The Mercedes team has successfully topped the charts again following the first week of 2020 pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Silver Arrows had already set the pace in terms of raw speed, with Valtteri Bottas’ best Friday time of 1:15.732s proving to be the quickest of the entire week. That’s almost half a second faster than the team was running at this point last year. His team mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest overall.
And the team is not only proving to be quick but also durable, after the two drivers between them racked up a total of 494 laps (or 2299km), despite losing running time on Thursday afternoon with a suspected engine issue for Bottas.
Hamilton was individually responsible for 273 laps, which was the most of any driver during the first week in Spain, compared to 221 for Bottas. Despite the effort required, Hamilton said afterwards that he was feeling fresher than ever, which will surely be cause for concern among his rivals.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon were almost a match for the world championship squad and completed 471 laps between them, with Verstappen personally putting in 254 laps making him the second-most travelled driver behind Hamilton.
Red Bull finished ahead of McLaren and Alfa Romeo, who were tied on 423 laps for the three-day test. Carlos Sainz completed 237 laps in the MCL35 while Antonio Giovinazzi was just behind with 230 laps after a day and a half in the C39.
It was a somewhat underwhelming first week for Ferrari however, with the SF1000 managing only 353 laps. Sebastian Vettel missed the opening day of testing due to illness and subsequently suffered an engine issue that cost him time on Friday.
As a result, Ferrari were almost a full day’s mileage behind their their title rivals, and 95 laps behind their averaged three-day count at the midway point of last year’s test. And not only that, their pace was almost two seconds slower than last year when they were the stars of pre-season testing.
Like Ferrari, Williams was also handicapped by the need to perform an engine change. It meant that George Russell and Nicholas Latifi completed 324 laps between them – but that’s still a huge improvement on last year, when the team was unable to even take part in the first two days of the test. Their 2020 total is a whopping 258 laps more than their disastrous 2019 first three-day average!
The lack of red flags on the first two days in this year’s testing helped Racing Point to a major improvement on last year’s longevity, with 369 laps from Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll combined proving to be 185 laps better than their equivalent calculated three-day total for 2019.
Red Bull were likewise up 115 laps, McLaren to the good by 89 laps, and Renault 55 laps ahead of where they were 12 months ago.
The lowest amount of running was the 314 laps notched up by Haas, after a puncture caused Kevin Magnussen to crash out at the start of the Friday afternoon session. Even so, they were 28 laps ahead of where they were 12 months ago.
In terms of engine manufacturer reliability, Mercedes-powered cars once again came out top with a total of 1187 laps from the works team, Racing Point and Williams combined.
Ferrari comes out better in this calculation with 1090 laps undertaken by the Scuderia and customer Alfa Romeo and Haas teams, while Honda is someway back with a total of 854 laps from Red Bull and AlphaTauri. Renault and McLaren accounted for 801 laps this week.