The last of the eight days of pre-season testing in Barcelona has finished with Kimi Raikkonen setting the fastest time overall with a best lap on super-soft tyres of 1m18.634s, after 111 laps today. This gave Ferrari an eight-day total of 957 laps of the Spanish track, which is 2,767.6 miles of running. Second fastest overall in the test was Sebastian Vettel, who set a 1m19.024s lap yesterday, but was clearly backing off at the end of the lap. His best possible lap time was probably about the same as Raikkonen. The key question, however, is not whether the Ferrari were fast but rather to what extent the Mercedes were sandbagging, if indeed they were… And, of course, there is the question of long distance runs, although these are more difficult to assess because of possible manipulations that only the team in question would know about. In other words, we can analyse as much as we like, but we will not really know the answer until Sunday night in Melbourne – and even then this may not be the full picture of what to expect for the season ahead. Would that it were easy…
Lewis Hamilton ended up fourth fastest of the week with a best of 1m19.352s, using ultra-soft tyres. He once again shared the car with Valtteri Bottas and the team completed another 105 laps bringing its pre-season testing total (not allowing for filming) to 1098 laps, which means that the team completed 3,175 miles of running, which means that it ran 13 percent more miles than the Ferraris. Is that significant? Well, it’s impressive for a new car. Both totals are. Indeed, it is fair to say that the mileage achieved by almost all of the teams was extraordinary given the fact that all the cars are new. Bottas ended up third quickest of the week with a 1m19.310s lap.
The fifth fastest of the week was Felipe Massa in the Williams, with his team-mate Lance Stroll 13th, six-tenths off the pace of his team-mate. Stroll had several incidents early on but the team made up for it and ended the testing with 800 laps, which put it third overall, just ahead of Sauber. Nonetheless, the team managed 27 percent fewer laps than Mercedes.
Max Verstappen was sixth fastest overall, with a best of 1m19.438s on super-soft tyres, so there is probably more to come from the Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo had a quiet week, setting his fastest time on the first day, although this was good for ninth overall. It was achieved on ultra-soft tyres, but conditions changed a lot during the week. Overall the Red Bull team completed a total of 684 laps, which is 1,978 miles. This is only 62 percent of the mileage achieved by Mercedes, which suggests that the Red Bulls may be more susceptible to reliability problems in the early races, which is not good when you are aiming for World Championships.
Seventh overall was the Toro Rosso-Renault of Carlos Sainz with a best of 1m19.837s on ultra-soft rubber. This meant that Toro Rosso ended up with 584 laps, which was not terribly impressive compared to Mercedes and others – and the second lowest total. Daniil Kvyat was 14th fastest but only used super-soft rubber, his best of the week being a 1m20.416s.
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth overall in his Renault, with a 1m19.885s, set on ultra-soft rubber. His team-mate Jolyon Palmer was 12th, also on ultra-soft, but on a different day. The two took Renault’s lap count to 607 laps, about 55 percent of the total laps by Mercedes – and third smallest total after McLaren and Toro Rosso.
Sergio Perez was 10th fastest overall with a 1m20.116s, set on ultra-soft tyres, which Esteban Ocon right with him with the 11th fastest lap at 1m20.161s. The team completed 785 laps, which was the fifth best mileage of the testing. Nonetheless, the lap times were not great.
The Haas-Ferraris were 15th and 17th fastest of the week with Kevin Magnussen setting a best of 1.20.504s on ultra-soft tyres, while Romain Grosjean did a 1m21.110s on similar tyres. The team has done 716 laps.
McLaren was next, with Stoffel Vandoorne setting a best lap of 1m21.348s on ultra-softs, just ahead of Fernando Alonso’s 1m21.389s on similar tyres. The team has done only 425 laps in total in testing, which is not great. Sauber is at the back in terms of laps time with Marcus Ericsson 20th and Pascal Wehrlein 21st overall. The laps times were not great but the team is reliable with 787 laps of running. This could pay dividends in the early races if points are up for grabs.