Sand bagging contest is on

Max Verstappen told reporters that he belives the Mexican Grand Prix gives his team their best chance of scoring another victory before the end of the season. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Mark Thompson

Max Verstappen told reporters that he belives the Mexican Grand Prix gives his team their best chance of scoring another victory before the end of the season. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Mark Thompson

This week’s pre-season testing should add something to the predictions.

The second series of winter testing got underway yesterday, at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit.

Hopefully, the weather gods will smile on the Spanish facility as they did for the first session last week.

The good, if sometimes chilly meteorological conditions, saw a definite improvement over last year’s sessions, which were limited by snow falls.

This year, most teams have clocked up significant mileage. Mercedes-AMG headed the field in distance with a total of 610 laps, covering 2 839km, shared between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton and Bottas have yet to show the full speed potential of the W10, concentrating on long runs, handling and reliability.

Both drivers were pleased with the progress so far but feel there is a lot more work to be done.

Ferrari impressed, recording 2 783km over 598 laps with both drivers – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc – setting the day’s quickest laps.

Vettel and Leclerc worked on alternate days, but will be changing to morning and afternoon runs for this week’s tests.

The SF90 looks very good, but do not get too excited as the situation is reminiscent of previous years when such performance was not delivered over the season.

All eyes were also on the Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso teams with the Honda power plant and so far, the new alliance appears to be working.

Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly covered 2 211km in 475 laps, with the RB15 suffering no significant issues.

It was very much the case with Toro Rosso as Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon completed 482 laps and 2 243.71km in the STR14.

Kvyat set the quickest lap of the day, the second quickest of the week. Hopefully the poor reliability of the Honda unit is a thing of the past. Renault’s Nick Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo had a good haul of laps – 433 – totalling a mileage of 2 015km.

Minor technical issues cost track time over the four days, with the exception of a dramatic rear-wing failure for Ricciardo on his first day in the car.

The quickest lap of the week went to Hulkenberg on the last day of testing although he rapidly stopped the car on track after that run.

Renault power performed well in the McLaren MCL34 with 2 071km and 445 laps achieved by Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

With no reported issues, it must be a great morale booster for the team. Woking has had its share of problems since the introduction of the hybrid era and perhaps that will change this season.

Kimi Raikkonen must be delighted with the performance of the Alfa Romeo C38. The car covered 2 306km in over 507 laps, the third highest distance figure, set with his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.

The Finn, Raikkonen, also set the second quickest lap time on day three of the test session, a promising start for the renamed Sauber team.

The Haas VF-19, driven by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, hit problems from day one when the former suffered a fuel pressure issue, sending him back to the pits and on day three, he was plagued with electrical issues. Magnussen lost lap time on day two with a seat fitting problem.

With reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi, the team recorded 1 787km over 384 laps and will hope for a cleaner session this week.

Racing Point F1’s RP19 also spent a lot of time in the pits with minor oil leaks and a drive-line issue.

Sergio Perez and new recruit Lance Stroll only managed 248 laps and 1 154.44km over the four days.

According to reports the RP19 team has a lack of spares, and Perez is reported as saying that they will not see high mileage figures as they are conserving the current parts.

Williams missed the first two days of the tests – their FW42 only took to the track on the third and George Russell managed only 23 laps.

On the final day, Russell and Robert Kubica brought the total to 88 laps over 409km, while the team suffered minor technical issues. So what did we learn about the new season’s pecking order?

Not much really as we have no idea of what the individual teams objectives were. Factors such as fuel loads were not disclosed as one would expect.

This week’s runs will perhaps add something to the predictions but I would not bet on that.

The annual sand bagging contest is in full swing.

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