Ferrari is five seconds ahead of MercedesMarch 1, 2019
Test results are always difficult to interpret, because lap times alone do not say so much. All work on their programs, on different rubber and with different amounts of fuel, so that almost anyone can actually show the best time of the day. Examples of such abound.
However, in the course of tests, the goals of the teams are similar, and with a sufficiently deep analysis, certain conclusions can be made. Good reasons for this came after yesterday, when the Ferrari and Mercedes programs first crossed – Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclaire almost simultaneously conducted a race simulation.
In fact, there was a definite difference – firstly, Ferrari started their “race” 50 minutes later, and secondly, they used only C2 tires, while at Mercedes they drove one segment to C3. At a short distance, the C3 is faster, but at a long one, and even at such low temperatures, they have to be treated much more carefully, otherwise they will quickly begin to granulate. In addition, it is unknown how much fuel the pilots spent, and what engine operating conditions they used.
Nevertheless, this is perhaps the smallest number of unknowns in all the tests in Barcelona, so there are grounds for comparisons. Journalists Auto Motor und Sport, together with the head of Mercedes Motorsport Toto Wolff tried to analyze the collected data in order to understand who is currently faster.
The results for Mercedes are disappointing – in most circles, Bottas was inferior to Lecler. In the first segment, the average time of the Valtteri was 1: 23.8, while for the Ferrari pilot it was 1: 23.4. This can be partly explained by the greater wear resistance of the C2 tires, since at the end of this segment Lecler was much faster than Bottas. However, in the second segment, which both carried out on C2, the difference is again in favor of Ferrari, and again by 0.4 seconds. Lecler drove it at an average speed of 1: 22.1, Bottas – 1: 22.5.
In the final segment, the speed of Mercedes and Ferrari was almost equal – 1: 21.2. However, by this average time the pilots came in different ways. LeClaire began with much faster times, 1: 19.5, and then his results fell. Bottas was driving much slower from the start, 1: 20.8, but his results were much more uniform. According to German journalists, this means that at an early stage, Mercedes has to handle the rubber more carefully.
On the other hand, the drop in the results of Ferrari was much more significant. Toto Wolff believes that in the last laps of the third segment, Leclair had problems with rubber granulation. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Ferrari finished their simulation later, when the temperature of the asphalt fell. In general, the advantage is still quite noticeable, and Mercedes in second place.
“For now, Ferrari is ahead of us and Red Bull Racing,” Wolff concluded. – Considering all the factors, Ferrari traveled the full distance five seconds faster than we. On the other hand, we were a little faster than Verstappen on his long series, and much faster than Going Out on the same day. ”
In general, experts say, depending on the temperature of the asphalt, Ferrari’s advantage over Mercedes is between 0.2 and 0.5 seconds per lap. Of course, the track itself in Barcelona, and the conditions under which these races were held, are quite specific. But if this advantage continues to race in Australia, then Mercedes will be asked if the team should switch to the concept of aerodynamics that uses Scuderia.
“I am sure, in the Red Bull Racing now ask the same question,” said Wolff. “However, if we decide to change something, it will mean that we will have to put an end to the first races of the season, because we will have to freeze the development of our concept and wait for the new one to come.”
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