Kimi Räikkönen has ended the allocated wet/dry day of the first Formula 1 pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as the quickest driver, topping both the morning and afternoon’s running in his Ferrari SF70H.
With the sport’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli moving to a wider construction of tyre for the 2017 season, it was critical for the teams to experience some wet-weather conditions ahead of the season proper. With the first three days’ testing run under complete dry conditions, the circuit was artificially watered by eight tankers on Wednesday evening and again on Thursday morning before the first session got underway.
With dry and sunny conditions greeting the field, however, there was limited opportunity for wet tyre running before the circuit became too dry. This prompted Pirelli to arrange for further track wetting to occur in the lunch break.
The lap times tumbled again when the drivers switched to slick tyres and it was on Pirelli’s Soft-compound tyres that he delivered the day’s fastest time, a 1:20.872 that proved unbeatable.
The Finn’s time was almost a second quicker than anyone else, although the lap itself was still around a second slower than the similarly Soft-shod effort delivered on Wednesday’s running by teammate Sebastian Vettel.
That being said, the relative day-to-day lap times are a largely meaningless affair given the variety of programmes each team would be running over the course of a day.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen gave the RB13 some much needed track mileage, finishing second on the timesheets with a total of 85 laps completed for the day.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer finished the day third-fastest after taking over the RS17’s cockpit from teammate Nico Hülkenberg in the afternoon. The Englishman was just nine-thousandths of a second slower than Verstappen, running an identical engine to the Dutch teenager. By contrast, Hülkenberg was the slowest of the timed runners and clocked up 51 laps in his half-day of running.
The driver with the most Thursday mileage was Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who notched up an impressive 118 laps in the VF-17 to make up for the loss of track time the day before. The Frenchman’s fastest lap came on the Super Soft tyres.
Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi had his second of running in Sauber’s Ferrari-powered C36. Deputising for the injured Pascal Wehrlein, a late run on the Ultra Soft tyres moved him up to fifth on the timesheets in a day where he clocked 84 laps for the Swiss team.
Sergio Pérez returned to driving duties for Force India and managed a productive 82 laps for the Silverstone outfit, while McLaren rookie Stoffel Vandoorne had his second day in the Honda-powered MCL32 and tallied 66 laps – a high reliability day by the team’s poor pre-season standards thus far.
The first chinks in Mercedes’ armour were revealed when Lewis Hamilton was unable to take to the track at all in the morning session thanks to an electrical fault. The issue was finally resolved in the half-hour before lunch, and the team sent teammate Valtteri Bottas out for a few shakedown laps before the Finn’s afternoon session.
Bottas’ complete afternoon programme yielded a total of 68 laps, another valuable race distance worth of mileage for the F1W08.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s pre-season dramas continued, with the STR12 managing a solitary wet-weather installation lap at the hands of Daniil Kvyat. A power unit problem was subsequently diagnosed, and the team didn’t return to the track for the remainder of the day while it performed a complete power unit change.
Williams also withdrew from proceedings before the day’s action even began, citing the substantial damage its FW40 sustained when rookie driver Lance Stroll shunted the car on Wednesday afternoon.
|2017 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 4 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:20.872||92|
|2.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:21.769||85|
|3.||Jolyon Palmer||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:21.778||39|
|4.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:22.309||116|
|5.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:22.401||84|
|6.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:22.534||82|
|7.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MP4-31||1:22.576||66|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:23.443||68|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:24.974||51|
|10.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR12||no time||1|
|11.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||no time||0|
|12.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||no time||0|
Image via Scuderia Ferrari