As the sun dawned on the penultimate day of testing, 10 garages and cars roared into life determined to make the most of what little time is left, on what was for some their last day in the car before the season officially commences.
It was Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Ferrari who stole the morning session. The German trounced the best time set during testing so far, a 1:19.323 by Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Valtteri Bottas, with a 1:19.024 on the ultra softs; he was only three-tenths slower on the softs. The issue was confounded, however, by the fact that the Ferrari driver apparently eased off in the third sector after being the quickest through the first two, suggesting there could be more to come from the prancing horse; if you combined all three of his best sector times, he’d be into the 1:18s. His afternoon was spent completing a long run, encompassing a couple of pitstops in a race simulation, and he finished the day with the most laps, a total of 156.
Lewis Hamilton wasn’t far off Vettel’s pace, managing a 1:19.352 on the same tyre compounds (ultra soft). Mercedes were one of a few teams who predominantly concentrated on longer runs, but the Brit was still able to remain just over three tenths away from the Ferrari and stay second overall.
Esteban Ocon was a surprise third for Sahara Force India, achieving a respectable 1:20.161 on the ultra soft tyres.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s reliability issues made a comeback during Daniil Kvyat’s 77th lap. The Russian came to a halt at Turn 5. But he was able to venture back out and finished the day six short of 100. The team ran a mixture of long and short runs, analysing the car’s behaviour over the various tyre compounds and working out the best strategies to optimise their performance.
Haas F1 Team had cause for celebration after Kevin Magnussen managed to achieve the team’s quickest time in testing. His 1:20.504 placed him fifth overall, and meant that the top five were separated by only 1.5 seconds.
Red Bull Racing enjoyed a niggle-free day without any re-occurrence of yesterday’s issues. Daniel Ricciardo completed 128 laps, interrupted partly by the red flags, comprising of short runs in the morning and long runs post-lunch. Their pace appeared to have slipped slightly since the beginning of the week but could be the result of an increased fuel load. His best time of 1:20.824 was enough for sixth.
McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team suffered another troubled day with Stoffel Vandoorne breaking down on track shortly before lunch. He was sent back out before the compulsory break but came to a halt again after just two laps. The issues were blamed on an electrical fault. There was a glimmer of hope for the Woking-based team; the Belgian had managed to set their fastest time of the past two weeks during his 33 lap-run, a 1:21.348.
The ensuing delay meant that Vandoorne only returned to the track with two hours left on the clock, managing only 15 further laps during the afternoon session after limping back to the pits with thirty minutes to go. He didn’t better his time, resulting in a seventh place finish.
Another red flag halted play during the afternoon; this time it was for Jolyon Palmer. The Renault Sport F1 Team driver had just reached half a century of laps before stopping at Turn 10. Palmer has suffered a few set backs during testing, and his running this afternoon was scheduled following a re-shuffle to ensure both drivers achieved adequate practice.
Palmer found himself finishing the day in the middle of a Sauber F1 Team sandwich, with Pascal Wehrlein sitting in ninth and Marcus Ericsson eleventh. Sauber divided their programme between the two, with Ericsson on long runs in the morning before Wehrlein took over with short runs in the afternoon.
Felipe Massa may have topped the time sheets on Tuesday, but pace certainly wasn’t on Williams Martini Racing’s agenda for today. The team spent the day propping up the leaderboard after both Massa and Lance Stroll completed a series of fuel-laden long runs, lapping in the 1:24s.
|Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.024||156||US|
|Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:19.352||52||US|
|Esteban Ocon||FRA||Sahara Force India||1:20.161||137||US|
|Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1:20.416||94||SS|
|Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:20.504||119||US|
|Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||1:20.824||128||S|
|Stoffel Vandoorne||BEL||McLaren Honda Formula One Team||1:21.348||48||US|
|Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:21.819||95||S|
|Pascal Wehrlein||GER||Sauber F1 Team||1:22.402||44||S|
|Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault Sport F1 Team||1:22.418||53||S|
|Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber F1 Team||1:23.330||88||S|
|Felipe Massa||BRZ||Williams Martini Racing||1:24.443||80||M|
|Lance Stroll||CAN||Williams Martini Racing||1:24.863||85||S|