Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Lap time watch: 2019 F1 testing day eight

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes ended pre-season testing three-thousandths of a second behind Ferrari, but almost 200 laps ahead of them.

The two teams covered similar mileages during the first test but Mercedes pulled well clear in the second week. By the end of the eight days’ running they had covered 1,190 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya – over five and a half thousand kilometres. This is considerably more than last year’s pre-season mileage champions managed, aided by considerably better weather this year.

While Ferrari and Mercedes ended the test close on lap time, Mercedes showed a much greater gain over their 2018 pre-season test pace. It gives the impression the champions felt the need to pay closer attention to where they stand on one-lap pace compared to their rivals. Ferrari were regularly quicker than Mercedes over a single lap during the first half of last year.

Behind them the midfield appears impossibly close to separate. Red Bull look like they have slipped back towards it. Along with Mercedes, they are the only team not to have lapped quicker than their 2018 Spanish Grand Prix race weekend pace during the last two weeks.

While Mercedes posted the greatest year-on-year improvement in terms of testing pace, that is likely in part due to their conservative running 12 months ago. Alfa Romeo’s 1.8 second gain compared to last year is striking, and entirely consistent with the progress they made throughout last year.

Williams’ difficult start to the 2019 F1 season comes as no surprise given the delayed arrival of their FW42. But Racing Point also covered considerably fewer laps than they managed last year (as Force India), despite running a car which is closely based on last year’s machine and includes a 2018-specification gearbox. They are planning a major upgrade for the first race of the year.

PositionTeamModelTimeGapTyre
1FerrariSF901’16.221C5
2MercedesW101’16.2240.003C5
3RenaultRS191’16.8430.622C5
4Toro RossoSTR141’16.8820.661C5
5McLarenMCL341’16.9130.692C5
6HaasVF-191’17.0760.855C5
7Red BullRB151’17.0910.870C5
8Alfa RomeoC381’17.2391.018C5
9Racing PointRP191’17.5561.335C5
10WilliamsFW421’18.1301.909C5

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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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  • 16 comments on “Lap time watch: 2019 F1 testing day eight”

    1. A bit ironic that the Redbull car is not as reliable a the Honda engine..

      1. You mean the driver… ;)

      2. More ignorant than ironic as it was the gearbox :P

        PS RBR did a 1:17.7 on the C3 today. Close enough to the top two I’d say.

        1. That’s only close to the top two if you believe Pirelli’s highly optimistic gaps between tyres. In actual running the gaps appear to be far smaller than what Pirelli claims.

          1. I think i probably believe the 0.6 sec per compound that pirelli claim but that that figure is under optimal conditions for each compound. We know the pirellis have always had a narrow temperature window for operating (supposedly slightly wider this year) but presumably running in february in europe is not ideal for getting the tyres switched on and into their peak performance window which is going to (and did cause) cold graining which will limit certainly pace across the lifespan, particularly for teams who might be quite gentle on their tyres and probably quali sim pace too for all except the softest compound.

    2. Despite these aero changes that were expected to make the lap times 1.5 seconds slower compared 2018, 2019 at least on this particular circuit is still on par if not ahead of 2018. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s going to be on the rest of the venues since each track is different.

      1. For sure it will be interesting. Perhaps it was always going to be difficult to predict how much or how well the teams were going to react to the new wings. Eg. Wolff suggesting they have found other ways to outwash. Makes one wonder if some cars will be harder to follow than others, just as some will have found more downforce and efficiency than others. Sounds like that rear wing has made for some inefficiency, eg Hulkenbergs ‘parachute’ analogy, so lots of room and motive for designers to find some efficiency wrt the rear parachute.

        1. @robbie, the comment that Hulkenberg made is a bit odd though, because in theory the changes to the rear wing should have increased the aspect ratio and therefore improved the lift to drag ratio – so, rather than “some inefficiency”, the rule changes should have slightly increased the efficiency of the rear wing.

      2. Im not sure how valid it is but i believe the barcelona track may be an exception as the grip of the new surface was expected to improve over the next couple of years

    3. If weather conditions are similar to last year and if there’s really a fight for pole between 2 to 4 drivers, I expect Q3 time to be on the lows 1m15s, maybe a magical lap “à la Hamilton” might be on the highs 1m14s

    4. Justin Spencer
      1st March 2019, 19:35

      If Torro Rosso are 6 tenths off, you can bet red bull are at least half a second faster so under normal circumstances I think they would be right on the heels of Merc and Ferrari.

      1. Last pre season the conditions were very bad. Nearly every season winter test times are faster than the pole time, last year was an exception. Expext the pole this year around low 17’s high 16’s at a guess.

    5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      1st March 2019, 19:59

      I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, but I hope more than anything that Red Bull aren’t as slow as the times indicate. If they are and have fallen closer to the midfield than they are to the frontrunners then this season’s going to be shockingly dull at the front – a straight fight between Mercedes and Ferrari some half a second quicker than anyone else. The midfield can close up and be random and exciting – which is good to see, but if the gap between midfield to frontrunner has widened or stayed the same then the podium will be comprised of three of four drivers across just two teams. Surely all the efforts to improve the cars capability of overtaking is irrelevant if the chasing cars are so far behind on outright performance?

      1. @rocketpanda actually RBR falling back is not necessarily bad. If Renault and McLaren have stepped up, we could have three tiers with interesting fights. Mercedes and Ferrari up front, generally occupying the podium but with occasional hiccups providing a change for the others. RBR, Renault and McLaren generally filling the rest of point scoring positions and the rest fighting for remaining points…
        In my book that would still be plenty to look for. (Team names could be swapped for matching the actual)

    6. Well there we go. This seems like the closest scenario to how the championship will develop. Merc and Ferrari very, very close, and we can only hope that Ferrari can keep up in terms of in-season development this time, to bring both title fights close until the end.
      .6 difference to the closest team seems realistic, as it has been all these years, though we can hope for some Red Bull improvement to get closer, it’s on Honda’s hands now.
      The midfield battle does seem closer than ever now, Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso showed surprising pace all allong the tests, and the only team we can rule out is Williams, unfortunately.

      We should have sepparate Formula 1.5 headlines and news articles, that would make for the most exciting news in a long time, shouldn’t we?

    7. Mercedes ended pre-season testing three-thousandths of a second behind Ferrari, but almost 200 laps ahead of them.

      That’s Mach 15K backwards.

    Comments are closed.