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Kvyat steals Raikkonen's thunder on Day 3 at Barcelona


While there is no prize for being quickest in testing - though it's an idea that Chase and the crew are no doubt considering - Daniil Kvyat's 1:17.704 in the final moments of today's session will have made a lot of people sit up and take notice... particularly in Woking.

Between them, the two Honda powered cars completed 246 laps today, which compares with the 425 laps posted during the whole of pre-season testing in 2017 and the 822 laps in 2018. To think that the Japanese power unit was then able to power the Toro Rosso to the fastest time of the day, is something that will leave a lot of people in Milton Keynes (and Faenza) feeling very happy tonight.

Though the time was posted on the softest tyre in the range, the fact is that Honda has finally found pace and reliability.

"We lacked some running on Day 1, so we definitely bounced back today," said the Russian. "It was important for us to do as many laps as possible and complete the programme. We managed to do so and we even managed to squeeze in some extra kilometres, which made it a very productive day.

"The guys in the garage should be happy with the job they've done, we need to continue this high level of work to get as much mileage as possible and gain confidence together.

"I'm comfortable with the car and every time I'm on track I have a better feeling of what the car will do, which is nice.

"As a team we always want to do more, so if we had the chance to do 200 laps I would take it, even if my neck probably wouldn't enjoy it! Now it's important to go on working hard, without getting caught up with where we finished on the timesheets - even if it's quite pleasant to end up where we did. We need to keep focussing on the job we're doing with the car and make sure we're heading in the right direction. It's early days, but a good start is always welcome."

While Kvyat completed 137 laps, Verstappen posted 109, lost track time for the Dutchman leading to claims that the RB15 is encountering vibrations courtesy of the Japanese power unit... and not the good sort.

While Christian Horner has dismissed the claims, we have yet to see Max Verstappen really push the car, and when he finally did, around an hour before the end of the session, the RB15 looked ragged.

"I think today was really positive," said the Dutchman. "Whenever you do more than 100 laps at a test, that's a good day. I'm happy with the way we're working together with Honda so far, it's very focused and everybody knows their job.

"What's most important is that we have completed a lot of laps and investigated many set-up changes. With different regulations, you have to understand what direction to go in and that's exactly what we're doing.

"So far, it's difficult to judge where we are compared to the other teams - we'll find that out in Melbourne - but at the moment the car feels good."

Having posted the quickest time this morning, this afternoon, like most of his rivals, Kimi Raikkonen focussed on longer runs, the Alfa continuing to impress.

With an impressive 137 laps on the board, the C38 looks good and stable on track, and must be among the favourites for the 'best of the rest' title this year.

"It was another good day for us," said the Finn. "We made progress with the car and put in solid lap times. I feel comfortable with the car. Things are looking positive and I look forward to being back on track next week."

Renault continued with its Mercedes-style tactic of running both drivers, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with Nico Hulkenberg in the RS19 in the ante meridiem.

Following yesterday's DRS failure, the French team opted not to run the device for the opening part of the day, Hulkenberg instead concentrating on short runs assessing the soft compounds.

In the afternoon Ricciardo took over, and with twenty minutes remaining went second on the C4 rubber, only to be demoted when Kvyat posted his flyer moments later. That said, like Raikkonen, the Russian was on the softer C5 compound.

With 143 laps completed by its two drivers today, Renault will have every right to feel a lot more confident following yesterday's scare.

Ferrari appears to have taken a leaf out of Mercedes book, forsaking outright pace for consistency, as Sebastian Vettel put another 134 laps on the SF90.

Interestingly, twice this afternoon, the German shadowed rival drivers in what appeared to be a distinct attempt to discover the impact of the new aero regulations.

Shadowing Kvyat, and later Carlos Sainz, for a few laps, in both instances the German found himself unable to follow at close quarters and eventually dropped back.

"It was good to be back in the car today and put some more mileage under my belt," said Vettel. "Again, we had a busy day and managed to complete our programme, which included a few new items, compared to Monday.

"We tried a few things around also focusing on set-up and I can only confirm the positive impression I had on day one. Having now put 303 laps in the bag I feel comfortable to say we are satisfied with how the car is progressing."

At a time we were noting how reliable the cars are - the thirteen drivers on duty completing 1,140 laps - there were three red flags today, and all caused by the Haas.

While Pietro Fittipaldi stopped on track this morning, Romain Grosjean stopped twice.

"An ignition-coil related issue is the reason for our lack of track action," said the team. "Bits to fiddle with and change - same issue as this morning ultimately."

However, the final stoppage, which saw Grosjean inspecting the rear of the car, which was subsequently sprayed with foam after smoke began emerging, looked to be a little more serious. Between them the two drivers completed just 117 laps.

"It was a really productive morning, " said Fittipaldi, "we ran a lot of laps, which is the most important thing in the first week of testing.

"We went through a big run-plan to test a lot of things on the car. We found some interesting things. It was good for me to get back into the car. Last year in Abu Dhabi, I didn't get a full day in, but I felt like I adapted quickly.

"Running that little bit yesterday was also very helpful. It was like a shakedown. We had to adjust the pedals after Tuesday's run, so it was good that it could be done overnight, we didn't lose any time today doing that. I'm happy with my run, the pace was decent, but more importantly, we ran a lot of miles."

"It's not been a bad day to be fair," said Grosjean. "Yes, we came back a couple of times on the flatbed truck having had to stop the car on track, but that's part of testing, it's finding out what the limitations are, and what we can do better on the car.

"It's not ideal," he admitted, "and we'd like to do more mileage, but the more we drive, the more we find the car is getting better. The feeling in the car is good. Positive steps have been made since I ran on Monday, and I was already happy then, I'm even happier now. We're getting there. I'm quite pleased with all the work that's been done."

Following a slow start to the day, McLaren picked up as the day progressed, with Carlos Sainz completing 90 laps and not going for the last minute heroics seen in the first two days.

"Today was a bit more of a challenging day as we made a few changes on the car overnight, which delayed our start while we finished preparing everything," said the Spaniard. "However, we still managed to complete almost a race distance, and we've already seen the benefits from that in the information we've gathered.

"We picked up valuable data from the longer runs especially, and now we hope we can continue with some smooth running for Lando tomorrow on the final day."

It was another anonymous day for Racing Point, where Sergio Perez was on duty. The Spaniard completed just 67 laps and was 2.3s off the pace, however, there is talk of a step forward as early as next week and a major update for the start of the season proper.

"We made good progress today and I feel we took another step forward," said the Mexican. "The day was a bit shorter than we expected because we had a small issue with the car late in the afternoon. I lost drive but was able to recover to the pits. So we couldn't complete all of our programme, but I feel we're still improving as we get to know the car.

"I've done two days in the car now and I'm generally feeling happy. The balance was good from day one and that's important. I'm not testing again until next week, but if we keep working like this I will be happy with my preparations for Melbourne."


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1. Posted by Egalitarian, 20/02/2019 21:57

"It may well be fantasy, but am I the only one who would love to see Kvyat pass Verstappen on track a few times this year? And Raikkonen pass Vettel? And the Renaults beat the Red Bulls? The look on the faces of Marko and Horner would be priceless....and then there is the Mercedes reality..."

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