Formula One Testing

How much can we deduce from Pre-Season Testing?

With Red Bull topping the time leaderboard's during Pre-Season Testing are they set for another dominant year?

Max Verstappens 2019 Oracle Red Bull Racing Team car
Connor Bland Connor Bland


Pre-season testing is one of the highly anticipated events of the Formula One season with it marking the return of the sport from its winter hibernation. 

The excitement amongst fans of the sport is for many reasons; seeing the brand new liveries on track, seeing their favourite drivers on track for the first time since December but most importantly to see who tops the time leader board at the end of the testing sessions.

Over the weekend of this season’s testing, Red Bull clocked the best qualifying sim time being 0.28 seconds clear of their closest rivals and also had the best race pace throughout the weekend but does that mean they can already celebrate another dominant season…

Over the last five seasons, the fastest team in testing has only gone on to win the constructors championship twice in this time and the fastest driver in testing has won the driver’s championship twice. 

With this in mind is there any importance to Sergio Perez’s 1m30.305s testing lap?

Setting a fast lap in testing may mean very little to the outcome of championship as a whole but there are a few things that can be taken away:

Firstly, the time itself is 1.415 seconds quicker than the fastest lap set during last year’s testing, beating the pole lap set by Charles Leclerc during last year’s qualifying by just over 3 tenths. 

Another thing that can be taken away is that from the times set by Red Bull during this season’s testing we can see that they haven’t made a lot of progress from the times set last season compared to some of the other teams who have shown more progress, shaving time off this season’s lap times compared with last year. Two of these teams are Mercedes and Aston Martin who look to be Red Bull’s rivals at the front of the grid for the coming season.

With this in mind and the 10 percent less wind tunnel time due to breaking the cost cap rules last season even if Red Bull are ahead at the start the other teams can claw back time with the extra wind tunnel availability. 

Lance Stroll´s Aston Martin/ Source Twitter

“Still hiding a little bit”

Are teams actually using 100 percent of their pace?

It has been said in the past that some teams choose to hold back pace (sandbag) to hide how fast and how competitive they will be throughout the season. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolf told Sky Sports that they are “Still hiding a little bit“. 

Teams also have so many different things to try that they may not even have time to set competitive times.

Throughout this season’s testing weekend seven different tyre compounds were used and with different compounds affecting grip and speed the fastest times will vary especially with not every driver doing the same amount of time per compound to get to grips and put in a time that beats the Red Bull.

All the teams will have been running different setups for example they may have been running higher straight line speed setups in one session but better cornering setups in another.

Different fuel loads,low fuel for qualifying runs and high fuel for race runs which would change the impact on fastest laps.

But there is a positive to setting the quickest time due to the creation of confidence which is now flowing around the Red Bull team with Max Verstappen telling the BBC that the team are very happy with the car. 

Having created a quicker car than last years that won 17 out of 22 races and had Max Verstappen breaking the most wins in a season record, Red Bull will once again be looking for the titles.

Motorsport technician college graduate Oscar Blair who a keen interest in Motorsports gave his opinion on this seasons testing saying:

“I think Red Bull look easily the strongest team on the grid but teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes have been able to bring improvements during past seasons and I expect them to be competing for wins.”

“In terms of the championships I think Max (Verstappen) and Red Bull will once again win both titles but not as easily as last year.”

Embed from Getty Images

Connor Bland

I am a sports journalism student at Sheffield Hallam and Abat Oliba CEU. My preferred sports are football and Formula 1.