The first round of pre-season testing has ended and teams were able to shakedown their 2018 contenders in the seemingly unforgiving Barcelona weather at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. With this, how fast are the 2018 F1 cars compared to the previous year?
For a quick recap, on the first day of the pre-season testing, Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull RB14 clocked the fastest time with 1:20.179 after going for 60 laps around Catalunya with Valterri Bottas coming in a close second with 1:20.349.
Sebastian Vettel hit the ‘1 minute, 19 second’ mark on the second day of the pre-season testing landing him that day’s fastest with his 1:19.673 run and 98 laps. Valterri Bottas followed with 1:19.976 in his Mercedes-Benz W09.
Challenge came to teams for the third day as Barcelona experienced snow and the track was in its worst for the week. Still braving the track’s wet condition, McLaren and Fernando Alonso clocked the fastest with 2:18.545.
for the forth and final day for the first round of pre-season testing, the 2017 Champion Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest with 1:19.333 making this the fastest lap seen in the whole week.
Comparing this 1:19.333 run of Hamilton in this week’s pre-season testing with his 2017 Spanish GP qualifying performance which landed him pole for that weekend with 1:19.149, it is definitely Hamilton’s 2017 Spanish GP Q3 run that is faster. But also note that the 1:19.333 of Hamilton in his latest Mercedes-Benz W09 was achieved with just a medium compound tire set up while the 2017 Spanish GP Q3 was done in a soft compound. With better traction, Hamilton could have pushed to surpass his pole-winning 2017 Spanish GP qualifying run.
In this week’s testing, other teams were also able to get into the ‘1 minute, 19 sec’ mark. Basing on these lap times from last year’s Spanish GP qualifying time sheet, it may be safe to assume that the 2018 F1 cars are faster than of the previous year. Plus, there could also be the fact that teams are still hiding their machine’s true potential until the Australian GP. So just don’t mind the halo protection, the 2018 cars might not actually be that bad at all but faster. Pre-season testing will resume for its second round on March 6 in Barcelona.