The second week of Formula 1® pre-season testing saw teams improve and fine-tune their 2019 challengers before the new season starts. As final preparations wrapped up at the Circuit de Catalunya, we look back on five things we learnt from week two in Barcelona.
It's still close at the top
Astonishingly, eight full days of testing could barely separate championship rivals Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari, who were 0.003 seconds apart at the end of proceedings.
Despite a few disturbances throughout the week interrupting Ferrari’s track time, the Scuderia continued to show solid performance, finishing almost every day below the 1m18s mark.
As for Mercedes, the Silver Arrows were reluctant to show their hand until the last minute, keeping Ferrari honest at the front end of the pecking order. Qualifying will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows when the pair resume battle at the season-opening Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 in Melbourne.
Renault leads the midfield battle
While it’s evident Mercedes and Ferrari are the teams to beat, Renault are taking control of their own battle in the midfield. The yellow and black outfit strictly followed their testing program, ending the first half of the week towards the bottom end of the timesheets. However, the final two days saw the R.S.19 get put through its paces – sitting six tenths off the pace on the final day.
Daniel Ricciardo and Renault must be satisfied with their progress, as the Australian gets set to debut for his new team at his home Grand Prix in Melbourne next weekend.
Honda chipping away at 2019 targets
Another successful weekend was celebrated in Honda’s eyes after an additional 811 laps were covered in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s RB15 and Toro Rosso’s STR14 during week two. The RB15 almost reached the top of the timing screens on Tuesday, when Gasly recorded 136 laps while sitting just 0.006 seconds behind day five leader Lando Norris.
Honda would have been hoping for even more laps if it wasn’t for Red Bull’s major disruption on Thursday morning, when Gasly was involved in a high-speed crash at Turn 9. The Red Bull crew had to miss the remainder of the afternoon session while teammate Max Verstappen endured a lack of running the following day due to a shortage of spare parts.
McLaren, Haas look set for battle
McLaren and Haas look to set up their own fierce rivalry down the grid. McLaren leaves Barcelona in happy spirits after consistent times left the papaya orange outfit in the top half of the timing screens.
Despite a better week, the American-based Haas team had more issues when their VF-19 broke down on two occasions on Thursday and Friday. Haas will be hoping to make a strong comeback from their heartbreak last season at Albert Park, when a wheel-nut issue led to a double DNF.
Williams show endurance, but not pace
Frustration lingers within the Williams camp after a mixed second week of running at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Grove-based team managed to take part in all four days, clocking 479 laps and leading the lap count on days six and seven.
However, returning F1® driver Robert Kubica has said he is not ready ahead of the 2019 season, raising concerns over his team’s prospects. While the team have shown they can chalk up the laps, they still lack any sort of performance – being the only team unable to escape the 1m18s barrier in Barcelona. Plenty of eyes will fix on to the troubled FW42 when Williams officially kick off their 2019 campaign at the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019