Snow just a few kilometres from the Costa Brava on the Spanish Mediterranean is not what you expect, the last time this happened at an F1 test at the Catalunya Circuit was 19 years ago, but the icy blast of the past few days brought in a few snowflakes this afternoon.
Nevertheless, the SF17H, with Sebastian Vettel having his first day at the wheel, reeled off 98 laps, the fastest of which was a 1:19.673, set on Soft tyres. Scuderia Ferrari wasn’t in action for all nine hours – one more than usual as even the lunch break was cancelled – but come the end of the day the programme ran to plan.
And that’s the point made by Vettel: “The important thing today wasn’t the lap time, but the fact that, in these conditions, we managed to cover almost a hundred laps without encountering any reliability problems. That’s what we are concentrating on at the moment, with the search for performance coming later. From an operational point of view, everything went smoothly and I’d say the car is working. But today’s conditions are not the ones in which you’d normally run an F1 car: today it even snowed and with air temperature around 3 to 4 degrees and the track at 8 to 9, everyone struggled to get the tyres up to temperature. The weather was the limiting factor today: the fact it’s been much colder than last year and also that the track has been completely resurfaced, means it’s impossible to make any comparisons. For now, we are concentrating on ourselves, without looking at what the others are doing.”
During the day, the SF71 used the Medium and Soft tyres and also did a couple of laps on the Intermediates. Tomorrow, it’s again Kimi Raikkonen’s turn, for his last day of this session.