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Race Watch 5

Formula 1 Testing

Formula 1 engines roared into life trackside for the first time this season. With the anticipation rising, what does this year have in store for us?

SO, WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED AND WHAT DID I THINK OF IT?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TOPICS?
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET’S GET A DISCUSSION GOING!

Welcome to Race Watch, a supplementary feature running alongside my blog designed for me to project any opinions that may have arisen from the motorsport events I viewed over the previous weekend.

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Last week saw the return of on-track Formula One action. If you knew this, you’ve almost certainly read, listened and/or watched many of the hundreds of pieces of content that already cover every minute detail surrounding what happened over the course of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If you didn’t know this, you almost certainly don’t care for the sport enough to read through that type of content. Therefore, that’s not what I’m going to write about. #RaceWatch is meant to be my platform to voice opinions (and yours to respond, creating a discussion), so that’s what I’m going to do.

Firstly, Wednesday brought with it the final livery unveilings, with Haas and Alfa Romeo revealing their 2020 designs. What do I think about them then? Here’s my first thoughts on each teams’ livery:

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Alfa Romeo Orlen: The general consensus is positive, but I don’t see the fuss. Backwards of the cockpit is pretty much the same as last year (which is still pretty, don’t get me wrong), but the red stripes replacing the blue along the nose lose the welcome contrast, detracting from the overall look. Suits looks smart, with the drivers’ names integrated into the side stripe.

AlphaTauri: With the team being renamed in order to promote the Red Bull fashion brand, I had high hopes for the aesthetics of the team this year. The integration of the AlphaTauri logo onto the rear of the car is seriously bold and, from my perspective, looks magnificent. Maybe even the best on the grid this year? Suits are a clean off-white, and I like the AlphaTauri branding up the side of the right leg.

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Aston Martin Red Bull: Car looks identical, suits look identical. Not even a testing livery to give fans just a sliver of excitement is disappointingly monotonous from a brand which is quite literally all about energy.

BWT Racing •: Big fan of the angled BWT logo, it’s bold, distinctive and different. The loss of SportPesa has improved the look of the car, removing the dull purple which never quite fit with the rest of the livery. Suits are certainly bright, I’m undecided on whether I like it or not. The suits do show sweat stains quite easily, however, which is certainly not ideal.

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Ferrari: Livery looks much the same as last year, although that’s no bad thing. The black works well with the red, but the font used for the numbers doesn’t look good. Suits added black on the sides, which looks smart.

Haas: Car has pretty much reverted back to the pre-Rich Energy days, which was a safe yet fairly uninspiring look. Duplicate the previous sentence for my opinion on the overalls.

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Mclaren: A backwards step from last year. The distinctive triangular transition from the orange front to the blue back has been replaced by unimaginative blocks of blue on the shark fin and the sidepod. On the other hand, the drivers’ overalls have improved, with the stripes of orange across the left leg looking smarter and cleaner than last years’ transition.

Mercedes: The blue Petronas stripe has gone from being a beautiful, blended accent into a stuck-on afterthought; the Ineos red doesn’t suit the livery at all, especially around the air intake behind the driver’s head. Race suits continue their smart, clean look, which I’m a fan of.

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Renault: The all-black look makes the nose of the car look a bit strange from some angles. Apparently, there are matte elements in the gloss-black livery, but I’ve not noticed these in pictures. The suits have retained their yellow touches, which perhaps reaffirms the suspicions this is purely a testing livery.

Rokit Williams: Whilst attempting to avoid the clichéd toothpaste comparisons, the Williams manages to both look like a lazy design, yet still better than last year, although that may be testament to how dreadful the 2019 livery was. Overalls do look smart, mind, with the pale blue accents.

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What do you think? Let me know below which livery is your favourite.

Moving on to the Barcelona action, then, and it seems like the championship is already over. Mercedes set some blistering times, topping the charts on both day 1 and day 3. This included a flying lap by Bottas that was over a second quicker than anyone else, and would’ve seen him qualify in second at last years’ Spanish Grand Prix. It is really quite incredible how, year after year, Mercedes keep coming out with these new innovations that keep them ahead of the rest of the field. Take the DAS system, for example. A completely unique system that was already banned for 2021, meaning it is only ever useful for a single season at most! There’s just no let-up from the Brackley-based outfit.

The influence of the silver cars can be seen up and down the paddock, and this is most evident from their close factory neighbours in Racing Point. With 2020 being the first season that Lawrence Stroll’s investment can truly take effect, it seems the Racing Point engineers have chosen to spend it on magnifying glasses in order to pore over every detail of last years’ title winner, with the hope that their emulation of the Silver Arrows’ design can replicate the Silver Arrows’ results. Times looked promising, but it is testing, so nobody really knows.

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Although the championship may be over before it has started this year, at least everyone started on time this year. After missing two and a half days of testing in 2019, Williams were the first of all on track this week. George Russell summed up the situation perfectly when, during his Wednesday press conference, he stated that testing was going much better than last year, as “last year the car was in pieces”. Whilst the reports that no fundamental changes have been made to the Williams car over the winter are worrying, the expectation that the team can only get closer to the rest of the pack is keeping them united.

Finally, the red team. The general consensus in the paddock is that Ferrari might indeed have gone backwards, dropping them firmly behind Red Bull in the pecking order. Team boss Mattia Binotto has stated that the concepts on the car are “quite extreme”, and it certainly appears different to the majority of its rivals. An example of this is the nosecone, as most of the grid have opted for the slender, curved nose. Ferrari, however, has a very distinct, almost blocky shape to their front, creating a significantly larger frontal area to it in comparison to the other cars. Of course, Ferrari could be sandbagging after all, as not a single lap time counts until we get to Australia.

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It may not be long before the pecking order becomes more apparent, as we only have to wait a couple more days until testing resumes. Do you think, then, that Ferrari really are lagging behind their rivals? Whose pace has been surprising to you, quick or slow? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!

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