Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel topped the times on the fifth day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The German set a 16.8 putting the manufacturer top for the first time this winter after going almost two tents faster than the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly.
The Italian teams focus appeared to be on race runs an aero development during the opening four days of testing, but it wasn’t straight forward for Vettel after spinning during the morning. His fastest time a 16.8 on the C5s was set during the morning, Gasly closed up within the closing quarter of an hour.
Lance Stroll was third, three tenths off on used C3s with his time also being set during the morning. Racing Point appears to be on the path to best of the rest, the Canadian’s time was within three-tenths of Vettel despite him being on hard tyres.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer insisted it was “wishful thinking” to suggest the new RP20, which the team have admitted is based on last year’s title-winning Mercedes, could beat Ferrari in Melbourne.
The story of testing so far has been its unpredictability, as always, it’s not clear what the specifications in which they are running their cars and engine modes, fuel loads and other settings can make a significant difference to lap times.
Williams Nicholas Latifi was fourth doing a hundred and sixty laps finishing four-tenths ahead of Lando Norris. The McLaren driver had ended the morning fourth.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was sixth fastest, but he suffered a high number of spins, following instability at the rear through the corner. The Dutchman lost control into Repsol and spun his car into the gravel causing a red flag.
The team had brought a major aerodynamic upgrade on to the car on Thursday, with a new front wing, under-nose ‘cape’, aerodynamic deflectors behind the front wheels and rear diffuser. Verstappen said he had no idea where Red Bull stood compared to Mercedes and Ferrari in the competitive order.
Adding, “Overall we need to step up, and we are working on that. So far this year the car is definitely an improvement, and it also has to be if you want to fight for the championship.”
Valtteri Bottas and Vettel also had there offs at the same corner, but the German was the only one to drop it on the exit. All three managed to keep it out of the wall.
Bottas drove the Mercedes during the afternoon going seventh fastest on a 17.9, finishing a second off the pace and three hundredths faster than the Renault of Esteban Ocon. Lewis Hamilton’s afternoon was short.
The six-time champion had just started a long run, when his power unit shut down at Seat before coasting his way to Turn Seven. That brought out the red flag, the issue being caused by an oil pressure anomaly that led to the engine shutting down as a precaution.
Kevin Magnussen finished the day in ninth, completing a hundred and eleven laps. The Haas going two tenths faster than the Red Bull of Alex Albon, who did sixty-one laps. The British-Thai’s afternoon was focused on race runs.
Daniel Ricciardo did fifty-nine laps a second and a half off the pace, but only two thousandths behind Albon. The Australian finishing the day eleventh fastest, with an 18.3 ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Teams head into the final day of testing tomorrow as they look too perfect their setups ahead of practice in Melbourne in two weeks’ time.
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- BARCELONA TEST DAY THREE – Mercedes top the times admit DAS row
- Barcelona Test Day Two – Kimi Raikkonen tops the times by two and a half tenths
- Barcelona Test Day One – Mercedes start the season fastest by almost four-tenths
- F1 Today – Barcelona Testing Prixview – 18/02/202
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