The 2017 Formula One season gets underway in Australia in three weeks’ time, but we’ve already been handed some clues as to how the grid may shape up Down Under.
With four of the eight days of pre-season testing available taking place in Barcelona this week, the 10 teams have been busily preparing their latest contenders.
Rule number one is that you can never read too much into the winter testing times, but we’ve managed to pick up on three standout headlines.
A renaissance for Ferrari?
Last season the red team made a lot of pre-season hype, only to bitterly disappoint in a winless campaign.
A repeat simply won’t be tolerated in Maranello, and happily, things look promising for 2017.
Both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen impressed this week in the new SF70H, and though Mercedes topped the timesheets on days one and three – Ferrari were close behind in second on both occassions.
That was while running on a harder and slower compound of tyre too, and the Italian outfit ousted their German rivals at the top on the second day’s running.
Trackside commentators have praised the new Ferrari so far in Barcelona, so let’s hope that form continues when the real action begins in Melbourne.
More horrors for McLaren Honda
Fernando Alonso is a two-time world champion, but may end up regarded as a wasted talent.
After a lot of positive comments came out of the Honda camp over the winter, there was – and still is – hope that McLaren could finally return to the sharp end.
But following a similarly worrying pattern to the last few years, this pre-season has been beset with technical woes once again.
Honda have twice had to change their power units this week, and even when the MCL32 has been running – resplendent as it is in a new orange and black trim – it hasn’t been particularly quick.
It’s no Stroll in the park
As far as the early days of your Formula One career go, Williams’ new-boy Lance Stroll has had a tough-time.
The 18-year-old Canadian has spun off three times this week, twice causing the team to call it a day early.
And with this week’s fourth-test being a designated wet day, Williams have lost a large amount of vital pre-season time as they bid to avoid slipping further down the order.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing