Teams and drivers report from the third and penultimate day of the second Formula 1 preseason test at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona – the seventh day of running at the Spanish Grand Prix venue.
Team Report: “For the third day of Test 2 at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, Charles Leclerc was at the wheel of the SF90 for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow. The Monegasque driver completed the planned programme, which consisted mainly of simulating key phases of a race weekend. Charles did a total of 138 laps. Leclerc got down to work shortly after 9, trying various set-ups, before pitting to prepare for the simulation work. Before lunch, the SF90 was fitted with the soft compound tyres and Charles set his best time of 1:16.231. Having done 56 laps in the morning, the team then began a race simulation in the afternoon. Charles took off from the starting place at the end of the pit lane and the full race distance went off without a hitch, with the mechanics getting in some pit stop practice. The car then pitted for routine checks, before getting on with the programme.”
Charles Leclerc: “It didn’t look as though today would be easy, given that we had to make up for yesterday’s lost time, but we got it done and that was very positive, especially as this was my last day in the car before Australia. I am very happy because we worked really well. It’s been an encouraging start to the season and I feel about ready. Now, I can’t wait to take part in my first real Grand Prix with Ferrari. The SF90 is solid and the balance is good and consistent. That’s been the clear impression right from the first day and it hasn’t changed. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but up until now, I can say I’m satisfied. My lap time? Of course it’s nice to top the timesheet, but it doesn’t mean anything. What matters is that, lap after lap, I am getting more and more dialled into this car”.
Lewis Hamilton: “Today has been a good day – lots of mileage, which is great for us. It has probably been one of the most positive days for us, we’ve really learned quite a lot. We’ve been able to apply our learnings from the morning to the afternoon, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Valtteri felt, but the car looked like it was in a better place. Our understanding of the W10 is continuously growing so it was definitely a positive day.”
Valtteri Bottas: “We got a lot of laps in today which is always good. I did a race simulation which was interrupted by the red flag, but it confirmed the progress we’ve made since last week. We’re getting more and more prepared for Melbourne, but there’s room for improvement and still a few question marks on where we stand compared to the competition. We’re focusing on our performance; the entire team is pushing really hard and keeps improving the car and that’s all that matters. We need to maximise the last day of testing as it will be our final chance to try out a few things ahead of Melbourne. Today was positive and I’m hoping for another good day tomorrow.”
James Allison: “Today was a very productive day, either side of a trouble-free race distance we did a lot of good investigative work and in the race simulation itself, unlike yesterday where we failed to make the tyres live, we had good tyre behaviour across all three stints. We look forward to tomorrow where we will be investigating the range of tyre compounds and focusing more on single lap pace.”
Team Report: “The penultimate day of our final pre-season test was brought to an early end midway through the afternoon when Pierre crashed at Turn 9 of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Pierre was unhurt in the incident but car damage prevented any further running. The Team will conduct overnight repairs ahead of the final test day when Max returns to the wheel before F1 heads to the opening round of the season, the Australian Grand Prix.”
Pierre Gasly: “We looked a bit more at performance today and we learned a lot. We still have a lot of work to do but overall we’re pleased. I’m feeling good with the car and the package in general – the chassis and engine are really good. In the afternoon, I made a mistake in Turn 9 and lost the car. It was a pretty big crash, but I’m fine, a little bit shaken, but generally OK. I’m feeling more sorry for the guys in the garage. They have a long night ahead but the most important thing is that Max is back in the car tomorrow and we’ll focus on the positives. It’s not an ideal way to end the final test, but over the four days we managed to get lots of laps in and that was positive. We have good performance and we just need to understand how to maximise the package, so we bring the best car we can to Melbourne.”
Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin: “The crash was simply a case of Pierre going slightly wide into Turn 9 and losing control. You’re pretty much flat out there, so if it goes wrong, you’re going to feel it. Thankfully Pierre is OK. We have a long night ahead of us in order to get the car ready for tomorrow, however today’s incident shouldn’t compromise our plans. Prior to Pierre’s off, we had a good morning. We worked on how we manage a qualifying session, which is good knowledge for the driver and it gets the pit crew back in the zone. The incident was unfortunate but these things happen. We’ll deal with it and move on.”
Lando Norris: “The morning went well, and we made some small improvements from the last two days. Many of the runs this morning were beneficial in helping us gain a better understanding of the car. I tried out various configurations during short runs, which gave us more information on how the car reacts to different tyres and fuel loads. We followed that with some longer runs on harder tyres that helped us to improve the balance of the car. I’m more prepared for Australia than I was at the start of testing, especially for the longer runs. There’s definitely still a lot of work to do, but overall I feel comfortable with the baseline we have and the direction we want to push in. I feel ready, and I’m going to spend the next two weeks working hard in the factory on everything I need to do to prepare our set-up for Melbourne.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “A day of challenges, where we again had to contend with issues, resulting in our running being curtailed. Conversely, we continue to make progress on other fronts, and once again learned some valuable lessons which certainly will be applicable once we go racing in Australia and beyond. Next time we see the number four car of Lando on track, it’ll be FP1 in Melbourne and the start of his official grand prix debut. It’s an exciting moment for all of us at McLaren, and for his fans, and something we’re all looking forward to.”
Lance Stroll: “It’s been another positive day in the car and a good way to finish my pre-season programme. We covered a lot of kilometres today – the most I’ve done on a single day all winter – and now I am really looking forward to going racing. We are going to keep learning about our new car, both tomorrow on our last day with Sergio in the car and back at base, and we are going to bring the best possible package to Melbourne. It’s really tough to predict where we stand once we start racing: everyone is working on different programmes, but I start the season with a positive mindset.”
Tom McCullough, Performance Engineering Director: “The first six days of testing have been about data gathering and learning, while today we switched towards preparing for Melbourne. It was Lance’s last day in the car and we went through a lot of the procedural work we will put into practice in Australia. We did some performance work in the morning, while the afternoon was all about long runs. Our mileage was very positive with over 100 laps completed. Tomorrow will be the last day of our pre-season and we will have a similar programme with Sergio on his last day in the car before Melbourne.”
Kevin Magnussen: “We carried on with the program today and did what we needed to do. I was happy to get more laps in obviously. I’m still feeling good in the car and look forward to tomorrow’s final afternoon of track time. The team’s busy preparing for our last day testing, but we’re all really looking forward to going racing now.”
Romain Grosjean: “We had an issue that was discovered at lunch and it took a long time to fix. It wasn’t the afternoon I was after. I’m now just focused on tomorrow morning and getting my last taste of the car before we head to Melbourne. Generally, we’ve made some great progress in testing. The car’s showing us the limits, and where we can work, the baseline is very good. We’re happy with that baseline and the car’s performance. We haven’t focused too much on lap times at the moment. Melbourne will come and eventually we’ll put everything together for qualifying. Right now, we’re learning the VF-19, discovering a bit more, and it’s getting better and better. The feeling is good, as it was last year.”
Guenther Steiner: “It’s been a little disappointing today, we didn’t do enough running. The morning was okay, we almost completed our planned program, but not so much the afternoon, where obviously we got very little done. Hopefully we’re getting all our little gremlins over with here in testing, so we don’t bring them to the races. That said, the last two days were good, so if we have a good day tomorrow, I think we’ll be fine.”
Alexander Albon: “I’m quite happy with how winter testing went as I was able to do a lot of laps and maximize my time in the car. It’s still early days and we won’t know until Melbourne what everyone else has been working on, but I think we can be satisfied with how everything turned out the past four days. We managed to have another day cracking the 100-lap mark, so that’s a testament to the team’s hard work and the reliability from Honda. Coming into testing you always want to get the most mileage as possible and we’ve done that, so it’s been a lot of learning and getting comfortable with the car – something I wouldn’t have been able to do if we weren’t reliable. Overall, we’re in a good position with the car and there’s been no nasty surprises. There’s still a few things we need to tick off tomorrow before we finish testing, but it’s been a successful pre-season test as we were able to trial many things to see what works well for us. It was a great job by the team to get a good baseline for the car so that we could build on it throughout the two weeks.”
Jody Egginton, Deputy Technical Director: “As this is the final day of winter testing for Alex, the programme was focused towards qualifying and race simulations whilst also making best use of the remaining time for further background and aero test items. As one would expect given his approach so far in testing, Alex made good progress in the qualifying simulation, adapting well to each compound and circuit evolution. The afternoon race simulation, although not fully completed due to a red flag, included the use of the C1 compound. Alex could, therefore, achieve further experience of long-run tyre optimisation and this demonstrated his increasing confidence with the car. It also provided some very useful tyre data for the engineers to review and act on for the final day of testing. In terms of pace we are reasonably satisfied, even if tyre wear and graining has been a topic and something we expect to be a challenge for all teams at some events in 2019, hence we have taken the opportunity to work on minimising its effects here.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: “Alex Albon has now completed his pre-season testing in these two tests that saw him drive a Formula 1 car for the first time. He completed just under 500 laps in his four days in the cockpit. That represents a significant contribution in terms of our PU development work and we are now looking forward to his debut race. Tomorrow is our final track session before Melbourne and we hope to end this test on a positive note.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: It was another great day weather wise, and again a very ambitious programme with three segments. We ran some more aerodynamic measurements in the morning, this time with our very largest rake assembly. We spent the second part of the morning on qualifying practice, running four sets of new tyres at low fuel. In the afternoon we focused on a race simulation mixed with a range of tests which went generally to plan despite the red flag interruptions. Overall, we achieved some high mileage with great feedback from George, and we will be doing more of the same with Robert tomorrow.
George Russell: I’m definitely very happy with the number of laps we have done, but at the end of the day it is all about the laptimes and we still have some time to find. We have made a big step from when I jumped in the car on Tuesday, after Robert was in the car yesterday, and hopefully when he jumps in the car tomorrow we will find another step. We understand the issues, we recognise that and are doing everything we can to rectify them. We have work to do but I am still very focused, motivated and I am very much looking forward to Australia.