(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the day on the penultimate day of winter testing at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Saturday.
The double world champion completed 76 laps with a fastest time of 1m 23.022. Hamilton has now finished his running in the W06 and the next time he will be behind the wheel will be for the opening practice session at the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. Speaking about his day in the car Hamilton stated:
‘It wasn’t a particularly spectacular day. The track seems to have lost a bit of grip in the last few days so the feeling wasn’t as good. But I’m still glad we got some running done and I feel good in the car. We were trying to understand a few things today with the set up and it gave us a clearer indication of that in the afternoon. The guys in the team have been exceptional during these tests and I just can’t wait to get racing now – the fun stuff!’
Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa completed 102 laps with the Brazilian setting a time of 1m 23.262s completing set-up and aero work. Speaking following the session Massa stated:
‘We had another good day with over 100 laps completed. We reached the end of the programme in good time and the car has remained very reliable over all three tests. Our long runs look positive and the car remains consistent throughout the stints. We are not the only quick car on the track though and the fight behind Mercedes will be interesting. I now have to get ready for the first race of the season in Melbourne, which I am really looking forward to.’
Williams Martini Racing Team’s Chief Test and Support Engineer Rod Nelson commented on the day’s running by saying:
‘It was Felipe’s last day in the car before Melbourne and we have had a busy day. We focused on chassis and aero work as well as longer runs on scrubbed tyres to see the degradation and tyre performance. We did a grid simulation at lunchtime to ensure the procedural processes are all in place for when we arrive in Melbourne. We have just one day of the test left now, and it will be another busy one for the team.’
The Grove based outfit will conclude their winter test programme with Valtteri
Bottas behind the wheel of the FW37 which has shown great potential in recent days during testing in Barcelona.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen taking part on his final day of winter testing in Barcelona finished the session in third place. The Finn ended the day in third place having completed 136 laps with a fastest time of 1m 23.276s. Speaking about his final day in the car before the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, the Iceman stated:
‘Overall it hasn’t been a bad test since we covered a race distance today. Now we wait to go to Melbourne to see how we stand compared to the others. I wish to thank the Team for the work it has done during the winter.’
Ferrari technical director James Allison commented on the day of running saying:
‘We’ve got a lot of laps under our belt in this winter testing; but until you actually go out and do the laps for a race, one after the other, and not stopping except to change tyres, you really can’t claim that you’re ready to go to Melbourne and do it for real. So we’re happy to get our first race distance of the winter done, happy to have achieved at the first attempt, and with the reliability that we showed.
So I’m pleased with the testing we did over the last two days, which shows clearly that the car works as we expected. Winter testing in Europe always asks slightly different questions from the car than you get when you’re in Bahrain: but it doesn’t turn night into day. Most of what the car really is revealed here as much as on the other Grand Prix circuits during the year. And I think what we see is a well-mannered car, so we expect these characteristics to be broadly carried over to the other races.’
Sebastian Vettel will take over driving the car on the final day of winter testing on Sunday. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr was fourth fastest with a time of 1m 24.191s having completed 132 laps in the STR10.
The Spaniard stopped out on track with just over ten minutes to go in the session.
The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest for the Enstone based outfit having completed 116 laps. The Frenchman set a time of 1m 25.200s. Grosjean completed race simulations, aero simulations and set up evaluations. Speaking following his final day of testing Grosjean stated:
‘That was a long day and the track conditions varied quite a lot. This morning went pretty well, we had a lot of work to do with some aero and set-up tasks as we’re trying to test as many things as possible before Melbourne. In the afternoon we ran a race simulation and other performance evaluations. There’s potential for improvement in some areas but we have plenty of data to get the car more to where we want it to be for Melbourne. I can’t wait to for the season to start.’
The Lotus F1 Team’s Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane stated:
‘Today we completed another extensive programme with the E23 running reliably throughout. Track conditions were quite difficult for establishing a baseline as the track temperature varied a lot through the day, but nevertheless we ran for over 100 laps and have a lot more information relating to the various aero and set-up configurations. We have quite a long night ahead of us as tomorrow is the final day of testing where we hope to make further progress with Pastor at the wheel.’
Pastor Maldonado will take over the running of the E23 Hybrid on Sunday.
The Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson ended the day in sixth place completing 123 laps with a time of 1m 24.447s. Speaking following his final day in the car before the Australian Grand Prix, the Swede stated:
‘It was another good day during which I was able to complete a lot of laps. We went through a quite similar programme to that from two days ago. Overall it was a good day as we gathered plenty of data, which was important. I did more practice starts, pit stops, short-runs on different compounds and also almost a full race simulation again. All in all it was a good day for the final preparations before going to Melbourne.’
The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr will take over running the C34 on the final day of running on Sunday. Speaking following Saturday’s running the Swiss based outfit’s Head Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara stated:
‘The main target today was again getting ready to race, so we alternated between short and long runs. All the investigations on aerodynamic set-ups and the tyre side are done. The day went smoothly, and we had no major issue except for stopping on track in the last hour, which was a precaution as we saw something that was unclear in the data. We preferred to check the car before hitting the track again at the very end.”
The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg was 7th fastest completing 158 laps with a fastest time of 1m 24.939s. Speaking following the session the German stated:
‘It was a very positive day in terms of reliability and getting a lot of mileage under our belts. It was our first full day of testing so our main focus remained on getting to know the car, the way we set it up and its characteristics. I think we made some good progress in this regard and we managed to get a decent understanding of how the VJM08 feels under different conditions.
That's definitely a positive, although it remains very hard to judge where everyone is in terms of performance. Next time I will step in the car will be in Melbourne: I am very excited to fly to Australia as that's when you get the racing feeling again. I am really looking forward to getting going and being back in a competition; that is something I relish. Hopefully the work we did in the last few weeks will pay off and we will be in a position for fight for a good result.’
The Silverstone based outfit’s Chief Race Engineer Tom McCullough stated:
‘It was another solid day of testing with the VJM08, which is proving to be a very reliable car so far: the plan we had set for ourselves today was very ambitious but we managed to achieve all its main points.
We have taken another big step in our process of understanding the performance of the car and we were able to work through both performance runs and longer stints. Track temperatures were not ideal as they were very much on the cool side, but we still learnt a lot and gathered a significant amount of data to analyse tonight.
It was Nico's last day in the car before heading off to Melbourne: the work he completed today will help us ensure we make the most of our final day in the car tomorrow as Sergio steps in the cockpit for the first time.’
McLaren-Honda’s Kevin Magnussen was 8th fastest despite stopping out on track with oil leak on the MP4-30. The Dane completed just 39 laps of the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya. Jenson Button will end the winter test programme on Sunday.
McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has stated that the Woking based outfit won’t be competitive until at least the opening European round at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona which takes place from May 8 – 10.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo completed 128 laps in the RB11 although ended the session at the bottom of the time-sheets with a time of 1m 25.742s. Speaking afterwards the Australia stated:
‘There’s definitely plenty of positives to take from today: we did a lot of laps and worked through the programme, Most of the other teams did some performance running today but we were focusing on ourselves and didn’t get onto the soft or supersoft tyres and the low-fuel stuff. Our long runs look pretty good and completing nearly 130 laps means reliability is where it should be too. We’ve just got a bit of fine-tuning to do tomorrow.’
Red Bull’s Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin stated:
‘We did a normal race weekend run plan today. The car was really reliable and we completed a lot of miles; it was the sort of good, sound testing that engineers like. We’re very happy with how today went. We’ll carry on with the programme tomorrow as planned but because we got a lot done today it gives us a little more flexibility as we can afford a bit more downtime.’