Barcelona’s typically capricious spring weather proved even more indecisive than usual this year, with rain and even snow causing significant disruptions to our test programme in the first week.
Once the weather conditions had settled and we were able to gather some decent mileage during the second week of running, the MCL33 was finally able to show some of its potential. Fernando even shared an exuberant ‘woohoo!’ over team radio when he crossed the line on the final day after setting a useful 1m17.784s best.
Encouragingly (but by no means definitively), it was the third-fastest time of the whole test.
If our drivers sounded initially positive – and, after all, they’re the ones sat in the driving seat – they’re also clearly looking forward to the start of the season in Melbourne.
While it was good to see the car sitting in the top half of the time-sheets on occasion, as a team, we know we still have work to do. Our main learning from testing is that the car’s fundamentals felt good. Both drivers reported that it felt good to drive, and that the handling was positive, putting us in a good place to move forward. At the very least, we have a solid foundation upon which to build.
In terms of tyres, the circuit has recently been resurfaced and now has a very different, very smooth surface. That meant that some of the compounds we tried weren’t behaving in the way we’d originally expected.
However, once certain compounds were bedded into the track after a few laps, they were good and consistent and the drivers were able to get a better read on the car’s behaviour. We learnt a lot about the tyres, too, but the important thing to recognise was that a lot of this learning was specific to the circuit, the surface and the temperature. Tyre behaviour may have been a bit quirky during testing, but we don’t believe that this will be the case throughout the season.
In terms of statistics, we did cause a few red flags during testing, but these were the sorts of failures that were difficult to foresee and weren’t fundamental to the performance of the car throughout the season.
However, we did have some issues that we ought to have been able to avoid. Some of these could be attributed to the embedding of a brand new power unit into the car; others will hopefully be fixed during the week in the factory before we head off to Australia.
Looking ahead, we have a lot to focus on and we know how important it is to spot any problems before they happen. Fundamentally, our package feels encouraging, but it’s difficult to gauge the true performance of the cars around us, and we’re working hard to close the gap to the cars in front.
As with everyone else, we’ll have a much better picture of our respective performance in Australia, so let’s go racing.