The five things to watch for in F1 testing this week

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Formula One pre-season takes place in Barcelona this week, with the sport eagerly awaiting to see who sets the early pace.

All 10 teams have now revealed their 2018 challengers, so now it’s time to see just what shape they are in ahead of the 21-race campaign.

Here are five things to watch out for in Spain this week…

Are Mercedes still the team to beat?

While last year’s Ferrari may have proven to be a more consistent performer, there’s little doubt that Mercedes came up trumps when it came to outright pace.

The Silver Arrows claimed 16 pole positions last season and have dominated the sport since 2014.

Will this prove to be the case once again this year? We should get early indicators in Barcelona.

Where are Ferrari at?

Had they been able to match Mercedes in qualifying, then Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel could well have won both titles last season.

On race pace they could often match their German rivals, but were always on the back foot after being beaten on Saturdays.

They’ll need to change that form if they’re to secure glory for the first time in 2008. The pressure is on at Maranello, but can they deliver?

Have Red Bull made a step up?

Red Bull won three races in the latter part of 2017, but were way off the pace or the first few months.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are each regarded as super talents. If Red Bull can’t give them a title-challenger, how much longer will they stick around?

Equally, the patience of team founder Dietrich Mateschitz has been tested in recent years. He could consider pulling the plug if they fail to succeed again.

Have McLaren found reliability?

McLaren has endured a dismal few years thanks to a succession of troubles with engine supplier Honda, and now they’ve turned to Renault for the first time.

They’re desperate for a return to the sharp end, as is star driver Fernando Alonso.

This new alliance could give them the platform to move forward, but they’ll be out to find reliability in testing.

Any surprises from the lower order?

With McLaren expected to move up the grid this season, the fight between the smaller teams could be bigger than ever.

Force India have prevailed for the last few seasons, but can they do so again?

Renault will be keen to move forward, especially with Carlos Sainz partnering Nico Hulkenberg.

Williams have gone in a new direction with their FW41, but question marks remain over their driver line-up of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.

Haas and Sauber are looking for consistency this term, while Toro Rosso will be trying to find success with the un-loved Honda power unit.

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.