That’s it. The books are closed on pre-season testing for this year’s F1 calendar. The circus is packing itself up, and heading back to the workshop to make final tweaks before the season starts on March 16.
Although lap times are mostly irrelevant for testing, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes and Williams, respectively) topped the timesheets on the final day, amidst eight red flag delays. This comes one day after Red Bull failed to complete any running at all. Not good for the 2013 champs.
Mercedes has been the dominant force all throughout testing, with Merc-engined teams (Mercedes, McLaren, Force India, and Williams) undoubtedly feeling relieved as they head into the first race. All four teams have topped the timesheets at one point or another, and all have managed to escape the pre-season without catastrophic failure.
The Ferrari teams have been the mid-runners for most of testing, apart from Marussia, while the Renault-engined teams haven’t been nearly as lucky (Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso, and Caterham).
The defending champs, Red Bull, haven’t had an easy go of it to start the year, and although Vettel and the rest of the crew have not gone into crisis-mode yet, this is certainly not the way they envisioned the season starting. Looks like Mark Webber got out of F1 at just the right time.
But who to watch this year? Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari will probably tussle back and forth in the first few races of the year, but you’d be remiss to discount Red Bull. It may be early summer before they hit their stride, but stride they will. Just make sure to watch Williams this year. Everything is going their way, what with the new regulations, engine supplier, and Felipe Massa’s addition to the team. It could be the year for Williams.
So there you have it. The teams have 12 days left before they head out onto the track in Melbourne for Free Practice One. This could be the breakaway season that we’ve all been hoping for.