Reigning champions Mercedes will have sent shivers down the rest of the paddock after Nico Rosberg dominated proceedings on Day 2 of the final Formula 1 pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The German posted a blistering 1:22.729 – almost eight-tenths quicker than Felipe Massa’s time on the preceding day – on Soft tyres to finish well over a second clear of the rest of the field.
Rosberg had spent much of the day running solidly on harder rubber, but a switch to Soft tyres perhaps gave the first indication of the Silver Arrows’ true pace. The championship runner-up’s time was over 2.4 seconds quicker than the time Lewos Hamilton posted to claim pole position at last year’s Grand Prix, perhaps underscoring just how much the field’s performance has improved in the off-season.
Fellow Mercedes-powered runners Williams were second-quickest – this time with Valtteri Bottas behind the wheel – while Sauber again hung around inside the top-three with a Soft tyre lap time from Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian’s best time came before the lunch break, after which he concentrated on a race simulation, but looked quite ragged at times.
Sebastian Vettel had a drama-free day and clocked the most number of laps for the day – 143 in all – to give the Ferrari SF15-T a healthy mileage count. The red cars haven’t shown the kind of relative early pre-season testing pace they displayed during the first test at Jerez, raising some concerns that the 2015 car still has significant development opportunities.
There were plenty of relieved faced in the garage next door at McLaren, where the Honda-powered MP4-30 finally managed to run without breaking down every 15 minutes. For the first time in the entire pre-season, the new car managed to break the 100-lap barrier, a huge psychological milestone for the Woking squad. Jenson Button finished fifth-fastest, posting a 1:25.590 as his best time before the car finally succumbed to a mechanical issue in the final half-hour of the day.
Pastor Maldonado finished the day sixth-quickest and with 140 laps to his credit in the Lotus E23 Hybrid. His Mercedes-powered car stopped in the final minutes of the day at pit lane entry in what was an otherwise trouble-free day for the Enstone squad.
Also striking trouble late in the day was Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen – his was an electrical issue – but it was another impressive showing from the Dutch teenager, who managed the equivalent of two full race distances.
Daniil Kvyat was just eighth-fastest in the Red Bull Racing RB11, triggering the day’s other red flag period when he ground to a halt at Turn 1 in the middle of the afternoon.
Slowest of all – but importantly, running – was the new Force India VJM08, which finally broke cover for the first time. After mechanics spent the morning feverishly building the new car, Nico Hülkenberg took the car out for its first laps just before the lunch break.
What was most impressive was the new car’s reliability; the car ran almost faultlessly in the afternoon to tally up more than a race distance straight out of the box.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 6 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:22.792||106|
|2.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:23.995||+ 1.203||90|
|3.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:24.071||+ 1.279||141|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:25.339||+ 2.547||143|
|5.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:25.590||+ 2.798||101|
|6.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:26.705||+ 3.913||140|
|7.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:26.766||+ 3.974||139|
|8.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:26.955||+ 4.163||84|
|9.||Nico Hulkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:28.412||+ 5.620||77|
Images via XPB Images