Formula 1

F1 rivals mixed after Ferrari hint revival at Jerez

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Ferrari remains the talk of the F1 paddock following their impressive pace at the opening pre-season test in Jerez last week.

The question on everyone's lips, however, is did the Scuderia leading three of the four days in Spain, and Ferrari power also top on the other, signal a much more significant improvement in 2015 and perhaps one that can see them challenge at the front or was it just the Prancing Horse completing several glory runs while everyone else continued to hide their true pace.

While there are very few obvious signs of either scenario being true it has certainly produced a mixed reaction from those they will be fighting on the grid this season.

Ricciardo wary after "strong" start

Some believe this could signal a Ferrari renaissance as James Allison's first full creation suits the style of its two drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and the overall package on the SF15-T is much improved from last year.

"We are aware of the laps Mercedes did and the lap-time Ferrari put down, which looked good," Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo told the official Australian Grand Prix podcast.

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"We expect nothing less from Mercedes to be honest, but Ferrari looked like they came out pretty strong."

The Aussie also suggested, however, that while the pace of his former team-mate and the 'Iceman' had caught his attention, perhaps the story will be different when the teams face more realistic weather conditions and visit a more representative circuit in the form of Barcelona, which they will do for the second and final tests starting on the 19th February.

"For now they look good, but it is one of those things. It is still early and Jerez is a place we don't race at, plus we never drive in conditions that are five-to-eight degrees [temperature]. And the track is really, really abrasive.

"I think Barcelona will get us a step closer to that. But not taking anything away from that, they have come out in good form."

Hamilton hints at glory runs

On the contrary, however, world champion Lewis Hamilton has played down Ferrari's pace in Jerez as data suggests his Mercedes is still the quickest car, at least in a straight line, on the grid.

“I haven't really been looking [at rivals]," he told Crash.net. "I've just been doing my own thing.

"I'm sure we're on different fuel loads to others - they look like they're doing shorter runs, more qualifying modes, which we are not.”

Indeed it was all about distance for the Silver Arrows at Jerez as they completed over 500 laps over the four days though did have a couple of small issues that suggested the new W06 is still not completely free from unreliability.

Also the Sauber's and Ferrari's, who were the quickest two teams on all four days, completed their best time on the soft compound Pirelli tyres while most only used the medium compound to set their best times at the opening test.

Ferrari have made progress

What can't be denied, however, is Ferrari have certainly appeared to have turned a corner with the 2015 car, observers from Jerez have commented how the car looked much more driveable in all areas through the low-speed chicane to the high-speed sweeps and while yes there may have been some factors like less fuel and softer tyres Ferrari will still have a good amount of pace left to unleash at the first race in Australia.

Just how high can they aim this year? It is still too early to say, but if they can continue topping the timings in Barcelona and also complete some longer runs at a similar pace to those they expect to be battling with then Ferrari will certainly be more of a threat to the likes of Red Bull and Williams than perhaps we thought. 

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