Who was fastest on the Barcelona main straight?

Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari SF70H Barcelona test main straight Foto Ferrari

The new generation of F1 cars with wider tyres and more downforce should have a lower maximum speed than last year, but engine manufacturers have made serious progress during the winter and were even faster than last year.

Top speed is affected by engine power, downforce settings and car’s rake, which increases the volume of air beneath the car and therefore the downforce and drag. In addition, the cars with more rake have a larger surface hitting the oncoming airflow which increases the drag, but front wing can be more efficient due to increased ground effect for being closer to the ground.

The fastest car in last year’s testing was Sauber with 346.1 km/h, Mercedes W07 clocked 338.5 km/h while Ferrari SF16-H mesured 336.4 km/h.

Ferrari made a big step forward with their new engine (062) with especially impressive reliability. Maximum speed that Ferrari achieved on the speed trap near the end of the straight (see track map below the table) was 340.6 km/h, only 1 km/h faster than Williams with Mercedes power unit.

Verstappen Red Bull RB13 Barcelona F1 2017 test start finish straight Foto Red Bull
Red Bull was fastest Renault powered car on the Barcelona start finish line

Ferrari definitely has more downforce and drag than Williams, but FW40 used Spec 1 Mercedes M08 engine. Spec 2 engine was tested only by Mercedes’ factory team, but all three teams will use it in Australia.

Ferrari SF70H has accelerated the most from the finish line to the speed trap near the end of the straight (47.2 km/h) while Mercedes’s speed increased by 1.3 km/h less than Ferrari. Mercedes had similar top speed as Williams with the Spec 1 engine, but FW40 certainly has less downforce than W08 (and thus lower air resistance).

Red Bull RB13 and Renault R.S.17 were fastest Renault powered cars on the main straight while Toro Rosso were 2 km/h slower at the end of the straight. Red Bull is 3km/h faster than Renault at the start finish line because of superior traction and downforce while Renault caught up in the second part of the straight, just like Toro Rosso.

Sauber was near the bottom of the table with last year’s Ferrari 056/5 engine, but the rock bottom is reserved for McLaren that couldn’t use the full potential of Honda’s power unit because of reliability issues.

Interestingly, although Force India uses Mercedes engines, they were barely faster than Sauber and McLaren. Their VJM10 was 5 km/h slower than Williams with the same engine at the start finish line already while the difference by the end of the straight is greater than 12 km/h. One of the reasons for the higher air resistance are wide sidepods that should be redesigned for fifth race of the season in Spain and the extreme rake of 2.1 degrees, more than any other car in pre-season testing.

BARCELONA 2017 TEST MAXIMUM SPEEDS

Car Engine Speed trap Start finish line Difference
Ferrari SF70H Ferrari 062 340.6 km/h 293.4 km/h 47.2 km/h
Williams FW40 Mercedes M08 339.6 km/h 294.2 km/h 45.4 km/h
Mercedes W08 Mercedes M08 338.5 km/h 292.6 km/h 45.9 km/h
Haas F1 VF-17 Ferrari 062 333.3 km/h 291.1 km/h 42.2 km/h
Red Bull RB13 Renault R.E.17 331.2 km/h 293.4 km/h 37.8 km/h
Renault R.S.17 Renault R.E.17 331.2 km/h 290.3 km/h 40.9 km/h
Toro Rosso STR12 Renault R.E.17 329.2 km/h 288.0 km/h 41.2 km/h
Force India VJM10 Mercedes M08 327.2 km/h 289.5 km/h 37.7 km/h
Sauber C36 Ferrari 059/5 325.3 km/h 287.2 km/h 38.1 km/h
McLaren MCL32 Honda RA617H 324.3 km/h 285.7 km/h 38.6 km/h
*Data: Auto Motor und Sport

BARCELONA 2016 TEST MAXIMUM SPEEDS

1. Sauber Ferrari 346,1 km/h
2. Renault 341,7 km/h
3. Williams Mercedes 340,6 km/h
4. Mercedes 338,5 km/h
5. Ferrari 336,4 km/h
6. Manor Mercedes 336,4 km/h
7. Red Bull TAG 335,4 km/h
8. Force India Mercedes 334,3 km/h
9. Toro Rosso Ferrari 334,3 km/h
10. Haas Ferrari 331,2 km/h
11. McLaren Honda 330,2 km/h

 CIRCUIT DE BARCELONA  – CATALUNYA

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