F1’S TESTING TIMES
Silver Arrows complete 200 more laps than the rest
Ferrari topped the timesheets at the end of Formula 1’s first pre-season test at Barcelona last week, but again it was Mercedes that covered the most miles.
Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time during the four days at Barcelona with a lap exactly three tenths of a second faster than Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India. However, this time was set on Pirelli’s new ultra-soft tyres and only the Scuderia and Red Bull opted to use this compound at the opening test.
Ferrari’s other driver Kimi Raikkonen said he was much happier with the new SF16-H than its predecessor, but the team was disappointed to not complete more mileage.
Ferrari only notched up 353 laps, putting it sixth highest on the laps completed list, with Raikkonen losing a significant chunk of the third day while fuel system checks were carried out.
“We would have liked more laps but that’s part of testing,” said the Finn. “With a new car, there are certain things you need to try and test.
“You have to accept you have to check things and it takes time. It’s better to do that.”
Mercedes, however, had a trouble-free test and racked up 675 laps, over 200 more than the next best team Toro Rosso. Even the drivers were surprised at the amount of mileage achieved in the new W07 Hybrid.
“It’s been the best week of testing we’ve ever had,” said Lewis Hamilton, who set the 12th fastest time of the test on the medium compound tyre.
“Before we came here the team talked about doing 800 kilometres [500 miles] per day, and I was thinking they were crazy. I’ve never done that in the past, and usually the car breaks down.
“But I’ve never had a test like this where the car just goes on and on and on. It’s been a physical challenge doing all the laps, but it’s just been incredible.”
The champion squad did not use any of the three soft tyre compounds and instead focused on set-up work. An innovative new front wing was also tested for the first time on the final day.
Mclaren joined Ferrari and Mercedes in having a similar pattern to its opening test as last year. The Woking squad was again near the bottom of the laps completed chart as several reliability problems proved costly, with only Manor achieving fewer miles.
A coolant leak restricted the team’s running on the final day to just three laps, while earlier in the test a hydraulic leak caused a minor fire. Nevertheless, Jenson Button still managed more laps on the first day than the team did during the whole of 2015’s opening test.
“Unfortunately, the [coolant] leak we experienced on the car was in a tricky position, which meant it took longer than usual to locate and fix,” said director of engineering Matt Morris.
“It’s always frustrating when a small issue hampers your running for much of a day, but thankfully it’s relatively minor and we can now look to preparing the car for the second test.
“We’re definitely ahead of where we were last year in terms of system checks and integration, so at the second test we’ll be able to focus more on race simulations and set-up, as well as characterising our package’s performance.”