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Raikkonen sets the pace as McLaren woes continue

NEWS STORY
09/03/2018

While this morning hasn't featured the sort of blistering drama witnessed yesterday, it has had its moments.

Yesterday was up there with Gomorrah and Spiral in terms of drama, today has been a little more circumspect, and as far as Renault is concerned in Walking Dead territory while McLaren is rapidly resembling one of those silly Carry On highlights shows.

Taking up where his teammate Sebastian Vettel left off yesterday, Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets at the end of a morning which saw the assembled drivers complete 537 laps.

Once again, by the way, there is no official lunch break, but once again there is a distinct lack of track action at around the same time there would have been a break, so make of that what you will.

Raikkonen slowly worked his way through the softer compounds finally posting a time just shy of his teammate's.

However, those hoping to see Mercedes finally show its hand were dealt a major blow when the German team revealed that it hasn't brought any hypersofts, so it clearly has no intention of going for headlines.

On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton completed another 97 trouble-free laps, his last time in the car before Melbourne.

While the Briton was lapping the Barcelona track, teammate Valtteri Bottas was addressing claims that on race pace the Mercedes is already a second a lap quicker than the Ferrari and Red Bull.

"We think we are nowhere near one second ahead of everyone," he said. "That’s not the case.

"For us, the one-lap pure pace is a little bit unknown," he insisted. "We’ve seen some quick times from others but I guess we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

"We definitely think it is going to be three team battle," he added. Which is good for Formula 1 and also good for us as well to have some clear targets and someone always to push us forward to make us move forward."

That said, the decision not to even bother brining the hypers shows supreme confidence.

The big shock - or rather not - was the red flag that waved less than an hour into the morning, the CCTV cameras showing Fernando Alonso's McLaren parked at T7.

While frantic activity from the marshals as they cleaned the track suggested a repeat of Tuesday's oil leak, the problem was in fact a turbocharger failure. Nonetheless it means another engine change and therefore another heap of lost track-time.

There was another red flag when Charles Leclerc had a disagreement with the barriers at T12, the fourth, or is that fifth, time the Sauber has gone off over the course of winter testing, be it at the hands of the Monegasque or his teammate.

"Very happy about the pace," he subsequently tweeted. "But pushed too much, spun and touched the wall a little bit. Stupid to do that at this time of the day, I will learn from it. Hopefully back on track soon."

All in all it wasn't good for local fans this morning, for other than the lunch break which meant no track tours, neither of the home drivers did much in the form of lappery as Carlos Sainz, like Alonso, suffered a gearbox issue which meant he only completed 4 laps.

Other than that it was fairly quiet, with drivers getting on with the job in hand and racking up the mileage in the process.

At the break Hamilton (97) led the way in terms of laps completed, ahead of Hartley (91) and Grosjean (81).

Talking of Grosjean, the Haas driver's best time, which is one of the top six of the entire test, like his teammate's yesterday, was set on the supersofts. However, the Frenchman's time was at the end of a longer run, suggesting a major improvement from the American team.

Whether we will see some hot laps this afternoon or further race simulations, as was the case yesterday, remains to be seen, but McLaren, in particular, really needs to get some serious work in over the next few hours… otherwise season two of Grand Prix Driver is going to reveal little improvement on season one, much like season five of House of Cards.

Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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1. Posted by Yeyox02, 09/03/2018 18:22

"Why all the McLaren big woes have hit only Alonso´s car?"

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