Raikkonen tops all on final day of Formula 1’s first official test session

  Formula 1’s first official test session is finally over as teams tried out their new challengers in preparation for the season-opening race on 15 March. The four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya showed some promising indications of the new cars which are prepped to the new season’s technical regulations. Kimi Raikkonen topped all drivers on the fourth and final day of test, finishing ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer.

Over the four days, Raikkonen and Sebastien Vettel completed 468 laps in the SF70H, equivalent to 2178.4 kilometers. Vettel did 267 laps and Kimi Raikkonen did 201. The Finn was also able to try the wet weather tyres as the circuit was artificially watered. “The new rules determine the feeling you have at the wheel, because you go a lot quicker than before: it’s down to a combination of the tyres and the car. What I can say is that the team has worked very well over the winter,” Raikkonen said. “I’ve got the feeling that we learned some lessons from last year and at the moment, we can’t complain about how testing has gone so far. But before Melbourne, we have another week of testing and we still have a lot of work to do.”

Verstappen took over driving duties from Daniel Ricciardo and after testing both wet weather compounds, the Dutchman also got in some dry running on the soft compound tyre to record the day’s second fastest time with a lap of 1:21.769. He summed his day’s work, “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.”

Palmer in the Renault R.S. 17 who took over from team mate Nico Hulkenberg in the second half finished ahead of Sauber’s newbie Antonio Giovinazzi. Hulkenberg started the day on a damp but drying track using wet tyres, intermediate and then the soft compound dry tyres. He completed the most laps of any driver in the morning session (51) with a best lap time of 1min 24.974. The team then changed the power unit ahead of Palmer taking to the track in the second half with what was by then a primarily dry track surface. Over the course of 39 laps, using the intermediate and then the soft and medium compound dry tyres, Palmer set the day’s third fastest time, a 1:21.778. Hulkenberg ended up ninth, just ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.

Force India’s Sergio Perez completed 82 laps on the final day to top McLaren’s rookie Stoffel Vandoorne. Vandoorne worked through a number of different set-up configurations and aero tests in combinations of shorter and longer stints. Added to the mix was the scheduled wet tyre testing, which enabled the rookie and the team to experiment with both types of wet tyre as well as running from wet to dry conditions. The team also completed a series of live pit stops in preparation for the first race in Melbourne. In all, Vandoorne did 67 laps, and the team ended the session having executed all of the planned test program for the day.

Reigning Champions Mercedes-AMG F1 team had a rather slow progress on the final day’s proceedings. Valtteri Bottas only managed eighth fastest due to some technical difficulties with the the F1 W08 EQ Power+. The team completed 68 laps in all on the final day. Hamilton had been scheduled to run the W08 EQ Power+ in the first half but an electrical fault forced him to sit out the opening session.

Bottas jumped into the car in the final hour after that, managing nine laps and adding another 59 in the afternoon to take his total for the day to 68 laps before the pit lane closed. The newbie completed the team’s first run on the Wet and Intermediate tyres before rounding off the test with tyre analysis on the dry compounds. “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. As a team we really made the most out of this week, we’v e done a lot of mileage and I learned a lot,” Bottas commented.

The second test session gets underway on Tuesday 7 March until 10 March.

2017 Formula 1 first official test day four

1.. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:20.872s 93 laps
2. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:21.769s 85 laps
3. Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:21.778s 39 laps
4. Romain Grosjean Haas 1:22.309s 118 laps
5. Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 1:22.401s 84 laps
6. Sergio Perez Force India 1:22.534s 82 laps
7. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1:22.576s 67 laps
8. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:23.443s 68 laps
9. Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:24.974s 51 laps
10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 lap