I love winter testing. Not everyone does, but I do.
The long days allow for plenty of opportunities to make art with the new cars pounding around lap after lap after lap. You can learn so much about the cars, the drivers and the teams. It still boggles my mind that so many journalists keep their asses planted in the media center watching a live timing screen, and occasionally poking their head over the desk to see which car is coming in pitlane and what tire it is running on. Instead, no matter what the climate or weather conditions, I’d rather be trackside.
Take for instance the Mercedes. Sleek. Agile. Nimble. Poetry in turbo powered motion. Unstoppable in 2014, maybe not unstoppable in 2015, but it’s going to take a monumental effort to tackle the reining World Champion(s) this year. Not to mention the chassis design is something to behold. Almost as gorgeous as the cars of the mid 2000’s.
The Lotus, fast, but wild. It was sideways and locking up tires half the time I was watching it. The potential is there.
Williams, playing their cards close to their chest on paper, but on track, the car looks stellar. Point it where it needs to go, and go it does. One day even stopping testing early because they had “completed their testing program for the day.” Let’s translate that to, “we’re happy and confident.”
Red Bull. The camo liviered bull was a sight to behold. But beyond the flashy stripes and black and white tones, the car is quick. Through Barcelona’s mighty turn 9, it was one of the fastest. Adrian Newey is a man you cannot ignore.
Force India get the most impressive testing debut of the decade award. Arrive with the brand new car with 1.5 days to test it before the first race weekend, and it does more laps than the Mclaren Honda had done in 3 weeks of testing. Maybe not fast, but time will tell.
Mclaren Honda have the name and driver pairing to win a world championship. The problem is in the engine. Though significantly louder than it’s rivals, it cannot do more than a handfull of laps before giving up completely. It even came down pitlane at one pointing spewing oil in every direction. Healthy it is not, but it is beautiful beyond measure. One of my favorites of 2015. But if anyone can turn this beast around, it’s Ron Dennis, Mclaren, Honda and the dream team of Button and Alonso.
Ferrari are the ones to watch in my opinion. Watch it on track and you are immediately floored with the vast improvement over last year. Sleek in design, planted in it’s aerodynamic handling, and with a combined 5 world championships between them, Raikkonen and Vettel are probably the strongest line up in Formula 1. The way the team are handling themselves would suggest they have a car they are serious about. Guarded but confident. You can see it in Vettel’s smile. Far from being a longshot this year. A dark horse for the championship should Mercedes put one foot wrong.
Manor. We haven’t yet seem them in the light of day in 2015. But the fact that they’re there is important to the sport.
I always like to thank those people who send me to far corners of the globe and make these work trips happen, and make them enjoyable. James, Russ, Laurent, Matthew, Chris, Tati, Blackbird, Road and Track, the friendly staff at Circuit Catalunya….and the Spanish fans and marshals. That was a fun two weeks. Thank you all.
© Jamey Price / James Moy Photography 2015. Absolutely no distribution, or use, is permitted without expressed written consent.