F1: Talking points from Barcelona pre-season testing

Back to glory days for Ferrari? McLaren-Honda heading for a split? Red Bull regaining wings? Force India struggling to catch up. Here are some of the talking points from the pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Over eight days of testing, Ferrari has shown tremendous pace topping the timings on most days.   -  AP

These are some of the main talking points after the two pre-season tests in Barcelona:

Ferrari resurgence?

Over eight days of testing, Ferrari has shown tremendous pace topping the timings on most days. Even though times during testing are irrelevant, there is definite confidence within the team with both drivers hinting there is more pace to come from the scarlet cars.

Mercedes generally runs its cars with a heavier load of fuel compared to Ferrari during testing and it could be that the three-time defending champion is playing its cards close to its chest. Even otherwise there is optimism that Ferrari could be closer to Mercs than it has been in the last three years and the sport desperately needs the Italian marque unit to give a tough fight.

Honda engine issues

McLaren-Honda partnership was a steamrolling juggernaut in the late 80s and early 90s with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. But the revived partnership that began in 2015 has been way off the standards set two decades ago and the problem has been with the underpowered Honda engine for most part. The cars are slower by close to 20 km/hr on the straights and have been sitting ducks on the track.

This year Honda promised a complete overhaul of its power unit but instead of bridging the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari, it has slipped further behind.

Earlier this week McLaren team principal Eric Boullier hinted that Honda’s repeated failures and lack of performance is putting tremendous strain on the partnerships and star driver Fernando Alonso threw Honda under the bus a day later. The Spaniard was furious his Honda power units was neither powerful nor reliable.

The team has completed the least amount of laps and is the most underprepared team with just two weeks to the first race.

Red Bull threat

Red Bull Racing has not set the lap times on fire but has shown impressive pace just behind Ferrari and Mercedes. However, the team has also had issues with its engine supplier Renault. The Renault is still no match to Ferrari and Mercedes, and even during testing there have been teething troubles with the French power unit.

According to team boss, Red Bull has not been able to run the power unit at full blast and had to run it conservatively. If Renault can address these issues before Melbourne, Red Bull could very well be fighting at the sharp end.

Force India huffing and puffing

In the midfield battle, Force India, which finished fourth in the standings last year, seems to be struggling for pace. The 2017 season will be the 10th year for Force India and the team will need to get its act together in the next two weeks to consolidate its position. Williams, which slipped last year, seems to have made a step in the right directions and clearly has the fourth quickest car on the grid.

Red Bull’s sister outfit Toro Rosso, Haas, and the factory Renault team are locked in a tight battle but we will have to wait till the first race to understand the pecking order.