From some pre-season tests it is very difficult to get a clear picture of the real performance of all the teams and their real position on the grid. All the teams play with the gasoline loads, the engine maps and their different work programs so as not to give too many clues about their strength. However, it is possible to obtain very valid sensations to evaluate the state of each set based on the data we have, the statements of the drivers, the sensations that the car offers on the asphalt and many other factors.
Thus, after what has been seen in these three days of testing, it seems clear that behind Mercedes and Red Bull, Sainz (Ferrari) and Alonso (Alpine) they will have to fight a tough battle against rivals who have shown a significant improvement in the midfield area. And beyond saying if one team has something more than another, it seems that the trend should be that of 2020, when an extremely even fight was seen in the ‘Second Division’ of the grid that made the characteristics of each circuit and how each car was adapted to the different paths could make a difference.
Possibly, the options Alonso and Sainz they will vary from track to track in an even tighter middle zone where most teams have improved.
Red Bull imposes
Red bull It was the best team in the preseason tests and confirms its great candidacy for everything. They will start the year as they finished it, looking to the victory in the first race. They did not have a single reliability failure with a stable car, with an engine Sling more powerful and reliable and the hunger of one of the best pilots, Max verstappen. They have improved their consistency as a team with a ‘Checo’ Pérez that has adapted fast. If they finally can’t fight for him Drivers’ World Cup against Hamilton, be careful with them for him Builders World Cup.
Mercedes, doubts or theater
Mercedes says that Red bull is favorite in Bahrain and so much Hamilton as the team assure that the data shows that they do not have “enough speed”. They have been his weakest tests. They always take the opportunity to shoot a lot and this year those of Brackley they were the ones with the fewest turns (304). They had a gearbox problem and Hamilton suffered a lot with the stability of the car, including off the track and a spin at the start of a fast lap. They are concerned about its low fuel performance, its rear end renovation, and gearbox failures recurring. They sow many doubts. However, everything indicates that the reality will be very different in the first race. In 2019 they said they were 0 ”5 behind Ferrari and they ended up crushing. In Constructors they could suffer if Bottas does not improve his performance.
McLaren, the surprise
One of the most positive news of the test. There were doubts if they would have problems adapting their 2020 car to the arrival of their new engine Mercedes, but they did it wonderfully, being able to surprise everyone with a new diffuser concept to gain grip and speed when cornering, taking advantage of a gap in the new regulations for this course, which limits this element and the ground. They are the great sensation and could be confirmed as the third best team on the grid with Ricciardo and Norris.
AlphaTauri, big improvement
Another of the great hopes. They had a great 2020 and their car has improved with some elements of its ‘big brother’, the Red Bull. Second team with the most laps, with very competitive times and a lot is expected of them. Tsunoda, ‘rookie’ this course, demonstrated enormous adaptability. Gasly, the leader on the track, could choose to repeat his good results.
Alfa Romeo takes a step
They have taken a huge step up from last year thanks to the renewal of the front of their car. They will leave the lower part of the table to get fully into the group of pursuers. Two more candidates for Q3 and points.
Aston Martin, many problems
Much more was expected of them. With a car very similar to Mercedes, they suffered with their rear end and, above all, too many reliability failures that peppered Vettel. The German, needed to roll as much as possible to acclimatize to his new car, but he was left almost without driving in two of the three sessions. The rider with the fewest turns on the official grid, with 117. It will cost him a lot from the start. Throughout the course they are expected to be fully in the fight for the best places in the middle zone.
The car seems stable and Ferrari have made it clear that they have improved in multiple areas. The most important: engine power and aerodynamics, managing to reduce air resistance to be faster straight. The question is to know if that will be enough to beat McLaren, AlphaTauri, Alpine or Aston Martin, something impossible to predict because the real strength of these opponents is unknown. The good news was its reliability, how well he adapted to the car Carlos Sainz and that the correlation of the wind tunnel and the simulations with the data obtained on the track was good. Good starting point to progress.
What is clear is that Ferrari hid a lot of potential and did not turn on the tap. Carlos Sainz already made it clear on Saturday in a videoconference with the Spanish press, ensuring that “You still have to wait until the first race to see what Ferrari can do”. Clear and concise message that they were not planning to show up. The important thing is that they were able to complete their planned work programs and their conclusions were positive. If they had gone wrong Ferrari I would have recognized it. In 2020 they admitted it openly and Binotto did not hesitate to put a “low pass” on his performance in last year’s tests when asked by MD at a press conference. Therefore, if it had gone worse than expected, it would not have made sense that this time if they denied it. Of course, we do not expect Ferrari to be fighting at the top either. It will be in the middle zone and in some tracks you will be able to opt for more and in others, less. Thus, Binotto He repeated that the important thing was to improve compared to last year and not forget about his “long-term” objectives. If the car is not a disaster, they do not plan to develop it in order to focus on creating the car in 2022, the year in which they want to be in the fight for everything.
They have been able to hide their potential very well and nobody knows where they will be. They want to fight to lead the middle zone, but the improvement of the rest of the rivals complicates the situation. They have opted for a different concept, with a chimney that is much thicker than the rest and a narrower middle area to improve air flow. that reaches the diffuser in order to have a better cornering. Big bet, different, showing they have ambition. Reliability was good and Alonso adapted to a thousand wonders, being the fifth driver with the most turns.
However, it is impossible to predict where the Alpine will be on the grid. Like Ferrari, this must be a transitional course and the important thing must be the creation of the car of 2022, a course in which they want to fight to win.
Against him is not having any engine customer, which makes his engine the one that gave the fewest kilometers in the preseason tests.
First year with new owners, renewed decoration and a car that generates better sensations for its drivers than that of 2020, with which they fought for the last places. They can improve but a miracle is not expected.
Haas, in the hands of ‘rookies’
They have a car without improvements, they are in the hands of two ‘rookies’ like Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher and they will not develop the car during the year. Condemned to suffer behind with two pilots who will have to progress little by little in a new category and without possibly as much natural talent as that of pilots like Tsunoda.