What we’ve learnt at Bahrain Test Two

Still very much the favourites for 2014 with paddock insiders convinced the Silver Arrows boast a clear and potentially decisive speed advantage over the field entering the new campaign.

Although Mercedes have denied Pirelli’s declaration that Lewis Hamilton’s table-topping effort on Saturday night, which all-but matched the fastest time of the test by Williams’ Felipe Massa, was produced on a used set of softs, the pace of the Merc looks prodigious. Hamilton went faster still in the first sector of his second flying lap on the supersofts and his warning afterwards that the W05 still hadn’t been fully stretched rang out with menace. This is a quick car, no question.

Yet the W05 is by no means without flaw. Just consider the litany of problems the team endured throughout the third and final test of the winter: persistent overheating on Day One when the team had to abandon their attempt to run a Melbourne race specification, a spin for Hamilton and a gearbox failure on Day Two, an eight-hour overnight engine change that curtailed their Day Three running, and nearly four hours of track time lost on Day Four due to another gearbox complication. If any of those problems are repeated in Australia, their speed advantage will count for naught.

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