Winter Test, Barcelona – THE POINT… BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI
The next appointment will be in two weeks, with the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne. Today the fourth and final day of collective test session is ended, closing effectively the winter session.
After playing hide and seek, Mercedes gave a first taste of its true potential, beating off competitors with the best time result of Nico Rosberg (1’22″792), scored the penultimate day with Soft. What will happen with the SuperSoft? I am almost certain that this car has the potential to go down under the wall of 1’22”.
The Germans are once again on another planet. Lewis and Nico will play in a separate championship, but with an important variable. If last year we could rely on flawed reliability, this year we will not even have this excuse, considering the many kilometres run in the twelve days of test. Now, it is a matter of going to Melbourne to see who will be the second and third force. At this point, thinking about hierarchies is not easy, since we don’t know the load of fuel on board.
With a delay of 1″ we have the Williams of Massa and Bottas that closed their work with the fastest time of the day. Behind them, in a range of 2-3 dec, we find Sebastian Vettel’s and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Force India impressed me a lot. Whereas the new car came to light only in the last three days, Hulkenberg and Perez were able to put together nearly 1700 km, proving that VJM08-Mercedes is well set up. Not bad also Lotus, despite a crack of Maldonado caused today by a brake problem. But yesterday, Grosjean made several long runs, as well as Sauber. They surprised thanks to the number of driven kilometres and their performance. Felipe Nasr ended the day with 159 laps more, collecting the largest number of km of the four-days (exactly 2537 km). A good signal also for the engine of Maranello.
However, we arrive in Australia with several unknown elements. Red Bull hasn’t still showed its real potential, while Toro Rosso with the young Verstappen and Sainz Jr. has collected additional 2000 km.
With yesterday (February 28th), the engines has been stopped and I have the impression that most wanted to verify the reliability, making a large number of kilometres – except for McLaren. McLaren is certainly late, but it can rely on a more than valid combination. With regard to chassis, it has very interesting solutions that take time, but will soon be able to recover the gap. Alonso’s accident could have taken more time. Just about the variable of Sunday, we are waiting for answers. There are still too many unclear points about the event. When it speaks about safety, I like I’d like to shed some light on this matter. I would hate if the fact were filed by blaming everything to Aeolus. In Romagna (Italy) there is a saying: “Rumours are taken away by the wind”.
Gian Carlo Minardi