© Getty Images

Kimi Raikkonen quickest as opening F1 pre-season test ends in Barcelona

Leave a comment

Kimi Raikkonen closed out the first collective Formula 1 test of 2017 at the top of the timesheets after setting the pace on a mixed day of running in Barcelona.

With no rain falling over the first three days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, teams agreed for the track to be made wet to allow Pirelli to gather data for its intermediate and wet tires.

Sunny conditions meant that the track dried out across the course of the day despite more water being laid down over lunch, with slick running possible in the afternoon session.

Raikkonen turned in a fastest lap of 1:20.872 to finish nine-tenths of a second clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, giving Ferrari a second day at the top of the standings. Raikkonen also set the fastest time for the Scuderia on Tuesday.

Following Valtteri Bottas’ impressive Wednesday pace, Mercedes had a quieter day as the Finn only finished eighth-fastest. Teammate Lewis Hamilton opted not to run in the morning as planned after the team found an electrical problem on its car.

Jolyon Palmer led Renault’s charge in third place, running the afternoon after teammate Nico Hulkenberg completed his duties in the morning. Romain Grosjean was fourth for Haas and led the mileage charts with 118 laps under his belt.

Antonio Giovinazzi impressed once again for Sauber while standing in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein, finishing fifth. Sergio Perez was sixth for Force India.

McLaren had a better day after struggles earlier in the week, with Stoffel Vandoorne racking up 66 laps behind the wheel of the MCL32.

Toro Rosso was less fortunate, managing just a single lap due to an engine issue on its STR12 car, while Williams sat out entirely due to damage sustained to its car on Wednesday.

Testing resumes in Barcelona on Tuesday (March 7), with another four days scheduled to take place.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.