Date: 8th March 2016 at 8:56am
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So that’s it. All the Formula One teams have done their on track preparations ahead of the 2016 Formula One World Championship opener in Australia.

The first test in Barcelona saw 10 teams thundering around the track with their brand new cars [Sauber used their old car], clocking up as much mileage as possible.

In a sense it was impossible to try and gauge the pecking order of teams for the upcoming 2016 season with all the teams running different set-ups, different fuel and different tyres.

All that we knew was that the Mercedes was virtually bullet proof, they didn’t once bolt on the softer sets of tyres during any of the four days, instead concentrating on race simulations.

They completed the test using just the one power-unit and the car didn’t reach breaking point, unlike the drivers who had to make unscheduled switches as they had completed so many miles.

Overall Mercedes completed 1,952 miles, only 133 miles shy of the combined total of Ferrari and Red Bull Racing who could prove to be their biggest competitors this season.

Pace wise they didn’t show their hand and so Ferrari impressed.

Ferrari came to the test with the biggest modifications of any team, a different aero package and brand new power-unit lay-out. Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the entire test and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen set the third fastest time.

So did anything change in the second and final test at Barcelona last week?

No, not really.

Pace wise, Ferrari continued to dominate with all four fastest times over the two tests set by Vettel and Raikkonen. Kimi’s time on day 3 of the second test on the ultra-soft tyres of 1minute 22.765s ended up being the fastest time of anyone across all four days.

Vettel set the second and third fastest times, whilst Kimi set a second lap in the top four.

The next closest was Nico Rosberg for Mercedes with a time of 1minute 23.022s on day one of the second test, but that was only set on the soft tyres.

Does that mean that Rosberg’s time would have been quicker had it been on the ultra-soft compound or even the super-soft tyre? Probably, but it’s impossible to know with fuel loads etc.

Ferrari and Mercedes did however do some race simulations with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. They used a combination of soft, medium and hard compound tyres, completing between 65-69 laps each.

On the soft tyre there wasn’t much to choose between all four drivers, Rosberg edged it on average of 0.5seconds per lap over an 8 lap stint. Ferrari only completed 7 laps, perhaps showing better tyre wear for Mercedes?

During the next phase everyone was close Kimi and Vettel both averaged times of 1m 29.2s during 25 and a 21 lap stint respectively on the medium tyre, whilst Rosberg and Hamilton were 0.1s off the pace on a 20 and 15 lap stint.

Perhaps a showing of better times on a longer stint for Ferrari on the medium tyre?

On the final stint and still on the medium compound tyre Hamilton edged it, during a stint of 19 laps his time was 0.8s faster than Rosberg and over 1 second faster than Vettel and 2 seconds faster than Kimi.

Perhaps we should just wait to Australia to second guess!!

Reverting back to one-lap pace, Nico Hulkenberg’s time for Force India on the super-soft during the first test held it’s own as the quickest outside of Mercedes and Ferrari. Just 0.3seconds off the pace of Ferrari, but again on a harder compound tyre.

Next up was Toro Rosso, with Carlos Sainz 0.024s off the pace of Hulkenberg.

With Felipe Massa’s Williams just 0.059s behind Sainz.

A bit of a gap then emerged between Red Bull Racing and Renault, with Daniel Ricciardo’s time 0.760s behind the Ferrari.

McLaren, Sauber, Manor and Haas rounded up the overall time sheets.

McLaren 0.781s behind Renault, Sauber 0.046s behind McLaren, Manor 0.153s behind Sauber and Haas 0.342s behind Manor.

From those times we can perhaps assume that it’s a two horse race at the front between Mercedes and Ferrari.

The battle for best of the rest could be strong between Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso, with Red Bull Racing and Renault at the tail end of that group for now.

At the back it’s another four team battle between the once great McLaren, alongside financial struggler’s Sauber and Manor and newbie team Haas.