With just weeks before we start racing at Australian Grand Prix, we will look at how teams have fared in the pre-season testing done at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. 2020 is significant in many ways, this is the last season before new rules come into play in 2021. All teams will look to take advantage of the present scenario and put up a strong fight for the title.
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Williams : First up is Williams, the British F1 team has stood last in both the drivers and constructors championship in 2019. This year though they had a significant improvement, they were the first team out for practice, considering the fact that they were not able to put their car out for practice last season, this is an improvement. Both their drivers George Russel and Nicolas Latifi have affirmed that FW 43 is faster than its predecessor FW 42, but they also agree that they are the slowest of the bunch. With many F1 pundits expecting Russel to score more points this year, but still as a team they expect them to finish last this year as well.
Haas : The US team have had a very quiet practice. After shocking 9th last year there was a lot of work to be done for the US outfit. But, they failed to post scores below 1m 17s on one lap pace. They are slowest of the lot till now. With team principal, Guenther Steiner saying “we have had good mileage and learnt a lot from the car”, doesn’t conclude anything. And Gene Haas the owner of the team, mulling to pull the plug over this team in 2021 doesn’t seem too good for them.
Alfa Romeo : The Hinwil team stood in the 8th position in last years constructors championship. In this practice, they have shown some exceptional speeds with The Ice Man Kimi hitting speeds of around 320 kph with DRS Assistance have been the talk of the town. But, many feel in race conditions the output might be different!
Racing Point : You might have heard of the saying “Fake it till you make it!”, well Racing point has taken it very seriously. Dubbed as Pink Mercedes, due to their stunning resemblance to last years Mercedes W10, they have drawn considerable flake for it. But, as per FIA and F1 authorities, they did not break any rule in doing so. Racing Point aka Pink Mercedes has been the talk of the testing they were blisteringly fast on the straights. Sergio Perez also commenting that this is the best car he has driven till date. With this new development, they are certainly improving their #6 position and the race for the midfield supremacy has just got more intense!
AlphaTauri : The newly named F1 Team (formerly Toro Rosso) have had a quite testing. They have had an overhaul in terms of livery design. It will interesting to see how they would fare in the battle for midfield supremacy. But, we don’t expect they can better there last years performance.
Renault : The French manufactures have pushed their foot on the gas. They are only behind Mercedes and Red Bull in terms of Straight Line speeds and this has come as a surprise to many. At this stage, it is difficult to state whether Renault will have a better season or not. But, they are not to be taken lightly.
McLaren : The British team who had a rather surprising 2019 where they stood surprising 4th in the constructor's championship. They do look good to defend that spot. They although did not have any extraordinary practice session, it should also be remembered that in 2019 too they had a pretty ordinary season, but performed well to grab that best of the rest position. They should also vary of threat from Racing Point and their engine suppliers Renault.
Red Bull : The Austrian team will pose a serious threat to Mercedes domination this season. There path-breaking front suspension can turn out to be a game-changer. They have been relatively quick on straight lines. But, both the drivers have struggled during understeer, where the car has lost balance and skidded off the track. Bar from that it has been a very eventual practice for the Red Bull who are eyeing constructors and drivers championships.
Ferrari : The prancing horse has had a very disappointing practice. Many complaining that the Italian team has been sandbagging (Underperforming) their tests. They were quicker but not quicker than the silver arrows. With Team Principal Mattio Benniti reportedly saying they will stop the development of 2020 car if the gap is significant as the season progresses, is a concern for the Italian outfit. And also the advent of Corona Virus has been disastrous for them as the factory has been under lockdown and it is quite difficult for them to send data or do usual upgrades to their car. With also talks that Sebastian Vettel might leave the Scuderia team, a host of uncertainties await them!
Mercedes : Now, you have been 6-time champions, No team has even come close to you for 6 years. What will you do? One can expect them to be complacent after all. But, they have not been complacent and reportedly bought in a new steering innovation DAS ( Dual Axis Steering), which will reportedly help the driver to change the direction of front tires, helping uniform heat to pass through and help the car to move quicker in corners. Now, my team have questioned the legality of it, FIA has confirmed it is within the rules to everybody disappointment! They were the fastest team clocked more laps than anybody else. But, there have been engine issues for the silver arrows, which they expect to resolve before Australian GP
Now, Practice tests are not the replica of race conditions, they give you an idea of how teams perform. And with the current data, it is safe to say that Mercedes has been leading the pack.