Formula One: 2016 Barcelona Mid-Season Test Recap

It’s a little known article of the Formula One Sporting Regulations but F1 can’t go to Spain without having an obligatory test session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. So after Max Verstappen’s shock win in his Red Bull debut, the teams stuck around for a few more days to do some testing for the first time during this season.

Day 1 (May 17)

After coming up short given the absence of the Silver Arrows after three turns in the Grand Prix, Ferrari’s focus was to find qualifying speed as they haven’t looked anywhere near competitive against the Mercedes when they haven’t run into trouble. With both cars on soft tyres, Vettel outpaced Rosberg by less than twelve-hundredths of a second on their fastest laps.

One of the interesting little rules about the four mid-season test days (two in Barcelona and two at Silverstone) is that two of the days must be used for young drivers. The four slowest drivers were all drivers with no Grand Prix experience.

  1. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:23.220
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:23.337
  3. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:23.753
  4. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:23.882
  5. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 1:24.297
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull -1:24.307
  7. Pierre Gasly – Toro Rosso – 1:24.821
  8. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 1:25.467
  9. Alex Lynn – Williams – 1:26.071
  10. Esteban Ocon – Renault – 1:26.530

Day 2 (May 18)

Max Verstappen topped the time sheets just three days after winning his first Grand Prix. He was nearly three-quarters of a second ahead of the pack despite still trying to acclimatize to the RB12. He also had the upgraded Renault engine which certainly looks good with Verstappen at the controls. After the test, Renault engineers estimated that the test proves that the new engine is worth a half-second.

The other big story of the day was Pascal Wehrlein in the Mercedes. Esteban Ocon had been scheduled to run in the Mercedes so as not to use their second experienced driver test day. Instead, Mercedes drafted in Pascal Wehrlein because they needed an experienced driver to test the car’s new upgrades. This means that Lewis Hamilton won’t be allowed to test the Mercedes at the Silverstone test.

Of course, this being Formula One, nothing it quite as it seems. There was a rumour on Tuesday that Nico entered negotiations with Ferrari for 2017. The next day, Pascal Wehrlien, a Mercedes development driver whose connection with the manufacturer helped land him at Manor, ends up in the factory car. That’s not a coincidence.

  1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:23.267
  2. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren – 1:24.006
  3. Pascal Wehrlein – Mercedes – 1:24.145
  4. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 1:24.592
  5. Antonio Fuoco – Ferrari – 1:24.720
  6. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 1:24.737
  7. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 1:25.016
  8. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 1:25.133
  9. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:27.167
  10. Jordan King – Manor – 1:27.615

Best Times of the Week

  1. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:23.220
  2. Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:23.267
  3. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:23.337
  4. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:23.753
  5. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:23.882
  6. Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren – 1:24.006
  7. Pascal Wehrlein – Mercedes – 1:24.145
  8. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 1:24.297
  9. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:24.307
  10. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 1:24.592
  11. Antonio Fuoco – Ferrari – 1:24.720
  12. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso – 1:24.737
  13. Pierre Gasly – Toro Rosso – 1:24.821
  14. Alfonso Celis – Force India – 1:25.016
  15. Kevin Magnussen – Renault – 1:25.133
  16. Alex Lynn – Williams – 1:26.071
  17. Esteban Ocon – Renault – 1:26.530
  18. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:27.167
  19. Jordan King – Manor – 1:27.615
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