Sebastian Vettel has shattered the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s unofficial track record, held for barely 24 hours by former teammate Daniel Ricciardo, with the German rocketing around the Montmelò circuit on the penultimate day of Formula 1 pre-season testing.
The Ferrari driver posted a eye-watering 1:17.182 effort on the Pirelli Hypersoft tyres – an average speed of almost 135mph – to end his qualifying-style runs. Having earlier broken Ricciardo’s lap record from yesterday with a 1:17.953, Vettel lowered that further with laps of 1:17.644 and 1:17.279 before pumping out his final hot lap.
He ended the morning, and ultimately the day, over a second clear of the rest of the field, which was rather surprisingly led by the Soft-shod Haas of Kevin Magnussen. The Dane’s quickest time also came during the morning session before he switched focus to longer runs in the afternoon.
That test program proved to be much the case up and down the pit lane, with the timesheet orders changing little as aside from the new entry times among the teams who split their running between two drivers.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly led a gaggle of Hypersoft-shod runners in the top half of the time sheets. The French youngster had earlier had his fastest lap time deleted for cutting the final chicane, but put in a late afternoon flying lap to snatch third-fastest overall.
He finished just ahead of Renault duo Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr., who respectively split their running across the morning and afternoon sessions.
Renault customers McLaren finally got some trouble-free mileage in the MCL33, with Stoffel Vandoorne going sixth-fastest and managing over 150 laps for the day.
Every team managed to achieve over 100 laps of running, in part down to improving reliability of their new machines and also a more disciplined showing from the drivers on track. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson caused the day’s only stoppage with a spin at Turn 4 late in the afternoon.
A number of teams focused on race simulations and consequently found themselves further down the time sheets than expected. Mercedes split its running between Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen comfortably beat teammate Ricciardo’s 165-lap tally from yesterday with his 187-lap effort. The Dutchman finished second-slowest of all, ahead of Lance Stroll in the Williams, which has so far failed to demonstrate any frontrunning pace.
The teams will have one final day of pre-season testing on Friday before the long journey begins to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 23-25.
|2018 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 7 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:17.182||188|
|2.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:18.360||+ 1.178||153|
|3.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:18.363||+ 1.181||169|
|4.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:18.675||+ 1.493||79|
|5.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:18.725||+ 1.543||69|
|6.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:18.855||+ 1.673||151|
|7.||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:19.244||+ 2.062||148|
|8.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:19.296||+ 2.114||84|
|9.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:19.532||+ 2.350||97|
|10.||Robert Kubica||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:19.629||+ 2.447||73|
|11.||Sergio Perez||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:19.634||+ 2.452||159|
|12.||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:19.842||+ 2.660||187|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:20.262||+ 3.080||67|
Image via Aston Martin Red Bull Racing