Raikkonen wraps up 2017 F1 testing with fastest time overall

F1i 11/03/2017
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Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari finished 2017’s Formula 1 testing on top, as the Finn became the only driver to break into the 1 min 18 s around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the past two weeks.

The 2007 world champion’s 1:18.634 benchmark is over six seconds faster than Nico Rosberg’s 2015 Spanish Grand Prix pole position of 1:24.681, with that year’s times used as references to draft 2017’s sweeping regulation changes aimed at making the cars up to five seconds quicker.

Coming off its second winless campaign in three years, the Scuderia has showed competitive pace throughout the two group sessions and managed to secure valuable mileage with the SF70H.

Reigning world champions Mercedes also displayed great durability with over 1000 laps completed for Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in eight days. Both drivers once again shared testing duties on the final day of action. The Finn narrowly edged the Briton for 0.005s, as the pair slotted into fourth and fifth respectively on Friday.

Second quickest was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen but the Dutchman’s progress was hampered by niggling turbo issues on his Renault power unit. The French manufacturer has admitted to ERS problems over the pre-season tests and will look to improve reliability ahead of the season-opening race in Melbourne in two weeks’ time.

Former Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz placed third in the Renault-powered STR12, which enjoyed a smoother second week overall.

Sixth-placed Nico Hulkenberg led Sergio Perez, whom he partnered at Force India over the past three years, and current Renault team-mate Jolyon Palmer.

After enduring a character-building first week at the wheel of the Williams FW40, Lance Stroll enjoyed a much productive second outing. The Canadian teenager wrapped up the final day of preparations before his grand prix debut with 131 more laps under his belt and the ninth fastest time.

Next is Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who caused two of the six red flags witnessed on Friday, including one for spinning into the gravel. The Frenchman is still not happy with his team’s current brake supplier and has asked for a change.

Behind Grosjean is Fernando Alonso in what has been another challenging day for McLaren-Honda. The Spaniard’s MCL32 stopped twice on track in the morning session in the wake of another electrical issue on his troublesome power unit.

The two-time world champion only outpaces the Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein and their year-old Ferrari engine.

With pre-season testing in the books, F1 teams will not set their sights to the Albert Park Circuit, which hosts the 2017 Australian Grand Prix on March 26.

Pos Driver Team Times Laps Tyres
1 Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.634 110 SS
2 Verstappen Red Bull 1:19.438 71 SS
3 Sainz Toro Rosso 1:19.837 132 US
4 Bottas Mercedes 1:19.845 53 SS
5 Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.850 53 US
6 Hülkenberg Renault 1:19.885 45 US
7 Pérez Force India 1:20.116 128 US
8 Palmer Renault 1:20.205 43 US
9 Stroll Williams 1:20.335 131 S
10 Grosjean Haas 1:21.110 76 US
11 Alonso McLaren 1:21.389 43 US
12 Ericsson Sauber 1:21.670 59 SS
13 Wehrlein Sauber 1:23.527 42 S

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Raikkonen: 'Ferrari much much better than last year'

F1i 11/03/2017
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Kimi Raikkonen

The man who has won the bragging rights for fastest driver in pre-season testing believes Ferrari’s potential this year largely surpasses that from a year ago.

Kimi Raikkonen ended his last stint of the week by topping the timesheet with a 1:18.634, putting Ferrari overall comfortably clear of rival Mercedes.

“I think everything was more or less pretty positive,” Raikkonen said.

“The car has been running well and the feeling since the first day has been pretty good for both drivers. I think the team has done a good job over the winter, preparing the car and making it reliable.

“If you compare to a year ago we are much much better in many ways. But where are we going to be in the first race? I have no idea. It’s the same story every winter and we will see in a few weeks.”

The Finn certainly put in a good effort on the closing day but interestingly admitted he had not unleashed the SF70H’s full potential.

“No, for sure we can go faster but that is not the purpose of this thing [testing],” he said.

“Obviously you try to go as fast as you can whatever you decide to do, but there are a lot of things looking at it afterwards where we can improve and do better, but that is part of testing.

“We can be quite pleased with how it felt this morning. It was one of the better days we have had in two weeks, but it’s early days and we haven’t done a single race yet, so let’s see when the season starts.”

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Verstappen unfazed by Red Bull gap with leaders

F1i 11/03/2017
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Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen believes the potential of the Red Bull-Renault package will be unlocked in Melbourne despite a few gremlins which crept in during the last week of pre-season testing.

The 19-year-old racked up 70 laps on Friday’s final day when a technical issue halted his progress, leaving him second on the timesheet, 0.8 second behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

A chronic ERS issue has affected Renault’s new power unit but the Dutchman is confident the problem will be resolved by the time the team lands in Australia.

“I am not too worried,” Verstappen said.

“That is what we use testing for, to test all the bits and I am quite confident at Renault. They can solve the issues for Melbourne. It is nothing major what is happening, which is good.

“In testing you never show everything you can do, it is all about trying to improve the car and get you in good shape for Melbourne. It is not about qualifying lap times.

“The most important thing for us was to check the balance and we definitely improved but it can be better.

“It was a positive day, the performance is not too bad. We want to improve and we have to improve but it is OK for the moment.”

“In testing you never show everything you can do, it is all about trying to improve the car and get you in good shape for Melbourne. It is not about qualifying lap times.

“The most important thing for us was to check the balance and we definitely improved but it can be better.

“It was a positive day, the performance is not too bad. We want to improve and we have to improve but it is OK for the moment.”

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