Verstappen fastest on day one
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest on the first day of the third test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The Dutchman completed 150 laps on his way to the top with the fastest time of a 1:17.5.
Renaults Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel were second and third. Verstappen set his fastest time in the final hour of the day on supersofts to edge out his former teammate. Vettel ten jumped to the top first, followed by the Spaniard and then the Dutchman responded but all the laps were within a tenth.
Romain Grosjean finished fourth, after setting his best lap during the morning.
This test is important for all the teams, but more importantly, Ferrari who underperformed in Sunday’s race, Vettel managed a hundred and thirty-six laps on his way to third, a tenth off Verstappen.
The tyres with the thinner tread used at last weekend’s race, and which will be used again at the French and British GP
Mercedes brought a new front wing, with Lewis Hamilton continuing where the team left off in March with over two race distances on his way to sixth.
Stoffel Vandoorne managed eight five laps on his way to seventh. His teammate Lando Norris and Oliver Turvey took McLaren to two hundred and eighteen laps.
There were other Brits in action too, Williams Oliver Rowland was within four-tenths Sergey Sirotkin’s fastest lap in qualifying. Red Bull’s Jake Dennis and anglo-Korean Jack Aitken made their debuts.
Antonio Giovinazzi made a series of incremental improvements during the afternoon, ending up in eighth place, 2.165s down in his Sauber.
McLaren and Force India ran two cars for Pirelli tyre development, despite an off Norris was the fastest while Oliver Turvey was thirteenth.
Mercedes driver George Russell was eleventh in the Force India, ahead of Sean Gelael.
Grosjean an “easy target” – Grosjean
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner believes that Romain Grosjean has become an “easy target” and his penalty for his crash at the Spanish Grand Prix was unfair.
Grosjean has been awarded a three-place grid penalty for the Monaco Grand Prix, after being found to have trigged the first lap pile-up which saw him, Renault Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly out on the first lap.
The stewards criticised Grosjean’s decision to accelerate when he began spinning at Barcelona’s Turn 3, insisting he could have kept his car on the outside of the track rather than looping into the path of the rest of the field.
Steiner said the penalty was like “kicking a guy in the face when he’s on his knees” and felt Grosjean had been treated more harshly than other drivers would have been.
Steiner says Grosjean said “’I had the decision to make: do I stand still or do I go through?’ And he went through and he knocked two [cars] out. If he had stood still, we don’t know, maybe he would have knocked five out.”
“It’s never a good place to be, in the middle, whatever you do – that’s my point of view. For me it’s a start incident – whatever you do, afterwards, it will be wrong.” Steiner says it was a millisecond decision that the Frenchman need to make.
Saying “We need to help him. I said to him, ‘I cannot blame you for this. You tried to get the best start you could, it didn’t work out, move on. Focus on Monte Carlo, we know you’re strong there, just try to do your best.’”
Mercedes says focus on on-track performance priority
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are insisting that a new contract has only been delayed in order to let the team focus on its on-track issues last month.
The four times champion was expected to sign a two year deal over the winter, but the renewal of his contract is still yet to be agreed with the German team. After meeting with board members from Mercedes’ parent company Daimler over the grand prix weekend, Hamilton insists a deal will be signed in the “near future”.
He told ESPN “We’ve had all the bosses here and there is not a single person in the team or at least the hierarchy of the team that has any concerns, as far as I am aware.”
“We do talk about it and we are not really far away from finishing things so it will happen hopefully in the near future.” Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff says the teams pirorty over the last two months has been beating Ferrari.
Adding “Finalising a contract is something that you need to involve yourself in and spend time, and we both decided we’d park it for a minute where we were. But it’s almost all sorted and we will pick it up at the right time”
No 1,000th race for Silverstone
Formula One has decided not to move next years British Grand Prix to April so it could be 1000th Grand Prix because of “sub optimal” weather.
The sports owners Liberty Media were considering swapping the Chinese Grand Prix with Silverstone, which held the first world championship race in 1950. However, Commercial Managing Director Sean Bratches admitted he had underestimated the volatility of the climate in the UK.
Bratches told Reuters “Silverstone was the first grand prix and we would have liked to see the 1,000th go back to the first. I think there’s a nice story and a nice harmony there.”
“But when I was told, being a relatively new Brit, that the weather is sub-optimal in April, they warded me off that quickly.” The race look set to be held in Shanghai, which is seen by Liberty as a key growth market,
Speaking about China, he said, “We’ve spent a lot of time on this topic and looking at different circumstances, weather patterns. China is a great place to race. It’s part of our future and we’re excited about going there for that particular race.”
Teams go hyper for Hypersofts
Pirelli has announced the drivers tyre allocations for next weekends Monaco Grand Prix, for next weekends race the Italian manufacturer has nominated the three softest compounds, the red supersoft, purple ultrasoft and pink hypersoft.
Both Mercedes and McLarens have gone for nine sets of hypersofts, while Lewis Hamilton and both McLarens have two of both the ultrasofts and supersofts, Valtteri Bottas has three ultrasofts and a single ultrasofts
Both Ferrari’s, Force India’s and Toro Rosso’s have ten hypersofts, two ultrasofts and a single supersoft. While Red Bull, William’s and Renault have chosen eleven hypersofts and single sets of ultra and supersoft tyres.
Both Haas’s have nine hypersofts, but Romain Grosjean has three ultrasofts and a supersoft, with Kevin Magnussen having two of both the Ultrasofts and supersofts.
While Sauber has ten hypersofts, Marcus Ericsson has one ultrasoft and two supersoft, Charles Leclerc has two ultrasofts and a supersofts.