After the first two days of Formula 1’s ‘winter world championship’ had Ferrari as the pace-setter, the third day of on-track running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya produced a surprise pace-setter in the form of Scuderia Toro Rosso returnee Daniil Kvyat.
While little should really be read into the lap times posted during testing, the Russian driver popped in a late effort in his Honda-powered STR14 in the final fifteen minutes of the day to deny Kimi Räikkönen the end-of-day bragging rights. It also prevented a Ferrari-powered hat-trick, after the works drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were quickest respectively over the first two days of testing.
While the overall lap times have improved markedly since testing began, what should be of real focus in pre-season testing is the mileage that each team is racking up.
This is where reigning champions Mercedes-AMG shot to prominence, with its W10 clocking a phenomenal 182 laps – the equivalent to almost three full Grand Prix – as driving duties were shared between Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas. Neither made any impression on the timesheets; the general consensus is that the Silver Arrows are sandbagging for the moment at least.
A team showing a remarkable improvement in its reliability was Renault which, like Mercedes, split its running between its two drivers. Daniel Ricciardo posted what was comfortably the RS19’s fastest lap to-date to finish third-fastest, while teammate Nico Hülkenberg was almost six-tenths of a second slower. The pair completed 172 laps for the day.
The only other outfit to split its driving duties was the Haas F1 Team, which should have achieved more than its 117 laps had its Ferrari-powered VF-19 not caused all three of the day’s red flag interruptions. Two of the stoppages came for identical reasons, with an ignition coil fault blamed. Romain Grosjean (69 laps) and test driver Pietro Fittipaldi (48 laps) shared driving duties, with Kevin Magnussen expected to be back behind the wheel on Thursday.
Strong track mileage was achieved by a number of other outfits, with Scuderia Toro Rosso (Kvyat, 137 laps), Alfa Romeo Racing (Räikkönen, 138 laps), Ferrari (Sebastian Vettel, 134 laps) and Red Bull Racing (Max Verstappen, 109 laps) all surpassing the 100-lap barrier with single-driver programmes.
Having managed over a century of laps on each of the preceding two days of testing, McLaren encountered some troubles on Wednesday. Carlos Sainz had a high-speed spin approaching the Turn 13 right-hander, but avoided triggering a red flag when he was able to drive out of the run-off and back to the pits. The Spaniard completed 90 laps for the day.
Racing Point, which had barely managed 100 laps across the previous two days of running, had another relatively low-mileage day in comparison to their rivals. Sergio Pérez didn’t really trouble the stopwatch and managed 67 laps, which is still a Grand Prix distance.
There was finally some cheer down at Williams, with the long-awaited appearance of its FW42 challenger taking place in the mid-afternoon after it was missing in action for the first two days while a number of parts were being fabricated.
Aerodynamically, the car appears far simpler than its rivals, suggesting a number of developments are still in the pipeline. F1 rookie George Russell took the new car out for its first exploratory laps, totalling 23 tours of the circuit by the end of the day.
A red-faced Deputy Team Principal, Claire Williams, was left fending off suggestions that the team was set to part ways with its Technical Director, Paddy Lowe, as a result of the shambles.
“I’ve read a lot of speculation about his position. Right now all I am focussed on and the team should be focussed on is making sure the car is in the right place,” she said to journalists.
“It’s embarrassing not bringing a race car to a circuit when everyone else has managed to do that, particularly a team like ours that has managed to bring a race car to testing for the past 40-odd years … I am not going to go into any detail as to why that happened. I don’t think that it’s appropriate to discuss the ins and outs of what went wrong [in public].
“So we can only apologise. I would apologise to our fans, I would apologise to all the people that have had the pressure really dialled up on them at Grove over the past few days to get everything ready, just to get us to this point today, and mostly to George [Russell] and Robert [Kubica], who were looking forward to a car on Monday so that they could prepare and have the most amount of time possible to prepare ahead of the season. But they have been fantastic in this, they have been very understanding and very supportive.”
|2019 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 3 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:17.704||137|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:17.762||+ 0.058||138|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:18.164||+ 0.460||80|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:18.350||+ 0.646||134|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:18.787||+ 1.083||109|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:18.800||+ 1.096||63|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:19.060||+ 1.356||69|
|8.||Pietro Fittipaldi||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:19.249||+ 1.545||48|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:19.354||+ 1.650||90|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:20.102||+ 2.398||67|
|11.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:20.693||+ 2.989||88|
|12.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:20.818||+ 3.114||94|
|13.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:25.624||+ 7.921||23|
Image via Scuderia Toro Rosso