Carlos Sainz Jr. grabbed some more welcome headlines for the McLaren team by posting the fastest lap time seen in pre-season testing thus far, with the Spaniard’s effort coming on Pirelli’s second-softest C4 tyre compound while simulating a qualifying-style run.
The former Toro Rosso and Renault driver’s quick effort, a 1:17.144 time, came just before the lunch break. He was, however, at pains to stress that the McLaren team had not found a silver bullet that would suddenly make it a frontrunning team, remarking that many rival teams were yet to attempt a low-fuel flier.
“We’re not going to be on pole in Australia, if that’s the question,” he said to journalists at the end of the day in which he’d posted a healthy 130 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“We’re not going to win in Australia at all – everyone calm down a bit, this is just testing! We’re doing some more qualifying-based runs where you can see a bit more the performance of the car so I guess we need to wait to see the others, what they can do on those sort of runs.”
Such was the gap to the rest of the field – Sergio Pérez was second-quickest in the hardly headline-grabbing Racing Point RP19, but almost 0.7 seconds slower – that it was clear the majority of rivals were still focusing on set-ups and reliability rather than one-lap speed.
Reliability proved to be a rather dirty word at Ferrari, however, with the Italian team falling victim to its own dramas after chief rivals Mercedes lost half a day’s running on Tuesday.
This time it was the turn of the SF90 to suffer a mechanical failure on its front left corner as Sebastian Vettel approached the long Turn 3 left-hander. The German was a passenger and slammed nose-first into the Tecpro barriers. His car’s g-force sensor was triggered, meaning a compulsory check-up at the circuit’s medical centre from which he was declared unhurt.
“[There] wasn’t anything that I could have done to avoid the impact,” he said later. “I wasn’t in control anymore and went straight into the barriers.”
With the car extensively damaged and identification of the actual fault proving difficult, the team took their time repairing the damaged car to the point that Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc only ventured out on track in the final ten minutes of the day for a solitary installation lap.
Ferrari aside, Wednesday provided solid mileage for the majority of teams, with Mercedes-AMG leading the charge with 176 laps – almost three full race distances – after it lost track time yesterday with an oil leak. Yet again, neither Valtteri Bottas nor Lewis Hamilton seemed to be aiming for a quick time and ran on the harder tyres.
The aforementioned Sainz, along with Williams’ Robert Kubica (130 laps), Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (128), Haas’ Romain Grosjean (120), Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen (113), and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat (101) all racking up over a century of laps during the day.
The Renault pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg combined to give the Enstone squad a 130-lap tally for the day, although again neither driver threatened the stopwatch.
|2019 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 6 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:17.144||130|
|2.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:17.842||+ 0.698||88|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:18.195||+ 1.051||40|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:18.209||+ 1.065||113|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:18.330||+ 1.186||120|
|6.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:18.395||+ 1.251||128|
|7.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:18.682||+ 1.538||101|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:18.941||+ 1.797||74|
|9.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:18.943||+ 1.799||102|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:19.056||+ 1.912||58|
|11.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:19.367||+ 2.223||130|
|12.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:22.597||+ 5.453||72|
|13.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||no time||1|
Image via Formula1.com and LAT