Felipe Massa definitely likes downforce. The little Brazilian went quickest on day 5 in his Williams, showing that they have some real potential this year. As predicted, Red Bull upped their game with Riccardo flying round at a good pace. Mercedes and Ferrari continued their good work from last week, although not managing to gaining top spot from Massa. McLaren had new engine troubles to start their week, with Honda replacing their engine with testing only a few hours old. And Pascal Wehrlein finally returned to his Sauber after injury, which was great to see. Who knows what tomorrow will hold?
1 Felipe Massa (Brz) Williams 1:19.726 **
2 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:19.900 ***
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:19.906 *
4 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:20.456 *
5 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:20.924 *
6 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1:21.347 **
7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:21.989 *
8 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas 1:21.676 *
9 Daniil Kvyat (Spa) Toro Rosso 1:21.743 *
10 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1:22.537 *
11 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Sauber 1:23.336 *
12 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber 1:23.630 *
13 Jolyon Palmer (GB) Renault 1:24.790 *
* = time set on soft tyre; ** = super-soft tyre; *** = ultra-soft tyre. Others medium
Day 4 made for a wet track in Barcelona, but it was only artificial. However, there was nothing artificial about Ferrari’s pace as they once again went round fastest. Raikkonen was eight tenths of a second quicker than Max Verstappen, who’s Red Bull team have been looking stronger as they week has progressed. It was a disappointing day for Mercedes, as only Valtteri Bottas made it out onto track as a technical problem with the car meant that Hamilton couldn’t drive. It was an even worse day for Williams, who didn’t have a car after yesterday’s accident, poor Lance Stroll.
It was a duel of red and silver as Ferrari and Mercedes battled for dominance on the third day in Barcelona. Bottas ended the day slightly quicker than Vettel, although this was on the faster ultrasoft tyre. Red Bull vastly improved after their dismal performance in the past 2 days. The surprise package of day 3 was Renault, who finished 4th and 5th after a day of blistering pace. And although McLaren finally got some reliability from their engine, they were dreadfully off the pace. Finally, thoughts go out to Lance Stroll who has crashed his Williams three times in two days.
Another dramatic day of testing has come and gone, so what have we learned? Ferrari were fastest ahead of the Mercedes, with the Italians flying round the circuit like a red blur. The Bulls picked up the pace after their disappointment, with teen wonder kid Verstappen throwing himself firmly in third. However, it was a mirror image for Williams. After such a strong performance yesterday, the rookie Stroll took the car for a spin, only to literally spin and damage the car. And McLaren’s engine problems continued, which leaves you asking the question: what do they actually do at Honda?
It was certainly an eventful first day of the F1 season. Right from the off there was thrills and spills aplenty. Mercedes and Ferrari were both impressive, completing well over 100 laps each. A surprise was the Williams of Massa, who was tearing round in the Barcelona heat. Both Red Bull and McLaren were plagued with technical problems, and didn’t complete nearly as many laps as their competitors. Kevin Magnussen in the Haas was the day’s surprise package, and is one to watch out for in the coming days. Going into tomorrow, some teams certainly have plenty of work to do.
It’s the first event of the F1 2017 season, and although nothing is up for grabs, it’s not to be missed. Many questions can be answered in these two weeks. Can Mercedes continue their dominance? Will Red Bull finally lead the charge? Can McLaren end their engine nightmare? And of the smaller teams, who can finally break out of the shadow’s and seriously challenge at the right end of the track? These questions may or may not be answered over the coming weeks. But one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a tense time for teams and their supporters.