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F1 testing analysis: Jerez speed traps expose Mercedes advantage

Ferrari's performance grabbed the headlines at last week's Jerez Formula 1 test, but closer analysis of speed trap data shows there may still be a gulf between it and Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were quickest on three of the four days in Spain last week, while Felipe Nasr in the Ferrari-powered Sauber took the top time on the other day.

Jerez test round-up: Ferrari on top

That prompted talk that Ferrari may have made significant gains with its power unit over the winter to become a challenger for the dominant Mercedes outfit.

But, according to speed trap figures that have been obtained by AUTOSPORT, Mercedes still appears to have a significant margin in power terms.

With the top speeds of all the cars measured towards the end of the back straight at Jerez before braking for the Dry Sack hairpin, it is telling that the top three fastest cars were Mercedes-powered.

10 things we learned from Jerez

Felipe Massa in the Williams and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes were both clocked at 307.6 km/h on the middle two days of the test, with Pastor Maldonado recording 306.8km/h in the Mercedes-powered Lotus.

The nearest challengers to the Mercedes were Max Verstappen in the Renault-powered Toro Rosso and Marcus Ericsson in the Ferrari-powered Sauber - both of whom recorded 303.3 km/h.

Raikkonen was the only Ferrari driver to record a representative speed, because Sebastian Vettel's efforts on the first two days of testing could not be logged due to transponder problems.

Although Ferrari set the fastest time of the test on the final day with Raikkonen, his top speed through the trap was nearly 7 km/h down on the Mercedes.

While the speed trap data cannot provide a definitive answer on the power of each engine, for downforce levels, fuel and engine settings can affect the results, it does offer a hint that Ferrari and Renault still have to produce more than they did at Jerez if they are to threaten Mercedes.

SPEED TRAP FIGURES
Jerez F1 test, February 1-4

1 Felipe Massa (Williams-Mercedes) 307.6 km/h
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 307.6 km/h
3 Pastor Maldonado (Lotus-Mercedes) 306.8 km/h
4 Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso-Renault) 303.3 km/h
5 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber-Ferrari) 303.3 km/h
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 300.8 km/h
7 Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull-Renault) 294.2 km/h
8 Jenson Button (McLaren-Honda) 277.6 km/h

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