Formula One’s testing schedule is almost finished in Barcelona with one overriding definite – Mercedes are going to start the 2015 in dominant form.
Nico Rosberg’s Day Two headline time of the second Barcelona test, a 1:22.792, was 1.2 seconds quicker than anyone else that day. It showed just how fast Mercedes can propel their W06 when they strap on a set of Soft tyres. Up until that point Mercedes had failed to join in the bids by rival teams to get a headline-grabbing ‘fastest time of the day’ and stuck to running on Medium tyres with significant levels of fuel.
The predictions before all testing started were that cars would be around 2.5 to 3 seconds quicker this year, and already that looks to be a conservative estimate. With engines yet to be cranked up for maximum performance, Rosberg’s lap time sits alongside Lewis Hamilton’s 2014 pole time of 1:25.232.
By the time the teams return to the Circuit de Catalunya in May, that pole position is very likely to be a 1:21 lap.
The big question – apart from the performance of the fast-but-fragile McLaren-Honda MP4-30 – is who will be their closest contender? Up until now it has been Williams next up on the timesheets ahead of a resurgent Ferrari.
The bookmakers like the look of Ferrari’s SF15-T but not the Williams FW37. Paddy Power have Mercedes as bolted on favourites at 1-8 but have relegated the McLaren-Honda partnership from 8-1 to 16-1, Ferrari have moved up from 14-1 to 12-1 but despite their strong times in testing, Williams have dropped from 12-1 to 16-1.
Both Williams drivers, Valtteri Bottas (20-1) and Felipe Massa (50-1) look good as an outside bet in the drivers’ title race. No great surprise that Lewis Hamilton still leads the way at 8/13 with Nico Rosberg trailing in his wake at 5/2.
Bets we’d like to see Paddy Power create some odds for
What are the chances that Manor-Motorsport will actually build a 2015 contender after they cobble together a makeshift vehicle to qualify for their £30m prize-money from last year?
Will Fernando Alonso be fit in time for Melbourne after his heavy concussion in Barcelona 1 testing?
Who will be the second Manor-Motorsport driver to partner Will Stevens – and what is the likelihood that they will get within 107% of P1 time in Quailfying 1 with a modified 2014 car?