Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest on the penultimate day of preseason testing at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The German set the fastest time ever recorded at the circuit with a seventeen one on the Hypersoft tyre.
Vettel’s time was over a second faster than the Haas of Kevin Magnussen who was second fastest a second and two tenths off the Ferrari. Pierre Gasly further proved that Honda has solved their reliability woes, going third fastest in the final hour three-thousandths of a second off Magnussen.
However, it remains unlikely that times will be set like that impressive run of tumbling times will be repeated at the Spanish Grand Prix as the Hypersoft is unlikely to be brought to the race. Vettel’s fastest combined sector times showed he could have been faster.
On Wednesday, Daniel Ricciardo was the first to break the lap record, but Vettel bettered it by almost nine-tenths.
However, Ferrari’s main challengers Red Bull and Mercedes did not do any running on low fuel. While Renault put in good laps with going Nico Hulkenberg fourth fastest and a tenth faster than his teammate Carlos Sainz, between them, completing one hundred and forty-five laps.
Lap times do not tell the whole story, as it thought that Mercedes continue to lead on pace. However, the German team has not brought the hypersofts to this test. Ferrari and Red Bull remain close on track from indications.
McLaren managed to get some decent running, with Stoffel Vandoorne clocking up over two race distances with one hundred and fifty-one laps. The Belgian went sixth fastest, completing most of his laps during the afternoon.
Max Verstappen focused on race runs, while his time was slowest the Dutchman led almost on lap tally completing almost three races distances with one hundred and eighty-eight laps. Mercedes weren’t far off with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas managing a combined total of one hundred and eight one laps.
A number of drivers broke the one fifty mark, including Gasly, Magnussen and Sergio Perez. The Mexican going eleventh fastest.
It wasn’t only down to single drivers breaking the one fifty mark, Williams duo of Lance Stroll and Robert Kubica, who was in action in Barcelona for the first time since his rally crash in 2011.
The Pole proved his injuries weren’t holding him back, seven-tenths better than Lance Stroll’s quickest of the winter on softs and nearly two seconds up on Sergey Sirotkin’s best time. Stroll’s day was focused on performance runs.
With one day of testing remaining a fortnight until the opening race, it appears the top three teams remain close on single and long run pace. The fastest lap being three seconds faster than on the opening day of testing last week and just under two seconds faster than this time last year.