So the second day has been completed, and it was a bit more eventful than the first. It again saw McLaren finish the day as the fastest, but the major story of the day was about Sebastian Vettel, who put his SF19 into the gravel. I'll explain more about this later, but the Ferrari was not seen until just before the chequered flag was waved to close out the day.
This is the timesheet for today:
1) Carlos Sainz, McLaren, 1:17.144, 130 laps
2) Sergio Perez, Racing Point, 1:17.842, 88 laps
3) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:18.195, 40 laps
4) Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, 1:18.209, 113 laps
5) Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:18.330, 120 laps
6) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:18.395, 128 laps
7) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:18.682, 101 laps
8) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:18.941, 74 laps
9) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:18.943, 102 laps
10) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:19.056, 58 laps
11) Robert Kubica, Williams, 1:19.367, 130 laps
12) Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 1:22.597, 72 laps
13) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, no time set, 1 lap
It feels a bit weird to be starting with McLaren for the second day in a row, but they set the fastest time yet again, so here we are. Sainz was in the driving seat for the Woking squad today, and he put in a long shift lapping the Circuit de Catalunya a total of 130 times, with a best lap time of a 1:17.144 on the second fastest C4 (supersoft) tyres. Encouraging signs for McLaren today on a whole, but they did have a stoppage in the morning session, which turned out to be a problem with the water pressure.
I think that although that this has been an encouraging day for McLaren, they really need to sort out their reliability issues. If they want to have a strong start to the season, they can't be pulling over by the side of the track in the race or qualifying. They had these sort of issues last year in testing, so let's hope they can fix them before the first race.
"It's been a good day of work. We managed to do a lot of laps again today and more or less a full race simulation. There are still a few niggles and stoppages that we wish we didn't have, but every time we go out on track we're a bit more reliable and we keep moving in the right direction. Overall, I'm happy that we made the most of the time on track today.
"The timesheets still aren't important. We're only focused on our run plans and tests, rather than wasting our energy on trying to calculate where we're at compared to the others. Once we see what everyone else brings in Australia we'll be in a better position to compare our performance.
"For the moment, I'll look back over these six days with my engineers, what I liked, what I didn't like, and try to put together the best compromise for my last day in the car on Friday."
Sporting director, Gil de Ferran, added:
"As this has been the most laps Carlos has completed on one day during this year's pre-season tests – and very nearly the most of any day – this will qualify as one of the most fruitful days yet. It's also been one of the hottest days so far, which has provided us with useful and more representative data.
"I'd love to declare that this was an issue-free day, however we're still contending with some small challenges. On the positive side, our knowledge of the car's behaviour, our drivers, the Renault power unit and the new Pirelli tyres continues to expand.
"Carlos' acclimatisation into the team is progressing well. We look forward to the last two days of testing before Australia to complete our final preparations, in which we still have an extensive programme to cover."
Racing Point have had another encouraging day today, as not only did they set a few more laps than they did yesterday with 88, Sergio Perez also managed a 1:17.842 to put himself in second on the timesheet. This was a tiny bit slower than what Lance Stoll managed yesterday, but we have no idea what sort of fuel level the car was at, or how the car was set up.
I think if the pink panthers are able to keep up this sort of performance in the final couple of days of the test, then they could be in strong position come Australia. This is because they have had no major reliability issues, and although they have been lacking on laps compared to the others, this is what the team have been planning to do. They are also expected to receive one of the biggest updates of the field in time for the first race, so that's when they'll find out their true performance.
Sergio Perez said:
"It was a good day, even though we had a bit of a slow start. We had a couple of small issues here and there and the red flags didn't help, but in the end we finished the day with plenty of information. We were able to finally try some long runs after being pretty limited on mileage last week. We got to try the softer compounds of the Pirelli range and I was happy about the grip they offer. I had a good feeling with them and I hope we get to use them often this season, because they should work well on the majority of tracks. I am looking forward to a good, trouble-free final day on the car on Friday, so that I can then prepare myself well before we head to Melbourne."
Tom McCullough, the Performance Engineering Director, added:
"It wasn't the most straightforward morning: we struggled a bit with the balance of the car and the timing of stoppages on track, so we didn't quite achieve all our test objectives before lunch. We were much more productive and able to make up lost time in the afternoon, however. We completed all the items we needed to evaluate and understand, and we focused on some long run data-gathering in preparation for the final two days of testing. Sergio got his first experience of the softest compounds and overall the car ran reliably, which is always a positive. We have a lot of information to process and plenty to understand, so there's still a lot of work to do."
Ferrari had a pretty shitty day in comparison to what they have gotten used too in Barcelona, as after Vettel had completed 40 laps for the Scuderia, an as yet undisclosed issue caused him to lose control and put the car into the wall. The impact was big enough to trigger the sensor in the car that means he must visit the medical centre for a checkup. He was given the all clear, and his 1:18.195 was enough to keep him high up on the timesheet in third place. However, the team only managed to let Leclerc out of the garage in time to complete on installation lap, so it was quite a costly problem for the team.
I'm not sure what kind of mechanical problem Ferrari suffered today, but I do know that they need to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Not only is it dangerous for the driver, it also cost them a considerable amount of mileage as Leclerc pretty much missed the entire afternoon session. This week hasn't really gone to plan for the Monegasque driver, as he missed a considerable amount of running on Monday too due to a cooling issue. After what was a flawless first week, Ferrari really need a strong end to the test to make up for lost time.
"Clearly, we have not done as much running as we would have liked", Sebastian told the media during the lunch break. "But I'd still say I'm getting a positive feeling from the car. Last week was definitely productive as we completed a lot of mileage and also yesterday, we were able to make up for the track time lost in the morning.
"As for the accident," continued the German, "I was going into Turn 3 and I had a feeling there was an issue with the front left corner of the car and from then on, there was nothing I could do to avoid the impact. The good thing is I am totally fine and, by the end of the day, thanks to a great job from the mechanics, we even managed to get the car back on track."
Kimi Raikkonen was back in the Alfa Romeo today, as the team put in quite a bit of focus on the long run pace of the car. The Iceman managed to complete 113 laps in his C37, with a best time of a 1:18.209 which was enough for fourth place on the timesheet. This is yet another encouraging sign for the Hinwil-based outfit, and if they can keep up this performance and reliability then they can go to Australia with their heads held high.
In a day where the team were focused on set-up work as well as tyre testing, the car can't help but show it's speed. I haven't really got much to comment on Alfa Romeo today, apart from I think if you were to put money on a surprise podium in Australia, they would be on the shortlist for me.
Antonio Giovinazzi will be in the car tomorrow, so let's see if Alfa can keep up their good form and maybe even do a few qualifying simulations so we can see a bit of the true pace of the car.
The ever chatty Raikkonen said:
"We went through the planned programme and made some more progress today. The team is motivated and working well together. I look forward to being back in the car on Friday for my last day of testing before we head out to the first race of the season."
Romain Grosjean managed to complete a solid 120 laps around the Spanish circuit, with a best time of a 1:18.330 which was enough to put the Frenchman in fifth place. However, this time was set on a set of the softest tyres available, the C5's (hypersofts). Take from that what you will, but all in all it was an encouraging day for the American team who appear to have moved past the reliability problems that plagued them in the first week.
Grosjean was full of praise for his Haas VF-19, as you'll be able to read below. I think that Haas are clearly benefiting from their close relationship with Ferrari, because it is hard to believe that a team with a car this strong only entered the sport in 2016. I also think that Formula 1 needs more teams such as Haas to enter the sport, as they are a fierce contender in the midfield battle which only adds to the excitement for the fans. However, it does beg the question: will they ever be able to win if they aren't a fully independent team? Will Ferrari let this happen?
Sadly, I doubt it.
"It's been a good day with a fair number of laps. We had a bit of a slow start in the morning, but then we got into it, we did the program we wanted. I drove the car in different conditions. It still feels really good, it reacts very well. There are a lot of things we're improving day-after-day. The team's doing a great job and I feel we're headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to getting more laps in this week."
Team Principal, Guenther Steiner, added:
"It was another good day of testing. We enjoyed quite a bit of running, we got more than 100 laps which is always good. I think we're making up for all the time we lost last week. We're learning, trying to find out what the tires are doing, and what we need to do on the set-up. A couple more days like this and we'll be ready for Melbourne."
The Red Bull RB15 was being driven by Max Verstappen today, with the young Dutchman lapping the track a total of 128 times, yet again showing the impressive reliability of that Honda engine. His best time was a 1:18.395, but the team were clearly not going for outright pace in what was another productive day. He did however have a bit of an off during the afternoon session, which led to a slight delay to their programme as the team completed all of the necessary checks to the car.
Like I have said before, I think that Red Bull are looking really strong, and I am starting to believe them when they say that this is the best pre-season testing that they have ever had. Much like a lot of other teams, they focused on long runs today with race preparations, as the track temperature was similar to what they could expect at the Spanish Grand Prix. The reliability is what strikes me as impressive with Red Bull, as Honda are now supplying two teams without any issues so far. This is amplified by how tightly that Red Bull is packaged, something which famously backfired on McLaren with their "size-zero" concept.
“Not a perfect day, but still a good one. There are always things you want to check, instead of driving until something breaks. We did a routine check this afternoon and then got back out again at the end of the session. But even with the delay we had, we still managed to do over 120 laps, so I think it was still a very positive day. The more laps, the better and today we did a lot, so overall I’m happy.”
Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin said:
“We had another good morning, following the same plan as yesterday, when we got through a lot of shorter runs and set-up changes. In the afternoon, we went into a scheduled race simulation. We managed two-thirds of that but after Max had a brief off, we pitted for some routine checks with the gearbox. It’s not the easiest element of the car to get deep into, so it kept us in the garage for a while. When we did get back out, the change in track conditions meant we weren’t going to learn that much so we focused on pit stop practice, which we had planned as part of the race work. Tomorrow, we’ll pursue the same plan, which is all about understanding the car and gaining valuable information.”
Toro Rosso didn't have the perfect day with a couple of minor issues delaying their running slightly. This didn't stop Daniil Kvyat from surpassing a century of laps however, with the Russian racking up 101 over the course of the day, with a best time of a 1:18.682. Even with a few problems with the car, this is the first real delay Toro Rosso have suffered to their running, but these issues were not related to the power unit.
I feel much the same way about Toro Rosso as I do about their parent team, Red Bull. This is because they clearly have a well-designed car (which is sharing a few parts with Red Bull), with a strong power unit behind them. Kvyat has also impressed me thus far, making no silly mistakes and just getting on with the job at hand. It'll be interesting to see whether he can keep up this sort of form, but for his sake I hope he does.
"I would say we had a decent day of running, we ran some useful test items and got some good laps on the board. Of course, you always want to do a few more laps but we had a couple of small issues here and there, it wasn't anything major, although the time adds up. In the end, it was a productive day and that's the most important thing, we got to test many useful items so now we'll focus on the next day of testing. You can't look too much into the timesheets as everyone is on a different programme of testing but I'm feeling quite comfortable with the car. We got through almost everything we wanted to test today and we have a lot of useful data that I'll go through together with my engineers. I have one more day left in the car and we will make the most out of it before heading to Melbourne."
Jody Egginton, Technical Director, said:
"Dany took over driving duties today for the second day of test and he stepped through the standard block of aero tests early on, without any fuss or delay. As the temperature increased, we moved the setup forwards as planned and also ticked off a number of background test items. In addition to the red flag, we unfortunately lost some track time later in the morning due to a couple of small issues which we now need to address for tomorrow. Having said this, we have increased our understanding of the car's setup today and we are looking forward to applying this to the final two days of winter testing."
Mercedes again chose to run both drivers in the second day of the test, with Bottas completing 74 laps in the morning, and Hamilton completing just over a century with 102 in the afternoon. Bottas had a best time of a 1:18.941 to put himself in eighth place, and Hamilton was just behind with a 1:18.943. I really feel like I am repeating myself everyday, but the team yet again focused on their long run pace, with a whopping 176 laps between the two drivers. This surely makes up for the running that they lost with Bottas yesterday.
Mercedes have been quietly going about their business in testing so far, trying to stay under the radar. However, something that has not gone unnoticed is the extent of the upgrades brought to this second test, as Sebastian Vettel mentioned:
"I was a bit surprised that the car had so many innovations, but everyone chooses their own way. Of course, it's interesting what's happening here [in Barcelona], but it's only in Melbourne that we really get going."
I really hope that we get to see the team put in a few qualifying runs, but at this point it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't show their true pace until Saturday afternoon in Melbourne.
"We got a lot of laps today which is a good thing, but we've come across a few little hurdles, so we're just working our way through them, trying to be as diligent as possible trying to understand the causes - which is exactly what testing is for. Everyone is working flat-out and I'm sure we will get there. You need days like this to be able to bring light to the things that we need to work on."
"It was a positive day, we did 74 laps this morning, focusing on set-up work and making some good progress. There's a lot of data for us to go through tonight to further improve our set-up and make sure we come up with the optimal programme for tomorrow. We learned a lot today and we will make sure to learn a lot again tomorrow."
James Allison had some interesting thoughts on tyre wear:
"We did set-up work in the morning with Valtteri and continued with this in the early afternoon with Lewis, yielding some good results for both drivers. The race run in the afternoon, although quite considerably quicker than the last race simulation we made, was marred by front graining - something which we think, looking up and down the pit lane, could be a feature of the year. We need to make progress on graining resistance in the next couple of days, in order to make sure we have a good way of handling it by the time the racing season begins."
Renault, fitted with an odd looking appendage on the front wing/nose of the car, seem to be following the same tactics as Mercedes this week. They ran both drivers, with Hulkenberg completing 58 laps with a best time of a 1:19.056, and Ricciardo a 1:22.597 from his 72 laps. They finished tenth and twelveth respectively. We have to assume that these laps were done under heavy fuel, as the team tries to learn as much as they can about the car before we get to the first race in Melbourne.
Renault had another encouraging day, but even so I do not think that they have made gains as substantial as they were expecting at the end of last season. This isn't to say that their car hasn't improved - I'm sure it has - but I think other teams in the midfield have also improved a lot. From what we've seen so far, I think that the gap to the top three teams could be smaller, but not just for Renault in particular. It will be interesting to see their qualifying simulations and what sort of pace that they are able to extract from the car.
"We enjoyed another solid session today with a lot of laps put on the board for the second successive day. We looked at more aero evaluations on longer-based runs. The team is working exceptionally hard to ensure that we're developing as fast as possible. I'm pleased with how things are progressing."
"It's been another busy day of work ad it's really encouraging to put over 70 laps on the board. It was a little interrupted with the red flag delay but we ran to our programme and managed a decent race simulation We're moving forward well as a team and to put on over 130 laps for a second day running is very good. I'm back in the car tomorrow and we'll be aiming to increase the lap count and continue to grow more comfortable at the wheel."
Williams had another strong day in terms of mileage, with Robert Kubica completing a massive 130 laps for the Grove outfit as they try to make up for the days that they lost at the first test. Kubica was clearly not going for qualifying laps, with a best time of a 1:19.367 putting him in eleventh out of the twelve drivers who set a time. However, at this stage nobody is expecting Williams to put in a quick time as they are still learning about their package.
Clare Williams has said that she is confident that the team can make up for the lost time, saying that:
"We've had to condense the programme, we have some clear focuses that we have to concentrate on. Having a reliable car will minimise the amount of time that we'll lose. Fortunately, the car is reliable at the moment which means we can recover a lot of the programme that we potentially could have lost."
I really hope that the team can have a strong end to testing, as they deserve to have something to cheer about after what was a horrible first week for the team. It will also allow the drivers to get used to their new car, which is important as they are effectively two rookies due to Kubica's injury.
"We had a good day from a gathering data point of view. Time is running out and from a driver point of view we haven't done much work on the car so there is still a lot of things to discover and not much time before the first race. We are not in the position we would like to be from an engineering point of view, but I hope in the next few days we can start playing with the car and see how it reacts. We have to keep working and keep improving to put maximum effort in, and I hope we have a smooth start to the season now."
Paddy Lowe, the CTO, added:
"It was another day of perfect winter testing weather and we had an ambitious programme planned with Robert in the car. We had a trouble-free day and got through 130 laps to complete the entire programme for the day. We made some progress following analysis of the car overnight, especially on the long runs, but there is a lot more to find. We have good data to analyse from today's runs and so that will help give us further direction for another important day tomorrow."
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