RAIKKO­NEN MAKES A SPLASH

Ferrari star posts fastest time in wet test

New Straits Times - - Sport -

FERRARI’S Kimi Raikko­nen posted the fastest time on a track ar­ti­fi­cially soaked to test wet con­di­tions as Lewis Hamil­ton’s first week of test­ing fiz­zled to a pre­ma­ture end on Thurs­day.

Raikko­nen’s best time of 1min 20.872secs came late in the day in Barcelona as the track dried out af­ter trucks dumped wa­ter on the sur­face overnight and again dur­ing the lunch break.

The Finn was also fastest on Tues­day and is hope­ful Ferrari’s pre-sea­son pace will con­tinue come race time later this month — un­like in 2016 when they failed to win a Grand Prix.

“I’ve got the feel­ing that we learned some lessons from last year and at the mo­ment we can’t com­plain,” said Raikko­nen.

Three-time world cham­pion Hamil­ton didn’t even get out of the Mercedes garage as an elec­tri­cal fault with his car pre­vented him from run­ning as sched­uled dur­ing the morn­ing.

“Shame not to drive but it’s been a great few days. The guys have done an awe­some job. Can’t wait to be back in the car next week,” Hamil­ton tweeted.

New Mercedes team­mate Valt­teri Bot­tas did man­age to run in the af­ter­noon, but was way down the timesheets in eighth fastest for his 68 laps.

How­ever, Bot­tas’s time of 1:19.705s on Wed­nes­day re­mained the fastest for the open­ing week of test­ing.

“Un­for­tu­nately the day was a lit­tle bit shorter than we were hop­ing for, but over­all it has been a very good four days for us,” said the Finn, who has stepped in af­ter world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg abruptly re­tired from the sport.

“As a team we re­ally made the most out of this week. We’ve done a lot of mileage and I learned a lot.”

In a re­cur­ring theme over the first few days of pre-sea­son test­ing, Red Bull were the best of the rest be­hind Ferrari and Mercedes as Dutch won­der kid Max Ver­stap­pen was sec­ond fastest.

“I think Mercedes might still have an ad­van­tage on us in terms of power at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son but we’ll be catch­ing up,” warned Ver­stap­pen.

British driver Jolyon Palmer was third quick­est for Re­nault.

The be­lea­guered McLaren team had a more pos­i­tive day in terms of mileage as Bel­gian rookie Stof­fel Van­doorne com­pleted 67 laps, but F1’s fallen gi­ants re­main well off the pace.

Wil­liams also called an early end to their first test af­ter dam­age suf­fered to the FW40 in rookie Lance Stroll’s crash on Wed­nes­day.

“A sec­ond chas­sis will be pre­pared at track this af­ter­noon, as orig­i­nally planned, with the team aim­ing to be back on track for the sec­ond test next week,” Wil­liams said in a state­ment.

The sec­ond and fi­nal four-day test be­fore the sea­son-open­ing Grand Prix in Aus­tralia on March 26 also takes place in Barcelona, from Tues­day.

AFP PIC

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikko­nen drives in the wet on the fourth day of the first week of tests at the Cir­cuit de Catalunya on Thurs­day.

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