Today was the fourth and last F1® Test Day of this week at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but also the most spectacular session. Good proof of it is the fact that the top five managed to lap below 1:18, as well as the breaking of this winters’ record. The honour went to Nico Hülkenberg (Renault) with a time of 1:17.393.
A total of 14 drivers of 10 teams went onto the track today, and drove much faster than what they had been doing so far. The first challenge between Mercedes and Ferrari happened in the morning; to be precise, between reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and the young talent Charles Leclerc.
After a close fight for the top, the British driver eventually took the lead with 1:17.977, although only being one tenth faster than the Monegasque. The new generation of drivers gave good proof of their strength, led today by 22-year-old Alexander Albon (Toto Rosso) who clocked a brilliant time of 1:17.637 that moved him up to the second place.
The only driver able to be faster than this young man, born in London, but with Thai nationality, was Nico Hülkenberg, at the wheel of his Renault. The German made one lap clocking 1:17.393 on soft tyres, which became the best time of the preseason so far. It was an achievement with a sweet and sour taste, since his work was stopped one hour before the end of the session due to a technical failure in his RS19. This was the only bad news of the day for the French company who had their second driver, Daniel Ricciardo on third position, only 4 tenths of a second slower. Behind the Australian and ahead of Hamilton (5th) finished Finish driver Valtteri Bottas, with 1:17.857. Mercedes eventually woke up after their long hibernation.
The thrilling fight on the top of the sheets pushed the comeback of Robert Kubica to Formula 1® into the background. The Polish driver was finally able to get into the new Williams for the first time this morning, featuring a historic moment, since this month, eight years ago, he suffered the spectacular accident during the Rally Ronde di Andora in Italy, that cut his carrier.
Far from being euphoric, Kubica had mixed feelings today, since after waiting for the arrival of the Williams during three long days, he hardly managed to do 48 laps and finished four seconds behind the top. Right after getting off the car, he confessed his confusion: “It is too early to speak about feelings. For me, today was a sort of shakedown, since I made around 12 laps just to feel the car and drive. The rest of the work on the track was gathering data a test a few pieces… We will have to wait until next week”.
The F1® Test Days will be back at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next Tuesday 26 February to Friday 1 March. The access to the tests is free for all holders of a ticket for the FORMULA 1 EMIRATES GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2019, as well as for Circuit Members and Officials. There are also other very attractive ticket modalities that include from guided tours to paddock access. The second part of the season promises to be even more thrilling.