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Preseason F1 Tests Verstappen

Red Bull Ahead, Yet Ferrari’s Edge & Mercedes Closes Gap

24/02/2024

Formula 1’s preseason tests highlight a predictable yet intriguing hierarchy. Max Verstappen’s performance underlines Red Bull’s potential, setting the stage for a season where strategy and speed will determine the ultimate victor.

Formula 1’s preseason testing ultimately unfolded in a rather predictable manner, revealing an interesting hierarchy for the upcoming season.

Max Verstappen, despite finishing fourth in terms of outright speed on the final day, posted a notable time on Friday afternoon, showcasing the raw potential of his Red Bull.

With a lap time of 1m30.755s on C3 tires already used for a fast lap, Verstappen proved that under optimal conditions, he could have further improved his time. This performance places Red Bull in a favorable position, despite appearances.

The three cars ahead of him in the final standings – Ferrari, Mercedes, and a surprisingly quick Sauber on its last lap – all set their times on C4 tires, presumed to be 0.6s quicker than the C3s.

Red Bull Leads, Ferrari Close, Mercedes Trails

Theoretically adjusting the performances to new C3 tires, Red Bull appears to hold a real advantage of about 0.4 seconds per lap over Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and George Russell’s Mercedes.

Ferrari displayed impressive consistency throughout the three days of testing, while Mercedes’ performance only became evident at the end of the final day.

With Mercedes not conducting a race simulation, the full picture of their performance remains incomplete.

However, indications are that Ferrari could slightly edge out Mercedes on a single lap, even though the basic fuel weights remain unknown.

Carlos Sainz’s performance on the second day, clocking a time of 1m29.9s on C4 tires, and the time adjustments for the tires used suggest that the gaps are narrow but indicative of the competitive landscape.

Red Bull thus positions itself at the forefront, closely followed by Ferrari/Mercedes, McLaren, and other teams in a tight ranking promising intense competition.

Simulations Mix: Red Bull Leads, Ferrari Promises

Race simulations provide a different perspective, with several teams, including Red Bull, Aston Martin, and McLaren, completing simulations over three stints.

Ferrari, having not completed its race simulation, leaves some uncertainty regarding its race pace compared to Verstappen’s.

However, indications are that Ferrari could compete with Red Bull in terms of race pace, a promising sign for the Scuderia, according to team principal Fred Vasseur.

Aston Martin and McLaren showed variable performances, with race simulations revealing distinct strengths and weaknesses.

Mercedes, on the other hand, emerges from these tests with a mixed but optimistic outlook.

The W15, a result of a new conceptual direction, received positive assessments, even if it does not yet seem capable of challenging Red Bull’s supremacy.

Ferrari Shines, Red Bull Dominates, Mercedes Surprises

Preseason F1 Tests Verstappen Shows Red Bull Edge

Ferrari, meanwhile, impressed both visually and technically, showing stability and responsiveness that bode well for a tight competition for the top spots, behind a dominant Red Bull.

Despite uncertainties, Ferrari’s performance under the spotlight, especially on the last day, inspires cautious optimism.

Formula 1’s preseason testing has highlighted the potential of the teams for the coming season. While Red Bull seems to have an advantage, the battle for supremacy will be fierce, with Ferrari and Mercedes as serious contenders.

Teams’ ability to optimize their race performance and manage tire wear will be crucial for success.

The season promises to be thrilling, with narrow margins that could make the established order volatile.

Mercedes, in particular, could be the season’s surprise if its progress is confirmed.

The competition is set to be intense, with each team striving to maximize its potential to challenge Red Bull’s domination.

Aston Trails, McLaren Struggles in Simulation

Preseason F1 Tests Verstappen Shows Red Bull Edge

Aston Martin conducted an abbreviated race simulation, not covering the full 57-lap race distance, but Fernando Alonso still completed three stints.

Assuming an equivalent fuel load, his pace suggested that Aston Martin would finish about 16 seconds behind Red Bull over the race distance, and likely behind Ferrari as well, placing the team in a competitive but slightly trailing position relative to the leaders.

McLaren demonstrated solid single-lap performance, but their race simulation revealed more significant degradation of the C3 and C1 tires, rendering their race pace less competitive.

Oscar Piastri, in particular, struggled with this degradation, with his race simulation being slower than that of Alex Albon at Williams and roughly equivalent to Daniel Ricciardo at RB.

Preseason F1 Tests Verstappen Shows Red Bull Edge

RB, Williams Excel; Sauber Surprises, Haas Struggles

Both RB and Williams completed race simulations, with Williams showing a notable improvement from the previous year.

Their race pace, especially that of Albon, suggests these teams could be regular contenders in the midfield, looking to capitalize on any opportunities that arise.

Sauber surprised by setting the third fastest time on their final lap, although this was achieved on the softest tires and presumably with a reduced fuel load.

Nevertheless, their performance throughout the tests suggests they are fighting in a very tight group with RB, Williams, Alpine, and Haas.

Alpine and Haas showed signs of struggle, with Haas finishing a solid last in the race simulation, nearly half a minute behind RB. This underscores the challenges these teams face in closing the gap to the midfield.

Preseason F1 Tests Verstappen Shows Red Bull Edge

These pre-season tests have not only revealed the potential hierarchy within the starting grid but also highlighted the significant progress made by some teams, as well as the ongoing challenges for others.

Top Lap Times for Each Driver Across Three Days

DriverTeamTimeDayTyre
SainzFerrari1m29.921sThursdayC4
LeclercFerrari1m30.322sFridayC4
RussellMercedes1m30.368sFridayC4
ZhouSauber1m30.647sFridayC4
PerezRed Bull1m30.679sThursdayC3
VerstappenRed Bull1m30.755sFriday C3
TsunodaRB1m30.775sFridayC4
AlbonWilliams1m30.984sFridayC4
PiastriMcLaren1m31.03sFridayC3
HamiltonMercedes1m31.066sThursdayC3
AlonsoAston Martin1m31.159sFridayC3
NorrisMcLaren1m31.256sThursdayC3
RicciardoRB1m31.361sThursdayC4
HulkenbergHaas1m31.686sFridayC3
StrollAston Martin1m32.029sThursdayC3
OconAlpine1m32.061sThursdayC3
GaslyAlpine1m32.149sFridayC3
BottasSauber1m32.227sThursdayC3
SargeantWilliams1m32.578sThursdayC4
MagnussenHaas1m33.053sFridayC3

Laps completed

TeamLaps completed
Haas439
Ferrari416
Red Bull390
Aston Martin378
Sauber378
RB366
Mercedes361
Alpine334
McLaren327
Williams298

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