Race Weekend Central

Sebastian Vettel Breaks Ricciardo’s Test Record in Spain

Sebastian Vettel became the fastest tester in the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track’s history, as the four-time world champion clocked a 1:17:182 in his Ferrari Thursday, eclipsing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo’s one day quickest time record on the third day of the second Formula 1 pre-test in Montemelo, Spain.

Surprising everyone in second was the American Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen, while Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly took third. All three of the top testers used either super or hyper soft tires to set their fastest times. But Vettel was not too thrilled over the situation, realizing that the real test will be in Australia in a little more than two weeks time.

“It’s just a time,” Vettel replied to ESPN F1. “There’s been a lot of times, what is important is that the car was working all day. We did nearly 200 laps, so that was good. Overall, the conditions were better than yesterday. It’s always difficult to compare, but it matters in a couple of weeks’ time, that when it’s serious.”

Vettel accomplished his fastest time by running the new Pirelli tires, which were the softest compounds that the Italian tire manufacturer could provide. A series of runs ahead of the lunch break, which consisted of five-lap runs each, along with the perfect conditions for a flying lap: low winds, a new, grippier track, plus a warmer temperature gave Vettel the chance to set an excellent time.

However, it was expected for the team to try soft and ultra-soft tires towards the conclusion of the second and final pre-test. But it is still difficult to determine whether Ferrari still has the best car compared to their Mercedes rivals.

McLaren no longer had to worry about their reliability issues on Thursday, as Stoffel Vandoorne ran 146 laps for the day, and concentrated on performance style runs in the morning, before the mechanics pulled him back into the pits to discuss his data. In the afternoon, Vandoorne gave the team their first real sign that the car certainly can work well with the new Renault engine.

The Renault works squad finished fourth and fifth, with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz respectively, just ahead of Vandoorne, who took sixth. The Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, did not bring any soft tires, so their times were only average as the duo finished day three in eighth and ninth. Max Verstappen racked up 187 laps in his Red Bull, but only was working on mileage and finished 12th.

It was another clear day of accidents and red flags. The only stoppage on the circuit occurred when Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson spun into the gravel at turn four just minutes before the end of the test. The final chance for all teams to work on their problems takes place on Friday, as the final pre-season test concludes before the start of the F1 season.

At Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya, Montemelo, Spain
Test # 2 Day 3 Final Results

1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:17.182, 188 laps (Hyper-soft)
2. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:18.360, 153 laps (Super-soft)
3. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, 1:18.363, 169 laps (Hyper-soft)
4. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:18.675, 79 laps (Hyper-soft)
5. Carlos Sainz, Renault, 1:18.725, 69 laps (Hyper-soft)
6. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:18.855, 151 laps (Hyper-soft)
7. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:19.244, 146 laps (Hyper-soft)
8. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:19.296, 84 laps (Medium)
9. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:19.532, 97 laps (Medium)
10.Robert Kubica, Williams, 1:19.629, 73 laps (Super-soft)
11 Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:19.634, 159 laps (Hyper-soft)
12. MaxVerstappen, Red Bull, 1:19.842, 187 laps (Soft)
13. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:20.262, 67 laps (Ultra-soft)

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F1 testing is always interesting, but impossible to decipher. Of course the teams, never run the same program at one time. To do so would give the opposition a clear comparison to work with.

But I bet the hardest working people at the track have been the team photographers and those making audio recordings of engine and transmission noise. Not of their own cars of course but the competition.

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