2017 preseason testing is officially in the books. And the books will not look kindly on the situation McLaren Honda find themselves in as they leave Barcelona. Today was met with more stoppages of the car with the only silver lining being they now seem to understand the electrical issue which continues to hamper the power unit. Alonso piloted the MCL32 to a best time of 1:21.389s over just 43 laps. All eyes are on Melbourne to see whether the beleaguered engine manufacturer can address each of the issues encountered here and release a race spec. engine that can be operated more reliably and at a much higher power level.
Ferrari finally broke the 1:18s barrier, as we knew they could, with Kimi Raikkonen setting a blistering 1:18.634s on the super-soft tire; imagine their time on the ultra-soft tire. Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas lingered 1.2s behind in the Mercedes which indicates they’re electing to keep their true potential under wraps. It should be noted that Renault power units do not have a clean record on any day of preseason testing as ERS issues continue to plague their design.
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m18.634s, 111 laps
2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull/Renault, 1m19.438s, 71 laps
3. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso/Renault, 1m19.837s, 132 laps
4. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1m19.845s, 53 laps
5. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m19.850s, 54 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1m19.885s, 45 laps
7. Sergio Perez, Force India/Mercedes, 1m20.116s, 128 laps
8. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1m20.205s, 43 laps
9. Lance Stroll, Williams/Mercedes, 1m20.335s, 132 laps
10. Romain Grosjean, Haas/Ferrari, 1m21.110s, 76 laps
11. Fernando Alonso, McLaren/Honda, 1m21.389s, 43 laps
12. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber/Ferrari, 1m21.670s, 59 laps
13. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber/Ferrari, 1m23.527s, 42 laps
Another day, more hardship for McLaren Honda. Today’s running was stopped twice by electrical issues somewhere within the MCL32. Stoffel Vandoorne logged just 48 laps on the day with a best time of 1:21.348. On the surface that’s a competitive time; however, it took the ultra-soft tire to set it. For context, Kvyat went 1s faster in the Torro Rosso shod with super-soft tires. With no indication that the next specification/version of Honda’s power unit has been fitted to the car, we can surmise that Honda is trying to address all [known] issues in one revision. If we don’t see that next spec. engine tomorrow, unfortunately, Melbourne will be a more of a test than a race for McLaren Honda.
Another day, more impressive running from Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel set a 1:19.024 on the ultra-soft tire but there’s more to the story. If his best sector times were pieced together, he would have run comfortably in the 1:18’s, a blistering pace. As all teams move closer to race trim we saw five teams run in the 1:20’s or better. Perhaps masked by the publicity Honda’s issues are getting, Renault has shown a troubling string of issues over the course of testing hitting all teams powered by the French company’s power unit.
1. Vettel, Ferrari, 1m19.024s, 156 laps
2. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m19.352s, 52 laps
3. Ocon, Force India, 1m20.161s, 137 laps
4. Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1m20.416s, 94 laps
5. Magnussen, Haas, 1m20.504s, 119 laps
6. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1m20.824s, 128 laps
7. Vandoorne, McLaren, 1m21.348s, 48 laps
8. Bottas, Mercedes, 1m21.819s, 95 laps
9. Wehrlein, Sauber, 1m22.347s, 44 laps
10. Palmer, Renault, 1m22.418s, 53 laps
11. Ericsson, Sauber, 1m23.330s, 88 laps
12. Massa, Williams, 1m24.443s, 80 laps
13. Stroll, Williams, 1m24.863s, 85 laps
14. Hulkenberg, Renault, No time
Day six was not a good day for McLaren Honda, having only 46 laps to their name with Fernando Alonso in the cockpit. Honda did report that today’s test program would concentrate on several discrete tasks so this may have something to do with the lower lap count. Still, the team is already at a mileage disadvantage and the day did end with the car being wheeled down the pit lane (no word yet on any specific issue). It is still unclear whether we’ll see the Melbourne spec. engine this week as they presumably run the current spec. longer to further improve subsequent versions.
It’s much the same story again at the sharp end of the running order with two teams running in the 1:19’s and two more in the 1:20’s. One of these teams is Williams. Relative to their position since the beginning of the V6 hybrid era it can be speculated that part of the deal for Mercedes to get Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was that Williams receive the exact same specification power unit and maps as the works team. Ferrari’s streak of stellar performance came to an end with a crash sidelining the team for part of the day. Renault engines also seemed to have some issues both in the works car and the Red Bull.
1. Bottas, Mercedes, 1m19.310s, 70 laps
2. Massa, Williams, 1m19.420s, 63 laps
3. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m20.406s, 53 laps
4. Verstappen, Red Bull, 1m20.432s, 102 laps
5. Stroll, Williams, 1m20.579s, 59 laps
6. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m20.702s, 79 laps
7. Hulkenberg, Renault, 1m21.213s, 61 laps
8. Perez, Force India, 1m21.297s, 100 laps
9. Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1m21.872s, 92 laps
10. Grosjean, Haas, 1m21.887s, 96 laps
11. Wehrlein, Sauber, 1m23.000s, 59 laps
12. Alonso, McLaren, 1m23.041s, 46 laps
13. Ericsson, Sauber, 1m23.384s, 46 laps
14. Palmer, Renault, 1m26.462s, 29 laps
The second half of pre-season testing got off to a shaky start for McLaren Honda as an electrical issue necessitated yet another power unit change. Despite this, they managed a respectable, and much needed, 80 laps of running with Vandoorne at the wheel. Based on lap times v. tire selection it would appear Honda was able to “turn up” the power unit a bit, although they still trail the competition by ~2.5s. For added context, it has been reported that Honda used last week’s spec. engine with more enhancements [originally] intended to be introduced before Melbourne; therefore, it is plausible that we will see a new-spec. engine before the end of the week.
While we do not know what Mercedes has left on the table, Ferrari would again appear to be the most impressive team of the test with not only a lap time in the 1:19’s but a whopping 168 laps on the day. Red Bull was able to pick up the pace with their Renault engine but had to rely on the ultra-soft tire to match times set by Ferrari and Williams who set their times on the soft and super-soft, respectively.
1. Massa, Williams, 1m19.726s, 168 laps
2. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1m19.900s, 89 laps
3. Vettel, Ferrari, 1m19.906s, 168 laps
4. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m20.456s, 49 laps
5. Bottas, Mercedes, 1m20.924s, 86 laps
6. Ocon, Force India, 1m21.347s, 142 laps
7. Hulkenberg, Renault, 1m21.589s, 58 laps
8. Magnussen, Haas, 1m21.676s, 81 laps
9. Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1m21.743s, 83 laps
10.Vandoorne, McLaren, 1m22.537s, 80 laps
11. Wehrlein, Sauber, 1m23.336s, 47 laps
12. Ericsson, Sauber, 1m23.630s, 53 laps
13. Palmer, Renault, 1m24.790s, 15 laps