The final day of the first pre-season Winter Test for the 2017 Formula One season at the Catalunya circuit saw the teams get in some wet running as Pirelli dampened the track. Read our report from day four of the first pre-season test.
The drivers taking part in today’s test were Max Verstappen for Red Bull, Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari, Sergio Perez for Force India, Stoffel Vandoorne for McLaren, Romain Grosjean for Haas and Antonio Giovinazzi for Sauber. Mercedes, Renault and Toro Rosso all once again split their driver programmes for the day – Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat headed out in the morning, while Valtteri Bottas, Jolyon Palmer and Carlos Sainz took over the driving duties in the afternoon.
Williams were unable to run today as they had found damage to the chassis of the FW40 overnight, as a result of Lance Stroll’s crash yesterday.
Ahead of the session this morning, tyre manufacturer Pirelli soaked the track with 250,000 litres of water. This allowed the teams to test out the new 2017 intermediate and wet compound tyres. Max Verstappen got the day underway with a tentative first lap – a 1:45.735 on the full wet tyres, while other teams were more conservative with their wet weather running. After an hour of very little running, Pirelli announced that they would not wet the track again over lunch, allowing the teams to focus on intermediate to dry weather running in the afternoon. The lap times began to tumble as more drivers began heading out on intermediate tyres. A succession of fastest lap changes between Nico Hulkenberg, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen saw the times drop to 1:36.041.
Lewis Hamilton stayed in the garage all morning due to an electrical fault on the W08. He and the team decided not to run when the problem was fixed as they, according to Hamilton on Twitter, ‘wouldn’t have learned much’. Valtteri Bottas took the reigns of the Mercedes to get some laps in before lunch. Elsewhere, Stoffel Vandoorne completed 18 laps for McLaren before heading back to the garage to work on some setup changes to the car, while an issue less than two hours into the session meant an engine change for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The STR12 completed just one lap all day.
As the track began to dry out, Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver to fit dry tyres and duly delivered the fastest time seen yet on Thursday, a 1:27.131. And it was Raikkonen who ended up fastest as the track was bone dry by the end of the morning session. He lowered the benchmark to a 1:22.305 on the soft tyre, while Romain Grosjean set a time four tenths slower than that on the super-soft tyre.
Just before the lunch break, Pirelli announced a change of plan and that they would indeed wet the track again. The wet track meant a significant lack of running for most of the teams, except Mercedes who hadn’t put any laps in while the track was damp in the morning. After just over an hour, Bottas had soft tyres fitted on his Mercedes. Only four other cars had ventured out during the hour of wet/intermediate running, and with the track temperature increasing the track was drying out again soon enough.
Romain Grosjean was positive about the time he’d spent on the wet tyres, but was more critical of the intermediates:
“It is quite interesting, the wet. There is a lot of progress made from last year. We haven’t had too much overheating with the rear and the temperature is staying in. The warm-up was OK-ish. The intermediates are really good for one lap and then they get destroyed a bit too early, so some work is to be done.” – Romain Grosjean
As the track dried in the final two hours of the day, Sergio Perez became Kimi Raikkonen’s closest challenger at the top of the timesheets. He set a 1:22.681 in the VJM10. His time was set on the super-soft tyre. It was Max Verstappen who eventually toppled the Finn, setting a 1:21.839 on the soft tyre. But it wasn’t long before Kimi retook his place at the top with a 1:21.324 and then improved further with a 1:20.872.
An unusually troubled day for Mercedes continued as, forty five before the chequered flag, Valtteri Bottas’ team spotted something in the data which they didn’t like, so kept the car in the garage as a precaution.
The day ended with Raikkonen fastest and Haas’ Romain Grosjean being the only driver to complete over 100 laps.
FULL RESULT FROM DAY 4 OF WINTER TESTING:
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:21.769||85|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:22.534||82|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||No Time||1|
|11||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||No Time||0|
|12||Felipe Massa||Williams||No Time||0|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||No Time||0|
Testing continues on Tuesday 7th March at the Catalunya Circuit. There will be live updates throughout the test on the Lights Out F1 Blog Twitter account, and a full report each evening.
Nicky Haldenby is a 24 year old Formula One blogger from Scarborough, England. Having grown up with F1 often on the TV on Sunday afternoons, Nicky has been following the sport avidly since 2006. He graduated from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class degree in English Language and Literature and founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in March 2016. Nicky also writes for Badger GP.