The man who frequently says the least about the race series he competes in will be the trigger for more words than normal for a simple test session.
Scudeira Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen led the timesheets on the second-to-last day of preseason testing, with a 1:22.785 the best time of the day on Pirelli’s purple ultrasoft compounds. He also ran a race simulation as well during the afternoon period.
Ultrasoft laps produced three of the best four times on the day, with Nico Hulkenberg (Force India, 1:23.251) and Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso, 1:23.382) in third and fourth. Felipe Massa of Williams turned in the best time of the day on soft compounds, a 1:23.193 that was good enough for second.
But arguably, the more important headline of the day also involved Raikkonen, as he was the first driver to publicly debut the new halo device, a form of additional cockpit head protection which could be on its way to the sport in the future.
Raikkonen, who in classic concise form called the device “OK,” ran the device in the morning and it remains to be seen whether teammate Sebastian Vettel will also run with the device for the fourth and final day of running on this week’s test, and last of the preseason. Vettel has stated his interest for some form of increased cockpit protection in the past.
The session ended a few minutes early due to Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean being stranded on course at Turn 10.
Seven drivers posted more than 100 laps on the day, with Verstappen topping them all at 159 laps completed. Hulkenberg (137) and Raikkonen (136) were also particularly busy.
In his second day of running in the Sauber C35, Felipe Nasr clocked another 100-plus lap day with 116 laps in the books. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso nailed down 118 on the day in the McLaren MP4-31 Honda.
Pascal Wehrlein posted a respectable 1:24.913 on ultrasofts for Manor MRT in 48 laps, which was good for eighth on the day.
Grosjean’s late issue aside, he completed 78 laps in what was the VF-16’s busiest day of running this week after the nagging turbo issues that have sidelined the car most of Tuesday and Wednesday.
Times are below: