There was a change of script day two of the second Formula 1 pre-season test at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, a day in which Ferrari topped the timing sheets with a modest performance by Sebastian Vettel while it turns out that the near-perfect start to Mercedes’ season is not as unflawed as it seemed.
While Lewis Hamilton parked it and ended the day slowest of all with only 14 laps to his credit, Vettel pounded around the Spanish Grand Prix venue 145 times and set the best time in the process.
While little can be made of the pecking order, it can be said that the Honda-powered posse looks racy and all indications are that the four of them have the potential to feature in Q3 when it matters, while the Racing Point RP20 has put a smile on the normally sullen faces of their drivers.
This is what drivers and their teams had to say at the end of the fifth of the six days of preseason testing ahead of the season opener in Melbourne.
Team Report: “Sebastian Vettel rounded off his pre-season testing with 145 laps, equivalent to 675 kilometres. Today, the German went through a trouble-free simulation of an entire race weekend at the wheel of the SF1000. Overnight rain meant that Sebastian waited for conditions to improve, going out onto the 4,655 km circuit around 20 minutes after the green light, doing an installation lap on intermediate tyres. Then he waited until the track was completely dry before starting a race weekend simulation using the C3, C4 and C5 tyres. Once again today, wind made life difficult for the drivers, particularly at a handful of corners. Just before the lunch break, the four-times world champion did a qualifying run, setting his best time of the day in 1:16.841, having completed 48 laps by one o’clock. The afternoon saw the team rehearse each and every procedure that is undertaken on the Sunday of a Grand Prix. Sebastian alternated between the C2 and C3 compounds for this, completing the 300km race distance without any problems. Before the session ended, the German went back out on track for another series of runs to gather more data relating to the car’s handling. In this second test session, Seb has completed a total of 229 laps, or 1,066 kilometres. His winter testing total is therefore 402 laps (1,871 kilometres) equivalent to around six Grands Prix.
The last day of testing sees Charles Leclerc back on track to gather the final mass of data to take back to Maranello in preparation for the opening round of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place on 15 March in Melbourne.”
Sebastian Vettel: “This was a good day in terms of the number of laps we managed to do, as well as for the fact that we got through the programme we had set ourselves. Having said that, I don’t think today’s times mean much, because, out of the five days of testing we have done here so far, today’s track conditions were definitely the worst. The overnight rain had washed away all the rubber put down on previous days and, on top of that, the wind got much stronger right from early morning, making it harder to drive. I think we have done a good job, concentrating mainly on what we had to do, without thinking too much about lap times. We won’t really get a clear picture until Melbourne, but maybe not even there, given that the track is pretty unique. Overall, I’m pleased with the way testing went.”
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) February 27, 2020
Team Report: A damp start and strong winds complicated running for the penultimate day of the second Barcelona pre-season test, but despite tricky conditions Max and Alex completed another 92 laps as the Team focused on short runs and data collection. Max was at the wheel of the RB16 in the morning and posted a total of 31 laps before handing the car over to Alex in the afternoon.
Max Verstappen: “It was a bit of a shame with the weather, so we couldn’t really run as much as we wanted, but overall it was positive. We spent time driving with the aero rakes, gathering all the data we could and everything went well. Every day we are improving, learning more, and that’s exactly what you want from testing. It was never the target to run as many laps as last week. I think we have done our long runs and now it’s about checking parts and trying different things. It all takes time and the end result is fewer laps, but I think we tried everything we wanted to today. Regarding the spin I had this morning, I had a look back at the footage and I just clipped a little damp patch, which I didn’t see, but yeah, I think I just tried to take a little too much road on the entry!”
Alex Albon: “This afternoon was a little bit disrupted, mostly because of the wind, which was tricky, and it was hard to get a good read on balance, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad today. Everything’s going well, but of course we need to look at the data as it was not so easy to do direct comparisons today. I think tomorrow the weather should be a lot better. There’s still work to do and that’s what tomorrow is about – fine-tuning and chipping away at it. We have done a lot of running and I think the positive thing is that we know the direction we’re happy with. We have got a good base heading into the start of the season.”
Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin: “Today we had pretty tricky conditions on track because it was wet, cold and slippery in the morning and windy in the afternoon. I think it would have been easy to make mistakes and set ourselves back, either by damaging the car or by trying things we don’t understand because of the wind. So, we were quite cautious today and I think this was reflected in the amount of laps we completed. We wanted to make sure whatever we did was sensible, both in terms of not doing anything stupid so close to Melbourne, but also, if you’re testing you want to make sure you know what’s happening. So, we did short runs and changes that were suited to the conditions to make sure we got the most from the day. Tomorrow will be more or less a driver day for Max and Alex to get up to speed and comfortable so they know what to expect in Melbourne.”
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) February 27, 2020
Pierre Gasly: “It was a pretty good and intense day. The track was damp this morning which meant we had to do most of the work in the afternoon. We did over 100 laps after lunch which was great, and managed to do a race simulation and push the car a bit more to see what we’ve got. Compared to last week, the conditions were slightly more difficult because of the wind which made the car challenging to drive at times. There are a couple of areas we need to improve on, but I can say it was a decent test for me. I know we have a bit more left in our pockets and I’m pretty pleased with the car, however, Melbourne is quite different from Barcelona, so even if I don’t want to get too excited, I’m pretty confident going to the first race.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director: “It was another busy day here in Barcelona, with Pierre in the car all day and a varied test programme for the team to get through. The morning session was compromised by the damp track, meaning we were delayed in gathering the aero data. However, we covered several planned test items up until the lunch break and were able to recover some of the time lost. The focus of the afternoon switched to a mix of shorter and longer runs which provided a lot of useful data regarding the chassis and tyres. Daniil will be back in the car tomorrow, completing our 2020 winter test programme and our preparations for the first race of the season.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: “The track was damp in the morning, and as both Honda-powered cars were due to run aero rakes, they had to wait in the garage till the track was dry enough. Once it had dried out and after working on car set-up for a few laps, AlphaTauri got on with a race simulation programme, doing a lot of running with different fuel loads. It went well and Pierre was able to complete 139 laps. Red Bull was working on a different programme, with both its drivers in the car today, doing shorter runs, changing car settings frequently and we ran our PU accordingly, which allowed us to test it in various conditions. It will be important to have a productive final day tomorrow, before focussing on Melbourne and the first race of the year.”
🗣️”We did over 100 laps after lunch which was great, and managed to do a race simulation and push the car a bit more to see what we’ve got.” @PierreGASLY on his final day of testing 📲 https://t.co/SKb1bJeeY6 pic.twitter.com/oXZvEI653l
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) February 27, 2020
Valtteri Bottas: “Obviously, the running today in the morning was slightly limited with the wet weather. But we got a couple of runs in with the intermediate tyre, which is always useful. We had a good feeling on that tyre in those conditions and gathered some good information. The session was slightly disrupted by red flags, so we missed some of the test items we planned to do. However, we still completed a few good long runs and set-up work – so got some decent mileage in. I have one afternoon left in the car, which I’m really looking forward to. I feel pretty ready to race. We had a few issues here and there, but the team is working on resolving them and we’ll sort everything out for tomorrow.”
Lewis Hamilton: “I only got 14 laps in today, but during those 14 laps, everything was feeling fine. It’s obviously not ideal that we didn’t get a full day of running in and we experienced this issue, but there are lots of learnings to take from today. Rather than looking at the negatives, we’ve discovered some things we need to work on, and we’ll keep pushing hard to resolve them and keep working away. I’m looking forward to being back in the car tomorrow morning and adding to the mileage we’ve already achieved.”
James Allison: “It’s frustrating when there’s only six days of winter testing, to be spending half of one day in the garage. But, nevertheless, we did some good work this morning with Valtteri. Furthermore, in the solitary run that we managed with Lewis this afternoon, we managed to get a very useful data point from the car. We’re happy to have learnt more about its behaviour, and we’re reassured that in blustery conditions, that the car has still got a decent turn of pace. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, where we’ll have a good amount of time with both drivers on the softer tyre compounds; working on single-lap set-up and performance.”
💬 “Rather than looking at the negatives, we’ve discovered some things we need to work on, & we’ll keep pushing hard to resolve them and keep working away. I’m looking forward to being back in the car tomorrow and adding to the mileage we’ve already achieved.” – @LewisHamilton pic.twitter.com/mfpunwK424
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 27, 2020
Lance Stroll: “We put in a lot of laps – my neck’s going to be a bit stiff in the morning! We got held up a bit by the rain in the morning and it was really windy in the afternoon, which compromised running for everyone a bit. But all-in-all some solid running and the car felt pretty good out there. It’s testing, so we don’t know what everyone else is doing – but what matters is that we’ve been making progress over the past couple of weeks. We’ve definitely improved the car in terms of the balance on both short and long runs and the team have done a great job of dialling it in more and more as the days have gone by. It’s a bit weird having less time in the car compared to previous years, but I’d say this has been my best pre-season so far. I’m feeling fresh from all that off-season training and ready to go racing.”
Tom McCullough, Performance Engineering Director: “It was a bit of a difficult day, due mainly to the wet start and generally cold conditions. When the track did eventually dry out, the wind became particularly strong – the strongest it’s been in testing so far. Despite the strong winds, Lance did not put a foot wrong, thus maximising the available track time. In light of the weather conditions, we prioritised what was possible to achieve from our test plan, with some performance runs in the morning on the softer compounds followed by longer runs in the afternoon, which were unfortunately interrupted by red flags. Overall, a day of damage limitation in terms of productivity – but the car ran reliably and we’ve furthered our understanding of how to work with it, which is all valuable learning ahead of Melbourne.”
One final day of #F1Testing remains!
Where has the time gone?! 😲
— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) February 27, 2020
Lando Norris: “I’m happy with the day. We did a lot of laps, a lot of short runs and almost a full race run. We gained a good understanding of the car, both alone on track and following other cars – a bit of a mix really, which is usual at testing. It was a decent way to end the pre-season for me, giving us a good understanding of the areas to work on as we prepare for Australia.”
James Key, Technical Director: “A full day today with Lando and a different approach compared to the other days of testing. We introduced and tested some further developments today, but beyond that we began to explore the performance of the car and complete some set-up work with Lando before the start of the season. That all worked as planned and gave us some interesting and important information. We look forward to doing the same with Carlos tomorrow. This afternoon we did some longer runs which gave us some more information on the car at race fuel levels, which was good practice for Lando on his last day before we hit Melbourne.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 27, 2020
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: “Today Nicholas completed his in-car preparation ahead of the start of the new race season. He enjoyed a productive day, completing 160 laps despite the damp start and the red flags. We were able to complete some more setup work, building on the data that we have been gathering since Wednesday of last week. We then pushed the car a little harder using the softest of the 2020 Pirelli compound range. After lunch we were able to complete some higher fuel running, giving Nicholas some valuable experience of managing the C2 and C3 compounds, which, respectively, will be the prime and option compounds in Australia, and the option and qualifying compounds when we return to Barcelona in May. There was time at the end of the day to give the pit crew some useful live pitstop practice. The car and PU behaved well today, and we were able to make the most of the reliability to push the car a little harder. We aim to continue this progress tomorrow when George joins us again for his final day in the car before we head to Australia.”
Nicholas Latifi: “Overall it was a positive day and I got to experience the car in both trims that you would in a race weekend. We focused our morning on performance runs and I was finally able to feel the limits of the car. Unfortunately, the track conditions this morning hampered our running, and from that point of view our performance simulations weren’t as representative as I would have liked. In the afternoon we moved on to conducting our race simulations and I was able to get a lot of laps on the board. I think today went well, we had no issues and I was able to make up for the lost mileage from the previous days. This was the last time I will have had the chance to drive the car, I am looking forward to arriving in Melbourne and making my Formula One Grand Prix debut with the team.”
1⃣6⃣1⃣ laps for @NicholasLatifi and P4 on his final day in the car during testing 👏
— ROKiT WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) February 27, 2020
Team Report: “The penultimate day of pre-season testing at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya saw Kevin Magnussen back behind the wheel of the Haas VF-20 Thursday. The Dane recorded a total of 111 laps around the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile) Spanish venue adding to the 110 he accumulated in last week’s opening test. Magnussen’s fastest time of the day was a 1:18.225 to place 9th overall on the timesheet from 13 drivers. Overnight rain meant for the first time in pre-season testing Pirelli’s Cinturato intermediate tires were called into action – Magnussen utilizing a set for his installation lap on the damp track. It was mid-morning before conditions dried out, Magnussen spending the two hours prior to the lunch break on a series of short stints on the C3 tire for 31 laps. Further baseline outings followed in the afternoon, utilizing the C2 tire for 20 laps, before Magnussen set to work on a 60-lap race simulation which ran through to the checkered flag.
Friday’s final day of pre-season testing sees Magnussen back in the VF-20 in the morning before Grosjean concludes the on-track action in the afternoon.”
Romain Grosjean: “Overall, it’s been a very positive day. We were delayed a little bit at the start of the day as we chose not to run in the wet conditions at all, we simply did our install lap then waited for things to dry. We got a full race simulation in at the end of the day, which was nice to get completed before we head to Australia. It’s always very interesting to get your first feeling of how the car evolves over a race distance. Today allowed us to experience that for the first time and it was very positive. We’ll keep working tomorrow and look ahead to Australia.”
Guenther Steiner: “Just another day of testing really, nothing exciting happened today, you could say it was uneventful. We got out a bit late because of the weather, that was the same problem for everyone else. We got a race simulation in today, we thought we might struggle with the delayed start but we got it in. It’s one of the things we wanted to tick off our check list and it went well. One more day to go now.”
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) February 27, 2020
Team Report: “Testing is not a straightforward operation all the time. As the word itself suggests, it’s often a matter of pushing the limit, exploring the boundaries of what man and machine can do, trying to go a little further than we’ve been before. As it is therefore natural in such an environment, some days can be a bit more challenging than others. Today, after four sessions of trouble-free running, we had one of those days. A little time was lost; no drama, no worries – just the desire to come back on track as soon as possible to continue our work and push, push more on the way to Australia. We know how to deal with hard days and come back stronger, more motivated; we know how to deal with these challenges – after all, we know just how testing a testing day can be.
Xevi Pujolar, Head of Track Engineering: “After nearly two weeks of issue-free running, we had a bit of a stop-start day today. We lost a bit of time in the morning when we had an off and had to repair the car, and our programme was halted by a few red flags. It was quite difficult to get some consistent running, but it was a similar situation for everyone. Our race simulation went well: we had to send the car out without much setup work, so we know we can improve our pace a decent bit. We will now focus on our final day of testing before Melbourne: Kimi will be in the car tomorrow and follow a similar programme to what we had planned for today.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “It was a challenging day from the start. I did a mistake in one of my first runs, when the track was damp, and that cost us some time in the morning. When we went out again in the afternoon, the yellow flags ruined our qualifying simulation and we couldn’t really do a lap. At least we were able to follow our long runs programme: the wind was very strong and we struggled a bit, but we were able to get it done. It was the last time in the car before Melbourne for me: I am satisfied with these two weeks, we need to focus on our job and try to be strong from the start in Australia.”
— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) February 27, 2020