The penultimate Formula One Test Day at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya served to let Ferrari submit their candidacy to face up to Mercedes at the start of the 2017 World Championship. German driver Sebastian Vettel clocked the fastest time of the preseason (1:19.024), which became the new unofficial record of the Catalan track, with its current configuration. The question is now if there is anybody capable of improving the time tomorrow, on the closing day of the tests.
The time of truth is getting closer and the teams have sped up their working plans, knowing that there is little time left for manoeuvring. Today, Thursday, several drivers got onto their single-seater for the last time before the Australian Grand Prix, to be staged next 26 March. One of them is Vettel, who made fences today at the wheel of the new Ferrari with an excellent time of 1:19.024. He was also the most active driver, with a total of 155 laps.
However, the German Ferrari driver, gave the privilege of being the favourite to Mercedes: “They are very fast and if you have a look at their long stints, I think they are the team to be beaten. The position we have now does not matter, we continue to grow and we have to work very hard and cannot get distracted”. Vettel is convinced that the German team has some card hidden for Australia. “We need to make more laps and I hope that we will have a good end of the tests tomorrow”.
The activity on the track was frenetic today, from early in the morning. Right after the light went green Jolyon Palmer (Renault), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Esteban Ocon (Force India), Lance Stroll (Williams), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) left their garages. As opposed to the previous days, the teams seemed to be in a hurry, especially Vettel, who made several laps below 1:20, until he clocked the impressive 1:19.024 on ultra soft tyres a few minutes before the lunch break.
Meanwhile, Mercedes seemed to be hiding their cards. Lewis Hamilton made a fastest lap of 1:19.352 on ultra soft tyres as well, although he gave the impression of not wanting to squeeze everything out of his car. The history was repeated in the afternoon, when the British driver was replaced by Valtteri Bottas and the Finn confirmed his good condition with a modest 1:21.819, on soft tyres.
Force India finished the day behind Ferrari and Mercedes, with Esteban Ocon, who was able to clock a commendable 1:20.161 on the softest tyre compound. The 20-year-old Frenchman additionally closed the day as the second driver covering the largest number of laps, a total of 137, without any apparent technical mishaps.
The opposite happened to McLaren, who were in trouble, once again. Stoffel Vandoorne was in charge of the wheel of the new MCL32 today. The Belgian driver had a complicated morning, as his single-seater stopped twice on the track, the first time at the pit lane exit and the second time entering the stadium area, due to “electrical problems”, according to the official version. His final record was 48 laps and the 7th fastest time, more than two seconds behind Vettel. The Woking-based team has reasons enough to be worried, so much that they even cancelled a press conference that was scheduled for today at the Circuit. We’ll see if they show any symptoms of reaction tomorrow, with Fernando Alonso back at the wheel of their car.
Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Jolyon Palmer (Renault), got a little trouble as well in the afternoon, as their single-seaters stopped on the track due to a breakdown. But despite the trouble, the team-mate of Carlos Sainz, who will be back into action tomorrow, finished the day with a promising fourth fastest time (1:20.416).
Charity Meet&Greet with Carlos Sainz
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya organised this afternoon, together with the Toro Rosso driver, Carlos Sainz, a charity tour. The activity managed to gather 2,200 euros which are going completely to Wings for Life a non-profit organisation that raises funds for research work on bone marrow injuries.
The 22 participants were able to enjoy a unique experience visiting all those spaces, which are usually restricted in the Circuit, a paddock tour, a lap around the service tracks, a speech about Formula 1 and a Meet&Greet with Toro Rosso driver, Carlos Sainz, with whom they were able to chat and take pictures. Before the Meet&Greet with Sainz, the President of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Vicenç Aguilera, the Circuit Manager Joan Fontserè and the driver had a picture taken with the cheque showing the amount that is going to be given to Wings for Life.
Blood donation campaign
Tomorrow, Friday, will not only be the last day of the preseason but also the last day of the blood donation campaign promoted by the Blood and Tissue Bank and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. A blood donation point will be set up in the Commercial Area of the Circuit (behind the main Grandstand) to give spectators, staff and any person in the facilities the chance to make a blood donation.
Just like during all of the Formula One Test Days, spectators will have tomorrow free admission with their tickets for the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2017, to be staged from 12 to 14 May, as well as Circuit Members and Officials. The price of the tickets for all other fans is of 18 euros and they can be purchased through the Circuit website, as well as in Box Offices 1 and 3.