The F1 pre-season testing sessions ahead of the 2020 season concluded yesterday at the Circuit of Barcelona. Here we draw some conclusions based on what we have seen and on the sensations given away by the teams.
On a purely technical level, all of the teams have considerably reduced the number of mechanical faults
with regards to previous years. This improvement makes sense considering 2019 regulations remain intact
, particularly as far as the mechanics of the cars are concerned.
At a competitive level, we can draw some interesting conclusions despite most of the teams having kept their most innovative assets hidden from the competition, reason why we are still in the dark as to what might really happen once the real action begins.
As for the most obvious conclusions, Mercedes has set the best time and has demonstrated its technological advantage with the invention of the DAS. Ferrari and Red Bull, meanwhile, have left good sensations although they have hidden their true potential.
The million-dollar question remains the same. Can finally the German or Austrian cars beat or at least make the silver arrows suffer? It will not be easy but at least these two rivals might have seen a ray of light in the mechanical faults suffered by both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ cars, something unseen for many years.
The introduction of the ‘magic wheel’, however, has been a hard blow for the dreams and expectations of the two adversaries. The device could help consolidate the superiority of the Silver Arrows.
As mentioned above, Mercedes’ greatest rivals, Red Bull and Ferrari have kept a discreet presence. The blue squad, with its increasingly powerful Honda engine, has set the second-best time by the hand of Max Verstappen at 74 thousands of a second behind Bottas.
Also, the car from Milton Keynes displayed a good aerodynamic output thanks to their star engineer Adrian Newey who has managed to produce a very efficient RB16.
The third of the greatest, Ferrari, also seems to have improved the performance of its F1000 by means of achieving a greater drag. Their model, however, seems to replicate very much the same design line as in previous years, not a very good precedent to dethrone the absolute leaders.
The greatest surprise at the testing sessions was probably Racing Point
. The RP20, a copy of the Mercedes 2019
model, was consistent and very fast. The pink W10 could shake the foundations of the midfield and become the fourth team on the 2020 grid
, at least at the beginning of the season.
As for McLaren, the best of the rest in 2019, it has fulfilled its training program without any significant drawback. Both it’s drivers, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz and the Briton Lando Norris have said to be satisfied with the behaviour of the MCL35. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes in order to add a number of valuable improvements to the car.
The strength and performance of Renault’s RS20, on the other hand, have been put into question. Despite the natural optimism of its Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo and of newcomer Esteban Ocon, the project from Enstone doesn’t seem very solid. on Thursday, for instance, they only manage to complete thirty laps.
Williams, on the other hand, seems to have been reborn from its ashes. The team from Grove has put a dreadful 2019 firmly behind, year in which they didn’t even have their car ready until the second week of training. The British team has undergone a performance leap compared to last season.
In Barcelona, they cut down their time per lap by almost a second and a half compared to 2019. Both it’s drivers, the Briton George Russell and the Canadian rookie Nicholas Latifi, have also managed to complete a good number of laps. The only downside has been a couple of mechanical faults on their FW43.
Alpha Tauri has also fulfilled its expectations. The STR01 looks like the Red Bull from 2019 and it could break through its position last year to take on in theory superior teams this time around. It’s drivers, the Russian Daniel Kvyat and the French Pierre Gasly, who didn’t quite make it with the team from Milton Keynes, seem to have found their place at Faenza, as demonstrated by their two podiums of 2019.
Finally, Hass and its eclectic drivers Kevin Magnusson and Romain Grosjean didn’t look too comfortable in Spain. The same can be said of Alfa Romeo with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi and their very grey performance in Barcelona.
Images of F1 2020 pre-season testing sessions: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1.