Barcelona test – Bottas outpaces Giovinazzi
Mercedes Valtteri Bottas was fastest on the second day of the third test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The Finn set a 16.9 on the supersoft tyres to outpace Ferrari Antonio Giovinazzi.
The Ferrari reserve driver traded lap times with the Finn before lunch but was unable to respond to Bottas’s time. Bottas’s lap was seven tenths slower than his qualifying time on Saturday but was six-hundredths faster than the Italian.
Giovinazzi set his fastest time on the hypersoft tyres and was just under seven thousandths off Bottas. Haas’s strong form continued as Kevin Magnussen was third ahead of Lando Norris. Norris was nine tenths faster than Stoffel Vandoorne’s best time on supersofts on Tuesday, although fuel levels and car settings are unknown.
Force India’s Nikita Mazepin set his fastest time on softs in the final twenty minutes for fifth. While in his first F1 test the Scottish-Korean Jack Aitken was sixth for Renault setting his fastest time on the ultrasofts.
After spending Tuesday in the Ferrari, Charles Leclerc was back in his Sauber, going ahead of Robert Kubica. Kubica managed fifty nine laps, as Williams looked to better understand the issues it has faced with its car so far this year.
Pierre Gasly was ninth after taking over from Sean Geleal in the afternoon going ninth on the mediums. Vandoorne would end the day tenth, after
Jake Dennis made his F1 debut in the Red Bull, the British driver got a surprise call up to test the RB14 this week in order to help with the simulator work he does for the team back at its factory.
Dennis ended the day eleventh, three and a half seconds off the pace. He set his fastest lap in the last ninety minutes completing seventy-five laps.
Nicholas Latifi was last the Force India driver completing one hundred and twenty-one laps on his way to thirteenth.
Hamilton and Vettel pleased with testing
Lewis Hamilton hopes that a productive first day of testing on Tuesday will serve Mercedes well at next weeks Monaco Grand Prix. The four times champion continued where Mercedes left off in testing, completing well over two race distances.
The team confirmed the aim for the test was data collection in order to improve correlation between the windtunnel and track performance, as well as set up work and engine development. Mercedes also completed a trial for F1’s governing body by placing two lights on their car’s rear-wing endplates.
And while not a particular lover of F1 testing duties, Hamilton was pleased to get the extra mileage under his belt ahead of a key phase of the season. Hamilton told Sky Sports “It was a good day and a relatively interesting test, I’m glad we did it.
“We got through a large programme and did 151 laps, which is a good sign of reliability. I’m looking forward to Monaco; hopefully, we can take some of the things we’ve learned onto there.” Performance in the final sector in Barcelona is seen as important because it is twisty and relatively low speed.
Sebastian Vettel says he understands why Pirelli altered the tread depth of the tyres following severe blistering on normal tyres on Tuesday. Pirelli decided to reduce tread depth by 0.4mm after teams suffered blistering in pre-season testing, and the same tyres will be used at the French and British GPs.
At the weekend, Ferrari struggled to get the tyres to work, forcing them into a two stop race. Vettel said “Obviously you don’t get the chance to revisit these kind of decisions that are made but we did it today and the result is that if we used the normal tyres on Sunday.”
“It would have probably been worse, so it was the correct call. And it was our fault for not having the same tyre wear or life as other people.”
Vettel says Ferrari have three issues
Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari needs to address three key problems to ensure it doesn’t suffer another comprehensive defeat at the hands of Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas scored the first Mercedes one-two of the season in Sundays Spanish Grand Prix after the German made an extra stop for fresh tyres. Kimi Raikkonen with a loss of power, which followed an engine change after Friday practice, to complete what team boss Maurizio Arrivabene called “a weekend in which nothing went right”.
Speaking to Autosport about the weekend, Vettel said, “”We were not quick enough. So if we are not able to see that then we are more than blind, because we didn’t have the pace in the first stint.”
“Second, I think we struggled a little bit over the course of the weekend with the tyres. They changed, but they changed for everyone, so our ambition has to be that we’re better off, rather than worse off, than everybody.”
“Third, I think it was a poor weekend in terms of reliability. Kimi had an issue with the engine [change after Friday] and obviously retired in the race.”
After a difficult few races, Mercedes appeared to benefit from the slightly revised tyre to ease blistering on the high-energy, resurfaced track.
However, Vettel said Ferrari could not rely on the change in form being down to its car not suiting the circuit or the tyres.
Palmer believe Leclerc could move to Ferrari
Former Renault driver and BBC analyst Jolyon Palmer believe that Sauber’s Charles Leclerc could be promoted to Ferrari next season. The Monacan has made a good start to the season after points at the last two races.
Writing for BBC News, Palmer said, “It’s still early days but if he keeps moving in this direction, he will be in the frame for a big seat. It seems Ferrari might have their obvious future driver here.”
Leclerc is a member of Ferrari’s junior programme and was placed at Sauber after the Swiss team agreed to closer ties including Alfa Romeo sponsorship. There have been rumours from within Ferrari that they are considering promoting him to the senior team or move him to the more competitive Haas team in 2019, which also has close links to Ferrari.
Palmer said: “After a difficult opening three races in his F1 career, full of minor spins and missing a bit of pace, Leclerc seems to have found his feet and has delivered two fantastic points-finish drives in a row.”
The Englishman said the data he saw when Leclerc was teammates with his brother Will shows “e appeared to have this feeling in the car that marks drivers out as champions, were a cut above the rest. It was impressive.”
Palmer believes Leclerc’s impressive form, allied to that of Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes, could mean Daniel Ricciardo has no choice but to stay at Red Bull next year.
Pirelli keen to extend contract
Pirelli says its keen to extend its partnership with Formula One, however, says it will not be forced into a tyre bidding war. The Italian manufacturer has been the sports sole tyre supplier since 2011.
It is understood that executive vice chairman and chief executive officer, Marco Tronchetti told shareholders on Tuesday that the suppliers’ contract beyond 2019 is not guaranteed.
In the conference call, Tronchetti Provera said Pirelli’s participation in F1 had worked well but it would not be held to ransom and is seeking similar commercial terms to its present deal.
He explained that it was not essential for Pirelli to stay in F1 given its huge presence in international motorsport. Pirelli are also the sole supplier to World Superbikes and supports 460 events each year.
A spokesperson said, “As we have always said, Formula 1 is a good match for us and we are happy and honoured to stay there. But if it comes down to a bidding war, we would not stay at any cost.”
Higher-degradation tyres that grand prix bosses requested to spice up racing have defined Pirelli’s F1 era.