The opening test of the 2015 Formula One season has concluded, and as ever, the events have left more questions than answers.
Four days at Jerez – which last featured on the calendar as scene of the infamous 1997 finale, is hardly going to provide a definitive outcome regarding the new pecking order.
What is apparent is that Mercedes looms as class of the field once again. The distances covered throughout the test – notably by Nico Rosberg, without the W06 truly revealing its’ hand, is ominous for the competition.
The canter at which the German marque swept all before it last season – notwithstanding the toxic intra-team rivalry, rendered unsurprising the notion they were able to forgo a large amount of speedwork in favour of race simulations and pit-stop procedures.
Ferrari provided the surprise, topping the timesheets on all days, through the factory outfit or via powertrain customer, Sauber. The consensus that low-fuel ‘glory runs’ to appease the powers-that-be will persist until all outfits turn attention to outright pace.
Conversely, it’s hard to deny that inroads have been made. If the pace witnessed at Jerez is present on the final days of the second Barcelona test, the low expectations forecast by many will be revised.
New father Kimi Räikkönen spoke of the SF15-T being much more to his liking, whilst Sebastian Vettel – sporting a plainer and aesthetically pleasing lid as opposed to his fresh for each event Red Bull approach, appeared at ease in his first official outing for the Italian marque.
McLaren languished with the “size zero” MP4-30 in their renewed collaborations with Honda and Fernando Alonso, though the final two days saw increased track time. Once running consistently, the audibility of the Japanese powertrain appeared more significant than even the Mercedes offering.
The outfits which commonly fought for the final position on the podium last season – Williams and Red Bull, achieved relatively anonymous outcomes, the latter running in camouflage livery to keep opponents’ guessing as to the true extent of Adrian Newey’s ostensible final masterpiece.
Lotus missed the first day, yet appeared to have made improvements when they did take to the track, not least through their switch to Mercedes power. Sauber – as mentioned, have something to work with compared their pointless 2014 campaign.
Not a great deal more can be made from this session, it won’t be until the conclusion of the second test – at a representative circuit, that we’ll have a clearer idea of what to expect.
In the meantime, Force India continues to leave everybody guessing, with conflicting reports that they won’t appear at Barcelona, that they won’t appear with their new chassis, and most extremely, that they won’t appear at Melbourne altogether.
For an outfit which gave McLaren a run for fifth in the constructors’ standings last season, it paints an alarming picture of the current climate of Formula One.
The operation previously known as Marussia – which has reverted to its’ original Manor title, appears set to exit administration later this month. Where this leaves them, having sold their Banbury factory to the Haas project, and with talks of running their 2014 challenger meeting opposition – not unrelated to the distribution of prize-money, there is more to the story.