F1 testing: Miles Down the Road

F1 testing: Miles Down the Road

While those watching testing were asking if Mercedes was sandbagging, the team itself was banking laps

F1 testing: Miles Down the Road

While everyone keeping an eye on testing was asking if Mercedes was sandbagging, the team itself was banking laps, a necessity after its customer team Williams missed the first two days resulting in important tests of the 2019-spec engine being limited to Mercedes and its other customer, Racing Point.

The efforts of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, who were unsurprisingly also the fastest Mercedes runners, ensured its engines covered more kilometres than the Renault team.

Although it would be silly to congratulate Honda for covering 957 laps at Barcelona with its engines, the fact is that the Japanese manufacturer has come on heaps and bounds since returning to Formula 1 in 2015. Across four first pre-season tests between 2015 and 2018, Honda covered 4,021 kilometres. In the last four days it has covered a further 4,454km.

With three teams running its powerplant, Ferrari engines unsurprisingly topped the distance chart for the first test with 1,489 laps and 6,931km on the books. Testing isn’t all about engines though, and it was Mercedes that won the teams' battle against its Italian rivals by a mere 12 laps.

First F1 Test Summary

First F1 Test Summary

Having started the test as slowest, Renault ended it as fastest overall

First F1 Test Summary

Having started the test as slowest of the nine teams present, Renault ended it as the fastest, with Nico Hülkenberg bolting on a set of Pirelli’s Compound 5 tyres to a set a 1m17.393s lap.

The German’s benchmark aligned with what Pirelli’s F1 boss Mario Isola had suspected, with the softest compounds being 0.6 seconds quicker than Compound 4. MercedesLewis Hamilton was best on that tyre, setting a 1m17.977s that was 0.584s slower than Hulkenberg. For those thinking Mercedes had been sandbagging, it would be sensible to assume that if Hamilton had used the C5 tyre he would’ve been at least 0.016s up on Hulkenberg.

Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas did use the C5, albeit earlier in the day when the track wasn’t as rubbered in. It put him fourth for the day, behind Renault’s Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo, and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon.

Albon was fastest in the morning, and despite not improving only dropped to second. The Thai clocked 135 laps, which in addition to Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly’s total, put Honda engines on 4454km of running. Back in 2017 it was just 968.

How Reliable a Form Guide is Formula 1's First Test?

How Reliable a Form Guide is Formula 1's First Test?

Formula 1 testing starts today, and we can finally see which is the quickest car for 2019. Or so you’d think...

How Reliable a Form Guide is Formula 1's First Test?

Formula 1 testing starts today, and we can finally see which is the quickest car for 2019. Or so you’d think. This first test, held at Barcelona like last year, is more about checking that engineering concepts and components function correctly on track rather than speed. But unless your engine is shutting down as soon as you leave pitlane, topping the times is what grabs headlines.

Mercedes has been the team to beat since 2017’s regulation overhaul, and unsurprisingly was fastest from the off last year. It was still top by the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but the pecking order behind was different to what Barcelona testing had led many to believe.

Ferrari looked to be a clear second after the first test, but Red Bull hadn’t demonstrated its true pace, and it was neck-and-neck behind Mercedes by Australia. Going the opposite direction was McLaren, third fastest in Barcelona but sixth in reality, having used a faster tyre compound in testing.

Nearly every other team failed to improve (or Mercedes had sandbagged), as by Australia were further from the front. Force India, which covered the least miles at the test, had the smallest drop-off, while slowest team Sauber improved marginally.

Citroën in Sweden

Citroën in Sweden

Despite dominating rallying for a decade, Citroën's struggled to crack Rally Sweden

Citroën in Sweden

Citroën has historically underperformed at Rally Sweden, a snow-based event that has lost some of its wintery feel of late. Although not its worst result, Kris Meeke’s fifth place in 2017 with the tricky new C3 WRC car was the manufacturer’s nadire.

"I'm not f***ing driving this," was Meeke’s summary of events.

Although the C3’s inherent suspension problems have since been solved and Meeke’s been replaced by six-time champion Sébastien Ogier, victory at Sweden was still a challenge this year.

The 2018 and ‘19 editions have run at a later date than any other since 1991, so average temperatures have risen. There’s less ice and more gravel, and after several rally cars had driven the stages, severe ruts.

Running first on the road for the opening loop of stages initially shielded Ogier from the ruts, and as the most successful non-Scandinavian on the rally he was ideally placed to end Citroën’s losing run, dating back to Sébastien Loeb’s sole 2004 victory.

It wasn’t to be, with Ogier crashing on the way to 29th and Esapekka Lappi saving Citroën’s blushes with second place. The C3, like the C4 and DS3 before it, remains a winless car in Sweden.

Valentino Rossi at 40

Valentino Rossi at 40

MotoGP legend Rossi enters his 20th season as motivated as ever

Valentino Rossi at 40

There are not many in motorsport whose achievements can rival that of Valentino Rossi, who reached his 40th birthday on February 16. The Italian has won seven MotoGP titles, spanning from 2001 to ‘09, and has competed in almost 37% of all races held since 1949.

His staying power has been matched by his results, picking up 89 wins and a further 107 podiums, with records that are continuously being extended.

One of Rossi’s most impressive achievements, and one that trumps Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship’s equivalent records, is consecutive podiums. His tally of 23 between the 2002 Portuguese Grand Prix and 2004 South African GP also makes him the fourth rider to finish every race of a season on the podium.

At 40 he’s still motivated to win, and has finished every year in the top five in the standings since his debut in 2000, bar his disappointing two-year stint with Ducati in 2011-’12.

Rossi should be applauded for taking up the challenge to ride for Ducati, after titles with Honda and Yamaha. He came achingly close to joining Mike Hailwood, Eddie Lawson and Randy Mamola as the only riders to have won with three different manufacturers.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Race Results
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Race In Numbers
Margin of victory
Safety car periods: 2 (6 laps)
Cars finished on the winners lap: 10
Pitstops
2018
18
2017
22
Overtakes
2018
23
2017
5
Race leaders
2018
3
2017
2
On This Day
1979
Monday February 4: Nico Rosberg's childhood icon and 2008 GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano turns 40 today
2017
Sunday February 5: The Bathurst 12 Hours was won in unexpected style after Shane van Gisbergen crashed
1983
Wednesday Februrary 6: Seven-time Australian Supercars champion and Bathurst expert Jamie Whincup turns 36
1996
Thursday February 7: 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly will spend his 23rd birthday training ahead of the 2019 F1 season
2018
Friday February 9: WEC announced its Fuji round would be moved to accommodate Fernando Alonso
1979
Sunday February 10: Joey Hand, 40 today, is a winner of the Le Mans and Daytona 24 Hours races and Sebring 12 Hours
1959
Monday February 11: 'Super sub’ Roberto Moreno, 60 today, raced in F1 and won the Australian and Macau Grand Prixs
1995
Tuesday February 12: Ed Jones, 24 today, enters his third IndyCar season leading the new one-car Scuderia Corsa team
1975
Wednesday February 13: The Stig is 44! Ben Collins is best known for being Top Gear's anonymous racing driver
1979
Saturday February 16: Valentino Rossi enters his fifth decade today and his 20th MotoGP season this year
1958
Monday February 18: Giovanni Lavaggi drove for F1 backmarkers in the '90s, finishing just twice. He is 61 today
2000
Saturday February 19: Michael Schumacher smashed the Mugello lap record while testing Ferrari's new F1-2000 car
1937
Wednesday February 20: Roger Penske, 82 today, has a record 17 Indy 500s and one F1 win with his Team Penske outfit
2011
Monday February 21: Bahrain GP organisers cancelled that year's F1 season opener due to national unrest
1949
Friday February 22: Three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda, whose life has been the plot of movies, turns 70 today
1953
Saturday February 23: Satoru Nakajima, 66 today, is most famous for his unlikely fourth place in the 1989 Australian GP
Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP 2018 Grand Prix
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Race Details

Circuit
Distance: 307.104 km (66 laps)
  • Tuesday 26 February
    9.00 - 18.00Day 1
  • Wednesday 27 February
    9.00 - 18.00Day 2
  • Thursday 28 February
    9.00 - 18.00Day 3
  • Friday 1 March
    9.00 - 18.00Day 4
Formula 1 Records
Ferrari
Most Wins
Constructor
Michael Schumacher
Most hat-tricks
Win, pole position and fastest lap
Sebastian Vettel
Most wins per season
Driver
Formula 1 2018 World Championship