F1 Test Two: Day Three Recap + Review
In a day where we saw lap times tumble, it was Ferrari who gave us a glimpse of the true pace of the SF19, with Charles Leclerc within touching distance of Lewis Hamilton's outright lap record from qualifying last season. We saw another big crash however, this time a mistake from Pierre Gasly lead to him putting his Red Bull in the wall.
Here's the timesheet for today:
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1:16.231, 138 laps
2) Alex Albon, Toro Rosso, 1:16.882, 118 laps
3) Lando Norris, 1:17.084, 84 laps
4) Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, 1:17.091, 65 laps
5) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 1:17.204, 65 laps
6) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:17.496, 73 laps
7) Lance Stroll, Racing Point 1:17.556, 103 laps
8) Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, 1:17.639, 71 laps
9) Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:17.854, 16 laps
10) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:18.097, 85 laps
11) George Russell, Williams, 1:18.130, 140 laps
12) Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:18.199, 53 laps
13) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:18.862, 96 laps
I've not had much free time so this is a little shorter than usual, but let's go through each team.
After very little running yesterday, Charles Leclerc set the timing screens alight today when he lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in a 1:16.231. He managed to complete 138 laps too, but his day was ended slightly early due to his Ferrari stopping by the side of the track with a puff of smoke from the exhaust. Even with this breakdown, it was a strong day for the Scuderia.
Whether or not they can beat Mercedes this season is a different question, as we have only seen the Silver Arrows run on the harder tyres. However, tyre adjusted, they seem to be pretty evenly matched.
"It didn't look as though today would be easy, given that we had to make up for yesterday's lost time, but we got it done and that was very positive, especially as this was my last day in the car before Australia. I am very happy because we worked really well. It's been an encouraging start to the season and I feel about ready. Now, I can't wait to take part in my first real Grand Prix with Ferrari."
Alexander Albon also set a few quick laps in his Toro Rosso, as he finished an impressive second for his Italian team. The Thai-British rookie set a best time of a 1:16.882 from his 118 laps, and he was the first man to break through into the 1:16's. It was another solid showing from Toro Rosso, something which we have come to expect over the course of testing this year.
"I'm quite happy with how winter testing went as I was able to do a lot of laps and maximize my time in the car. It's still early days and we won't know until Melbourne what everyone else has been working on, but I think we can be satisfied with how everything turned out the past four days. We managed to have another day cracking the 100-lap mark, so that's a testament to the team's hard work and the reliability from Honda. Coming into testing you always want to get the most mileage as possible and we've done that, so it's been a lot of learning and getting comfortable with the car - something I wouldn't have been able to do if we weren't reliable. Overall, we're in a good position with the car and there's been no nasty surprises. There's still a few things we need to tick off tomorrow before we finish testing, but it's been a successful pre-season test as we were able to trial many things to see what works well for us. It was a great job by the team to get a good baseline for the car so that we could build on it throughout the two weeks."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda's F1 Technical Director, said:
"Alex Albon has now completed his pre-season testing in these two tests that saw him drive a Formula 1 car for the first time. He completed just under 500 laps in his four days in the cockpit. That represents a significant contribution in terms of our PU development work and we are now looking forward to his debut race. Tomorrow is our final track session before Melbourne and we hope to end this test on a positive note."
McLaren are another team that had another strong showing, with Lando Norris in the car for the last time before the first race in Australia. Norris was the first to go for a quick lap, setting the team's fastest so far with a 1:17.084, but they did only manage to complete 84 laps. Now, whether this was intentional or not we will likely never know, but they did take quite a while to get settled into the afternoon session. They may have just been tweaking the setup, but it could be yet another reliability concern for the British team.
Norris had this to say:
"The morning went well, and we made some small improvements from the last two days. Many of the runs this morning were beneficial in helping us gain a better understanding of the car. I tried out various configurations during short runs, which gave us more information on how the car reacts to different tyres and fuel loads. We followed that with some longer runs on harder tyres that helped us to improve the balance of the car.
"I'm more prepared for Australia than I was at the start of testing, especially for the longer runs. There's definitely still a lot of work to do, but overall I feel comfortable with the baseline we have and the direction we want to push in. I feel ready, and I'm going to spend the next two weeks working hard in the factory on everything I need to do to prepare our set-up for Melbourne."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director, added:
"A day of challenges, where we again had to contend with issues, resulting in our running being curtailed. Conversely, we continue to make progress on other fronts, and once again learned some valuable lessons which certainly will be applicable once we go racing in Australia and beyond.
"Next time we see the number four car of Lando on track, it'll be FP1 in Melbourne and the start of his official grand prix debut. It's an exciting moment for all of us at McLaren, and for his fans, and something we're all looking forward to."
Up until Pierre Gasly had his crash, Red Bull were having a good start to the day. They racked up 65 laps before the incident, with a best time of a 1:17.091 - just shy of Norris in the McLaren to put them in fourth place on the timesheet. As Christian Horner has said, mistakes are bound to happen (Gasly has taken full blame for the incident), but with how fierce the Red Bull programme is Gasly cannot really afford to make many more. He has caused heavy damage to the car on two occasions now, compromising how many miles Red Bull can put on the car.
"We looked a bit more at performance today and we learned a lot. We still have a lot of work to do but overall we're pleased. I'm feeling good with the car and the package in general - the chassis and engine are really good. In the afternoon, I made a mistake in Turn 9 and lost the car. It was a pretty big crash, but I'm fine, a little bit shaken, but generally OK. I'm feeling more sorry for the guys in the garage. They have a long night ahead but the most important thing is that Max is back in the car tomorrow and we'll focus on the positives. It's not an ideal way to end the final test, but over the four days we managed to get lots of laps in and that was positive. We have good performance and we just need to understand how to maximise the package, so we bring the best car we can to Melbourne."
Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin, Head of Race Engineering, added:
"The crash was simply a case of Pierre going slightly wide into Turn 9 and losing control. You're pretty much flat out there, so if it goes wrong, you're going to feel it. Thankfully Pierre is OK. We have a long night ahead of us in order to get the car ready for tomorrow, however today's incident shouldn't compromise our plans. Prior to Pierre's off, we had a good morning. We worked on how we manage a qualifying session, which is good knowledge for the driver and it gets the pit crew back in the zone. The incident was unfortunate but these things happen. We'll deal with it and move on."
Renault opted to run both drivers again, with Nico Hulkenberg driving in the morning and Daniel Ricciardo completing the afternoon session. Renault actually started to show a bit of their pace, after helping Mercedes prop up the timing sheets in the past couple of days. Hulkenberg completed 73 laps with a best time of a 1:17.496, but it was Ricciardo that was slightly faster with a 1:17.204. The Australian completed 65 laps.
"It was a good afternoon’s work. We went through the tyre compounds, which was the target today. We are now working on finding the balance with a more performance-type run. We went through the programme as planned, so there’s now some more work to do to analyse the data. I’m happy that the afternoon went smoothly. We will build from here."
“We had another smooth session in the car looking at shorter runs and finding the right balance in that area. We’re working in a positive direction and it was good to give the softer compounds a go in decent morning conditions. As ever with testing, there’s a lot of data to go through with the team to keep developing the car and ensure we’re best placed heading into race one.”
Racing Point had a better day in terms of mileage and lap time, with Canadian Lance Stroll completing 103 laps, with a best time of a 1:17.556 to put himself in seventh place on the timesheet. I think that it is going to be an interesting inter-team battle between Perez and Stroll this season, as I see Stroll as highly underrated. I think a lot of people forget how good his rookie season was in 2017, scoring a podium and almost beating veteran Felipe Massa over the course of the season. Either way, a good day for Racing Point.
"It's been another positive day in the car and a good way to finish my pre-season programme. We covered a lot of kilometres today - the most I've done on a single day all winter - and now I am really looking forward to going racing. We are going to keep learning about our new car, both tomorrow on our last day with Sergio in the car and back at base, and we are going to bring the best possible package to Melbourne. It's really tough to predict where we stand once we start racing: everyone is working on different programmes, but I start the season with a positive mindset."
Tom McCullough, Performance Engineering Director, added:
"The first six days of testing have been about data gathering and learning, while today we switched towards preparing for Melbourne. It was Lance's last day in the car and we went through a lot of the procedural work we will put into practice in Australia. We did some performance work in the morning, while the afternoon was all about long runs. Our mileage was very positive with over 100 laps completed. Tomorrow will be the last day of our pre-season and we will have a similar programme with Sergio on his last day in the car before Melbourne."
Antonio Giovinazzi had a bit of a quiet day in his newly rebranded Alfa Romeo, as he only managed 71 laps - considering the mileage that we've seen from the team in the previous six days of testing - is not that great. Again, like McLaren, we have no idea whether all of this was intentional or not but what it suggests to me is that the biggest cause of the delay was that they had a few issues in the garage. They clearly weren't going for any sort of qualifying simulation (I would expect to see Alfa much further up if they were), with the Italian's best time being a 1:17.639. He finished the day in eighth place.
Giovinazzi had this to say:
"Today was a bit more challenging, as we faced some issues during our session. Nevertheless, the team is positive and motivated to continue learning about the car and our strengths. Tomorrow we have a final session of testing on track and aim to find some good developments. I look forward to starting my first race weekend soon."
Haas had a strong morning with Kevin Magnussen at the wheel of the VF-19, and the Dane managed to complete a decent number of laps with 53 to his name. He did however set a 1:18.199, which was only good enough for twelfth place. His teammate Romain Grosjean shared the driving duties, but his running was limited to only 16 laps in the afternoon after Haas had an exhaust issue. His best lap was faster than Magnussen's however with a 1:17.854 - good enough for ninth place on the timesheet. After the delay to their proceedings today, they will be hoping for a strong end to testing tomorrow.
"We carried on with the program today and did what we needed to do. I was happy to get more laps in obviously. I'm still feeling good in the car and look forward to tomorrow's final afternoon of track time. The team's busy preparing for our last day testing, but we're all really looking forward to going racing now."
"We had an issue that was discovered at lunch and it took a long time to fix. It wasn't the afternoon I was after. I'm now just focused on tomorrow morning and getting my last taste of the car before we head to Melbourne. Generally, we've made some great progress in testing. The car's showing us the limits, and where we can work, the baseline is very good. We're happy with that baseline and the car's performance. We haven't focused too much on lap times at the moment. Melbourne will come and eventually we'll put everything together for qualifying. Right now, we're learning the VF-19, discovering a bit more, and it's getting better and better. The feeling is good, as it was last year."
Team principal, Guenther Steiner, also told the media that:
"It's been a little disappointing today, we didn't do enough running. The morning was okay, we almost completed our planned program, but not so much the afternoon, where obviously we got very little done. Hopefully we're getting all our little gremlins over with here in testing, so we don't bring them to the races. That said, the last two days were good, so if we have a good day tomorrow, I think we'll be fine."
I'm pretty sure that Mercedes broke their own record for how many laps that they've completed in a single day this year, as the duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completed a mammoth 182 laps between them. Yet again, their laps times were nothing to shout about when you look at the timesheet. Hamilton's best effort was a 1:18.097, with Bottas last on a 1:18.862. However, when tyre adjusted, Hamilton's lap time on the hard C2's will put him pretty much level with what Leclerc managed in the Ferrari.
Bottas completed 97 laps in the afternoon, with Hamilton on 85 in the morning session.
Hamilton had this to say:
"Today has been a good day - lots of mileage, which is great for us. It has probably been one of the most positive days for us, we've really learned quite a lot. We've been able to apply our learnings from the morning to the afternoon, so I'm looking forward to seeing how Valtteri felt, but the car looked like it was in a better place. Our understanding of the W10 is continuously growing so it was definitely a positive day. "
"We got a lot of laps in today which is always good. I did a race simulation which was interrupted by the red flag, but it confirmed the progress we've made since last week. We're getting more and more prepared for Melbourne, but there's room for improvement and still a few question marks on where we stand compared to the competition. We're focusing on our performance; the entire team is pushing really hard and keeps improving the car and that's all that matters. We need to maximise the last day of testing as it will be our final chance to try out a few things ahead of Melbourne. Today was positive and I'm hoping for another good day tomorrow."
Williams are still trying to learn as much as they can about their new car before they get to Melbourne, and they are doing a pretty decent job at catching up on lost time. George Russell was back in the car today, with the British rookie completing 130 laps - the most of any single driver. As you would expect, the times were not anything special, with their best lap a 1:18.130. Robert Kubica is in the car tomorrow, and maybe it's time for a couple of qualifying laps?
"I'm definitely very happy with the number of laps we have done, but at the end of the day it is all about the lap times and we still have some time to find. We have made a big step from when I jumped in the car on Tuesday, after Robert was in the car yesterday, and hopefully when he jumps in the car tomorrow we will find another step. We understand the issues, we recognise that and are doing everything we can to rectify them. We have work to do but I am still very focused, motivated and I am very much looking forward to Australia."
Paddy Lowe, CTO, said:
"It was another great day weather wise, and again a very ambitious programme with three segments. We ran some more aerodynamic measurements in the morning, this time with our very largest rake assembly. We spent the second part of the morning on qualifying practice, running four sets of new tyres at low fuel. In the afternoon we focused on a race simulation mixed with a range of tests which went generally to plan despite the red flag interruptions. Overall, we achieved some high mileage with great feedback from George, and we will be doing more of the same with Robert tomorrow. "
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