1. The difference between the tyres is what we expected it to be
This year there are five slick compounds instead of seven (and only three colours), with the aim of creating a bigger gap between all the compounds than in 2018, which is more evenly spaced. The data shows we are on course to achieve that. There was around 0.6 to 0.7 seconds per lap between each of the compounds at F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona – but with warmer temperatures during the season that gap should extend to about 0.9 seconds. Just under a second is what we were targeting.
2. The cars have got faster despite more weight
Rule changes with extra fuel for this year make the cars around 10 kilograms heavier, which costs approximately three tenths of a second per lap in Barcelona. Despite this handicap, the cars went consistently faster than they did at the same test last year, with the quickest times even coming within a whisker of the 2018 pole. That’s not meant to happen at a pre-season test in cool weather with brand new cars. Expect more lap records to crumble this year.
3. The new aerodynamic rules might just have worked
The cars have reduced downforce this year with simpler front wings, to help drivers overtake by making the cars less aerodynamically sensitive. In theory, this should lead to a better show. And Haas driver Kevin Magnussen thinks that this objective might have been achieved. “I followed a car today and it really feels a lot better than last year: the feeling of the car behind the other car,” said the Dane in the second week of the test. “I could actually follow and pass.”
4. The new cars are more reliable than ever
Even though the paint was barely dry on the new cars, they exhibited an extraordinary level of reliability, with drivers regularly notching up in excess of 120 laps per day. Williams accumulated 140 laps during just one day last week, while all the teams put together covered an astonishing 40,844 kilometres in eight days – 8774 laps, the equivalent of around 133 Spanish Grands Prix.
5. Who needs experience?
The Formula 1 rookies were straight on the pace, despite their limited running in an F1 car prior to Barcelona. Alexander Albon, Lando Norris, and Antonio Giovinazzi all took turns at the top of the time sheets at various points during the test, while George Russell was in the hot seat for the 140-lap marathon mentioned above – and even claimed not to feel too bad afterwards. The latest generation of rookies are better prepared than ever.