Before pre-season testing had even begun, I predicted that the storied team of Sir Frank Williams would take an aggressive fight to the defending champions of Mercedes AMG Petronas. I had visions of dogfights between the Silver Arrows and the Martini liveried team. Finally, I thought, instead of a rivalry within a team, you would see a rivalry between two teams. The grass would be greener this season.
After today’s testing ended with Mercedes Rosberg 1.2 seconds faster than anyone, my balloon deflated faster than Rosie O’Donell woofs down a hot dog. I would now rather see the once reigning Williams sip Martinis instead of Mercedes having them in their rear view mirrors.
In an interview with the Brazilian Felipe Massa, he described how the Williams Martini Racing team had what it took to take the fight to Mercedes and were on their way, already posting faster times than they had at this time last year, progression is everything. So is unrepentant hope.
So far with the 2015 pre season testing, it’s a round robin scenario with who is the fastest and who is struggling to even put a few laps on the board. Frankly it means very little as none of the teams are on equal footing. Different tires, compounds, fuel loads, aero packages, engine mapping, you get it. The E train to ad nauseam.
It appears as if Formula One will become a repeat of 2014. Yes everyone has improved, but so has Mercedes so where does that leave us? Exactly where we left off last year.
On a brighter note, Ferrari having had a handful of fastest times in Jerez and showing consistency, it appears as if was a positive and solid outing for the Scuderia. On the other hand, it must be frustrating to Vettel to think he’ll be looking at the silver cars trying to kill each other and disappearing down the road rather than fighting for a win.
Felipe Nasr enjoyed a surprising outcome with having set multiple fastest times at Jerez and Barcelona with the Sauber C34, the Ferrari engine showing consistent behavior across the board. Granted all on soft tires.
Pastor Maldonado was able to put Lotus back on the board to give hopes of recovering from last years non-season and long list of issues. Romain Grosjean (can’t shake that his name sounds like a nouveau salad) showed he’s lost nothing in talent but the Lotus has gained nothing on the Mercedes duo.
McLaren finally managed to get the Honda powered car to run for 100 laps before having problems and that gives them hope that they wont be last on the grid. Maybe.
We didn’t hear Williams worrying about putting a number on the board and instead they seemed content to becoming familiar with the car. But has tension already started? Williams was able to set the fastest time with Massa in the car on Thursday, but Mercedes responded with a time 1.2 seconds faster today as if to give everyone a final kick in the groin before Australia. The ultimate parting shot.
It was just Thursday Massa was saying how he thought Mercedes still had the edge and they have yet to show their potential. Well, Felipe, I hope your team feels as confident as you are because a storm is brewing inside the Mercedes garage and this could be only the sound of thunder.
But what does Mercedes have to hide? After today’s trouncing on the time sheets, nothing. They simply put the final psychological nail in the proverbial coffins of everyone’s title hopes for 2015, as predicted by none other than Bernie Eccelestone.
Only 15 days remain until the lights go out in the Australian town of Melbourne and one thing is for certain, Williams hope, there’s that word again, that they will be closer than last season to giving the Silver Arrows of Deutschland a run for its money at least at a few races. It’s like kissing your sister, though I have no knowledge of such matters.
Remember the final race in Abu Dhabi? “Lewis back off” and “Lewis, get back on it, put the hammer down!”. It gave us all excitement beyond the battle of the Mercedes teammates and hope for 2015. It appears as if 2015 is going to be a battle for the “Best of the rest”.
Do I think it’s still too early to make any conclusions? Of course, but what were we thinking last season when a reigning world championship team wasn’t succeeding and another was rising? Were we thinking that Williams, Renault and Ferrari would be faster? They are. Were we thinking that Mercedes would be slower? They aren’t.
It’s going to take a sea change in the engine and competition rules for 2017 to allow real competition in Formula One. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but when the green is green technology, it isn’t always better when it comes to making a once great series great again.