Day three of pre-season testing saw Ferrari knocked off the top of the timesheets by a surprising driver, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat. There were a few more problems emerging for some teams, most notably Haas who caused a few red flags as they stopped on the circuit. McLaren also didn't run for the first three hours in the morning, but Alfa Romeo impressed.
And by the way, WILLIAMS MANAGED TO GET THEIR CAR RUNNING!
Here's the timesheet for the day:
1) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:17.704, 137 laps
2) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, 1:17.762, 138 laps
3) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 1:18.164, 80 laps
4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:18.350, 134 laps
5) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:18.787, 109 laps
6) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:18.800, 63 laps
7) Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:19.060, 69 laps
8) Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas, 1:19.249, 48 laps
9) Carlos Sainz, McLaren, 1:19.354, 90 laps
10) Sergio Perez, Racing Point, 1:20.102, 67 laps
11) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:20.693, 88 laps
12) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:20.818, 94 laps
13) George Russell, Williams, 1:25.625, 23 laps
Let's go through how each team got on.
Well this is a bit of a shocker, as Toro Rosso finished the third day of testing at the top of the timesheets in Barcelona. Daniil Kvyat was at the wheel, and not only did he set the fastest time of a 1:17.704, he set the lapped the Circuit de Catalunya a whopping 137 times - only beaten by Raikkonen with 138. The lap was set on the fastest, C5 (hypersoft?) tyre, which is worth noting.
It's hard to get a good indication of where Toro Rosso are going to be in the pecking order this year, as they have a strong technical team, and are sharing many parts of the car with their parent team Red Bull. Apart from a few rumours of vibrations from the Honda engine, in terms of reliability they have been flawless since day one of testing, also with impressive results in the speed trap.
I think it will be interesting to see how Kvyat develops this season as a driver, and whether a year on the sidelines at Ferrari has enabled him to rediscover the speed that he showed in his early years in the sport - speed which earned him a place at Red Bull. So far in testing it seems that he has been keeping himself to himself and just getting on with the job at hand, which is exactly what he needs at the moment. He needs to really get to know the car and how far he can push it, as Alexander Albon is no slouch and is sure to give him a tough time this season.
Kvyat had this to say to Sky Sports after the session:
“The priority wasn’t that [being fastest], the priority was to bounce back after the first day of mine which wasn’t ideal. But we’ve recovered enough and even more, so that’s great. A productive day.
It feels to my liking so far. Every time I’m out there I pretty much know what it’s going to do for me, so it’s a nice feeling so far. Of course, it’s early days, but the better the start is always welcome. So I’m planning to keep improving and working on the car."
Kimi Raikkonen was at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo today, as he finished the morning session in P1 for the team formerly known as Sauber. He managed to complete 138 laps in what was an amazing day for the Swiss/Italian outfit, where they clearly showed their progress with a best lap time of a 1:17.762. Again, this lap was done on the softest tyres available, the C5's.
I think with the resources that they have in Hinwil, as well as the money that Alfa Romeo are now putting into the team, they are in the best position that they have been for many years. For example, you would never have seen aero as innovative/different as their front wing setup a few years ago, because they simply did not have the money to put into the development of the car. They also made a big signing by managing to snatch the Iceman when he was dropped by Ferrari, and I think he will be a massive help to Antonio Giovinazzi as he goes into his first full season in the sport.
I think I speak for most F1 fans when I say that I love to see Kimi doing well. A man of few words, but he did have this to say:
"It was another good day for us. We made progress with the car and put in solid lap times. I feel comfortable with the car. Things are looking positive and I look forward to being back on track next week."
Renault had a bit more of a successful day, especially for Daniel Ricciardo who completed 80 laps in the afternoon with a best time of a 1:18.164 to put him third on the timesheet. Hulkenberg completed the morning session, where he managed 63 laps with a best time of a 1:18.800 to put him in sixth.
This was definitely a more encouraging day for Renault, as they started to show their pace in a week where they've been propping up the times on the leaderboard, and for me it is the first evidence that they've made an improvement from last season. I've mentioned their six year plan in the last couple of days, and the first three years was designed to improve their facilities back at Enstone, which as Ricciardo mentioned, they have certainly done. The second half of the plan is designed to move them up the grid, and if they can keep up with their current progress, I think this is a good possibility.
I think that it'll be a close fight between the two teammates this season, which will bring the best out of the team because the drivers will be constantly pushing to get the best out of the car. Many people have been saying that Hulkenberg's career depends on how he fares against Ricciardo, but honestly I don't think it will. Even if Daniel manages to outscore him this season, as long as he is consistently scoring points for the team and getting the best he can from the car, I don't think Renault would even dream of replacing him. He's reliable and provides good feedback, which is exactly what the team need as they push forward up the grid.
They've also fixed there DRS/rear wing problem, so that's good news.
"I'm happy to get some solid laps in today with consistent running. It's a positive as we've been lacking that rhythm in the car over the last few days. We tried three different compounds of tyre so that was also good to go through and understand. I'm keen to get stuck into it to see where we can keep improving. The main thing was driving 80 laps, that was really important and all I can ask for today."
"It was another productive session in the car this morning. We had a look at longer based runs to assess different setups and aero parts. We ran without DRS, but it was still good to further my understanding in the new car. It's been a busy week so far, lots of laps driven, but that's what testing is all about. We have more to learn, more to develop but I'm enjoying it and I'm aiming for a good day tomorrow to round off a busy week."
Due to the surprise performances of the teams above, this third day of testing was the first time that Ferrari failed to finish at the top of the leaderboard. They weren't slow by any means however, with Sebastian Vettel lapping the track 134 times with a best time of a 1:18.350 to put himself in fourth.
The team have yet again impressed the paddock with both their speed and their reliability, as they set their best time on the C3 tyres (softs), two steps harder than what Kvyat and Raikkonen were on. However, I know that Ferrari clearly have good pace, but I feel like this has been the case for the past couple of years at testing. Whether it is to please the sponsors by setting headline grabbing times, or they are simply not holding back as much as Mercedes for example. I think what is different about this year though is that their reliability has been perfect, so it could be completely down to how the team perform under pressure that decides the championship.
Last year, Vettel made some pretty poor mistakes when he was put under pressure from Hamilton in the title race, even crashing out in his home race from the lead (sorry for bringing back bad memories, Ferrari fans out there). The team also made some bad decisions last year, most notably their performance in Monza where they not only let Kimi have the slipstream in qualifying, they also refused to give out team orders in the race. This is a hard one for me, as I am a complete supporter of banning team orders in the sport, but the fact that Ferrari have already said that they will favour Vettel has got to be a good thing for his championship battle.
If Leclerc is ahead of Vettel in the championship however, you would have to assume that they would switch their focus to him?
"It was good to be back in the car today and put some more mileage under my belt. Again, we had a busy day and managed to complete our programme, which included a few new items, compared to Monday. We tried a few things around also focusing on set-up and I can only confirm the positive impression I had on day one. Having now put 303 laps in the bag I feel comfortable to say we are satisfied with how the car is progressing."
Red Bull have had yet another quiet day, as Max Verstappen never troubled the drivers at the top of the timesheets as he set a 1:18.787 to put himself in fifth place. The more important part of the day for Red Bull however was the number of laps that the Flying Dutchman completed, and that was just over a century at 109.
Even though the RB15 was just over a second slower than their sister team, Toro Rosso, I don't think that anybody expects them to be behind when we get to Melbourne. Even though it was another good day for the team, they did miss a bit of the morning session due to what was described as "small things".
Honda have said that they aim of the third day was to carry out engine function testing and system checks, which will go a long way to explain the delay in the morning as well as the long runs for Verstappen.
"I think today was really positive," said Max. "Whenever you do more than 100 laps at a test, that's a good day. I'm happy with the way we're working together with Honda so far, it's very focused and everybody knows their job. What's most important is that we have completed a lot of laps and investigated many set-up changes. With different regulations, you have to understand what direction to go in and that's exactly what we're doing. So far, it's difficult to judge where we are compared to the other teams - we'll find that out in Melbourne - but at the moment the car feels good."
"For the first two days of the test, we were concentrating on accumulating mileage but today we switched focus and began to work on car set-up," added Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin. "Today, we switched to a different rear-wing that is more suited to this circuit. That put us in the right ballpark for this track, and allowed us to get a better understanding of what the car can do. We made a lot of set-up changes throughout the afternoon, performance improved and we're quite happy with how we ended the day."
Haas had a few problems today, but between Romain Grosjean and Pietro Fittipaldi they did manage to set a decent number of laps, with a combined total of 117. Grosjean did 69 of these, with a best time of a 1:19.060 to finish the day in seventh place. Fittipaldi on the other hand did 48 laps, with a best time of a 1:19.249.
As Guenther Steiner put it, Haas certainly had a few "gremlins" today as they brought out the Red flag three times due to what the team have said was an unknown "electrical issue". This is a little disconcerting for the team, as they haven't really been able to have a trouble-free day in these first three days of the first test. The mileage they have managed however would normally be considered as excellent, but this year the teams have shown such good reliability that they are sticking out like a sore thumb. This is amplified by the reliability shown by the other Ferrari engined teams, Alfa Romeo and of course Ferrari.
On another note, I think that Romain Grosjean could be on his last chance to prove himself. This is because it was a well known secret that the team were wanting to replace him during parts of last season, but then in the second half he pulled it back and performed really well. Now that he has shown how well he can drive for the team, he needs to keep it up and not slip back into old habits (he might find it hard to blame Ericsson this year). Fittipaldi is waiting for his chance in the reserve role...
"It's not been a bad day to be fair. Yes, we came back a couple of times on the flatbed truck having had to stop the car on track, but that's part of testing, it's finding out what the limitations are, and what we can do better on the car. It's not ideal, and we'd like to do more mileage, but the more we drive, the more we find the car is getting better. The feeling in the car is good. Positive steps have been made since I ran on Monday, and I was already happy then, I'm even happier now. We're getting there. I'm quite pleased with all the work that's been done."
"It was a really productive morning, we ran a lot of laps, which is the most important thing in the first week of testing. We went through a big run-plan to test a lot of things on the car. We found some interesting things. It was good for me to get back into the car. Last year in Abu Dhabi, I didn't get a full day in, but I felt like I adapted quickly. Running that little bit yesterday was also very helpful. It was like a shakedown. We had to adjust the pedals after Tuesday's run, so it was good that it could be done overnight, we didn't lose any time today doing that. I'm happy with my run, the pace was decent, but more importantly, we ran a lot of miles."
Mclaren had a bit of a different day than they have had previously, with Carlos Sainz completing the bulk of his running in the afternoon session, but with no "glory run" at the end of the session to produce a quick time. He managed to do 90 laps, with a best time of a 1:19.354.
The Woking outfit suffered a three hour delay to their running this morning, with the team explaining that a series of "overnight changes" needed to be completed. The reliability was there however when Sainz did emerge from the pits, and they were mainly focused on long-runs for the majority of the day.
Other than that, there is not much to say regarding McLaren today. It's still nice to see them actually being able to carry out their testing schedule each day, unlike previous years. They were running with a lot of flow-vis paint on the car, indicating that they were curious to see how the air was passing over their car.
Also, I'm sure that you're aware, but Fernando Alonso is rumoured to be making an appearance next week. Whether he will be driving on not is not known, but I think the team would be foolish to not use his experience.
"Today was a bit more of a challenging day as we made a few changes on the car overnight, which delayed our start while we finished preparing everything.
"However, we still managed to complete almost a race distance, and we've already seen the benefits from that in the information we've gathered. We picked up valuable data from the longer runs especially, and now we hope we can continue with some smooth running for Lando tomorrow on the final day."
Sporting director Gil de Ferran added:
"We had a lot of work to do overnight, hence the slightly later start this morning. Nevertheless, it was another productive day in which we were able to complete 90 laps, including a number of long runs.
"The learning continues, the work continues, and the whole team is putting in a lot of hours to ensure we maximise our track time."
Racing Point had a bit of a disappointing day today as they failed to to get some proper mileage under their belts. Sergio Perez was at the wheel of the car, and he completed 67 laps with a best time of a 1:20.102.
I don't think the situation is looking particularly great at the team currently, and I think that they are still feeling the effects of going into administration last year. I'll let Andy Green from the team's technical department explain:
“Some of the decisions we had to make on this car were made whilst the company was in dire straits and it was going through administration.
“We didn’t really know what was going to happen with the company and we had to make some quite big decisions on what we were going to do with this car that we’ve got here now because there was a chance the team weren’t going to get the big cash injection and we were going to still going to have to try and get a car out with no money. So some big decisions were made. The chassis is effectively last year’s chassis. The gearbox is last year’s gearbox. So in that respect there’s a lot of continuity.”
Now that the money is available, let's hope that they make the most of it.
"We made good progress today and I feel we took another step forward. The day was a bit shorter than we expected because we had a small issue with the car late in the afternoon. I lost drive but was able to recover to the pits. So we couldn't complete all of our programme, but I feel we're still improving as we get to know the car. I've done two days in the car now and I'm generally feeling happy. The balance was good from day one and that's important. I'm not testing again until next week, but if we keep working like this I will be happy with my preparations for Melbourne."
It's the same story, different day for Mercedes. They again chose to run both of their drivers, but never ventured for anything softer than the medium tyres. However, the team did manage to clock up massive 182 laps throughout the day, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton splitting driving duties between them. Bottas was ninth with a time of a 1:20.693, and Hamilton was tenth with a 1:20.818.
I understand that Mercedes are only focused on mileage for this first test, but the commentary team brought up a good point today during the live coverage. They suggested (it might have been Will Buxton?) that teams should all have to go for what is known as a "glory run" at the end of the day, just to give the fans a bit of excitement before the day is over. Everybody agrees that it will never happen, but I think you'll agree that it would be nice to see!
"Similar to the last two days, we did some more aero measurements in the morning. After that we completed a full race distance for the first time in the new car, 66 laps in a row without any issues. We're learning more and more about the W10 and it again felt better than the day before. There's still room for improvement, but we're making progress every day."
"We got a lot of mileage in again today, both Valtteri and myself completed a whole race distance, so it's been a good day for reliability. We have been digging deep, trying to understand the car, pretty much the same as the beginning of every year. I love that challenge of coming back each year; getting into a new car is like meeting someone new - you don't know the good and bad and the journey you go on with that car is a real privileged position. It's crazy to think this is my seventh season with the team, and this looks like it is going to be the most challenging year of our partnership so I'm super excited. I love racing so nothing really changes there."
Good one, Jordan:
Well done Williams, you managed to get a car out on track. That car arrived at the circuit at 4am this morning, and it was driven in the afternoon by George Russell. He completed 23 shakedown laps with a rather irrelevant time of a 1:25.625.
It was nice to see the car on track, and as a side note I think that the livery looks so much better on track than it did in the photos. However, they are still waiting for aero parts to arrive before they can start properly testing - although this didn't stop them from absolutely covering the front of the car in flow-vis paint!
Finally, I think that if the performance of the car is good, this testing nightmare will be forgotten about and everybody in the team will move on. However, if the car is still a backmarker, serious questions need to be asked of the team's management and technical department.
"It was amazing to finally drive the FW42. Today we focused purely on install laps, shaking the car down and data gathering. Our focus was not on performance runs so I can't judge the overall potential of the car, but I'm excited that we will get a full day of running tomorrow."
Paddy Lowe added:
"It's very disappointing to miss two days of this first test in Barcelona, but we are very happy today that we got the car out for the afternoon session. We were late but not for the lack of incredible effort from the whole team both in the factory and here in the garage. We spent the afternoon doing a number of systems checks and various data gathering programmes without any significant reliability issues, so we are happy with that as a first look at the FW42. This puts us in good shape to get down to some more significant programmes starting tomorrow morning. We have missed a lot of time, but we are looking forward at this stage and we will make the very best use of the five days remaining of winter testing. Thank you to all the staff for their teamwork and dedication in getting this car out today."
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