It may be winter in Barcelona, but the heat was on last week as F1’s 10 teams decamped to Spain’s second-most populous city, and the familiar curves of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Importantly, there was consistent weather, a complete contrast to the Winter Wonderland that destroyed the opening week in 2018.
Overall, Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg set the fastest time of the week, as one of just six drivers including his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo to set a time on the softest C5 tyre.
Hülkenberg’s day four delight, however, was short-lived with the German later stopping out on track with an undisclosed issue.
… and it’s distance that really mattered; Mercedes topping the standings on 610 laps, 12 more than Ferrari. Scuderia-powered Alfa Romeo Racing completed 507 laps for third-highest.
In terms of teasing form, Ferrari looked quick, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc on top for Days 1 and 2; the SF90 gaining admirers, like Mercedes’ five-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
“Ferrari are very strong,” he said. “It appears they have a better package than last year, which means it will be a bigger challenge.”
And the Brit is right about the Scuderia’s strength, despite its new charge Charles Leclerc admitting they weren’t pushing.
The Monegasque and Vettel finished eighth and ninth overall but their times were set on the C3 tyres, which are 1.2 seconds slower per lap than the C5 and which could put them into the high 1 minute 16s.
Toro Rosso combined with sister team Red Bull Racing for Honda mileage and a total lap haul of 878 from the power unit manufacturer. Daniil Kvyat also topped the timesheets on Day 3.
Haas’ running was curbed early on with a mysterious electrical issue, but it then completed its program on Day 4. Racing Point had teething issues. Williams did just 88 laps across a day and a half.
And while we’re gaining some insight into the pecking order with Ferrari looking strong, it’s this week when the performance is added for a more accurate picture of F1 2019’s competitive horizon.