Photo [Wikimedia Commons]

F1 Winter Testing Recap and Predictions for the 2020 Season

Read Jake’s recap of the start of F1 winter testing and his predictions for the upcoming season.

At 8am on the 19th of February, a red light turned green at the circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, calling to an end the break between the 2019 and 2020 Formula 1 seasons. This marked the start of winter testing, where the teams get to run their new cars for the first time. As such, it is the first glimpse at the season to come. While teams try their best to muddy the waters regarding their outright pace, a general picture can be formed. The following is what I believe you should expect from each team for the 2020 season.

The Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit (Photo [Wikimedia Commons])
Mercedes

The reigning champions are showing no signs of relinquishing their title. Not only did their driver Valtteri Bottas secure the fastest lap of testing overall, a 1:15.732, their pace has looked consistently strong. However, the Mercedes engine has proved the least reliable of all, with Mercedes-powered cars breaking down on multiple occasions. Though concerning, they should be able to overcome this obstacle.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 1st

Ferrari

The Scuderia have been threatening to topple Mercedes since 2017, and yet have always fallen just short. This season’s testing doesn’t promise any improvement. Outright pace is the greatest concern for Ferrari, their fastest lap being six tenths slower than that of Bottas. It is generally believed that the Ferraris have been running de-tuned engines to mask their true performance, but the noises surrounding the team are not promising. Team boss Mattia Binotto has even stated that he does not believe the Ferrari is up to scratch.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 3rd

Red Bull

Since the end of the 2016 season, Red Bull have usually been the third best team of the “big three.” At testing they were the team with the second-best lap times, though their best effort was still five tenths shy of Mercedes’. Their consistency and high-fuel pace have seemed comfortably better than that of Ferrari. For a team which traditionally develops their car well over the course of a season, this is a very promising starting point. One drawback is the fact that the car seems twitchy and thus difficult to drive. As a result, the Red Bulls found themselves pointing the wrong way on track far more often than anyone else. If they can iron out this issue, they will likely usurp Ferrari’s position as chief challenger to Mercedes.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 2nd

Could this be the car to topple Mercedes? (Photo [Wikimedia Commons])
McLaren

In 2019, McLaren exceeded expectations, managing to be the fourth best team. However, it is unclear if they will be able to repeat this accomplishment. McLaren kept their cards close to their chest throughout the test, registering only the sixth fastest lap of the ten teams. Their car seems reliable and easy to drive, but in Formula 1 to stand still is to fall backwards and McLaren may well have done just that. Things will be nip-and-tuck with Renault and Racing Point by the end of the season, but McLaren should be able to overcome what may be a lacklustre start to this  season.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 4th

Renault

The French team rocked up to testing with a car which bore relatively little resemblance to their 2019 challenger. Their fastest time was good enough to place them third of all the teams at testing, above Ferrari. However, some reliability issues early in the test and the fact that they did not appear to be consistently fast do raise some questions. I would expect Renault to be fifth fastest at the first race in Melbourne, but for them to fade throughout the season as they shift focus onto their 2021 car.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 6th

Renault’s car for this year. (Photo [Wikimedia Commons])
Alpha Tauri

The rebranded Toro Rosso outfit didn’t appear to be chasing headline times at testing. Daniil Kvyat logged their fastest time, only good enough to place them eighth out of ten teams. Nevertheless, the impression is that they have more to show, and that they are holding back for now. How much more do they have in their locker? Only time will tell.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 7th

Racing Point

The most controversial issue at the whole test was centred around F1’s pink panthers. Their attempt to mimic the 2019 Mercedes’ bodywork has earned them the moniker “Tracing Point” in the paddock. However, their method of imitation seems to be working, as they were consistently one of the fastest cars on any given day. Their outright fastest time was only good enough to place them fifth, but their ability to set fast laps on slower tyre compounds was promising. They will certainly start the season very strong.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 5th

The 2020 Racing Point, dubbed by many the “Pink Mercedes.” (Photo [Wikimedia Commons])
Alfa Romeo

Much like their homophonic rivals Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo had a quiet test. Their fastest lap was over a second shy of Bottas’ time, placing them ninth of all the teams. They will suffer from using a Ferrari engine which seems to be slower than its 2019 predecessor.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 8th

Haas

Unfortunately for the American outfit, the woes of 2019 may be repeated this year. Their fastest lap was slower than that of any other team at testing, and their failures to develop their car effectively last year do not bode well for this one. They aren’t slower than Williams yet, but unless they can sort out these problems with car development it is only a matter of time until they are.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 10th

Williams

The 2020 Williams, complete with aerodynamic data gathering optional extra. (Photo [Wikimedia Commons])
F1’s laughing stock no more! Williams show no signs of repeating their disastrous 2019 campaign. The stark contrast from last year’s test to now is epitomised by the fact they were the first car out on track on the first day of testing. Last year, they hadn’t even arrived by the time testing started. It looks as though they still have the slowest car on the grid for now, but I expect them to overtake Haas over the course of the year.

2020 World Constructor’s Championship Prediction: 9th

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