The penultimate day of pre-season testing saw Ferrari carrying out a whole race weekend simulation while Mercedes was working diligently on its long run performance
An entire race weekend simulation
Charles Leclerc completed his final day before the 2019 season kicks off on March 17. The Monegasque driver completed the planned programme, which consisted mainly of simulating key phases of a race weekend. Charles did a total of 138 laps.
In the morning, he carried out setup work, before working on qualifying simulation. The former Formula-2 champion set an ominous laptime of 1:17.2 on Pirelli’s C2 (medium) compound which was then followed by runs on the C4 and C5 tyre.
Leclerc was delighted with the amount of laps after his previous two days were heavily curtailed and limited by reliability problems.
„I am very happy because we worked really well. It’s been an encouraging start to the season and I feel about ready. Now, I can’t wait to take part in my first real Grand Prix with Ferrari.”
“That’s been the clear impression right from the first day and it hasn’t changed. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but up until now, I can say I’m satisfied. My lap time? Of course it’s nice to top the time sheet, but it doesn’t mean anything. What matters is that, lap after lap, I am getting more and more dialed in to this car,” he said.
Exhaust problems at Haas, Ferrari and McLaren
On the third day of the second week of testing, three different team of two different engine manufacturer experienced technical gremlims with their exhaust.
After completing an entire race weekend simulation, Charles Leclerc stopped on the track with just a few minutes to go. Ferrari confirmed that it was caused by a small issue with the exhaust.
The American Haas team was also dogged by reliability problems concerning the exhaust system of the its new VF-19. According to the team boss Günther Steiner, the cause for the problem was an exhaust manifold failure and a gas leak. The American squad lost valuable time because it needed time to take the gearbox and turbocharger off before it could fix the exhaust manifold.
The Renault-powered McLaren also found itself in reliability problems. The Woking-based team was forced to investigate and fix a glitch with the exhaust system, losing two hours of track time.
Mercedes with improving long run performance
On the penultimate day of pre-season testing, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport completed 182 laps, bringing their tally to 1,058 laps at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
As usual, the Anglo-German team split its day between its two race drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. The Briton was working on aerodynamic measurement and tyre analysis. The Finnish driver was focused solely on long run performance.
The W10 has been causing headaches for Mercedes after the car produces blistering on the front tyre. On top of the issues with the blistering-resistance, the handling of the new car was very much dependent on the ambient temperatures and minor setup changes. However, yesterday’s long runs completed by Valtter Bottas indicated that Mercedes could make inroads with its setup.
Mercedes technical director James Allison was delighted with the improving performance on high fuel loads.
„Today was a very productive day, either side of a trouble-free race distance we did a lot of good investigative work and in the race simulation itself, unlike yesterday where we failed to make the tyres live, we had good tyre behaviour across all three stints. We look forward to tomorrow where we will be investigating the range of tyre compounds and focusing more on single lap pace."
A curtailed day for Pierry Gasly
Pierre Gasly’s last day brought a setback for Red Bull after the French driver crashed heavily in the afternoon.
The penultimate day of the team's final pre-season test was brought to an early end midway through the afternoon when Gasly crashed at Turn 9 of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Pierre was unhurt in the incident but car damage prevented any further running.
The former GP2 champion admitted that he was to blame for the huge crash which had to do its utmost to prepare the car for Friday when Max Verstappen brings Red Bull’s on-track preparation to an end.
„In the afternoon, I made a mistake in Turn 9 and lost the car. It was a pretty big crash, but I’m fine, a little bit shaken, but generally OK.”
Red Bull has showed a stand-out performance during its long run simulation, matching Ferrari’s performance. However, the one-lap pace still needs to be unlocked before the season kicks off in Melbourne.
„We have good performance and we just need to understand how to maximise the package, so we bring the best car we can to Melbourne.”