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Kimi Raikkonen: Ferrari F1 test running ‘much smoother’ in 2017

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Kimi Raikkonen says that Ferrari’s Formula 1 pre-season running has been “much smoother going” in 2017 compared to recent years after an impressive run in Barcelona this week.

Raikkonen topped the timesheets on both Tuesday and Thursday as Ferrari shared P1 with defending champion team Mercedes, who led through Lewis Hamilton on Monday and Valtteri Bottas on Wednesday.

Ferrari ended the first test with the second-highest number of laps completed (468, second only to Mercedes on 558) and showed an impressive pace that surprised many in the paddock.

Following a difficult 2016 season that saw Ferrari go without a race win and fall to third in the constructors’ championship, Raikkonen was pleased with how the first collective 2017 test went.

“It feels a lot better, but that’s what you expect with the rule changes. We’re going to be optimistic every year, but where we’ll be at the end of the year is hard to say,” Raikkonen said.

“We’ve learned our lesson from the past years and the team has made a good jump over the winter, but is that going to be good enough? We will see during the year.

“But so far it’s a good feeling. We can’t complain too much. I think it went pretty OK, considering what we had planned.

“You always wish to do more here and there, but this is what we did in four days and if we compare it to one year ago, I think it’s been much smoother going, so it’s a good start.”

Raikkonen and teammate Sebastian Vettel will return to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya next Tuesday for the start of the second four-day test.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.