The penultimate test day of the FIA Formula One Championship™ held at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya gave for long. It could be summarized as “singular”, as it was staged within a context that had been imperceptible so far: Ferrari dominating and Mercedes having trouble.
Ferrari has been criticised during a few days, although the situation seems to have changed today. The Maranello-based team has been fastest today, with the time set by Sebastian Vettel, who stopped the clocks at 1:16.841 on soft compound tyres. This time is, in fact the third fastest time set during this pre-season so far, only topped by the 1:15.732 by Valtteri Bottas and the 1:16.516 by Lewis Hamilton, both set last Friday. That Friday, Ferrari had to mount a new power unit, as they were unable to solve the existing problems, but it seems that today the team with the Cavallino Rampante and the Silver Arrows have reversed roles. This afternoon it was Lewis Hamilton who had to cancel his test session earlier than planned, due to a problem with the oil pressure of his W11.
Although comparisons are odious, they are, however, necessary. So far, Ferrari was among the three squads with the lowest number of completed laps, while Ferrari was topping this classification as well. Today, the Maranello-based team recorded 145 laps made by Vettel, on his busiest day. Bottas, however, who went onto the track in the morning, made 47 laps, and Hamilton only 14. Together, they did not reach the figure recorded by Vettel. In addition, Bottas finished with the seventh fastest time, and the reigning world champion with the slowest time of the day. Although Mercedes is enjoying an evident advantage over the rest of the teams, the Italians had a great performance today.
This singular panorama was repeated, for example, in the track conditions as well. Early in the morning, the drivers went with their cars onto a wet track, which allowed them to mount compounds for wet conditions, something that is rather unusual during this pre-season. Once the track had dried, the wind came up to have its moment of glory as well. Nevertheless, the fastest times were set in the morning, as the afternoon session was used by most of the drivers to make race simulations.
As surprising is the evenness found in the midfield of the standings. Up to four teams are able to start the season fighting for the intermediate positions. This is the case of Alpha Tauri, who clocked the second fastest time today with Pierre Gasly only three tenths of a second behind Vettel. Franz Tost, Team Principal, appeared before the media today and showed himself doubly satisfied. “We have improved the chassis, and Honda’s power unit has made a great step forward as well. We are squeezing every possible opportunity”, he said.
Behind Gasly, there is Lance Stroll, representing Racing Point, who is showing a great pace. In fact, the pink cars are applying to become the great favourites behind the heavyweights of the championship, and have been constantly among the top 5 of these five test days.
Successful charity guided tour with Carlos Sainz
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya staged today the already traditional charity guided tour with the collaboration of the driver Carlos Sainz, who became the great attraction for all those taking part in the tour. A reduced group of people enjoyed the experience, which raised €2,200 for Juegaterapia, a foundation that works in order to improve the quality of life of children suffering from cancer.
Access to the Circuit
The access to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will be through Gate 3 from 8.30am, and cars shall be parked in Car Park C (former IN6). The Main Grandstand, as well as Grandstand F and G will be opened to follow of the action on the track.