Though the 2015 season should, in theory, feature cars that are an evolution from last season, those chasing Mercedes are pushing the envelope. Jerez day 2 went some way to proving that.
After catching the eye on day 1 with their camouflage livery, Red Bull were once again catching the eye today but for the wrong reasons. Breaking his front wing early on, Danill Kvyatt was forced to run without a replacement for most of the day. Whilst embarrassing for the driver and team, it did highlight just how much teams are pushing on engineering to catch Mercedes.
McLaren-Honda are viewed as the team who have pushed the boundaries most significantly. Their exceptionally tightly packaged rear-end – with echoes of recent Adrian Newey inspired Red Bulls – and other interesting features like their beautiful rear wing/suspension assembly have piqued the interest of many. Sadly electronic gremlins continued to limit their running on day 2. The old adage still holds true that it is easier to make a fast car reliable, than a reliable car fast. Correspondents have been cheekily suggesting Fernando Alonso will be looking enviously at his old team pounding round for more laps and the fastest time once more.
Ferrari did impress again with Vettel behind the wheel for a second day but their performances need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Alonso in particular will remember his experience with Ferrari this time last year. Whilst McLaren’s performances are causing concern, if the advanced technologies as Ron Dennis called them work it won’t matter that they have run limited mileage in testing. Interestingly word in the paddock suggests McLaren have attempted to address the lack of front downforce that plagued them in 2014.
Despite another good day for Sauber and Williams, Lotus were most impressive. Unleashing their new Mercedes power unit they banished the bad memories of testing 2014 with consistent laps. A strong base line for the team – who it must be remembered won in 2013 – in testing will allow them to make very good use of the sport’s (current) best power unit. Despite their financial issues and staffing changes, Lotus as a team has not forgotten how to build a good F1 car.