Three things we learnt from F1 pre season testing three

Pre-season testing has concluded in Bahrain, and these are the three biggest things we can take from it.

1) Red Bull is the fastest, but Ferrari is close on a race simulation.

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Red Bull has come away from the testing showing that even if they change their concept, they are still the fastest team on the grid. Most in the paddock say they are between half a second and a full second ahead of Ferrari.

However, this is only at one lap pace. If you analyse the long runs (as seen below), Ferrari is on average one second faster on all compounds of tyres across a standard race stint and the 57-lap race distance scheduled for next week’s Bahrain GP. Ferrari would beat Red Bull by a full minute.

Stint 1

Sainz (C3): avg. 1m38.21s, 15 laps
Perez (C3): avg. 1m38.65s, 13 laps

Stint 2

Sainz (C2) – avg. 1m 37.30s, 17 laps
Perez (C2): avg. 1m37.46s, 18 laps

Stint 3

Sainz (C1): avg. 1m35.38s, 17 laps
Perez (C1): avg. 1m37.13s, 21 laps

This shows that while Red Bull may have the pace over one lap in qualifying, they will struggle to keep that pace up over a lap.

This is, however, caveated by the fact that Perez was driving the car, and Max Verstappen may be able to bridge that pace gap and keep Red Bull ahead.

2) Alpine has been left as the sole midfield car.

Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

A very interesting trend appeared over the course of the test in that the midfield battle no longer exists. It used to be between Alpine, or whatever Renault called themselves that week, Aston Martin, and either Haas, Sauber, or Mclaren. However, since the middle of last season, this battle has disappeared, with Aston Martin and Mclaren moving into the front runners and Sauber and Haas moving towards the backward markers.

This has therefore left Alpine seeming like a team that is stuck in its ways. While the new A524 is a new concept, it hasn’t shown anything in the way of progression, as the team spent the test inside the lower end of the top 15. For example, they finished day three having run on the medium C3 tyre with both drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in 15th and 17th collectively.

If this is their true pace (which can sometimes not be the case), it does leave the team worried that the 100-race goal of fighting for a championship set by Renault a few years ago is completely unachievable.

3) Hamilton may have been right to ditch Ferrari for Mercedes.

Credit: Mercedes F1 team

The W15 doesn’t seem to have so far shown any form of progression for Mercedes, and Ferrari seems to be clipping at Red Bull’s heels, proving why Lewis was right to leave Brackley and move to Maranello next year. While yes, George Russell ended the day 0.046 of a second off of Charles Leclerc. This was seen as more of a glory run, with Lewis Hamilton ending the day more than a second slower than the Ferrari on the same tyre that Leclerc finished his fastest lap on. While we again don’t know what fuel or mode the engines were in, This sparks concern that Hamilton may even look to leave the team early in 2024.