Ferrari fastest, Mercedes churns out miles as F1 tests end
MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Ferrari ended Formula One preseason testing with the fastest times, while Mercedes ran the most laps over the eight days at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Kimi Raikkonen’s lap of 1 minute, 17.221 seconds on Friday came within 0.039 seconds of the unofficial track record set by Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel the previous day.
Both times were set on the fast “hypersoft” tires introduced this season. The track was also resurfaced in January, hindering comparisons to previous times. Times set in testing are not considered official.
Raikkonen said preseason was “pretty positive” for Ferrari, but downplayed his team’s lap times.
“Obviously the circuit has changed, we have a new surface so it is difficult to compare,” Raikkonen said. “We can only be positive with what we have done and then we will see in some weeks where we are starting off and if we have improved.”
The season starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25.
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas focused on running race simulations for a second straight day on Friday. Mercedes ended preseason testing with nearly 1040 laps, the most of any team.
“It’s still difficult to know exactly where we are in comparison to Red Bull and Ferrari and we won’t fully know that until we get to the first race,” Hamilton said. “But I feel like we’ve got as much information as we could in order to equip us with the best data to go to the season opener.”
Ferrari also showed good reliability, running more than 920 laps in total.
Hamilton was near the bottom of the time sheets on Friday, just ahead of last-place Lance Stroll of Williams.
Fernando Alonso reeled off late laps to post the third-fastest time of preseason testing, finishing 0.563 seconds slower than Raikkonen.
Alonso’s McLaren suffered an oil leak for a second time this week and the team again had to change its new Renault-made engine. The team ran less than 600 laps over the eight days of testing, the fewest among the 10 teams.
“I think there’s more to come from the car in terms of performance and also of course with reliability,” Alonso said. “We will see exactly where we are in Australia, when everyone is running with maximum performance, but I think it was a very productive two weeks of winter testing for us.”
Carlos Sainz only ran the final 90 minutes on Friday because of a faulty gearbox in his Renault, but the Spaniard finished with the fifth-fastest time overall.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo used a late run to mark the fourth-fastest time, although he was still over a second slower than Raikkonen.
Haas posted another promising result for a team that finished eighth in the 10-team standings last season. Romain Grosjean had the fifth-best time a day after teammate Kevin Magnussen was second behind Vettel. Grosjean also put in 181 laps, the most for any driver on Friday.
Charles Leclerc had a slight scare early when he lost control of his Sauber and ended knocking the protective barrier, which needed to be mended by the ground crew.