Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015

Barcelona test data: Mercedes a second ahead

2015 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Mercedes’ rivals may be no closer to them in 2015 than they were last year as data from the final pre-season tests indicates they have a lap time advantage of around a second.

The W06 ran for longer than any other car as well in an impressive pre-season showing from the reigning champions.

Fastest lap times

Teams’ fastest laps

TeamDriverTimeGapTyre
1MercedesNico Rosberg1’22.792Soft
2WilliamsValtteri Bottas1’23.0630.271Super-soft
3FerrariKimi Raikkonen1’23.2760.484Super-soft
4SauberFelipe Nasr1’24.0231.231Super-soft
5LotusRomain Grosjean1’24.0671.275Super-soft
6Toro RossoCarlos Sainz Jnr1’24.1911.399Super-soft
7Red BullDaniel Ricciardo1’24.5741.782Soft
8Force IndiaSergio Perez1’24.7021.910Super-soft
9McLarenKevin Magnussen1’25.2252.433Soft

Mercedes set the quickest lap time of the combined eight days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya. What’s more, they did it using a tyre compound which was one stage harder than most other teams used to set their quickest time.

Fellow Mercedes power users Williams got closest to their time, lapping just under three-tenths of a second off Mercedes’ soft-tyre pace using the super-soft compound. Pirelli estimate the super-softs are 0.8 to 0.9 seconds per laps quicker than the soft tyres at this track, so a reasonable estimate puts the W06 at least a second quicker than anything else on the track.

Of course we don’t know the fuel loads being used by any of the teams. But as Mercedes were confident enough in their pace to use harder tyres than their rivals for their performance runs, it’s unlikely they were also using a significantly lighter car.

However there is some cause for encouragement: this track was the venue where Mercedes’ superiority was at its greatest last year. The W05 was 1.24% faster than any other car at the Circuit de Catalunya in 2014 but this was the only venue where its margin was greater than 0.95%.

Ferrari will draw some encouragement from being the next-quickest team after Williams – even if we assume Red Bull could have found the best part of a second by lapping on the super-soft tyres.

Sebastian Vettel expects a close battle behind the Mercedes cars. “From a performance point of view it’s clear that Mercedes is still ahead by quite a way,” he said, “but right behind there is us, Williams and Red Bull all very close”.

Pirelli also suggest the soft tyres are 1.2 to 1.4 seconds quicker than the medium compound at the Circuit de Catalunya. So while Rosberg’s best lap was two-and-a-half seconds quicker than last year’s pole position time by Hamilton on mediums, that probably equates to a performance gain of a little more than a second at the moment.

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Drivers’ fastest laps

Pos.DriverTeamEngineTimeGapTyre
1Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes1’22.792Soft
2Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes1’23.0220.230Soft
3Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes1’23.0630.271Super-soft
4Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes1’23.2620.470Super-soft
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari1’23.2760.484Super-soft
6Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari1’23.4690.677Super-soft
7Felipe NasrSauberFerrari1’24.0231.231Super-soft
8Romain GrosjeanLotusMercedes1’24.0671.275Super-soft
9Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault1’24.1911.399Super-soft
10Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari1’24.2761.484Super-soft
11Pastor MaldonadoLotusMercedes1’24.3481.556Super-soft
12Max VerstappenToro RossoRenault1’24.5271.735Super-soft
13Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault1’24.5741.782Soft
14Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes1’24.7021.910Super-soft
15Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes1’24.9392.147Super-soft
16Daniil KvyatRed BullRenault1’24.9412.149Soft
17Kevin MagnussenMcLarenHonda1’25.2252.433Soft
18Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda1’25.3272.535Super-soft
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda1’25.9613.169Soft
20Jolyon PalmerLotusMercedes1’26.2803.488Soft
21Pascal WehrleinForce IndiaMercedes1’27.3334.541Medium
22Susie WolffWilliamsMercedes1’28.9066.114Medium

Pre-season test mileage at Jerez and Barcelona

DriverTotal lapsTotal distance (km)
Nico Rosberg7593,463.229
Felipe Nasr6492,976.376
Max Verstappen6172,833.545
Sebastian Vettel6022,768.487
Marcus Ericsson5962,732.385
Carlos Sainz Jnr5892,700.254
Kimi Raikkonen5802,654.500
Lewis Hamilton5332,433.899
Felipe Massa4922,257.572
Valtteri Bottas4912,255.187
Daniel Ricciardo4862,243.262
Pastor Maldonado4862,231.231
Daniil Kvyat4572,108.721
Romain Grosjean3551,640.494
Sergio Perez2851,326.675
Nico Hulkenberg2711,261.505
Jenson Button2241,033.413
Pascal Wehrlein161749.455
Fernando Alonso117536.009
Susie Wolff86400.330
Jolyon Palmer77358.435
TeamModelTotal lapsTotal distance (km)
MercedesW0613406,120.57
SauberC3412455,708.76
Toro RossoSTR1012065,533.80
FerrariSF15-T11825,422.99
WilliamsFW3710694,913.09
Red BullRB119434,351.98
LotusE239184,230.16
McLarenMP4-303801,750.97
Force IndiaVJM083651,699.08
Force IndiaVJM073041,415.12

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Not only were Mercedes quick, they also ran reliably. The W06 covered more ground than any other car – over 6,000 kilometres.

Does this mean they have solved the reliability problems which plagued them last year? Not necessarily – the W05 also completed the most laps in pre-season testing last year, albeit amounting to less than 5,000 kilometres.

Force India may not have had their new car ready until the final test but the VJM08 has run very well since it appeared. The first chassis already has a whisker under 1,700 kilometres on the clock – little less than McLaren have managed in 12 days with their troublesome MP4-30.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 46 comments on “Barcelona test data: Mercedes a second ahead”

    1. As usual Rosberg ends up with the most mileage of all drivers.

    2. Two observations:
      1. McLaren’s mileage this year (1750km) roughly same as Red Bull last year (1711km)
      2. According the Sky, Mercedes only used one engine through all 12 days of testing (although they did refresh parts as needed)

      1. One engine for all 12 days seems a bit much, that would mean that merc can run all 20 races with just one engine. If they build it that robust, surely they would not be able to be also superior on power output.

        1. doesn’t seem that far fetched, especially if the power was turned down, the mechanical side of the engines are under a lot less stress now that they’re below 15k rpm.

        2. Why does this surprise you? Mercedes and Renault make road cars, so to be able to make a high-performance prototype engine that can happily do the same mileage my family people carrier does in a year of school runs is great marketing.

          Now divide that by four…

    3. Of the 6 first drivers in mileage , the 4 are rookies. Impressive and i think we gone have surprises!

    4. the 3. sorry.

    5. Nice to see Sauber on the top half of the table. I’m impressed they are just behind Merc on the number of laps. And good for Nasr practicing with the car something like 10 race distances.

    6. RealityCheck
      1st March 2015, 19:43

      Well I think the grid order for Australia can be similar to “Drivers’ fastest laps” list… with the only exceptions being RedBull behind or equal to Ferrari and Lotus maybe better than Sauber!

    7. they did it using a tyre compound which was one stage softer than most other teams used to set their quickest time.

      – shouldn’t that be “one stage harder” @keithcollantine?

    8. I know that some will likely groan at the prospect of Mercedes (Or any other team for that matter) having a significant advantage over the rest, However thats not something which really bothers me all that much because its the nature of the game.

      In F1 where teams build there own cars & where you have the big manufacturer’s supplying engines your going to have cases where somebody has an advantage & nothing will change that unless you make it a spec series.

      Whenever a team gets the advantage I applaud them for finding something which others have not & firmly believe that it should be left solely upto the other teams to catch up & that nobody at either FOM or the FIA should push for rule changes to artificially help others close the gap.
      I hated it when the FIA constant played with things in 2003-2005 to hinder Ferrari’s advantage, I hated it when things were constantly tinkered with to try & hurt Red Bull’s advantage & I will dislike it if things are tweaked no with the sole purpose or slowing down Mercedes.

      A team, Engine manufacturer or Driver who does a better job than the rest & finds an advantage deserve’s to be rewarded with success & they deserve to be applauded & not vilified by fans who don’t like seeing that advantage.

      If Mercedes are indeed as far ahead as it seems then congratulations to them & to the other teams, Work harder, Find those gains & catch them up on your own!

      1. In all fairness to the FIA, a lot of the various changes were communicated well in advance of the change or were developed as a result of teams finding grey areas in the rules.

        Double-Diffusers and the McLaren F-Duct both exploited ambiguous design rules (the latter even violated the driver-controlled aero rule), whereas Exhaust Blown Diffusers were targeted for fuel wastage, because teams were using software mapping to leave the engine throttle open, burning fuel to generate exhaust flow even when the driver wasn’t demanding it…

        What *was* despicable was the lobbying by Red Bull in 2013 against Pirelli. The FIA didn’t have the balls to follow up Pirelli’s accusation that teams were misusing the directionally-belted tyres until they became a major safety issue, but by then there was so much negativity, driven largely by Red Bull (who also publicy revealed and railed against the Merc tyre test) that the spec was changed.

      2. I agree, but I also don’t like the restrictions that prevent the other teams from catching up. Engine freeze, zero testing beyond GP weekends, ever more restrictive technical regulations, even wind tunnel time is restricted. So the challenge is there, but the teams’ ability to tackle it is restricted.

        1. Before there was Tobacco sponsorship, TV was the most preferred medium for exposure of advertisers etc. So there was more money.
          Now that is no more there. Limited money, hence limited all the above: testing, engine, tunnel etc.
          You can say take Force India, Williams, money is not everything.
          So try opening up the restrictions and you will know how Ferrari with unlimited testing and wind tunneling surges ahead from them.
          In fact except Ferrari, Merc. and Red Bull there is no one who can boast that they have no money problem. So if you want to see unlimited testing or wind tunnel, then be prepared to see Ferrari Spec F1, unless more money returns to F1. Which I don’t see happening as world ha changed and moved.

          1. So the cost-cutting restrictions are, in effect, a “push for rule changes to artificially help others close the gap”. Exactly what was criticized in the original commentary. “Oh, let’s introduce restrictions so that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari aren’t miles ahead”.

            Besides, I laugh at the talk of cost cutting. They say they want to reduce costs, but then they introduce the most complex and expensive power units ever conceived. And they force chassis redesigns every year. Now they’re talking about a “revolution” which would again force teams to redesign everything.

          2. I miss testing as it is how you make cars better. It seems ridiculous that these guys build the badest race cars on the planet and are not allowed to frickin test em. I personally would like to see testing back in full like the old days. My suggestion to keep things from running away to the big 3 would be like MLB money revenue sharing. If Ferrari (or any of the big 3/ manufactureres) want to test, they should have to subsidize the privateer teams to do so as well. Say if they spend 10 million on testing, they have to pay 25% (or what ever % agreed upon) into a kitty for the privateer teams to use for the same thing…. just a wild thought…

      3. Absolutely agree … racing is about competition not only on the track but in the garage as well ….. thanks, Norris

    9. Just like last year Williams seemed close to Mercedes in Bahrein but when the season started it wasn’t like that, i expect Mercedes superiority to be even bigger than what is expected.

      If i’m not mistaken the fastest lap on medium tyres was Hamilton’s with 1.24.181.
      A mere second from the closest rivals best efforts on super soft tyres.

      The domination on sundays will be much greater.

      1. Your mistaken though. Bad qualy in Melbourne saw both Williams cars start near the rear end though Bottas had no problem even after his shunt to come through the field. Had Q been dry they would have had P3 and P4 right away. Similar conditions in Malaysia but here their tyre deg halted them. The car was always good, it was their tyre life that made them struggle, as was also the case in Bahrein.

    10. I know it’s not the most clever comment but: I wonder what were they thinking at force india when they designed new livery and said “well, this is identical to mclaren, so let’s do it! people will mistake us for them and them for us!”

      1. In fairness everyone was expecting Mclaren to change livery this year because of Honda & they still might as Ron Dennis said at Jerez that the livery could change for Melbourne.

        1. His exact words were “Our 2015 livery will change, but I’m not going to say when”, so it might not be for Melbourne. I think I recall him saying he will change it when McLaren gets a big sponsorship deal or something, but who knows.

          1. Didn’t Ron say McLaren were due to get their new title sponsor last year?

          2. Or McLaren runs out of the super discount bonanza silver paint (good enough to paint for 10 years) which I reckon they had bought from the last sale.

      2. pastaman (@)
        2nd March 2015, 0:26

        FI’s livery is better than McLaren’s IMO

      3. @alfa145 Just like in 2008?

    11. Would be interested in seeing some analysis of the race sims. Definitely a story to be told there.

    12. What I still find a little strange is Sauber being only 0.8s slower than Ferrari on the same tyre! But let’s see in Australia what is the real pace of the teams.

      1. That’s for people see how ferrari’s progress is Being overestimated. They are now at least where they should’ve been last year.

        It’s no like they’re competitive now. They were just awful last year and everything looks good in comparison.

        1. Dave mcgrory
          2nd March 2015, 1:23

          Hoe do you know . They have the best driver now the four time champ they will win again soon

          1. OH YES!!

    13. Rosberg’s done 50% more miles than Hamilton.

      Queue Rosberg beating Hamilton to pole in the first few races and Hamilton moaning that he’s not quite getting the best out of the car…

      1. Among Merc drivers Rosberg Vs Hamilton battle this year, this season’s Rosberg’s mate. So much signs of energy, enthusiasm positive attitude and mentally strong from Nico (in testing), after last season.
        To quote Sir Alex Ferguson [A former Manchester United Football club manager]
        “Hard work will always overcome natural talent when natural talent does not work hard enough.”
        – I think Nico will come to this point sometime in this season, if Lewis is content with his championship and not hungry enough …

        I’m not a proper fan of either of them but I’ll root for Nico this season as I rooted for Lewis last year among Merc driver for their battle.
        Let’s wait and see! but Nico this season!

      2. Aside from Button and Alonso, I think that’s the biggest percentage difference in distance of all teammates.
        On the other end of the spectrum we have Williams, whose drivers have done pretty much exactly the same mileage (Massa has done 1 more lap [2km more] than Bottas).

      3. I decided to look up the milage from 2014 – Nico did 2813km, Lewis did 2159km. So Nico did 30% more than Lewis for 2014. However, Lewis was on pole for 4 of the first 5 races (though 3 of them were wet so perhaps the extra laps from dry testing weren’t any advantage).

        Also, remember that this car is pretty much just an evolution from last year’s car – and that from what we’ve heard from the drivers, the W06 feels very similar to the W05 – so I don’t imagine mileage will be as significant for getting used to the car as it was for 2014 (which was very different to the 2013 car).

        However, what could be very significant is set-ups – both drivers have been saying that they are suffering from set-up issues and they haven’t quite got it right yet. Nico’s extra mileage may have allowed him to fine-tune a better base set-up which could be significant for the first couple of races, though obviously the set-up will need a bit of tweaking for different tracks so practice mileage will still be significant.

        1. I hope Nico will be able to beat Lewis a few times this year, but I’m sure Lewis is still the best, as he was in 2014, whenever they had an internal fight on almost equal terms. Nico needs to pull something really extraordinary out of his car to end up with the trophy.

      4. I’m sorry, but doing more miles does not guarantee better performance. If you look at the figures given by @polo, you would realize that Lewis has lesser mileage than Nico last year. Also, should memory serve me well, Lewis did not even complete a race distance run before Malaysia (retired in Australia). It was Lewis who stuck his car on pole, winning the first few races, bar Australia.

        So, even if Nico has completed more distance than Lewis during testing this year, you can’t say for sure that he will beat Lewis to poles or race wins. However, it will be very interesting to see which way things will go. Lewis could improve his qualifying pace or Nico could improve his race pace. Who knows, they might even swap strengths completely, Lewis qualifying well but racing badly, Nico the opposite, or even one of them dominating the other completely.

        1. An interesting thing about the one-lap pace of the Mercedes drivers is that Hamilton actually topped more practice and qualifying sessions (P1, P2, P3, Q1, Q2 and Q3) than Rosberg – 54 to 44. Additionally, in the 57 track sectors, Hamilton’s best time was quicker in 29 while Rosberg’s was quicker in 28. So if anything Hamilton had a marginal advantage in one-lap pace, but he frequently had issues putting it all together in Q3. Meanwhile Rosberg was very consistent in Q3 throughout the year, resulting in Hamilton being out-qualified 12-7.

          Some of the issues were reliability (most notably Germany and Hungary, which makes the actual qualifying score 10-7), or just unfortunate circumstances (yellow flags at Monaco – after being 0.059s down on Rosberg during first runs, Hamilton was 0.15s up on his personal best through sector 1 before having to back off), but several times it was just mistakes.
          Clear examples of Hamilton likely costing himself pole with mistakes include Canada (lock-ups on both runs, lost pole by 0.079s), Austria (runs wide while 0.4s up on provisional pole, then spins next lap), Britain (while on provisional pole, aborts final Q3 lap despite sector 3 having dried) and Brazil (lock-up in the middle sector, lost out on pole by 0.033s).

          It will be interesting to see how the qualifying battle unfolds between the two Mercedes drivers this year, whether Hamilton can be more consistent in Q3 or not. It will also be interesting to see if Rosberg can improve his race pace or not.

      5. Reading numbers and making conclusions, without taking in other factors, is just an opportunity to highlight a perspective you hold and use conveniently to prove and enforce said opinion. Not really based on anything like problems, hours lost, illness and different weather conditions, but conveniently just on one number, amount of laps completed.

        Thank you for highlighting your agenda.

    14. Look!, there goes 2.5 flying Finns, I think it should be “Finns give you wings” :-)

    15. I think Sauber’t time is very good.

    16. Dave mcgrory
      2nd March 2015, 1:17

      So are you all going to start slagging Hamilton for winning in a car that is so much faster than anything Sebastian has ever drove or are you all going to show your double standards?

      1. Dave mcgrory
        2nd March 2015, 1:28

        Let everyone knows that you hypocrites . The majority have slagged Seb for years and now praise Hamilton and it is disgusting . Plus he got beat off button and they claim he is the best

        1. You need that new “Vent” app.

    17. Quentin Cole
      2nd March 2015, 9:03

      As far as I can tell Mercedes-Benz will hold this advantage until 2017 with the next set of rule changes. So we’ve got almost two more years of domination until another team is able to compete with them. And this is all okay but you know Vettel winning in a car that had competition and was only ahead in aerodynamics was boring and terrible.

    18. I am Happy that Ferrari are looking good, but based on last year, Alonso would be running about a 1:22.5 in this years Ferrari. If I recall, he usually had .5 to .7 seconds in hand over Kimi most of the time. I wonder if he is sorry he left……

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