Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari ending the fourth and final day of the first test top of the time sheets as Mercedes hit their first gremlins.
The Finn completed 93 laps with a best time of 1.20.872, eight tenths ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. The running today was largely disrupted due to artificial watering of the track by Pirelli and many teams noticeably limited their running while the track was damp. Mercedes didn’t even make it out till just before lunch time with Lewis Hamilton getting no running at all due to an electrical issue.
The team did send team mate Bottas out just before lunch for some installation laps and the Finn did complete 68 laps before his running was curtailed early when the engineers ‘found something in the data they didn’t like.” It shows the first kinks in the armour of the World Champions on a day it was confirmed they are running in a more conservative engine mode despite fastest laps on all compounds yesterday.
It was a quiet day for Verstappen and Red Bull as they went about their business after losing time yesterday with issues. The youngster completed 85 laps as he finished on a 1.21.769 with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer less than a tenth behind in P3 despite only running in the afternoon session. His team mate Nico Hulkenburg ran in the morning but was last of those to set a lap time, four second adrift of Raikkonen but with most running in the wetter conditions.
Romain Grosjean had a good days running for the Haas team on the way to P4 and over 118 laps, easily the most for the day. Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, replacing Pascal Wehrlein for the first test, was just behind the Frenchman in P5 and got a solid 84 laps under his belt as well playing the super sub for the Swiss side.
Sergio Perez and Force India where in P6 while Stoffel Vandoorne took P7 and set a time on the ultra softs fractionally faster than Alonso managed yesterday on the same compound.
And spare a thought for poor Daniil Kvyat who got one install lap done and then the team done no more running. They did change the Renault engine with the intention of splitting the running after lunch with both drivers but the STR12 never seen the track again with a full day gone for the Red Bull sister team.
Williams took no part in the last days running after the crash damage with Lance Stroll’s crash late yesterday. It’s a lost day of running for the Grove based side, only silver lining would be that veteran Felipe Massa was due in the car today so the rookie, although the cause of the day’s loss, didn’t lose out on valuable track time.
Next and final test starts on the 7th of March from Barcelona again. Will we see more details of the possible running order or will it be more cloak and dagger before Melbourne?
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Photo Credit: Sky Sports