The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen has fractionally beaten the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton to top the timesheets as McLaren’s frustrations grow on day two of the first pre-season test.
Raikkonen set his best time, a 1:20.960 on the soft tyres to claim the top spot on day two of the pre-season test in Barcelona. The time marginally beat the 1:20.983 set by Hamilton in the morning session. Interestingly though, Hamilton’s time was set on the faster supersoft tyres. And compared to his time on the softs, Raikkonen was just over six tenths of a second faster than Hamilton. However, it is also worth nothing this is merely pre-season testing. And that we have no way of knowing the fuel loads on either car or their power settings when they set their respective times. What is clear however is both teams have made in impressive start to their pre-season testing programs, maximising what they can out of their limited running time.
This could be seen clearly down at Mercedes today, as in the afternoon Valtteri Bottas completed a race simulation for the team. In contrast to Ferrari, who ran a series of short stints throughout the day today, Mercedes focused on longevity with Bottas. The Finn completed a three stop race simulation, with his times hovering around the 1:25 mark. This in itself is a formidable feet and should have every other team up and down the paddock worrying tonight. But the team didn’t get it all it’s own was as the simulation wasn’t without its drama, with Bottas spinning into mild contact with the barriers after running over the kerb in turn nine.
Bottas was not the only driver to get caught out in turn nine however, as the Williams of Lance Stroll also had an off there. Just twelve laps into his official Formula 1 debut, rookie Stroll span an the exit of turn nine after taking a little too much kerb. While the team initially said there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with the car it turned out something had broken on it. The team did not have spares of the part, and as a result the team had to finish running for the day with the least number of laps and the slowest time, while they fly the components out to the circuit overnight.
Williams were not the only team having a bad day, as once again it was a trying day for Red Bull. While the team were able to set the third fastest time of the day with Max Verstappen, they were over a second behind the Ferrari and Mercedes. And to add insult to injury, the RB13 is proving to be unlucky for some, as once again the car was plagued with technical gremlins that restricted the amount of time the Red Bull could be on circuit. Focus seems to have already shifted to the second of the pre-season tests, where many think we’ll have an illuminating insight into the full pace potential of the RB13. This is due to the suite of aerodynamic improvements the team claim will be available to test.
“We’ve tried not to put too many appendages on to the car in the early stages so we understand the flow structures properly and develop the car from there,” chief designer Adrian Newey explained.
If Red Bull are having a tricky pre-season test, then McLaren are having a torrid one. After what appeared to be an upturn in performance in the latter half of the 2016 season, McLaren’s winter is already displaying worrying similarities to the disastrous dawn of their reunion with Honda in 2015 winter testing. For the second day the car broke down on the instillation lap, and when Stoffel Vandoorne did eventually get the car going it was never for more than ten laps at a time. The result is once again the McLaren finished the day with the second slowest time on the board.
“We had a loss of engine power during the morning after a couple of laps, we are still investigating what the issues are,” reported Vandoorne. “The last few days were difficult for us but hopefully overnight we can analyse what went wrong and come up with a reliable car.”
One of those issues has been identified by Honda. The “oil issue” which kept Fernando Alonso in the garage for almost seven hours on Monday was the result of the ‘shape of the 2017 oil tank.’ Something that is not an easy fix at all but still a fundamental problem that will continue to hamper McLaren’s progress in the test.
Testing continues tomorrow at 8AM GMT, with a full report on all the activities of the day on Overtake Motorsport.
Day Two Timesheet:
1) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 108 laps, 1:20.960
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 66 laps, 1:20.983
3) Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 89 laps, 1:22.200
4) Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 100 laps, 1:22.204
5) Esteban Ocon, Force India, 86 laps, 1:22.509
6) Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 68 laps, 1:22.956
7) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 102 laps, 1:22.986
8) Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 53 laps, 1:24.139;
9) Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, 67 laps, 1:24.617;
10) Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 40 laps, 1:25.600
11) Lance Stroll, Williams, 12 laps, 1:26.040
Feature Image Credit: McLaren Honda Press Release.