Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fastest on the final day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona. The Finn set a 17.2 on the hypersoft tyre going seven tenths faster than the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.
Raikkonen’s time was the second-fastest time which the team had managed all winter. Ferrari has lead four of the eight days of testing, but since 2015 the team has only managed to mount one serious title challenge after a strong winter.
The Finn set his fastest lap during the morning to go five tenths faster than the McLaren of Alonso. It was a decent day running for the Spaniard who managed ninety-three laps, despite the continuing woes for the team.
The day started with an engine failure during the morning, the teams fifth this week. But the Spaniard did jump briefly to the top of the times, however, lost his fastest lap after he exceeded track limits.
Alonso outpaced the works Renault of Carlos Sainz by three tenths with the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo fourth, over a second off the pace. The trio of Renault powered cars covered by eight-tenths of a second.
Ricciardo told Sky Sports “I think we will be close enough to be in the hunt. It’s been a better winter than last year.”
“Ferrari turned it up the last couple of days but we are there or thereabouts. It looks like Ferrari can challenge Mercedes if we can’t and it could be quite close.”
Sainz himself also suffering reliability problems as a gearbox problem halted his running midday. Sainz was two tenths faster than Ricciardo, who didn’t set a time on the hypersoft tyres.
Haas has had a quiet winter, Romain Grosjean clocking up the miles again before an impressive run put him fifth and the Frenchman led the mileage charts completing almost two and three quarters race distances.
Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton continued Mercedes lead on laps with the team racking up two hundred and one laps. While Mercedes has not set a great lap time they have proved reliable. Bottas could have done by far the fastest time of the winter if he completed the lap on hypersofts.
Brendon Hartley once again underlining the step forward Honda has made in reliability, as he managed one hundred and fifty-six laps going seventh behind Bottas.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon was eighth fastest managing one hundred and sixty-three laps, ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
The two Williams drivers were split by Hamilton’s morning time at the bottom of the timesheets, with Sergey Sirotkin, who enjoyed the majority of the day’s running, 0.8s faster than teammate Lance Stroll.
After eight days of testing, it would look as if Mercedes continue to be the team to beat, however, its widely expected that the pressure from Ferrari and Red Bull are closer than they were last season. The midfield also remains close, but can McLaren close up with engine supplier Renault?
Teams now begin heading to Melbourne for the opening race in a fortnight, which will give answers to the questions remaining on pace and performance for the teams. The third test in Barcelona takes place in mid may following the Spanish Grand Prix.
- BARCELONA TEST TWO DAY THREE – Vettel sets the pace breaking records as lap times tumble
- BARCELONA TEST TWO DAY TWO – Ricciardo goes fastest breaking the unofficial lap record
- BARCELONA TEST TWO DAY ONE – Vettel leads on lap time and mileage, going two tenths faster than Bottas
- F1 Today – Second Test Special – 05/03/2018