The teams reflect as the penultimate day of the final pre-season test comes to an end, with a further 1,624 laps completed.
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."
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."
"Overall, the day was a positive one for me," said the Swede. "In the morning, we completed some aerodynamic testing and ran on all of the softer tyre compounds. In the afternoon, we focused on a race simulation. It was interesting to see how our new car behaved on the longer stints, and we gained some good insights there. Now we have to put all of our learnings together and focus on preparing for Melbourne."
"It has been a useful day of testing," added technical director, Jorg Zander. "We conducted some aerodynamic and tyre tests this morning, followed by a race simulation in the afternoon. This enabled us to gather a good amount of data, which will be helpful for our final day of winter testing tomorrow, as well as the first race of the season. All in all, a productive day."
With 181 laps completed, the penultimate day of 2018 pre-season testing turned out to be the team's busiest so far. Valtteri drove in the morning, completing 97 laps before the lunch break. Lewis hit the track in the afternoon, adding another 84 laps to the W09's tally.
Both drivers completed similar test programmes, doing race simulations and gathering data on the 2018 Pirelli tyres.
"Today was one of those days that you learn the most from as a driver," said Bottas. "For the first time this year, I did a race simulation with a proper race distance. You have the mind-set that it's a race and try to take everything out of the car and the tyres. A real race distance gives you more time to learn and experience different driving lines.
"The race run seemed quite competitive, everything felt alright. The Medium tyre is behaving well on this track and in these conditions.
"Both the team and I have been understanding the new tyres more and more every day. But, we need keep in mind that it will be very different in Australia.
"I still have another half day left in the car tomorrow afternoon. It will be the last time I'm going to be in the car before Melbourne, so we need to make sure we make the most out of that time, run all the tests we still need to do and learn as much as we can. Overall, today was a very positive day and a real teaser for Melbourne."
"Our week has been very productive so far," added Hamilton. "We got through everything we needed, reliability has been fantastic and the car feels great. We have not been working on balance, but in terms of some of the issues we had last year, a lot of them appear to have been removed. We get great correlation when we change bits of the car, so it's been a smooth transition this year so far.
"The track is very different to what it used to be because they resurfaced it. So it's difficult to know what all the experience means once we get to Melbourne. But, I definitely feel that we're moving in a positive direction. I'm really proud of everyone. They've been working so well in the team, the synergy is great at the moment."
"Today we had Robert in the morning and Lance in the afternoon," said Paddy Lowe, "and our focus was to work with the different tyre compounds, something we haven't done so far in this winter testing.
"We had good reliability all day, and some reasonably good running with Robert in the morning, and actually his first chance to really drive the car in decent conditions. So, I'm sure with more time, he could have improved even further, but some good results and some good information from Robert. The afternoon started well with Lance but unfortunately, we lost our way with the set-up and didn't find any lap time with the softer compounds, but actually by the end of the day, we discovered some important directions and we can work further with this tomorrow.
"This morning it was my second time in the car," said Kubica. "The conditions were better than last week with higher temperatures, although in the morning it was still quite cold. I did another half day to get some more running and complete more specific tests on the car in order to get more data. We tried a softer compound, going from the soft to supersoft, just to get the basic information that we have on the tyre. Now we have to go through the data and try to analyse everything."
"I feel good," added Stroll, "we have got kilometres on the car so I am looking forward to heading to Australia. You have just got to keep chipping away at it and that is the key for now, as there is still a lot to work on, but everyone is in the same boat. We really don't know where we stand right now and will have to see in Melbourne. There is not much you can see from the timesheets, as everyone is running different fuel levels and doing lots of different things.
"The midfield will most probably be closer than last year because of the developments by everyone. This week we did more running and it was better weather, so we had much better conditions. The car still needs some work on it to understand the balance, tyres and all that, but we shall see."
"I am happy to finish my pre-season on a positive note," said Sergio Perez, "because it's been a busy day with lots of laps covered. We have been preparing well for Melbourne and we have probably achieved more than we expected today. We focussed a lot on race pace during our long runs and we have plenty of data to go through with the engineers. The conditions weren't perfect because it was quite cool and windy, but we still got what we needed from the day. We were able to try all systems and practice all the start procedures.
"I hope we have done enough to start the season strongly and I am confident the upgrades we are bringing to Melbourne will help us. Now I can enjoy a few final days of preparation at home and then it's time for Melbourne. I am not the biggest fan of pre-season testing so I can't wait to go racing."
"Sergio's last day in the car before Melbourne was a largely productive one, completing lots of laps," added chief race engineer, Tom McCullough. "We continued our work on the car's set-up and ticked off some more test items, as well as running the softer compounds of the tyre range. The track temperature was cooler than in previous days and this is not very representative of what we will see in the first few races of the season, but we were able to gather a lot of useful data nonetheless. We did some long runs in the afternoon and also carried out practice pit-stops with the crew alongside other race weekend procedures.
"There's still work to do with the car but we're definitely making progress in understanding the VJM11. Our final day of testing tomorrow will see a similar programme for Esteban as we complete our preparations for the start of the season."
Max Verstappen's final session at the wheel of the RB14 turned out to be a marathon effort, with the Dutch driver completing a monumental total of 187 laps across another highly productive day for the team.
"Today was about doing a lot of laps... a lot of laps!" said Max. "The focus for us today was on long runs and the feeling with the car was good. No problems with the car and I was happy with the pace. We can definitely work from here. If it's going to be good enough, we'll have to wait and see. We'll find out when we get into the races, but I think we can be happy with what we have. I'm ready for it."
"Well, last night we were hoping for a repeat of the good running we had with Daniel yesterday and we got it," added Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin. "As with yesterday, we drew up a pretty ambitious run plan, but we managed to get through the whole programme. Of course, there are lots of teams getting some good mileage on their cars as well, so we're not patting ourselves on the back, but the kind of reliability we've had these past two days hasn't always been our strong suit in pre-season in recent times. The reliability gives us plenty to work with ahead of the first race.
"In terms of what we got through today, it was very similar to what we did with Daniel yesterday - some tyre work this morning, race simulation in the afternoon and no problems. Max didn't do any performance running on the softest tyres, simply because we're not chasing lap times, it's not suited to this circuit, and we got the data we needed on that tyre from Daniel's runs yesterday."