The penultimate day of testing saw Charles Leclerc lap within a whisker of the time Lewis Hamilton posted to claim pole position for last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, with the Monégasque driver unleashing an impressive time of 1:16.231 in his Ferrari on the penultimate day of pre-season testing.
The youngster’s quick lap came on Pirelli’s softest C5 tyre compound, all but suggesting he was on a qualifying-style run. His day ended half an hour early, however, when he was forced to park on the side of the track with smoke seen coming from the rear of the SF90.
While lap times overall proved quicker for a number of rivals, there remains the implicit understanding that winning the ‘winter World Championship’ amounts to little if your car can’t make the finish line in an actual Grand Prix.
Mercedes-AMG was once again the benchmark team, showing the sort of fearsome mechanical reliability that has seen it sweep the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles for the past four seasons. With Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas chalking up 181 laps between them, that took the Brackley team past the 1,000-lap benchmark with one day of testing to go. By contrast, their nearest rivals (Scuderia Ferrari), haven’t even surpassed the 900-lap mark.
Next up on the odometer charts was Williams, which continues its quest to make up for lost track time caused by the late build of its FW42 challenger. Rookie driver George Russell managed an impressive 140-lap haul for the day to bring the team’s pre-season testing total to 507 laps – just 14 laps shy of what Racing Point has managed with a full complement of seven days’ running.
Joining Ferrari, Mercedes and Williams in clocking more than 100 laps for the day were Renault duo Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo (138 laps combined) and Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon (118).
With Lance Stroll at the wheel, Racing Point managed to achieve its first 100-plus lap day of testing with the Mercedes-powered RP19, which has so far endured a number of reliability challenges during the pre-season. The Canadian driver brought out the day’s final red flag when he came to a stop on the circuit late in the afternoon.
Another team suffering mechanical dramas was the Haas outfit, which saw its running limited to just 69 laps with an exhaust issue stymying Romain Grosjean’s time behind the wheel of the VF-19.
Pierre Gasly managed to reduce Red Bull Racing’s on-track program by crashing his RB15 at Turn 9. It was a carbon-copy to the accident his former teammate Brendon Hartley had during their time at Toro Rosso last year, with the Frenchman dropping a wheel onto the grass before he turned into the right-hander.
With his car balance unsettled, he spun at high speed into the tyre wall, tearing the front and rear wings off his car.
|2019 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 7 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:16.231||138|
|2.||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:16.882||+ 0.651||118|
|3.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:17.084||+ 0.853||84|
|4.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:17.091||+ 0.860||65|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:17.204||+ 0.973||65|
|6.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:17.496||+ 1.265||73|
|7.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:17.556||+ 1.325||103|
|8.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:17.639||+ 1.408||71|
|9.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:17.854||+ 1.623||16|
|10.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:18.097||+ 1.866||85|
|11.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:18.130||+ 1.899||140|
|12.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:18.199||+ 1.968||53|
|13.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:18.862||+ 2.631||96|
Image via Scuderia Ferrari