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F1: 5 major takeaways from the opening pre-season test

F1's first pre-season testing has brought new liveries and concepts
Modified 23 Feb 2020, 20:52 IST

Formula 1, the dream single seater auto racing championship of drivers across the world is all set to begin its 2020 season in March, and the preparations are in full swing. The first pre-season test that took place in Barcelona from February 19-21 has many interesting notes to be taken. The lap counts were amazing, many teams took estimated risks with their new car designs, which has left fans and spectators excited for the season. The F1's 71st season will rock on with Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15 and will halt with Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 29.

Here are 5 major takeaways from the first pre-season test

#1 Mercedes looked dashing and ominous

What else can one expect from the 6 times reigning champions? Their show in the opening three days of the test was next to perfect where they have set the pace and came up with their clever steering wheel device called 'DAS'. Apart from small electrical glitches in closing stages of day 2, Mercedes ran trouble-free clocking up more laps than anyone. Their new tech formula, 'Dual-Axis Steering' caught rivals by surprise and hoping that it doesn't give them much of an advantage in races.

#2 Renault finds a ray of hope

E steban Ocon driving the RS 20 in Barcelona testing
E steban Ocon driving the RS 20 in Barcelona testing

Renault disappointed fans when they failed to display a car during the season launch, and were quite tight-lipped about their antics at the shakedown in Barcelona. It left all wondering that what would be livery and design like in 2020. Their test was disjointed when Daniel Ricciardo damaged the car after hitting the kerb at turn 9 on day 2, and it was another fail when the Honey Badger halted on track on Friday noon. However, Friday proved to be their best day as both the drivers reported good balance and were satisfied with the car's performance, which has more black than last season as the colour scheme.

#3 The run machines seem too consistent

The 2020 cars have proved to be way too reliable with only 5 stoppages during testing. The lap counts too were impressive with an astonishing 3940 laps pulled off over the three days. The champions, Mercedes were at the top with 494 while Red Bull, Alfa Romeo, and McLaren followed with 471, 424, and 423 respectively.


Mercedes were 116 laps short of what they did last year, while Williams made the most significant improvement with 323 laps, 88 ahead of what they did in 2019.

#4 Ferrari not up to the mark yet

Ferrari have not been as impressive as last year
Ferrari have not been as impressive as last year

Ferrari CEO Louis Camillieri has all eyes on the proceedings, but chief Mattia Binotto admitted that he isn't as satisfied as he was a year ago at this point and felt that their rivals are way ahead of them now.

Ferrari have applied a different approach to their testing and didn't use their engines to the optimum level which explains the disappointing lap times. Though they were slower on the straights, they have said they are performing better in the corners now. It's not yet over for the Italian outfit as they can do a lot by putting up their best before the next pre-season test begins.


#5 New Racing Point stole the attention

Creating a stir in the pit lane, the new Racing Point RP20 is the most talked about car from the Barcelona's opening pre-season test. It has a totally new nose section, unlike the one which was used last year. Its general makeup is much like Mercedes, adopting the fashionable slim nose and 'cape' to intensify the airflow towards the leading edge of the floor.

Comparison of nose section. Right 2019 nose, Left 2020 nose
Comparison of nose section. Right 2019 nose, Left 2020 nose

Previously, Racing Point favoured their own aero design philosophy unrelated to Mercedes but the design has many in the paddock dubbing them as the 'pink Mercedes'. There are more things to learn as the second testing rolls on from February 26-28.

Also see | F1: Is it too soon to write off Sebastian Vettel?

Published 23 Feb 2020, 20:01 IST
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