There was a bit of a sense of deja vu today in terms of the timesheets, with Ferrari just ahead of McLaren. There were a few more problems for some teams than we saw yesterday however, with Gasly putting his Red Bull in the wall. Daniel Ricciardo and rookie Alexander Albon also span off, with Ricciardo's rear wing dismantling itself halfway down the straight.
Here's the timesheet for today:
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:18.247, 157 laps
2) Lando Norris, McLaren, 1:18.553, 104 laps
3) Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:19.206, 59 laps
4) Alex Albon, Toro Rosso, 1:19.301, 132 laps
5) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, 1:19.312, 101 laps
6) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:19.535, 92 laps
7) Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, 1:19.814, 92 laps
8) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:19.837, 95 laps
9) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 1:19.886, 28 laps
10) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:19.928, 74 laps
11) Lance Stroll, Racing Point, 1:20.433, 79 laps
12) Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas, 1:21.849, 13 laps
Let's go through how each team got on.
Ferrari have continued their amazing start to pre-season testing, as Charles Leclerc carried out the driving duties on Tuesday. He managed to complete a massive 157 laps with a chart topping time of 1:18.247.
Much like his teammate Sebastian Vettel did yesterday, Leclerc set his fastest time in the morning session and was more focused on long runs in the afternoon. This was done on the C3 tyre (softs), a compound softer than Mercedes have been running.
I think that it is good to see that Leclerc has got straight on the pace of his much more experienced teammate, as I am keen to see a good battle between the pair this season. I would love it if Ferrari try their best to prioritise Vettel (like they have already said they will), but Leclerc still manages to beat him. I think this would be a good kick in the balls to the team, which is what I feel they deserve after effectively ruling out Leclerc before the season had even got underway.
Leclerc had this to say:
“I am very happy with the way today went. Despite some red flag interruptions, we were able to get through all our programme and to do 157 laps, which has produced a lot of useful data. In terms of feeling, I quickly felt comfortable with the SF90 and I have to say I really enjoyed myself.
"There’s always going to be some emotion when you get into a Ferrari, but today I put that to one side because I had a job to do for the team. Let’s hope we keep going like this over the next few days, because it’s important to make the most of the few on-track testing opportunities we have.”
However, people could still only focus on one aspect of the car:
McLaren yet again had a solid day in Barcelona, with young Brit Lando Norris taking the reign from Carlos Sainz in the MCL34. They lapped the Circuit de Catalunya 104 times today, with a best lap time of 1:18.553 - only 0.3s slower than the Ferrari. However, it is only testing and he was also running the slightly softer C4 tyres (supersofts) when he set the lap time.
Recently, I conducted a poll on Twitter asking who would score more points in 2019 - either Lando Norris or Carlos Sainz. Now, the results of this showed that 72% of you think that Sainz will be the victor. However, after a solid day in the car and a lap time 0.005s faster than Sainz to prove it, I think it will be much closer than you think.
I've heard a few people say both on the live coverage and over on social media now that McLaren have a few bits on the car that are of interest to the other teams, and it is showing. Many people that have been trackside have said that it looks planted throughout the lap, especially in the high speed corners. For McLaren's sake, I really hope this is true and that they can have a good season.
Norris told reporters:
"Being my first time in the car, I’m pretty happy with how today has gone. The team has done an awesome job getting everything together, and over the last two days we’ve done a lot of mileage, which is the best thing we can hope for. The times aren’t important to us, it’s about getting through the plans we have to do, especially in this part of the season when there are a lot of new things on the car to test.
"I’ve not done much long running in the past or pit-stops, so getting up to speed and talking to my engineers are the most important things for me to get on top of over the next two weeks. Laps, mileage and reliability are the main objectives, as well as getting to know the car. There are still a lot of things we need to continue to work on and improve over the next few days. It’s definitely a work in progress."
Haas had a fairly decent day today, with Kevin Magnussen completing 59 laps, with a best time of a 1:19.206. However, they did not have it all their way today, as reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi had to take over in the afternoon session from the Dane when a problem with the headrest emerged.
He explained to Autosport that he could barely see during his run, as the headrest was too far forward:
"I was sitting with my head pointing forwards, so I was struggling to see. The headrest was too far forward. Also when you sit like that and you brake, it's not easy. I couldn't drive like that anymore. That's something we need to fix."
Haas expect to have a solution in place by Thursday so that Magnussen can continue his preparation for Melbourne. However, this situation did allow for Pietro Fittipaldi to get his first drive of the Haas VF-19, where he completed 13 laps with the slowest time of the day at a 1:21.849.
I think it will be interesting to see where Haas are in the pecking order this year, and after their shock pace this time last year, the expectations of the team have been raised. Their new sponsor, Rich Energy, have been making some bold claims about how the team will perform this year by using the hashtag #fasterthanredbull. Whether this turns out to be true or not (I suspect not), we will have to wait and see.
Magnussen said after the session:
“First impressions of the VF-19 were very good. The car seems to be handling well, it was showing consistency. I certainly have a good feeling to start off with. Of course, there’s a lot more work to be done when it comes to the details, but there’s no worries at this point.”
Guenther Steiner added:
“It was a little bit of a mixed day today. Again, in the morning we struggled to get going, we had a few small issues on the car. It got better in the afternoon. Unfortunately, Kevin (Magnussen) didn’t like his seat, so we put Pietro (Fittipaldi) in for the end of the day so he’s ready for tomorrow morning. The day didn’t start as we wanted it, but in the end, we got a handle on it and finished it on a high.”
Toro Rosso had another encouraging day in terms of reliability, but Alexander Albon suffered a nightmare start to the day when he potentially set the record for the fastest ever crash for a rookie, but the car was quickly recovered. He went onto complete a whopping 132 laps throughout the rest of the day, with a fastest time of a 1:19.301 putting him in fourth place on the timesheet.
Albon did enough to impress Franz Tost, who blamed the crash in the morning session on a "steering issue" with the car, that the team quickly rectified. I know it's very early to make any sort of predictions or come to any conclusions, but I have the feeling that Alex Albon will be in for quite a successful time in Formula 1. I think if his feeder series results are anything to go by, he has the potential to wipe the floor with Kvyat this season.
He had this to say:
“It’s quite funny as I’ve had that experience before, spinning on an out lap, so I tried not to think about it too much,” Albon said. “It reassured me that Kimi did it, but of course in the morning session after I span I was like a dog with its tail between its legs. It was okay in the end.
“The problem is that it is so, so cold that you cannot drive slowly so as soon as you drive too slowly your tyres get too cold and then it becomes unpredictable and like driving on ice. It is not the nicest experience when the track is five degrees and you don’t know the car so you yourself aren’t driving quickly because you are scared of spinning, but then you do spin, it is like a cycle.
"I think after the morning I got into my rhythm and it was a smooth day as we had no issues. I had a couple of offs but I was exploring the limits and exploring what the car could do. It’s been a really good day.”
Alfa Romeo were able to complete just over a century of laps today, racking up 101 laps of the Spanish GP circuit. Antonio Giovinazzi managed a best lap time of a 1:19.312, only a second off ex-Sauber driver Leclerc in the Ferrari.
Other than this, there is not much to say about Alfa Romeo on day two of testing, but they do seem to have strong pace and solid reliability. If we compare this to only two years ago in 2017 where the then Sauber team were consistently propping up the timing sheets, they have had a meteoric increase in performance.
I've got a feeling that Kimi could be in his last year in the sport if he fails to beat Giovinazzi this season, and that will be no small task. The Italian driver already has a couple of races under his belt in the aforementioned 2017 Sauber when he stepped in for Pascal Wehrlein in the opening races of that season. He is only going to improve, and many would say that the Iceman has passed his prime.
It would seem that no interviews were conducted with the team today, but if I find any I'll update the article. Let's go straight to the tweets:
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. They had a combined total of 163 laps between them, with Bottas again setting the faster lap time of the pair on a 1:19.535 to put the Finn in sixth place in the timesheets. Hamilton set a time of a 1:19.928 to put himself in tenth place.
I said it yesterday but I'll say it again, Mercedes are the dark horses for yet another year. Everybody is assuming that they will turn up the engines in Melbourne and be top/near the top of the times but they are not giving anything away to their rivals. Even though they like to stay under the radar at testing, there is a sense that their car is good, with a lot of effort being put into resolving the rear-tyre problems which held them back from time to time last year. Karun Chandhok had this to say from trackside:
"The Mercedes still seems better on the kerbs at T7 for example and their traction is still excellent. Lewis also seems the most comfortable to have just a tiny lift through the ultra-fast T9 despite carrying a decent fuel load.
Hamilton had this to say:
"It’s been a good day overall. It was quite cold in the morning, so switching the tyres on was a little bit tricky, but it seemed like a few people had similar issues. We were focusing on working through our run plan and we got through everything we wanted. It’s good that we’re getting in a lot of mileage and we will try to increase that over the next days as we continue to discover the characteristics of this car. That’s the exciting part about it – learning something new and being faced with different challenges. Everyone is working so diligently, I’m really happy to be here with everyone for the seventh year in a row and I’m excited for this journey that we’re embarking on."
"We did a lot of laps today and again managed to complete our run plan. We’re learning a lot about the W10 with each run and we’re building a better understanding of the set-up. The car was better balanced than yesterday, but there’s still a bit of room for improvement. As you can tell from the lap times, we’ve been focusing on long-run work. I’ll be in the car tomorrow morning, so it will be a busy evening for me, taking in all the learnings from today. It’s been a pretty normal test so far; fortunately, the car has been very reliable, so that’s good news."
It was the turn of Pierre Gasly in the Red Bull today in Barcelona, and he completed a solid 92 laps with a best time of a 1:19.814 to put him seventh on the timesheet. However, it was definitely not plain-sailing for the young Frenchman, as he binned it at Turn 13. This ended his session slightly early, but didn't really hurt Red Bull in the grand scheme of things.
However, there are a few positives to take from the day for the team, as many people have commented about how planted the car looks through the corners. They have also had another day of reliable running with their new Honda engines. Karun Chandhok said:
"The Honda's gearshifts and engine note seem audibly much smoother than last year and I'm sure Gasly's on a decent fuel load as he's just pounding round and round with the car looking very consistent and balanced. That traditional strong front end in the medium/slow speed corners continues to be a characteristic and you can see how deep Gasly can go on the brakes into T1 and T4."
This is yet another early prediction, despite me telling you that these shouldn't be made at testing, but I am starting to believe that Red Bull might be onto a winner here with Honda. Now, I don't think that they're going to turn up in Australia and just blitz the field, but in the long term if they maintain their excellent relationship with Honda and Adrian Newey keeps working his magic, they are in for a successful few years.
“It was really amazing to do the winter break and I was really excited to get back and do my first day with Red Bull. There is some really good potential and some things to understand with our package, the first feedback is good. It’s too early to talk about expectations. At the moment we need to understand the overall performance of our package. It is quite important for us that our first feedback and first impressions are quite good.
“Out of Turn 10 I went on the power and shifted to fifth and lost it. I was pushing the car to the limit and playing on the limits and went on throttle, lost the rear, and that was it. It was quite annoying to lose the hour of testing. [But] we tested some really positive things, some others negative, and now we need to understand a bit more.”
Christian Horner added:
"We're doing lots of laps and learning about this new RB15, the new Honda engine and a new driver as well. I have to say first impressions [about the engine] are very, very positive."
Renault had a bit of a troubled day with Daniel Ricciardo, everybody's favourite Aussie only managing 28 laps, with a best time of a 1:19.886. This is due to the top half of Ricciardo's rear wing deciding that it does not want to be a part of the car anymore, and flying off into the distance. This caused him to spin off, and then spend most of the morning session in the garage.
Nico Hulkenberg faired a much better in terms of lap count, as he completed a huge 95 laps in the afternoon session alone. However, his lap time was only a smidge better than Ricciardo, with 0.05s separating the two on a 1:19.837.
Despite the rather slow times being posted by the team, Ricciardo has insisted that the pace is "in the ballpark" of where it should be, and was encouraged by his first proper day at the wheel of the RS19. As I explained in yesterday's article, I feel that Renault need to show that they are moving up the grid and successfully carrying out their six year plan.
“When it was on it was OK!” the Australian joked of the rear wing failure. “When it broke it’s like going into the corner with DRS open. As soon as I braked, I lost the car and spun. We avoided the wall, but just coming back to fix the rear wing and that, it obviously takes some time. And parts as well, at testing you don’t have a lot of parts, so my morning was done after that.
“I know they’ve got a lot of laps in store for [Nico Hulkenberg] this afternoon, hopefully all goes well and he’ll give a bit more feedback. Obviously my reference now when I’m talking to the team is Red Bull, but his is last year’s car. Both points of view are quite interesting for the team to hear.”
"We had a solid afternoon in terms of mileage with 95 laps on the board, which is probably a personal best for me during a testing session. We completed a lot of laps with various runs and setups. We can be pleased with our afternoon's work as we've collected a lot of data in different areas which means we can push on and identify our points to improve. We're as happy as we can be at this point."
Racing Point were left to prop up the timesheets (with the exception of Pietro Fittipaldi in the Haas, but he barely did any laps). Lance Stroll was in the cockpit of the Pink Panther today, and he racked up 79 laps during the second day. His best lap time was only a 1:20.433, 2.186s off the benchmark set by Leclerc. This was not a bad day for the team, but they must be wishing for more mileage after a disappointing day for Sergio Perez yesterday.
There has been a lot of talk recently about Lance Stroll's move into the team, and whether he actually deserved his place or it was purely down to his dad being a major shareholder in the team. I think that it was David Croft that made this point during the live coverage yesterday, but he said that Lawrence Stroll has received a lot of flack for making a decision that frankly any father would do if put in the same position. I agree with this, and also feel that the negative comments being directed at Lance are a bit unfair.
Firstly, he had a very strong rookie season in 2017 against his very experienced teammate, Felipe Massa, almost outscoring the Brazilian. This is no easy feat, and during that season he also nabbed a podium in Baku. I guess what I am trying to say is that if Stroll can perform well and maybe even beat Perez this season, then I think that people will very quickly stop questioning whether he deserves to be there. Give him a chance.
Stroll said this after his first day:
“It was great to be back in the car after a few months and to get down to work. It’s a special feeling when you head down the pit lane for the first time in the new car and release the pit limiter. The general first impression is positive and we worked through the programme covering lots of laps with good reliability.
“It’s early days working trackside with the team so I’m still building up my relationship with some of the crew and understanding how the team likes to approach things, but I already feel comfortable. I didn’t really get a good feel for the new aero rules on these cars yet because I didn’t run in traffic very much, but that’s something I will understand better over the next few days“
I said this yesterday, but get your shit together.
They expect the car to arrive in Barcelona at 4am on Wednesday morning, and then aren't expected to run at all in the morning session but are hoping to make their 2019 debut in the afternoon.
This tweet sums up the current situation perfectly:
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