What we learnt from the test: trackside report

By on

The 2017 post-race test saw the Hungaroring host an in-season test for the first time on the twisty 4381m long circuit. F1technical.net’s Balazs Szabo was at the Hungaroring to follow the action of the final in-season test of the season.

Formula One teams agreed to hold two in-season testing events this year, each of the both consisted of two days. The first one was held in Bahrain while the Hungaroring played host to the second two-day-long running. With just a day separating the race and the test, both in-season test sessions followed the previous GP to save costs. Teams are required to give two days of the maximal four to young drivers.

Speaking to F1technical.net, Williams’s performance engineer Jakob Andreasen disclosed these in-season testing days are not only a chance for young drivers, but also for young engineers who haven’t got the experience of working on-track as their work is concentrated rather on factory work. Williams, for example, gave the chance for some of its young engineers from Grove to fly and attend the post-race Hungaroring test to gain experience.

Ferrari’s intensive and extensive experiment work

Ferrari modified its programme for the post-race test at the Hungaroring. Charles Leclerc was due to drive on the opening day while Kimi Räikkönen was set to take over the working duties for the second day. However, as Ferrari managed to design and produce new parts just in time, the Scuderia asked Sebastian Vettel to share the duties with his Finnish team-mate. The fabled Italian squad tried out a new diffusor with Leclerc behind the wheel on Tuesday and introduced other experimental parts for the second day including a new floor which is the evaluation of the upgraded one which celebrated its debut in the Hungarian GP.

Last year’s GP3 champion, this’s year’s F2 leader Charles Leclerc covered more than a race distance, 98 laps equivalent to a distance of 429 km. The Monegasque driver set a lap time of 1:17.746 on the soft compound at the end of the first day.

“Driving a Ferrari is never a ‘normal’ experience,” commented the 19 year old Monegasque driver.

”I felt as though I was driving a race car for the very first time. It’s a great honour I have been accorded and I thank Ferrari with all my heart for this opportunity. I am pleased with the work I did and I hope the team is too. Driving the SF70H was a fantastic feeling and coming from F2, it’s a whole other world, from every point of view.”

“It was the first time that I’ve driven a Formula 1 car with the wider tyres and this level of aerodynamic downforce and it was an incredible feeling. I also learned a lot from the work in the garage: Ferrari has the best engineers in the world and I felt very comfortable working with them. To set the fastest time is nice, but, in testing, its importance is only relative,” Leclerc talked about his experience.

Asked by F1technical.net, the Monegasque revealed the day was arranged around his own development as a driver to get used to the pinnacle of motorsport.

Leclerc stayed at the Hungaroring until the dying minutes of the second day and was observing various procedures including the way how air guns are used during pit stops work.
Sebastian Vettel covered 40 laps and set the best time of the entire testing with a 1:17.124 on the supersoft compound which was still nine tenths behind his pole position time. The German’s on-track work stretched out over two hours and twenty minutes and left the circuit in the one-hour-long lunch time.

“You don’t get many test outings throughout the season, so you try to complete as many as possible. During testing, we can be a bit bolder with what we try out. We were in the car for the whole weekend , but that is the last test in the year, therefore it was important to experiment with a few things,” the German commented the test work.

Usual test work
Most of the teams concentrated on aerodynamic development. Only exception was Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas who worked with Pirelli on the 2018 slick tyres. That meant two Mercedes cars were working parallel on Tuesday. As like any special Pirelli test day, Mercedes was only allowed to make modification to the setup in the early runs, after that they had to stick to that given configuration and Pirelli dictated the programme afterwards.

Red Bull worked with Verstappen on the opening day. The Dutchman’completed only 58 laps after he was dogged with engine woes early in the running. Pierry Gasly took over the duties for the second day who conducted a series of constant speed runs on the start-finish straight of the Hungaroring and clocked a total of 107 laps.

Toro Rosso let Sean Gelael drive on the first day. The Indonesian who is backed by the Jangonya Ayam company, the Indonesian branch of global fast food giant KFC. He completed 101 laps before the regular drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat took over the wheel to share the work on the second day of running.

For the American Haas team, the American, ever-smiling, 163cm tall Santino Ferrucci was running on both testing days. The F2 driver completed 116 on the first day and clocked a further102 laps on the closing day. Speaking to F1technical.net, Ferrucci disclosed he was hugely impressed by the high-speed performance of F1 cars, but the incredible braking performance was also impressive. He added, though, that he would have needed to maximize the performance throught the high-speed corners as he did not dare to overdrive a car on a test day where a long list of various items was to be completed.

Renault and Kubica in the spotlight
The Polish driver Robert Kubica stood in the spotlight during the post-race test. The Pole was observing all the action in the box, next to the circuit and served duties for the international media. The one-time Gp winner took over the wheel from the Canadian Nicolas Latifi. The former BMW and Lotus driver clocked a total of 142 laps and set a 1:18.572 which was only 0.157 slower than the fastest time set of Jolyon Palmer. The Briton’s test day was sacrificed in order to give Kubica the chance to test a contemporary car.

Kubica was walking around the paddock with a smile on his face, but his right arm has clearly some limitations even while executing normal human movement like picking up an object. The 32-year-old sounded delighted with the extensive work he could complete with the French manufacturer.

"From a physical point of view, inside the car it is much better than it looks outside the car," he added. "That's what's most important.

"I didn't have any pain, I actually feel quite well. Of course, I'm tired. It has been a hot day in the end the eight hours of running, I jumped out only once for 10 minutes."

Asked about how different the contemporary Renault car was compared to previous generation machinery, he replied that there was hardly any similarities.

"The biggest difference is this car has nothing similar or same as the cars I have been testing lately. When you have so many things that are different, it normally takes a bit of time to adapt. Hungary we know it's a difficult track, one of the most physical tracks. In the end we have done over 140 laps and I could drive I think tomorrow easily, so fitness level is good, which is a good sign. There are sides which need to be improved or need to get better, but it's always like this," added Kubica.

Pirelli content with the test
Teams had 110 sets of tyres for test purposes, but the majority of teams had around twenty sets available. The company’s managing director Mario Isola revealed that the test was useful as track conditions remained stable over the two days and the track evolution was not significant compared to the race weekend according to Pirelli's engineers.

Testing did not finish with the post-race action despite all the effort of the paddock to kick its well-deserved summer holiday off as quickly as possible. Ferrari disassembled its media motorhome right after the race and only left the main motorhome for the team members for the two-day-long test and trucks conquered the pitlane to collect the equipment after the chequered flag fell. To collect data, Ferrari and Pirelli will conduct development work on the 2018 compounds at Barcelona with Antonio Giovinazzi behind the wheel on Thursday and Friday.

Test schedule: