F1 Testing: Whispers after day 3

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F1 Test, Barcelona, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Deprived of his crown, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had to settle for only a fourth place on the third day of testing as a result of time attacks on softer compounds from some midfield teams. F1Technical.net’ Balázs Szabó is back with his test analysis after the third day of the pre-season testing.

Basically, the whole Formula One community was praying for Williams to get its car ready for the third day after delays with the build of its brand-new FW42. The Grove-based team has cancelled its Sunday shakedown run, then skipped the first two days of running. The new car arrived this morning and the team did its utmost to assembly the car for the afternoon running. George Russell completed 23 laps with the FW42 in the afternoon, equivalent to 107.065km on the Barcelona track.

The team's chief technical officier Paddy Lowe was happy that the new car could make its track debut and all the important systems seemed to work in the right way.

It’s very disappointing to miss two days of this first test in Barcelona, but we are very happy today that we got the car out for the afternoon session. We were late but not for the lack of incredible effort from the whole team both in the factory and here in the garage. We spent the afternoon doing a number of systems checks and various data gathering programmes without any significant reliability issues, so we are happy with that as a first look at the FW42," he said.

Tyre cavalcade

During the third day of pre-season testing, Pirelli provided some teams with special development tyres. Most of the teams which helped the Italian tyre manufacturer in its research, used the D3 tyre. This is basically the same as the C3 with a few minor modifications in its structure. The development tyres won’t be seen during the season, they are only for answering some questions about future development paths.

Vettel and Hamilton "investigated" the new front wing rules

After criticizing the look of the new front wing, Sebastian Vettel was trying to find out the impact of the new front wing rules on racing. FIA has introduced new, wider and simpler front wings for this year to aid overtaking by enabling cars to follow each other in a closer proximity. The aim is to increase the number of overtaking.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel spent relatively longer stints behind rival cars, especially behind Toro Rosso in the afternoon. The German’s move was about learning something about what it’s like with these new rules in the wake of another car, finding out whether it is really easier to follow the car in front in dirty air. The quadruple world champion was not the only driver to experiment with the new wings, because Lewis Hamilton was driving also deliberately behind other cars today.

Ferrari and its early end

After completing a total of 134 laps, Ferrari put an end to its testing activities, leaving the last 90 minutes of the day unused. The Maranello-based team issued a statement over one of its social media channels confirming that the premature end was not the result of a technical failure. The team simply ticked all the boxes and completed all the tasks it set for the third day of testing.

Completing his second day behind the wheel of the SF90, Sebastian Vettel concentrated on checking the functionality of some components of the car in the morning, before switching his focus on set-up work and tyre evaluation. The German notched up 134 laps during Wednesday. The SF90 has done 460 laps so far at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit.

“It was good to be back in the car today and put some more mileage under my belt. Again, we had a busy day and managed to complete our programme, which included a few new items, compared to Monday. We tried a few things around also focusing on set-up and I can only confirm the positive impression I had on day one. Having now put 303 laps in the bag I feel comfortable to say we are satisfied with how the car is progressing,” summarized the German his day.

Seeking the rhythm

While most of the teams have been enjoying an impressive reliability, Racing Point is still trying to get its car together when it comes to durability. Sergio Perez sat behind the wheel of the brand-new RP19 on the third day of pre-season testing. The Mexican completed 67 laps, the fastest one of them was 1m20.102s.

The team first put its focus on gathering aero data, before switching to a thorough set-up work in the second half of the day.
The reason for the relatively low mileage was a drive line issue that curtailed the team’s running in the afternoon. “We are still investigating what caused the issue, but we thankfully didn’t lose too much time,” said the Silverstone-based team’s performance engineer, Tom McCullough.

Hamilton is confident about Mercedes’ pace

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton remains confident even if his team has not set an eye-catching lap time so far over the first three days of winter testing.

"Right now we are competing against our past selves as a team," he said. "We are really trying to raise the bar in all those areas, and all the engineers back at the factory are raising the bar. It has been super impressive to see the atmosphere within the team after all these years of success that we have had. To see that the hunger is still there. To see that the drive is still there. "

"No one is phasing out. No one is backing off. Everyone is pushing full steam ahead. It has been a difficult winter for the guys back at the factory.I can see it and I've heard from the guys: probably the most difficult one with the rule change once again, but if anyone can do it I truly believe it is my guys,” the Briton is quotes as saying by autosport.com

In terms of mileage, the dominant team of the last five years has raised the bar today with a whopping tally of 182 laps. Bottas completed 88 laps in the morning while his team-mate Hamilton went on to add a further 94 laps in the afternoon. Mercedes has been concentrating on set-up work and long runs throughout the whole day.

When asked how much of a threat Ferrari poses right now, Hamilton was not reluctant to confess that the Italians have been showing a goof form so far.

“I don't think you can put a figure on it but Ferrari are very, very strong right now, as you have seen. The Ferraris always particularly look strong, particularly in the last few years, they have looked strong right at the beginning. So, that is to be expected. For us we are just going about our process. Everyone is working extremely hard so it has been normal."

The hero of the day

Honda, Toro Rosso and Daniil Kvyat. That was the winning combination on the third day of testing. Making his F1 comeback, the Russian driver showed today that he has not lost any of his speed during his absence which he spent as a simulator driver for Ferrari.

The team completed 137 laps with the STR14-02 today. Kvyat raised eye-brows when he rolled onto the track with Pirelli’s C5 compound (the softest of the five compounds) and jumped to the front of the timesheets.

“The afternoon running initially focused on the C2 & C3 compound evaluation over longer runs which provided a useful opportunity to get a good read on tyres, although of course Barcelona at this time of year is not in many respects representative of the normal in season running conditions and, as such, the data needs careful analysis and processing."

" The final runs of the day were focused towards shorter tyre related tests which once yielded useful data for further analysis. On the PU side, the test programme has continued without any issue with the focus on mileage accumulation,” Toro Rosso’s deputy technical director Jody Egginton summed up the team’s day.

Regarding the fastest time, Kvyat said that this was not the ultimate pace of the car as he was not simulating a qualifying session running on fumes.

DRS causes trouble for Renault

With completing a total of 143 laps during Wednesday, Renault can be happy with the reliability of its new car. The team’s newcomer Daniel Ricciardo notched up 80 laps while his German team-mate Nico Hülkenberg ended his day with 63 laps in his bag.

However, the reliability was less perfect during the first two days. On Tuesday, the Australian had to abandon the running just after 28 laps because of a DRS failure. The flap of the rear wing broke at the end of the start-finish straight, forcing Ricciardo to show a kind of miracle to keep his car in one piece. The 29-year-old managed to keep his R.S.29 away from the barriers after making a trip into the gravel trap. “It felt like turning into the first bend with the rear wing open,” commentated Ricciardo on the naughty DRS.