Kimi Raikkonen fastest as wet-weather testing tops Barcelona agenda

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in a window of dry running at the end of the last day of the first F1 test. (Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT Images)
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Kimi Raikkonen was fastest for Ferrari in a window of dry running at the end of the final day of the first F1 test in Barcelona.

The day was earmarked for Pirelli wet-weather running, and the track was soaked by water tankers. However, when the Italian company had completed its work the circuit was allowed to dry and drivers were able to go for quick times on slicks. Nevertheless, it was something of a disjointed day.

The big story was the absence of Williams due the damage caused in Lance Stroll’s accident on Wednesday, costing the team more priceless track time. The other team to have a bad day as Toro Rosso, with Daniil Kvyat failing to complete a flying lap due to engine issues.

Behind Raikkonen, Max Verstappen was second fastest on the day, albeit 0.9s off the Finn. Jolyon Palmer was third for Renault, sharing track duties with Nico Hulkenberg. Haas again logged a lot of miles, with Romain Grosjean doing another 118 lap and setting fourth best time, while Antonio Giovinazzi was back in the Sauber.

“It’s always good to run a little bit in the wet in the first week of testing,” said Verstappen. “Of course, the conditions are not ideal, as the sun is shining and the track is wet, but at least we got a first idea of what the wet tires are like. In terms of the week as a whole, the most important thing for us was to make mileage and to know that all the parts were holding up. In general everything behaved pretty well. I think Mercedes might still have an advantage on us in terms of power at the beginning of the season but we’ll be catching up. For sure the car will change quite a bit before we get to Melbourne, as it will for everyone.”

“It’s been a productive day for us,” said Grosjean. “We managed to get some wet running, inter running, pit stop practice, dry running and trying a few setup changes that we had thought about overnight. The car is getting better and better. The team is doing a great job. Our pit stops looked pretty good. We’re trying to understand as much as we can. Of course, this is winter testing and it’s never going to get close to the conditions we have over a race weekend but, generally, I think we’ve made some good progress today. Hopefully, we can analyze all of that over the weekend and come back stronger next week.”

“We completed a reasonable amount of laps in the morning, however the track dried pretty quickly so it was difficult to come to too many conclusions about the wet and intermediate tires,” explained Hulkenberg. “We got some initial impressions on how the car reacts and feels on these tires so we do have a starting point. The R.S.17 feels good so far, but we still have room for improvement and that’s what next week is about. We have a good starting point and base so we just need to work forward with more track time.”

Mercedes did not run early on in the wet due to an electronic issue, and Lewis Hamilton eventually decided with his team that it wasn’t worth going, out, leaving teammate Valtteri Bottas to complete the day’s work.

 

“Unfortunately the day was a little bit shorter than we were hoping for but overall it has been a very good four days for us in Barcelona,” said Bottas. “As a team we really made the most out of this week- we’ve done a lot of mileage and I learned a lot.

“Today we did some good running on the extreme wets and the intermediate tires, before crossing over to the slicks. It was interesting to test in the damp track conditions and we got some very useful information about the intermediate tire. We ended the day completing long runs on the slicks, to build up our understanding of the tires ahead of Melbourne.”

Sergio Perez was back in the Force India, the Mexican running a healthy 82 laps after losing out with exhaust problems in the first day.

“It was a positive week and I think we made a good step forward with understanding the VJM10 and finding the limit of the tires,” said the Mexican. “I feel more confident in the car; I have learnt a huge amount and I think my preparation is going to plan. We can be pleased with this last day of testing: we covered a lot of ground and we found some more performance. Hopefully next week we can be in  even better shape.”

McLaren had a much better day as Stoffel Vandoorne ran 67 laps and logged some representative lap times.

 

Thursday results:

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1m20.872s
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1m21.769s
3. Jolyon Palmer (Renault) 1m21.778s
4. Romain Grosjean (Haas) 1m22.309s
5. Antonio Giovinazzi (Sauber) 1m22.401s
6. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1m22:534s
7. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) 1m22.576s
8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1m23.443s
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) 1m24.974s
10. Dany Kvyat (Toro Rosso) No time