The teams reflect as the penultimate day of the final pre-season test comes to an end, with a further 1,624 laps completed.
At Ferrari, testing has now ended for Sebastian. The next time he meets up with the SF71H will be in Melbourne, for free practice at the Australian Grand Prix.
The final day of testing for the German was given over to a programme that included set-up and tyre evaluation with different fuel loads, the classic race weekend simulation that signs off winter testing for every driver.
By the end of the day, Seb had completed no fewer than 188 laps (equivalent to over 875 kilometres,) in all conditions, including a false start test, with other cars on track. His best lap was a 1:17.182, set on the new hypersoft tyres that are making their debut this season.
"The times on these test days don't mean much," said the German. "The important thing is that the SF71H has proved to be very strong, allowing us to run all day without any significant problems. We are still working on some things for the first race and it's not really possible to make any predictions based on the performance of the other teams, because everyone is running a different programme. However, I'm happy for the guys in the team."
Kevin Magnussen completed an impressive 153 laps today in his final pre-season drive of the VF-18. It was the highest single-day lap tally for the American squad so far this season, with Magnussen besting is own 96-lap mark set during each of his previous two test days at the 2.892-mile, 16-turn track.
Romain Grosjean takes over for the final day on Friday, but on the penultimate day, Magnussen brought his total to 381 laps or 1,773.55 kilometres (1,102.033 miles).
His best lap of the day was his best lap of the entire two-week test - a 1:18.360 on his 61st lap while utilizing the supersoft tire. The time placed him second among the 13 drivers participating in the session.
The team's morning run plan started with three installation laps on the medium tire before three timed stints on the soft compound where Magnussen logged 30 laps. A change to the supersofts brought increased performance over four runs for 31 laps. The Dane switched to the ultrasoft tire for two, six-lap runs prior to the mandatory lunch break.
The afternoon session began with a 66-lap race simulation. Magnussen started on used supersofts for 18 laps, ran a 33-lap stint on fresh mediums, and then donned a new set of softs for the final 15 laps. The day culminated with an 11-lap stint on ultrasofts.
"We had a good day and, overall, I'm pleased with what we've done this winter test," said Magnussen. "My time in the car has been valuable and I think we've learned a lot. I'm hoping the team will have another good day tomorrow, then I think we'll be in decent shape to start the season. I feel like we've ticked the boxes you need to before going racing. We achieved what we had set out to in the program. Now I'm ready to go racing."
"Our most productive day of pre-season testing today," added Guenther Steiner. "We did more than 150 laps and we learned quite a lot about the car. We have one more day to go tomorrow with Romain. We'll be working hard to have a day like today."
"It was a productive day from both the team and myself," said Pierre Gasly after finishing third on the timesheets with a further 169 laps under his belt, "as we completed everything we had planned.
"We set a target of 155 laps and in the end we managed to do 169, so I was happy to finish off testing with a busy day. Today I used the Ultrasoft and the Hypersoft for the first time - and the car always feels good when you have more grip - so we covered more or less all of the tyre compounds and I think we will have plenty of data to analyse now.
"I'm pretty happy with my lap times so far and I think we have a better idea where we are at after today, because everyone has started to push the limits a bit more. I'm really pleased to finish the last day of testing for me with the third fastest time, even if I know it doesn't mean too much right now! We will see where we are at after qualifying in Melbourne."
"It was good to do 169 laps today which was a lot of work for Pierre to cover and a lot of work for the team to get through," added James Key. "It also represents a record for us with a single day's mileage in the Power Unit era.
"In the morning we struggled a little bit to find a balance that was working in the conditions we had and that's something we need to look into a little bit further, but we managed to begin to pull that together during the afternoon. We ran the softer compounds this morning, with a lower fuel level to try and give Pierre some short run practice.
"This afternoon we did a race run that was a little bit variable, so we went out again for a further long run on high fuel which was a good step forward with the balance of the car - that proved to be a productive bit of work for Pierre. We covered some shorter runs again towards the end of the day with an improved car balance from what we learned in the morning, finishing off with some live pit stops which, of course, is important for the crew as we head towards the start of the season.
"The final day for Pierre was as productive as we had hoped as we covered a lot of work and a lot of laps, and we learnt from what we tested. We look forward to repeating that tomorrow with Brendon."
Renault completed another full day with 148 laps on the board from Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.
Nico completed 79 laps in the morning, setting what would be the day's fourth-fastest time, whilst Carlos went for 69 in the afternoon, setting the day's fifth fastest time. Running to similar programmes, both drivers were evenly matched on times, with Nico setting a 1:18.675 lap and Carlos a 1:18.725.
"We've made progress today," said Hulkenberg, "but we still can't be sure where we stand relative to the opposition; that's something we'll only know for sure in Australia. The R.S.18 is certainly a solid foundation with the possibility to extract good performance with developments through the season. This week is productive in terms of running through the test programme without any big problems, which is really positive."
"We had another strong afternoon of running and a good day in general where we were able to complete our full run plan," added Sainz. "We can be happy with that and we even got in some pit stop practice at the end. We've been focussing on performance a bit more and we are learning all the time. We need to analyse where we are tonight and come back tomorrow to have an even better day."
"Today we made decent progress with set-up and gained a good understanding of our latest front wing," said technical director, Nick Chester. "We had a first taste of the softer tyres in Pirelli's range, in Super, Ultra and Hypersoft flavours. The Hypersoft is certainly a big step from the rest of the range, with a big jump in lap time and grip, as well as being more durable than we expected. It will be interesting to see how this tyre will be deployed over the season. Once more we completed a decent tally of laps so we have plenty to be working on ahead of the final day of testing."
It was a productive and valuable day of running for the whole McLaren team. In the morning session, Stoffel completed 48 laps, focusing on set-up work, aero development and setting changes to arm the team with as much information as possible about the behaviour of the new MCL33 package.
After lunch, and a few more development runs, the team performed a full race simulation - made even more realistic by a brief interruption from a red flag - and concluded the day having run a full and comprehensive test programme. Stoffel completed 151 laps and set the sixth-fastest time of the day.
"Today was a very positive day for us and we completed a lot of laps," said the Belgian. "This morning was good - we went through a lot of set-up work, understanding about the tyre compounds, and did a lot of learning that we'd missed at the start of this week and also last week because of the bad weather conditions.
"This afternoon we completed a full race distance, which went smoothly and was good to get under our belt, to get a feel for the car in race conditions, and go through the different tyre variations. The feeling in the car from the beginning has been very positive, and today's running has confirmed that feeling.
"Obviously, there are a few areas we know we need to work on, and our car in Melbourne will be quite different as there are a lot of updates coming. It's important now that everything we've learned here we carry forward.
"Today was very productive and it gives us the confidence to go to Melbourne with a strong package. It was also my last day in the car and now I'm looking forward to going racing. I feel 100 per cent ready."
"Today was a very positive day for the whole team," added Eric Boullier. "We completed a significant amount of mileage and also achieved a solid amount of work on our test programme 'wish-list'.
"As we near the end of our allocated eight test days, it's very satisfying that we were able to turn our attention to race simulations and longer runs, which all help towards preparing our package as comprehensively as possible ahead of the first race of the season and beyond.
"We also completed a number of further useful development and correlation tests which have been a very valuable portion of our test programme today. We're still learning a lot, and every lap we do is extra useful data for our armoury. Now we hope to round off the test with a solid final day tomorrow for Fernando and complete our pre-season preparations before Melbourne."
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