F1 2016 First Test: 2015 part 2?

In the past week, Formula One has returned. Not to our screens however, but to the Circuit de Barcelona, where the first week of testing took place from the 22nd to the 25th of February.

image25.img.1536.mediumThe new ‘Ultra Soft’ compound, debuted (unsurprisingly) with the fastest time of the test, Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of the new Ferrari SF16-H did a 1:22.810. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen, also on the ultra-soft, clocked in 1:23.447 in third place, almost seven tenths off Sebastian. They sandwiched Nico Hulkenberg who did an impressive job to get three tenths off his compatriot on the slower Super-soft tyre. His teammate resided in fifth place, both driver only one day each to their name with Alfonso Celis Jr participating on Days one and four, and finishing position seven, also on the super softs.

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The two Red Bull drivers positioned well with their new TAG-Heuer engine supply, Ricciardo and Kvyat positioned fourth and sixth respectively on the ultra-softs. The reigning champions, Mercedes AMG, positioned a lowly eighth and eleventh, albeit on the medium compound tyre, however Mercedes clocked up a total of 675 laps, equivalent to a little more than 10 race distances over the four day period.

image34.img.1536.mediumSauber ran their 2015 Car and the C36 will be revealed ahead of the second test, beginning on March 1st. Ericsson lined up ninth and Nasr 17th, both on the soft compound tyre. Renault returns to Formula One in 2016, and so does Kevin Magnussen, on the soft tyre, the Dane rounded the top ten, and his rookie teammate Palmer, finished

19th. Renault had to redesign the car to fit a Renault engine, because it was designed to have a Mercedes engine in it. This was a similar story for Toro Rosso, who turned up with a plain car as the car was redesigned to fit a 2015 Ferrari engine, and not a Renault. Max Verstappen finished 11th overall with Carlos Sainz in 20th.

image31.img.1536.mediumHaas enters F1 in 2016, and their two drivers, Gutierrez and Grosjean finished 13th and 15th. An impressive debut for the new team made them have the best start for a new team in F1 since Toyota in 2002. Third in the championship in 2015, Williams were a lowly 14th and 21st, both on the soft compound tyres, but I think we are yet to see the true form of the car and drivers yet.

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The all-new Manor Racing are fielding an all new line-up as well. 2015 DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein, finished a promising 16th place, but teammate Rio Haryanto struggled to get to grips with the Manor so far, with a couple of incidents and finishing 22nd and last, 1.5 seconds behind the 21st place Jenson Button. And speaking of Jenson Button, we finally come to McLaren Honda. It’s already looking like a better year for the team, with great reliability until the afternoon of the penultimate day of the test, where a hydraulic leak halted Button progress. On Day 4, things didn’t get any better, Alonso only completed 3 laps. However on Day 2 alone Alonso completed more laps than he did in the entirety of 2015, McLaren completing 260 laps in 4 days. McLaren completed 380 laps in 12 days last year, so are on course to beat that in 2016, especially with a new engine spec on the way for Test Week 2.

However, we can’t take that much in from testing, as we don’t know all the data from all the teams. Testing resumed for 4 final days on Tuesday, before the start of the season on the 18th March.

And now for Something Completely Different

It was announced last Tuesday evening that a new plan for qualifying had been announced and got many fans annoyed and confused all over. The new plan states this:

Q1

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-16 minutes duration;
– After 7 minutes, the slowest driver is eliminated;
– Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag;
– 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2.

Q2

– 15 minutes duration;
– After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated;
– Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag;
– 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3.

Q3

– 14 minutes;
– After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated;
– Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag;
– 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds.image11.img.1536.medium

In my eyes, and the eyes of many, there were more crucial things to be looked at than Qualifying, and most took the piss out of the new format via social media. However, I will wait to see it in action first. Which won’t be in Melbourne, or Bahrain, or China, or Russia.

Yes, because of issues with getting the new timing system in, they will introduce it in the Spanish Grand Prix in May. I didn’t mind the idea of this new system until the delay was announced. It should either be introduced in Melbourne this year or the first round at the start of next year, it should not be introduced mid season.

image38.img.1536.mediumThat said there are more pressing issues with this system. With the (sort of) condensed timing, more cars will want to get out, and more cars will make more traffic which increases the likelihood of blocking on laps. Also, if the person who is in last when the eliminations begin, goes quicker, and that keeps on happening with all the drivers are in last, there would be no point as as soon as one elimination was done, it could be the end of the session, therefore having no point whatsoever.

image71.img.1536.mediumIt didn’t need changing and there are more pressing matters to be dealt with, but that’s that, we have the system now. And if it doesn’t work, we can ditch it for 2017. But there are many issues with this system, but i am very intrigued to see it in action for the first time, in Barcelona.

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