Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2nd Pre-Season Test in Barcelona

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2015

Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2nd Pre-Season Test in Barcelona

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    Romain Grosjean set the pace at the second Formula One pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelonabut no one truly believes his Lotus team have an advantage at this stage.

    Rather, it appears last season's dominant champions, Mercedes, have the best overall package. Nico Rosberg's Day 4 lap of one minute, 24.321 seconds was set on the medium tyres. Rivals Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams were slower on the soft compound. Grosjean was on the supersofts.

    Eight of the ten teams hoping to compete in the 2015 season were present with their new cars, while Force India focused on tyre work; their VJM08 will hopefully get its first outing at the final test, which starts on 26 February.

    Here's how they currently rank.

    Note on Power Rankings

    F1 power rankings ignore the points table (when one exists) and instead present a snapshot of where each team currently stands in relation to its competitors based on reliability, qualifying and race pace.

    During testing, we look at apparent speed and reliability, and the rankings are created based on where each team would finish if there was a race immediately after the test. Teams less likely to manage the distance are, of course, ranked lower.

    All position changes are relative to those in the previous set of rankings, which you can find here.

10. Manor

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    No Change

    Manor are currently working toward a return to the grid in 2015, but as they do not currently have a functional 2015 car, they have not done any testing.

    They therefore remain 10th and last for the time being.

9. Force India

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    No Change

    Force India were present at the Catalunya test but did not use their 2015 car. The data they gathered on the 2015 tyres will be of some use, but we can't assess where they are until we've seen the VJM08.

    They remain ninth.

8. McLaren

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    No Change

    After a difficult Jerez, McLaren made small steps forward at Catalunya but remain a long way behind the rest of the field. The good news is, their running is being interrupted by small issues, not big ones.

    The main problem affecting the team in Barcelona was a small seal on the MGU-K (kinetic energy-recovery system). It first reared its head on the opening day.

    We've had to stop running today due to a faulty seal on the MGU-K which caused an issue that requires full replacement of the power-unit.

    — McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 19, 2015

    A replacement part was due to arrive on Day 3, but that failed as well.

    McLaren can take some comfort from Fernando Alonso's lap of 1:25.961, set on the second day. For a launch-spec car being run very conservatively, that's a very decent time. It's likely the MP4-30 will have good pace when it finally gets round to being driven properly.

    But the Spaniard's accident on Day 4, which left him under observation in hospital, meant McLaren's test ended on a difficult note.

    They stay eighth.

7. Sauber

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    Down Three

    Sauber had a great test in Jerez, clocking up the kilometres and setting good times.

    They had a less-happy time in Catalunya. With the exception of McLaren, the C34 did the fewest laps of any 2015 car and the team's drivers rarely troubled the top of the timesheets.

    Overall, Sauber were the seventh-quickest teamonly McLaren were slower.

    Felipe Nasr set the team's fastest lap with a time of 1:24.956, but didn't have a trouble-free test. A somewhat silly crash with Susie Wolff cost him laps on the opening day and mechanical issues hit his running on Day 4.

    Marcus Ericsson was also affected. Sauber are not in major trouble, but they need to get to the bottom of a number of small issues before the start of the final test.

    A better showing from the rest of field means Sauber fall to seventh.

6. Toro Rosso

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    No Change

    Toro Rosso are fielding two rookies for 2015, so much of their testing programme will be focused on getting the youngsters as much experience in the cars as possible.

    The Italian outfit came third in the lap-count chart, with Max Verstappen doing more kilometres than any other driver. His best lap of 1:24.739 was also the team's best, just seven-tenths shy of Romain Grosjean's test-leading time.

    Carlos Sainz Jr. was also near the top of the distance tables despite two significant off-track excursions. The second, when he hit the barriers at Turn 3 on the fourth day, ended the team's test.

    Toro Rosso are in a much better place than they were at this time in 2014, and the car looksat this stageamong the best they have produced so far. But Renault admit their engine lacks performance and driveability, which may hold the Baby Bulls back.

    They remain sixth.

5. Lotus

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    No Change

    Lotus ended the test at the top of the leaderboards. Romain Grosjean's 1:24.067 was the quickest time of all, and Pastor Maldonado was third-fastest.

    Both used the supersoft tyres for their best runstheir nearest rivals were not far behind on harder, slower compounds. Though exactly where Lotus lie in the real pace order is difficult to determine, it's safe to say they're not No. 1.

    But that they have made a huge step forward from 2014 is very, very clear. The E22 struggled to make it out of the pit lane this time last year, while the E23 has been so far solid and more reliable.

    Lotus did not do as many laps as the other Mercedes teams; the engine is new to them, so it's likely they still have a few minor gremlins to identify and fix at the final test.

    They remain fifth.

4. Red Bull

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    Up Three

    Red Bull appear to have got on top of the reliability (and front wing-losing) issues which restricted their running at Jerez. 2014's runners-up completed nearly 2,000 kilometresonly Mercedes did more.

    But engine partner Renault does not appear to have solved the other problem which held Red Bull back last year. Daniel Ricciardo set the fourth-fastest lap of the Catalunya test, but later hinted, per crash.net, that the power unit was not performing at a high enough standard.

    Analysis of his race simulation against that of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton by Autosport's Scott Mitchell appears to confirm this. On the same tyres, the RB11 was around a second per lap slower than the W06 on the long runs.

    It's tight for second down to fourth, and could even be equal.

    But the Renault question marks limit Red Bull's rise to three placesthey're up to fourth.

3. Williams

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    No Change

    Williams have spent the 2015 pre-season flying largely under the radar. Whether it has been deliberate or not, this makes it difficult to say exactly where they are.

    But given they dedicated a whole day to pit stop practice, one suspects there's a quiet confidence within the team.

    Felipe Massa's time of 1:24.672 was the quickest the team managed. It compares well to other teams expected to be somewhere near the sharp end, like Red Bull and Ferrari, and like them, Massa used soft tyres to set his lap.

    But lap times didn't seem to be high on the team's agenda, and Valtteri Bottasgenerally quicker than Massa over one lapdidn't do any truly quick runs.

    Autosport reveals the team plan to demonstrate their true performance level at the final test. One suspects they might actually start the season second only to Mercedes.

    But for now, on what we have seen, they remain third.

2. Ferrari

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    No Change

    Ferrari were a long way ahead in terms of lap times at the first test in Jerez and also looked strong in Catalunya.

    The only weakness we could point to would be the team did fewer laps than most of their competitors, but the laps they did do were usually good. Kimi Raikkonen did their best of the test, 1:24.584good enough for fifth-fastest.

    But Sebastian Vettel, like Williams' Bottas, didn't set any quick times at all.

    It's hard to separate Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams at this stage, but with Red Bull's engine currently suspect and Williams happy to avoid the radar, the Scuderia look marginally ahead.

    They remain second.

1. Mercedes

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    No Change

    Mercedes once again did more laps than any other team, creeping above the 2,000 kilometre barrier with 446 tours.

    But what really caught the eye was their speed. Despite not feeling 100 percent after missing most of the opening day with a fever, Lewis Hamilton kicked things off with a highly impressive race simulation on Day 2.

    Then along came Nico Rosberg on Day 4 to set a time which doubtless filled their rivals with dread. Using the medium compound tyres, the German's 1:24.321 was the second-best time of the testand faster than Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams had managed on the soft tyres.

    We perhaps shouldn't read too much into that, because no one knows their respective fuel loads, engine modes and how hard the drivers pushed.

    But what we saw in Barcelona is enough to be sure of one thingMercedes remain on top.

    Lap times and count data used throughout sourced from Formula1.com.

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