Vettel tops penultimate testing day at Barcelona

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F1 Test, Barcelona, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Sebastian Vettel topped the morning session on the penultimate day of pre-season testing. The Ferrari driver once again impressed with the SF70H, setting the fastest lap of all winter testing sessions thus far.

Vettel's time, 1m19.024 on ultra softs, still appeared to be hiding some performance, as the German was clearly heard lifting off on the main straight. As ever however, the car looked extremely planted in the corners, marking a crucial difference to Mercedes or Red Bull, whose cars appear to be slightly less stable in the slower corners.

Hamilton, ending the morning session on ultra softs as well, came close, but stranded at 3 tenths of the Ferrari.

Esteban Ocon in the Force India was third fastest, little more than a second down on Vettel and similarly on the ultra softs. At least that should reduce some of the fears within the team, following Sergio Perez' statement that the team did find a lot of areas for improvement on their car.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo didn't seem to be particularly interested in high performance times, instead opting for numerous laps on the medium tyres. Same could be said of Stroll and Ericsson, who both did more than 80 laps, but ended up at the bottom of the timesheet.

Meanwhile, there were more problems for Toro Rosso and Renault, with both teams doing the least amount of laps. Well, except for Stoffel Vandoorne as the latter caused two red flags by stopping once at the end of the pitlane, and in the final minutes again out on track.

Results

Pos.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps
1.Sebastian VettelFerrari1:19.024-60
2.Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:19.352+0.32852
3.Esteban OconForce India1:20.161+1.13751
4.Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:20.416+1.39233
5.Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing1:20.824+1.80041
6.Kevin MagnussenHaas F11:20.863+1.83944
7.Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:21.348+2.32432
8.Jolyon PalmerRenault1:22.418+3.39431
9.Marcus EricssonSauber1:23.330+4.30688
10.Lance StrollWilliams1:24.863+5.83985
11.Felipe MassaWilliamsno time-0
12.Valtteri BottasMercedes AMGno time-0
13.Nico HülkenbergRenaultno time-0
14.Pascal WehrleinSauberno time-0

The afternoon session started with Daniil Kvyat going out on track in the STR12, soon followed by Esteban Ocon in the Force India VJM10. Valtteri Bottas followed as 20 minutes later, taking over from Lewis Hamilton while at Renault, the team decided to keep Palmer in the car following his lack of running in the morning.

Apart from an ultra soft tyre run from Magnussen, it set out to be a very high mileage afternoon, with almost all focusing on race performance and long distance runs to evaluate tyre compounds and reliability. Williams for instance were nowhere near their pace of the last few days.

The track activity was however interrupted by Daniil Kvyat, who encountered yet another reliability issue on the Toro Rosso, this time parking his car at Turn 5.

At 4 o'clock, Stoffel Vandoorne also rejoined the track action, following extensive repairs to his car, following more power unit issues in the morning. It certainly appears like Honda's second spec, introduced yesterday, is no more reliable than the first spec. The team however opted not to change the engine during lunch, considering the issues fixable otherwise.

Exactly one hour after Kvyat's stoppage, Palmer did the same. Renault's power unit still isn't as reliable as it should be, but the team have reported yesterday that fixes would be ready in time for the first race at Melbourne, Australia.

The session eventually came to a quiet end, with most teams having done incredible mileage to round off the day, and prepare for the final day of testing.

Results

Pos.DriverTeamTimeGapLaps
1.Sebastian VettelFerrari1:19.024-156
2.Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:19.352+0.32852
3.Esteban OconForce India1:20.161+1.137137
4.Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:20.416+1.39294
5.Kevin MagnussenHaas F11:20.504+1.480119
6.Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing1:20.824+1.800128
7.Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:21.348+2.32448
8.Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:21.819+2.79595
9.Pascal WehrleinSauber1:22.347+3.32344
10.Jolyon PalmerRenault1:22.418+3.39453
11.Marcus EricssonSauber1:23.330+4.30688
12.Felipe MassaWilliams1:24.443+5.41980
13.Lance StrollWilliams1:24.863+5.83985