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Raikkonen sets the pace on Day 4

NEWS STORY
02/03/2017

It's fair to say that the final moments of both this morning's and this afternoon's sessions are what the fans really wanted to see... drivers pushing their machinery to the limit in an attempt to beat the clock.

Sadly, the day was split in two, with drivers expected to try Pirelli’s new wet and intermediate tyres on a track that had dried within an hour.

Indeed, with most teams having done what they thought was more than enough wet running this morning, this afternoon's session got off to an unenthusiastic start as nobody appeared to want to play.

Other than the fact that a damp track that has no sprinkler system whereby the surface can be kept wet is not really suitable for wet tyre testing, with an eye on the fact that there are only four more test days nobody wanted to take any unnecessary risks at a time spare parts are not widely available.

In both sessions, it was the final hour or so when the action really got underway, as drivers switched to ever softer rubber and the times began to tumble.

Even before proceedings got underway, it was revealed that only nine teams would be participating today, Williams having to cry off when it was confirmed that the damage to the FW40 following Lance Stroll's mishap yesterday could not be repaired.

Toro Rosso had hoped to split driving duties between Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz, unfortunately however the Russian managed just one lap before a problem emerged, and even though the engine was changed the pretty STR12 never reappeared.

Thankfully Valtteri Bottas gave Mercedes fans something to cheer about, the Finn posting some impressive times as he put another 68 laps on the W08.

This, of course, followed the somewhat cynical approach taken by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

Speaking last night, the Briton admitted that he wasn't looking forward to running in the wet today, joking that he might cry off claiming a "pulled muscle".

Lo and behold, the Mercedes developed a mystery electrical issue this morning that prevented the three-time world champion from running.

"Electrical fault kept us in the garage this morning," he tweeted, "so I've decided with the team not to drive today as I wouldn't have learned much. Shame not to drive but it's been a great few days. The guys have done an awesome job. Can't wait to be back in the car next week!"

Shame or not, the issue cannot have been that serious for just 34 minutes later Bottas headed out in the self-same car.

With this morning's wet testing proving to be pretty much a damp squib, quite why anyone thought it was a good idea to repeat the process and wet the track during the lunch break is beyond us for not only were conditions never going to be that representative, the rhythm that had built up in the final hour or so was totally lost. Even worse, come this afternoon's damp runs the teams didn't want to play.

In the end however, we not only got to see the supersofts in action, a couple of drivers even made the switch to ultras.

Kimi Raikkonen and the Ferrari continued to show good pace, as did Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, while Romain Grosjean completed 118 laps in the Haas.

Even McLaren had something to smile about heading into the break before next week's final test, Stoffel Vandoorne completing 67 laps on his way to a best time just 1.6s off the Ferrari.

While it is fully understood that Pirelli and the teams need to test the wet tyres, especially as there is every likelihood of rain in Australia or China, this was not the time or place to do it.

Enthusiasm has been somewhat dampened.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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