As the sun goes down on the Catalunya circuit, just outside Barcelona, what have we learned?
Based on the morning runs, Ferrari are probably the only team to get close to Mercedes, at the early part of the season at least. Vettel managed a 1:19.024, ahead of Hamilton’s 1:19:352. Encouraging for the Italian team, especially as it’s reported that the record lap involved some coasting over the line, looks like they didn’t want to show their full hand just yet.
At the other end of the scale, McLaren just aren’t making progress, despite the Stoff getting some laps as well as the team’s fastest time under his belt, the car broke down on track and brought the morning session to a close.
A slow start for the afternoon’s proceedings, eventually though, the teams did get back out. Unfortunately, nothing blisteringly quick this time, more often than not teams were running race simulations, ready for Melbourne.
That included Vettel, as well as posting the fastest time in testing so far, he also racked up 156 laps by the end of play, more than anyone else on track. Despite this, he insisted Mercedes were still ahead:
If you look at the amount of laps Mercedes has done – and how slow they go in testing historically, how much they can ramp it up for races – it’s clear…They are very fast if you look at their long-run pace.
Mercedes went for a driver swap and let Bottas back in for the afternoon, and racked up 95 laps, he’s obviously still learning the car, but surely must be loving the extra pace it offers.
Elsewhere, Ocon posted the third fastest time of the day as well as 137 laps, second only to Vettel. Signs are good for the youngster in the Force India.
Back at McLaren, things went from bad to worse, Vandoorne only managed to put 15 laps on the board, giving him 48 for the day. The team stated an electrical fault was to blame for the earlier issues, but clearly it wasn’t sorted out in the afternoon and they seem to have learned little.
Other teams with issues were Toro Rosso and Renault with Kvyat and Palmer’s cars both losing power. Looks like perhaps my earlier post regarding potential problems was just the start!
Hopefully we can see a couple more teams pull themselves together and take the fight to Mercedes on the final day.
Report by Jay Daniels @jaydaniels_