BARCELONA TEST DAY FOUR – Robert Kubica sets the pace as teams focus on mileage

Testing & Race Reports

Robert Kubica set the pace for Alfa Romeo on the opening day of the second test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The Polish driver managed a 16.9, and fifty-three laps to go four-tenths faster than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Kubica set his fastest time before the lunch break on a qualifying simulation, going over half a second faster during the morning session before Verstappen improved by two tenths in the afternoon. The second week of testing is normally when the teams start to prepare for the opening race in Melbourne.

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was third fastest almost half a second behind Kubica and the two Alpha Tauri’s. Daniil Kvyat managed sixty-one laps going four hundredths faster than his teammate Pierre Gasly. But, the Frenchman only managed twenty-five laps.

Things weren’t going better for Alpha’s sister team Red Bull, technical problems left Alex Albon to complete twenty-nine laps in the morning. Then a spin caused by his car cutting out saw Max Verstappen spin out at  Campsa. That brought the day to an early conclusion with the red flags.

Mercedes as normal concentrated there running on mileage, between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas they managed a hundred and seventy-nine laps. Lewis Hamilton was seventh doing eighty-nine laps, still only 0.6s adrift of Kubica despite using tyres which were three steps harder. Valtteri Bottas took over the W11 for the afternoon and was ninth.

Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal, Toto Wolff said, “Maybe it is not the quickest car, but we have a starting base we can develop and gradually increase our performance. The mindset is we are not good enough and that’s what it needs to be.”

The afternoon session was largely trouble-free, most of the drivers focusing on long runs on the harder compounds to simulate race mileage. Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat also came to a halt at the end of the session, albeit in unrelated circumstances to Verstappen as he stopped next to Repsol.

Pierre Gasly was fifth fastest, just nine hundredths behind his teammate. Alex Albon managed twenty-nine laps, but was a hundredth faster than Hamilton. Lance Stroll was eighth continuing Racing Point’s strong testing by leading a  portion of the pre-lunch running.

Gasly told reporters, “At the moment I am pretty happy here we are but I don’t think we’ve found the sweet spot. We’ll try to find it in the next two days.”

Sebastian Vettel was only tenth, behind Bottas, following a spin also at Campas, the Ferrari driver kicked up a hefty amount of gravel onto the circuit, while the second came courtesy of Nicholas Latifi – who had to pull over at the exit of Campas.

This year’s early plan has been for the team to concentrate on mileage and correlating simulation data, with Day One proving a success on that front, with Vettel and Leclerc, added a combined 164 laps to the SF1000.

Daniel Ricciardo managed fifty-three laps going ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. It appears on day four of testing the focus has shifted to reliability and race runs.

McLaren and Renault were also taking the mileage over pace, as the teams know reliability is the key to their success this season.

Nicholas Latifi was fourteenth going two tenths faster than teammate George Russell. The Canadian caused the second red flag, when he pulled over with an oil systems problem just after Campas.

Haas’s Romain Grosjean managed the most laps by a single driver with a hundred and seven. The Frenchman was sixteenth fastest. All of the race drivers apart from both Alfa Romeo drivers were in action on day four. Teams only have sixteen hours remaining before the opening race in Melbourne in just over a fortnight.



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