Teams and drivers report from the fourth day of Formula 1 preseason testing at Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
Team Report: “Charles Leclerc was at the wheel of the SF90 on what was the last day of this four day Formula 1 pre-season test at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow driver completed a total of 138 laps; 72 in the morning and 66 in the afternoon. That means the SF90 has covered 598 laps in this first test, (303 for Sebastian Vettel and 295 for Charles Leclerc), equivalent to a total distance of 2783,69 kilometres. Following the installation lap, the Monegasque driver then got down to a series of runs to evaluate different set-ups, running various tyre compounds. Towards the end of the morning, Charles set what would be his fastest lap of the day in 1’18”046. The afternoon featured further tyre testing with the car running in different configurations.
Charles Lecelerc: “For now, I don’t want to say too much, because this is just testing” he said. “But the feeling from the car is very good. We did many laps, the reliability was good and every day we managed to complete our programme. I feel quite at ease in the car, even if there are still a few things I need to get used to, including how the team operates. But this is quite an easy car to drive. As Seb said, this doesn’t feel like a new car, but more like one that is quite well developed. Driveability is very good, which shows that the team has done an amazing job over the winter to bring a very solid car here. As soon as I arrived here in Barcelona, I switched to ‘work’ mode and put any emotion to one side to get on with the job as well as possible. The results? I’m not really focusing on that side of things. I’m focusing on myself, trying to do my best and to improve with every lap.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It was quite cold in the morning which meant that it was a little bit difficult with the tyres for everyone. In general, the car was feeling better today and is coming together. However, we still have to keep on digging deep, analysing the data and the changes that we are making. The reliability has been really solid which is a great showing of all the hard work that everyone in the factory has done. But we have to keep on pushing, the competition looks very strong. The weather has been good all week so we could get through our programme and it was great to see the fans out there. I’m looking forward to coming back next week.”
Valtteri Bottas: “The first week of testing was really good for us in terms of reliability, we got a lot of mileage in with the new car and didn’t experience any major issues. Today we did some shorter runs, seeing how the W10 works when you try to extract a little bit more performance out of it. We’ve been making progress throughout the entire week, the car felt better every single day. We’re now looking forward to next week when we will hopefully make even more progress. Many thanks to the entire team, it was a good first test. Now we’re all hungry to improve even more in the second test.”
Andrew Shovlin: Lewis had a tricky start to the day as the track was so cold it was difficult to get the used tyres to work. To avoid doing any damage, we waited around for a while for the surface to warm before getting into the programme. It’s the first time we’ve tried the softer tyres on the W10 and today was just a first look to understand the grip and balance differences between them. Valtteri’s programme in the afternoon was quite similar to Lewis, running through the same compounds. We’ve had a very productive few days and the car has run very reliably which has helped us get through the programme. It’s clear from this week that we’re going to have strong competition this year with Ferrari and Red Bull but hopefully, we’ll have another good test next week which will help us with our final preparations for Melbourne.
Pierre Gasly: “It was a really productive day” said Pierre. “We managed 146 laps, so a lot of long runs but also a lot of tests done for the Team. The overall feeling with the car is really good. It doesn’t show on the lap times today, but it is testing and we know what we’re doing, so I’m pretty happy. This week has gone well. I managed to do a lot of laps, which was important for me, and I was able to get used to the car and my new engineer. We’ve done some good work in that regard this week and there’s a lot more to come next week as we get ready for Melbourne.”
Guillaume Rocquelin, Head of Race Engineering: “We had a very smooth, tidy finish to the first test and Pierre got through a big workload today. We spent much of the day on the C3 tyre and focused on longer runs but it wasn’t just about piling on the miles. There was plenty going on in the background that will aid development of the car. Overall we’ve had a very successful first test. We’ve been able to tick off all the items on the run plans and this test has thrown up a few interesting things that we can factor into development. We’ve had great support from the factory too, as shown with the rear wing we ran yesterday, so it’s been a very consistent and productive week. We got to where wanted to be and beyond.”
Alexander Albon: “My first two days of F1 testing completed and I really enjoyed it! We had a good day today topping the timesheets in the morning session, I know it’s still early days and we don’t know what everyone else is doing but it’s a good sign for the future. The first day began with a tricky start, but the team made me feel comfortable after that and we were able to get on with the programme. I think everything is going to plan quite well, we’ve hit our mileage target which is important for the guys back at the factory, and of course at the same time, I’m still learning the car. The grip is so high that it took a while for my head to adjust to it, it’s been a big learning curve! I’m still not fully in the rhythm yet but I think after next week I’ll be there and ready to race.”
Jody Egginton, Deputy Technical Director: “For the final day of pre-season testing Alex was back behind the wheel and continued the work which Dany had put in during Day 3. After completion of a block of aero tests early on he moved into a general testing programme, carrying out a number of setup-related test items. We then moved on to a series of new tyre runs, in order to provide Alex with a further opportunity to gain experience of how to best utilise the new tyre over a short run. This culminated in a solid performance on both the C4 and C5 compounds, which is encouraging at this point in the test programme. In the afternoon, similar to Dany on Day 3, Alex conducted a number of longer stints putting in solid times on both compounds, whilst also gaining experience of managing the tyres overextended running. Again, today we have seen Alex move along the learning curve impressively, managing both quick and consistent lap times whilst also developing the car setup to his liking together with his engineers. There is much more work to do in next week’s test, but we look forward to making further progress with the STR14.”
Franz Tost, Team Principal: “The first pre-season test in Barcelona was a successful one for Toro Rosso. The car ran well throughout the four days and we saw good results from both the performance side and the reliability. It was the first time in the STR14 for Daniil and Alex, who both did a very good job and gave positive feedback about the car and the Honda Power Unit. There is still a lot of work in front of us to further improve the car. The team did a great job as we ended the first test with a total of 482 laps. This gave us a lot of data and we now have a long list of test items for next week to make further steps forward. The weather was very good in Barcelona this year as the wind wasn’t blowing so heavily and we reached reasonably good track temperatures, which allowed us to get some productive running – especially in the afternoon sessions. This means the test results are quite valid for the start of the season in Melbourne.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: “For this first four-day pre-season test, working with both Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda, it was encouraging that we got through all our planned programme with both teams. As for today, everything went smoothly and we acquired a good amount of data. It’s the first time in the hybrid era that we are powering two teams and at this test, we learned a lot in terms of how to operate with them both. There were no major issues with the power units throughout this test. Toro Rosso has completed 482 laps over the four days and Red Bull did 475, meaning that Honda PUs ran a total of 957 laps. We will now spend the next few days analysing all the data we have acquired here, in order to move forward with development in the final four days of testing next week prior to the first race in Australia.”
Lando Norris: “I think today I did the most laps I’ve ever done on a test day. It was also the cleanest day we’ve had in terms of consistent running this week, so it was very productive. We did some more race simulation today and I’ve definitely learned a lot over my two days in the car. We’ve found some improvements over the week, but there’s still a lot to work on. Overall, it’s been a good week. The guys have done a solid job over the winter putting the car together and the test has gone pretty smoothly. We now have a better idea of the direction we want to work in with the car, and its strengths and weaknesses, and we’ll try to work on those weaknesses next week.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “In summary, we’ve had a productive and valuable first test, and pleasingly this means we have nothing much to report! We’ve done some good mileage, completed our test programme and learned a lot of useful information about the MCL34, the 2019 Pirelli tyres and our new drivers. The work we’ve completed this week has been another good step in our preparation for the start of the season, and we hope we can continue this momentum into the second and final week of testing.”
Team Report: “Antonio Giovinazzi completed the final day of T01 behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Racing C38 at Barcelona. Building on the progress made over the past three days together with teammate Kimi Räikkönen, Antonio and the team focused on aerodynamic testing and set-up work for both short- and long-runs today. After a positive week, the team feels confident of the potential of their 2019 contender and is looking forward to the second week of testing ahead of the season debut in Melbourne.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “After another full day in the car, I am satisfied with the progress we have made this week and overall our team is feeling motivated by our recent learnings. I feel comfortable in the car as well as in the team itself and we are all working together constructively. We have another week of testing ahead of us which we will use to focus on making further progress and learn even more about our new car. I am already looking forward to being back on track.”
Lance Stroll: “It’s great to have a week of testing under our belt and I am feeling positive. We covered some good mileage today and went through most of our test programme: it’s been a good start and we can build on it next week. My confidence and comfort with the team have grown: they have given me all the tools I need as a driver. They have been very supportive and this is what helps me get the best out of myself and the car. I am looking forward to next week and doing more set-up work so that we can bring the quickest possible car to Melbourne.”
Tom McCullough, Performance Engineering Director: “Today was another valuable day of testing. We focused mostly on set-up work and understanding how our car works, having completed the majority of our data gathering tests over the last three days. We were also able to start working on our long runs. We are making good progress with the balance, but unfortunately the day was cut short by an oil leak we spotted in the data, something we are currently investigating. Overall, this week has been a productive one even though we didn’t complete all the mileage we wanted. Nonetheless, we have some important data and we are looking forward to another productive test next week.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: “The start of our first proper pre-season testing with the FW42. The final few parts had arrived overnight, so we started the day with a complete car. The main focus of the programme has been data gathering particularly around aerodynamics with only a very modest amount of performance running for the drivers just to get some initial feedback. Neither driver was able to get enough laps to really find the limits of the car. The morning was a much better session for Robert in the sense of objectives achieved. Unfortunately, we had a small fault at the end of the morning session which took a long time to correct and so we were late out for the afternoon and had a mixture of other small problems and red flags. This meant we didn’t achieve all our intent with George. Nevertheless, both drivers have had their first look at the car with some interesting feedback already and we have some valuable data to take back to the factory. Our focus will now move to achieving a solid programme in the four days of testing next week. Thanks once again to all the team for the huge effort they have put in over the last week. It has been a very difficult process for everybody, but we are now moving forwards.”
Robert Kubica: “It was my first time out in the car, so it does not feel like day four of testing, but day one. This morning we spent the time gathering data, signing off tests for the engineering department and trying to put mileage on the car. I had 12 performance laps in the car, so it is too early to talk about feelings, those will become clearer next week. It would be better to have more time in the car as Australia is not far off, from both a driver and a car point of view. Everybody has their own job in the team and I must concentrate on mine to ensure that we are in the best possible shape for the first race.”
George Russell: “It was very important to get some mileage under our belt and get a feel for the car. It gives us a good understanding of where we are at, our limitations and what we need to work on next week. The car felt stable and I had a good feeling, but I am still yet to reach the full performance from the car. We are all excited to get back out on track on Tuesday but first we have a lot of work to do to make sure that the car is in the best possible state, that we have no issues and we can get the laps because we have some catching up to do.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing: “It’s still early days, but so far the tyres seem to be performing largely as we expected, with a performance gap of around 0.6 to 0.7 seconds between each compound. In more detail, it’s something around 0.6 seconds between C2 and C3 so far, and roughly the same gap between C3 and C4, which were the most used tyres in this session. Due to the cool conditions this week, there was a bit of graining as expected, which should disappear when temperatures become warmer during the actual season. As far as testing goes, there are many variables that need to be taken into account when it comes to making comparisons with previous years here. There are new 2019 regulations with different aerodynamics and heavier cars, and we’ve also noted that the track surface in Barcelona has matured since last year. Having said that, we’ve seen a very impressive level of reliability and performance from the cars so far, helped by generally favourable weather. As usual, the emphasis during the first test tends to be on reliability and validation: next week we should see the teams focus more on performance and explore the full capabilities of the 2019 P Zero Formula 1 range.”