After a busy few weeks of car launches the ten Formula 1 teams finally got the chance to take their 2020 challengers on the track at the first pre-season testing session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. 

This week there will be three more days of testing in Barcelona, starting on Wednesday, as the teams and drivers fine-tune their preparations ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 15 March. 

Here we take a look at five things we have learned so far from pre-season testing…

1. DAS system causes a stir

Reigning constructors’ champions Mercedes grabbed the headlines last week after unveiling their new Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system. 

The BBC reports that Mercedes have been cleared to use DAS in the 2020 campaign but the FIA has confirmed it would not be legal under the new regulations being introduced in 2021. 

A clause in the 2021 rules state: “The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel.”

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2. Bottas is the flying Finn’s Lawrence Barretto said Mercedes have looked “very, very, very good” in Barcelona. 

The Silver Arrows, who have won six successive constructors’ titles, enjoyed three fruitful days of testing in the new W11. 

Valtteri Bottas proved he was the “flying Finn” as he recorded the fastest lap of the week – a sensational 1min 15.732secs. Bottas’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the reigning world champion, was second on the timesheets.

3. Are Ferrari holding back?

Described as a downbeat assessment, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted that he is “not as optimistic as last year”. He added: “Some of the others are faster than us at the moment. Looking at the picture at the front comparing it to ourselves, I think we are not as fast.”

The Prancing Horse’s new SF1000 seemed “off the pace”, says, but could Ferrari be holding back their true potential? 

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Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel said: “I think right now the target is not to prove the maximum power of the engine, the target is to do as many laps as possible.

“Ramping up the engine and so on, it’s probably not something you want to do in testing and certainly not to show everyone.”

Giving his verdict of the first week,’s Balazs Szabo believes Ferrari are “in trouble” after Vettel’s car “suffered an engine problem on the final morning of the first week of testing, forcing the team to make an engine change for the afternoon session”.

4. Russell: no way Williams will be off the pace 

After their torrid 2019 season Williams Racing are looking for massive improvements. 

Speaking at the conclusion of the first pre-season test British driver George Russell is confident that the team will have a better year in 2020. 

Russell said: “There’s no way we’ll be as far off the pace as we were last year. Last year on average we were one second behind [and] you can say that all the other teams at least have found three tenths – so for us to be fighting we need to have found at least that amount. 

“If we can achieve what we’re aiming for then I think it’ll be a great job, which is to be fighting with other teams. But we just need to see – [this week] will be a better understanding but realistically, Melbourne is the time everybody will know where they stand.”

5. Ocon expects lap records to be broken 

Renault’s Esteban Ocon secured the fourth-fastest lap on the timesheets behind Mercedes duo Bottas and Hamilton and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen

Commenting on the pace of the new cars, the Frenchman predicts that lap records will be broken in 2020.

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Ocon said: “I have never gone that fast in some corners before. It feels good. 

“It is definitely exciting because we are going to go faster and faster. We’re probably going to break all the records this year of lap times.”

F1 2020 season guide: grand prix calendar, race start times, TV coverage, championship betting odds

For analysis of the biggest sport stories – and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news – try The Week magazine. Start your trial today 



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