Plenty of talk during the first week of pre-season testing in Barcelona pertained to Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes after a fascinating three days of running that kept us guessing who had the upper hand.
Lando Norris topped day one before Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went quickest on Thursday, and Mercedes locked out the front two spots on the final day – Sir Lewis Hamilton going quickest following a difficult day two for the Briton.
Indeed on that second day, during which Mercedes managed 106 laps compared to 149 for Ferrari and an immense 126 for Daniel Ricciardo alone, George Russell seemed to think that it was the Scuderia and the Woking squad that held the upper hand.
“Some teams are looking pretty fast, a red team and an orange team in particular look very, very competitive,” he told Sky F1.
His 37-year-old teammate added that the team “have some obstacles to overcome,” as all the signs pointed to the Silver Arrows’ insinuations in 2019 that they did not have the quickest car, only to embark on a dominant season.
With all three of the aforementioned teams looking particularly strong, one team that appeared to go under the radar was Red Bull, who did not top the timesheets on any of the three days and, between them, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez managed 358 laps – 80 less than the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Dr Helmut Marko agreed that, overall, Ferrari and McLaren appear to have made up substantial ground compared to last season, but maintains that his team are going to be up there throughout 2022.
“Ferrari seems to be strong and McLaren is there too,” he told Motorsport-Magazin.
“We believe that we are among the frontrunners.”
Red Bull will be placing more updates on the car ahead of the second test in Bahrain on 10-12 March, before putting together the finished piece ahead of the first race of the season at the same venue.
Due to the new technical regulations, Dr Marko suggested everyone will be aiming to complete their machines “as late as possible.”