Formula 1’s ‘winter World Championship’ of pre-season testing is officially over, with the stopwatches suggesting that the coming season will be another close scrap between Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes-AMG after Sebastian Vettel edged Lewis Hamilton by just 0.003 seconds at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Friday was the eighth and final day for the teams to iron out any gremlins and try any last-minute tweaks to their cars before they are freighted over to Melbourne for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in less than two weeks’ time.
A clean run of reliability would again prove critical to help each team clock up as many laps as possible. The Haas team topped the mileage charts on the final day of testing with 167 laps all up, splitting its running between Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen. That being said, the American outfit’s Ferrari-powered VF-19 continued to experience further niggles that have dogged its 2019 pre-season, with Magnussen’s day coming to a premature close late in the day when he came to a halt at Turn 4.
While the factory Ferrari squad has proven to be the pace-setter on a number of occasions over the course of pre-season testing, the SF90 hasn’t been the most reliable. With Vettel crashing out two days’ before after a failure in the left-front corner of the car, the four-time World Champion managed 110 laps for the day before he too came to a stop in the mid-afternoon with an electrical issue. With the fault going to take too long to fix, the team opted to pack up early.
Chief rivals Mercedes-AMG continued to pound around, with Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas sharing duties behind the wheel and posting a combined total of 132 laps between them. The Silver Arrows finally opted to run in ‘attack mode’, with Hamilton coming up just a fraction short of Vettel’s ultimate time. Bottas’ best effort in the morning session was just three-tenths of a second slower.
All except two teams – Red Bull Racing and Williams – managed more than a century of laps during the day. Max Verstappen managed a paltry 29 laps for Red Bull Racing, with his RB15 having undergone extensive repairs following teammate Pierre Gasly’s heavy crash the day before. It would turn out that the crash had done some previously undetected damage to the car’s gearbox, which brought a frustrated Verstappen’s day to an early finish.
|2019 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 8 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:16.221||110|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:16.224||+ 0.003||61|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:16.561||+ 0.340||71|
|4.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:16.843||+ 0.622||51|
|5.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:16.898||+ 0.677||131|
|6.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:16.913||+ 0.692||134|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:17.076||+ 0.855||73|
|8.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:17.114||+ 0.893||52|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:17.239||+ 1.018||132|
|10.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:17.565||+ 1.344||94|
|11.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:17.709||+ 1.488||29|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:17.791||+ 1.570||104|
|13.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:18.993||+ 2.772||90|
Image via Scuderia Ferrari