The seventh day of the F1 preseason had its own name: Sebastian Vettel. If Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) was the one to break the unofficial record of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya yesterday, today, it was the Ferrari driver who recorded the fastest lap of the history of the Catalan track since its current configuration, which was defined in 2007. The impressive time of 1:17.182 of the German driver lets everyone expect a bursting end of the season for tomorrow.
The 10 teams of the World Championship have shown themselves today more active than on any other day of the preseason at the Circuit. From early in the morning, all of the squads have been working at a frenetic pace, knowing that they have to make the most of the time if they want to reach the first Grand Prix, in two weeks time in Australia, with the best possible conditions.
The haste does also explain the impressive figures of today. The 13 drivers who went onto the track added no less that a total of 1,624 laps and seven of them made more than one hundred each. The driver to cover the most number of laps was Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) with 188 laps, ahead of Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) with 187 and 169, respectively. Even McLaren, today with Stoffel Vandoorne, managed to complete 151 problem-free laps, confirming the optimism shown yesterday by Fernando Alonso during the press conference.
By teams, the most active squad on this penultimate day was Mercedes, with a total of 181 laps by Valtteri Bottas (97) in the morning and Lewis Hamilton (84) in the afternoon. The German team did not look at the clocks today either and gave priority to other aspects. It seems that they prefer to hide their cards; although, who knows if they might decide to put on hypersofts tomorrow and show them?
For the moment, Ferrari has been the only team to be able to lap in 1:17 this winter at the Circuit, although there were other five drivers who were on 1:18 quite often today: Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso), Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz (Renault) and Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren). All of them, Vettel included, drove on hypersoft tyres, except for Magnussen, who clocked his times on supersoft compounds.
The session was only interrupted once (in addition to the lunch break), in the late afternoon, when the track marshals were forced to show the only red flag of the day. The reason was a short trip into the gravel by Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) in turn four. An anecdote that has become part of the great show witnessed by the many fans who enjoyed another spring day at the Circuit.
Among the attending public there were a large number of schoolchildren who had the chance to visit the Catalan racetrack on these days, following the agreement signed last year between the General Secretariat for Sport of the Catalan Government and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. With the clear intention of bringing the world of motor sport competition closer to children and following the Catalan Sports Plan, almost 1,200 pupils will have been able to visit the facilities at the end of the F1 Test Days.
The curtain of the preseason will drop tomorrow with the eight test day that promises to be thrilling. Fans already holding a ticket for the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2018 (11 to 13 May), as well as Circuit Members and Officials have free admission. The rest of the public can purchase tickets for 18 euros on the Circuit’s website and at the box offices on site.