Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari set the fastest time so far in pre-season testing with an impressive 1.19.024, over three-tenths quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s best effort in the Mercedes.
Vettel once again registered the greatest mileage with 156 laps, but remains cautious despite the obvious signs that Ferrari will be a team running near the front this season. The German four-time World Champion said,
“The important thing is that we have completed a lot of laps and, compared to the same time a year ago, we feel better prepared because of that. At this point lap times don’t mean anything: we followed our programme and made progress but there’s still room for improvement.”
– Sebastian Vettel
Esteban Ocon had a very productive day for Force India. The French driver managed 3rd overall and completed 137 laps. Force India always seem to go about their business under the radar in pre-season testing. It happened last year too, and they had their best season to date. They definitely shouldn’t be ruled out as podium challengers and Ocon’s pace today in testing gives further cause for anticipation in the teams line-up considering that Perez is already a well established driver for the team.
More running was needed at Toro Rosso, and they fulfilled that today despite some technical gremlins early in the morning session. Daniil Kvyat finishing with 94 laps and as 4th fastest with a 1.20.416, two-tenths down on Ocon’s VJM10. The Russian Driver will have to rekindle the form he showed at the Toro Rosso team in 2015. The next time he sits in the cockpit of the STR12, it will be Free Practice One at Albert Park.
Kevin Magnussen completed some more solid running for Haas, clocking 119 laps and 5th, with Daniel Ricciardo just behind in the Red Bull RB13 in 6th, the team had a much smoother day today, and continue to keep their true pace hidden.
McLaren had more issues with the Power Unit and it hampered Stoffel Vandoorne’s time in the cockpit, but he still managed 48 laps and the 7th fastest time of the session, so they have to take that as a positive and really try and make tomorrow a trouble-free day to restore some belief.
From 8th down, the running order was Bottas, Wehrlein, Ericsson, Palmer, Massa and Stroll. The Williams was very fast yesterday but both cars were five-seconds off the pace today, so were obviously concentrating on the long-runs. Wehrlein will be pleased about being a second quicker than his teammate but again, it’s testing, we will have to wait until the Australian Grand Prix to realise the true running order.
Tomorrow marks the final day of pre-season testing. It has gone past rapidly as the opening race of the 2017 season rushes towards us. Based on testing overall, Ferrari look to be the strongest team in terms of reliability and outright pace, which also benefits Haas, the team Ferrari supplies. Mercedes will still be up there, and the sense is that Red Bull haven’t revealed everything yet, their drivers seem too relaxed and comfortable for there to be any real problems. Massa’s flashes of pace has given the Williams team reason to be optimistic for the season ahead too. McLaren are the shock of pre-season testing. It just hasn’t worked and Honda looks like it has lost ground to its rivals when this was the year that the team were billed to be finally back in the mix.