The F1 preseason has dropped the curtain this Friday at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, after eight thrilling days that have offered a succulent appetizer for the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA, to be staged from 12 to 14 May. In charge of the Grand Finale was Kimi Raikkonen, who set a stratospheric time of 1:18.634, confirming Ferrari as the big threat for Mercedes in the fight for this year’s title.
Raikkonen became the indisputable protagonist of the day and of the whole winter. His achievement is being the only driver of the tests to make a complete lap around the Catalan track in less than 1:19, and he did it on super soft tyres. This time has now become the new unofficial record of the Circuit in its current configuration. At the same time, the Scuderia has sent a message of alert to Mercedes, especially considering the words spoken by Raikkonen at the end of the day. “We can be even faster, but that was not the target of these tests”, said the Finn.
“It’s been our best day of these two preseason weeks, because we have been able to test a lot of things and we’ve made a good job to improve to the maximum. We are better than one year ago and we have a faster car, although I don’t think that the new regulations are benefiting anybody specifically. Where will we be at the first race? I have no idea. It’s the same story every winter and we’ll see in a couple of weeks”, he declared.
Mercedes seems to have now a serious rival for the start of the season. Clock in hand and considering that the fastest time of the silver team was clocked by Valtteri Bottas on Wednesday (1:19.310), we could say that the Italian squad is right now half a second faster. But careful, the team that has won the World Championship title in the past three years, may have been playing games and be reserving part of their potential for the start of the season.
However Ferrari had not only good news, as they also had a few reliability problems during the winter. We had one example today, as Raikkonen’s car stopped at the entrance to the chicane while he was doing a Grand Prix simulation. On the contrary, Mercedes had hardly any mechanical mishaps during the preseason and they were the team that covered the most number of kilometres: more than 5,000.
Red Bull has taken the place of the third in the party, considering the great time clocked by Max Verstappen, who was second fastest on this last day: 1:19.438. Behind the Dutch on today’s time sheets was Carlos Sainz, four tenths slower, on ultra soft tyres. The Spaniard was enjoying his best test day and had even managed to make a great Grand Prix simulation, but less than one hour before the end of the session, his Toro Rosso stopped in the middle of the main straight. The Madrid-born driver, who added 132 more laps to his private record, claimed that it was a planned manoeuvre and did not hide his satisfaction.
“It’s been a more than favourable day for us, we knew that the 1:19 would come eventually, but the most positive result are the 132 laps that we have been able to make without problems. I’m happy with the reliability of the car, we completed the race simulation and, all in all, we managed to make everything we had planned. I don’t think that I’m going to have a much different single-seater in Australia, we have enough to start the season with and evolve from then on”, recognised Carlos Sainz before forecasting that “there will be a great battle for the fifth position, with Force India, Renault, who have made a step forward,; Williams, with a very complete car; and even Haas”.
McLaren does not appear on this list, as they had problems again, for the umpteenth time. In the morning, the MCL32 failed again and stopped twice in the middle of the track having to go back to the garage on a truck. The Woking-based team stated that the electronics were the cause of the failure, although it seems quite clear that the Honda engine has become a true weak point of the single-seater, which is around 20 km/h slower than the rivals on the straight.
Thus, Fernando Alonso has more than enough reasons to be worried about. He closed the season with a poor record of 190 laps in total (today, he was only able to make 43) and a fastest time of 1:21.389, which he clocked today. However, he was able to feel the warmth of the public during the closure of the Formula One Test Days. In addition to enjoying the show, the attendants were also able to collaborate with the blood donation campaign promoted by the Blood and Tissue Bank and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
After eight intense days, split into the past two weeks, the Catalan track will become the world capital of car racing again on the coming 12 to 14 May, on the occasion of the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2017. The tickets can be purchased on the website of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya