The first week of pre-season testing for 2018 came to a close on Thursday and despite poor weather causing delays and reduced running there is still plenty to talk about.
Honda back on track
Well nobody expected this.
Honda returned to F1 in 2015 with old pal Mclaren in the hope rekindling the glory days of Senna and Prost in the late 80’s.
That didn’t happen with the Honda power unit being massively underpowered and seemingly put together by apes. As a result, Mclaren abandoned Honda for Renault in 2018 with Toro Rosso picking up the supply.
And It appears to have been the right decision. In the first week of testing the Honda-powered STR13 has completed the most amount of laps, second on by Mercedes.
This is an amazing feat given the 2017 Honda engine blew up on its very first hot lap in testing.
Even the performance isn’t too bad being just under 3 seconds behind the Mercedes pace on the final day of the first test.
Does this mean Honda has finally cracked the F1 power unit and if so could it mean a change for Red Bull in the near future.
Mclaren on the up
Speaking of Honda their former partner McLaren also seems to be doing much better.
Despite some problems early on with wheel nuts coming loose and exhaust brackets failing, which cost them a fair bit of track time, they have made strides since take the Renault engine.
On the final day of running Vandoorne was second on the timesheets albeit on tyres 3 steps softer the Hamilton’s Mercedes and Alonso was fifth fastest despite only having a few hours of running.
They also appear to be making advances in the car’s design, having debuted an unusual rear suspension set up where the top wishbones were single struts rather than V-shaped arms.
And with a ‘Substantial’ update expected for Melbourne, so long as the Renault power unit is on par, they could be a force to be reckoned with.
The halo isn’t that bad
There was plenty of controversy surrounding the halo’s introduction to F1.
And as much as this may be a personal opinion the halo is barely noticeable now.
Either because we are just getting used to it or because it has been really well blended in by some teams.
Whats more we haven’t had many complaints from drivers regarding it. The only one I can think of was when Gasly reportedly ripped his race suit getting in.
The big question still remains though… Will it save a life?
What is the pecking order?
Perhaps down to the reduced running we saw this week, we still don’t really know the pecking order will be in 2018.
From the last day of testing, it became more or less clear that Mercedes is still at the top when Hamilton topped the timesheets on medium tyres while most were on softer compounds.
Other than this we don’t know. Mclaren looked strong and so did Renault with Hulkenberg swapping fastest laps with Bottas on the final morning of testing.
While Red Bull hasn’t really shown its true potential only managing ninth on Thursday with 35 laps and while Ricciardo did go fastest on day one they haven’t done much since then.
The Saubers also hasn’t shown much against potential rivals like Haas and Williams.
They do say however you should never take what happens in testing as gospel so all could change very quickly.
A new testing venue?
After Wednesday’s running was effectively written off due to unusual snow making for treacherous conditions speculation began to circulate that F1 may change the pre-season testing venue.
The primary location suggested was Bahrain (pictured), this because being in the middle-east it has almost constant weather which happens to be the perfect conditions for testing. Compared to many European counties which are prone to sudden weather changes like we saw on Wednesday.
F1 has tested in Bahrain before, however, this is unlikely as it would be a lot more expensive for the teams to ship everything and everyone outside of Europe.
Another name that has been suggested is Kyalami in South Africa which used to host Formula 1 races but would likely have the same problems as Bahrain.
What do you think of the first week of testing?
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