Now that football season is over, we once again turn to Formula One for Sunday sports excitement. Although the first race is still five weeks away, the action is well underway as the teams lap the Circuito de Jerez during pre-season testing in Spain.
Formula One uses the 2.75-mile course for winter testing, where drivers get used to their new rides and engineers sort out the bugs. It provides fans with their first glimpse at the new hardware, and gives the pundits plenty to chew on as they try to figure out who’s up and who’s down.
A lot is riding on these tests because the sport’s governing body, the FIA, limits teams to a little more than 9,300 miles of testing during the calendar year. The idea is to keep costs down and prevent the teams with truckloads of cash (McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes) from trouncing those struggling to keep the lights on (Sauber) before the season’s even begun.
The teams are limited to four three-day sessions between now and March 5. So far, there haven’t been many surprises. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull made strong showings while McLaren struggled with its new Honda powerplant. Williams impressed, Lotus missed Day One entirely and Force India is sitting out the first round of tests—with some wondering if the team will be ready for the season opener in Melbourne on March 15.
Sebastian Vettel is said to be happy with his Ferrari, Sauber rookie Felipe Nasr posted the second-fastest lap time on Monday, and Valterri Bottas showed Williams’ strong performance last year was no fluke. Defending champion Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Nico Rosberg racked up mile after mile in their Mercedes, while Jenson Button, ever upbeat, remained optimistic despite McLaren’s completing just 17 laps in two days.
This is the second year F1 has run hybrid drivetrains—F1 calls them “power units”—that use a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6s and a pair of energy recovery systems that pull in juice from exhaust pressure and braking. And we’ve still got essentially the same aerodynamic regulations as in 2014, thought there were some revisions that make the noses a little less atrocious than they were last year.
Hit the gallery above to see all the new liveries, including an amazing camouflaged look from Red Bull that we wish would hang around for the whole season.