still unknown. The late purchase of the team by Lawrence Stroll, delayed the economic injection that drove the new project, delaying the vehicle’s development.

McLaren: ‘Piano, piano’

Despite some minor faults, McLaren has performed at an acceptable level. Lando Norris started the week with the best time and Carlos Sainz did the same one day later. After completing 893 laps, the MCL34 has been reliable but also shown some understeering issues. 

It has a lot of room for improvement, as its Spanish driver said, but taken as a  starting point, it is a good car. Another positive change within the team has to do with its communication policy. The unrealistic expectations of previous years have given way to a more moderate discourse.

Their goal is not to win or climb podiums but to steadily grow their car. The Woking team is well aware of their current place in the F1. That humility and perseverance will allow them to recover their reputation in a few years’ time.

Williams: The last in the queue

The team from Grove has taken its first baby steps in a season that promises to be very hard for them. They have, in any case, accumulated kilometres without any major setback and all after having tested for two and a half days less than the rest of the grid.

British debutant George Russell and Polish veteran Robert Kubica face a Herculean challenge. They know that their car is the worst of all by a long way. Only a miracle could get them out of the last position during the season. But the second most decorated team in history keeps its pride.

 ‘2019 Formula 1 Pre-season testing’ Images: Circuit of Barcelona-Catalonia, Ferrari, Mercedes. Red Bull, Renault, Racing Point, Toro Rosso, Williams, McLaren, Haas y Alfa Romeo.


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