Teams were welcomed by rather chilly conditions on the second day of testing on Tuesday. The unfavourable conditions led to a delay of the work and reschedule of the plan. The striking weather is unusual for this time of the year in the Barcelona area.
Snow just a few kilometres from the Costa Brava on the Spanish Mediterranean is not what you expect. The last time this happened at an F1 test at the Catalunya Circuit was 19 years ago, but the icy blast of the past few days brought in a few snowflakes this afternoon.
Teams could hardly conduct any meaningful work early in the day because the unusually low ambient and track temperatures meant drivers could not generate enough temperatures in the tyres. Most of the drivers spent, therefore, the morning in the pit and to save the day teams decided to skip the lunch break in order to run in the weather-wise best part of the day.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheet. The quadruple world champion clocked a 1:19.673 on the soft tyre during a stint which included multiple quick laps.Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel having his first day at the wheel, reeled off 98 laps, the fastest of which was a 1’19”673, set on Soft tyres. Scuderia Ferrari wasn’t in action for all nine hours – one more than usual as even the lunch break was cancelled – but come the end of the day the programme ran to plan.
During the day, the SF71 used the Medium and Soft tyres and also did a couple of laps on the Intermediates. Tomorrow, it’s again Kimi Raikkonen’s turn, for his last day of this session.
Sebastian Vettel: “The important thing today wasn’t the lap time, but the fact that, in these conditions, we managed to cover almost a hundred laps without encountering any reliability problems. That’s what we are concentrating on at the moment, with the search for performance coming later. From an operational point of view, everything went smoothly and I’d say the car is working. But today’s conditions are not the ones in which you’d normally run an F1 car: today it even snowed and with air temperature around 3 to 4 degrees and the track at 8 to 9, everyone struggled to get the tyres up to temperature. The weather was the limiting factor today: the fact it’s been much colder than last year and also that the track has been completely resurfaced, means it’s impossible to make any comparisons. For now, we are concentrating on ourselves, without looking at what the others are doing.”Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas sat in the Mercedes W09 the whole day long The Finn’s day was dominated by the weather - F1 tyres aren't designed to be run in such cold conditions, which made it tricky for all teams to get the most out of the session.
Nevertheless, the Finn ploughed on and completed 94 laps, putting in a best time of 1:19.976 on the Medium tyre in the slightly warmer afternoon running - which put him second quickest.
Valtteri Bottas: “It was very cold on track today; I don't think I've ever driven in such cold conditions before in Formula One," he said. "Testing is always difficult in these temperatures, the tyres are just not made for these conditions. But we made the most out of the day. In the morning, we focused on aero work with different aero rakes on the car, running various tests. In the afternoon, I was doing long runs and we also worked on the set-up. It was quite tricky in these temperatures, but we managed to get some work done and found some answers to our testing items.”Toro Rosso
The Honda-propelled Toro Rosso completed another successful day despite to the unfavourable weather conditions. The Italian team’s new driver Pierry Gasly who stood in for ousted Daniil Kvyat at the end of last season circulated 82 times around the Circuit de Barcelona. His best time was a 1:21.318.
Pierre Gasly: “Conditions were really tricky today so we didn’t run as much as we could have done. This afternoon was the first time I drove a Formula 1 car in “snow conditions”, so it was quite epic! In terms of work, we got some good laps and more understanding about the car and the engine. We had some interesting tests, so overall I’m happy about today. The first feeling is positive, I felt comfortable with the car - It’s consistent from one corner to another, between the low speed, medium speed and high speed. I still have a lot of work to do and I think we have some good directions overall. We didn’t do any qualifying runs or pushing laps, as our aim was more completing many laps and this is what we achieved, even if we changed the run plan because of the weather.”Alfa Romeo Sauber
The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team had another positive day of testing ahead of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 Championship. Charles Leclerc spent his first day of winter testing in the cockpit of the new C37. Throughout the day, he focused on aerodynamic and mechanical tests, and completed a total of 81 laps.
Charles Leclerc: “First of all, it is great to be back racing after a long winter break. Overall, it was a very positive first day of testing for me. Although the weather conditions were not ideal, with low temperatures and even some snow in the afternoon, I was able to develop a better sense of what the car behaves like on track. We completed a good number of laps, completing aerodynamic and mechanical tests throughout the day. The C37 has potential, and I look forward to driving again on my second day of test 1.”Williams
The Grove-based team continued the work with Sergey Sirotkin and Robert Kubica behind the wheel. The Russian completed 52 laps in the morning before the team’s development driver Robert Kubica took over the reign to collect 48 laps on his tally. The one-time GP winner set the better time of the duo with a 1:21.495.
Sergey Sirotkin: The weather this morning was very similar to yesterday, but it got better around midday. When we started it was very cold, too cold to try and make any use of the runs, so we just spent our time doing the aero checks among other things, which are less dependent on the weather conditions. Around midday, the temperature came back to us and we switched to try to do some proper running, but it was still not ideal. We did 52 laps overall, which is ok, we got a first impression of the car and the first things to pay attention to. Again, it wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t ideal for anyone. We got the maximum we could so we should be happy with how we reacted to the situation.
Robert Kubica: I think we have achieved the maximum we could do due to the weather and general track temperatures. I got my first feeling for the car, and saw what we were able to do in difficult conditions. It is not easy to jump into a new car with such difficult weather conditions and have the confidence to push, but I think we did some important work, although it was short. However, it gave us, and especially myself, an idea of how to work better for the future to address some areas where we can improve the car. The car has some very powerful areas, but, in the meantime, we need to work on some issues which I am sure we will get on top of. If we do that then the driveability, and also the confidence of the driver will be higher.Red Bull
Day two of the first pre-season test of the year saw Max Verstappen get his first taste of the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14, though the Dutchman was made to wait for it. An early morning technical issue saw the car restricted to the garage for most of the morning but with the problem solved in the early afternoon Max was able to work through 67 trouble-free laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and claim the day’s fourth best time, a 1:20.326, set on medium compound tyres.
Max Verstappen: “My first feeling of the car is positive. Of course it’s early days but the initial feeling is good. In the end I don’t think we lost too much ground in the morning as the track seemed in pretty poor condition early on. It wasn’t ideal but we had to check through everything and it took a while. In the afternoon we completed quite a bit of what we wanted to, we tested a few things on the car. It was pretty cold and so it’s difficult to switch on the tyres. Basically when you go out of the pits it’s flat out to keep the temperatures up and lap by lap you’re going faster, it’s that cold. It makes it quite difficult but overall it was a positive day.”Sahara Force India
Sahara Force India continued its pre-season testing programme as Esteban Ocon drove the VJM11 for the first time. The Frenchman compeleted 79 laps, the fastest of them was a 1:21.841 which put him ninth fastest of the 11 drivers.
Esteban Ocon: “It was very cold today so we just had to try and make the best of the conditions. There was even snow at the end of the day, which is not what you expect when testing in Barcelona. Despite the cold weather, I was able to get a good feeling for the car. It’s still early days – only day two of testing – and there is a long way to go, but we are making progress and learning lots of things. It was my first full day with the halo and I got used to it very quickly. By the end of the day you don’t think about it when you’re driving and that surprised me.”