Hamilton ends Barcelona test on a high


Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets on final day of Barcelona pre-season test, heading new teammate George Russell and the Red Bull pair.

The Briton posted the best time of the week in the final moments of today's session, and for a while looked set to go even quicker before opting to abort the lap.

His feat is all the more impressive when you consider that over the course of this afternoon's four hour session, which got underway in the wet as Pirelli sought to try their new wet tyres, the Briton completed 94 laps, more than any other driver.

Second quickest was teammate Russell, who, considering this afternoon was going to be used for wet-weather running, looked set to be heading into the weekend as pace-setter.

It's early days, but wrapping up the opening test with a 1-2 is a definite confidence booster from Mercedes even if Russell is playing down the team's chances.

"We're seeing some interesting things out there, that's what testing is for," said the former Williams driver, "some teams are looking pretty fast. A red team and an orange team in particular look very, very competitive.

Asked if he thought Mercedes is favourite, he was quick to respond: "Certainly not, I'm pretty sure of that. They seem to have things well under control," he added, referring to McLaren and Ferrari, "and they look very strong, low fuel and high fuel, and with tire management."

Over the course of the day, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez added another 133 laps to the RB18's tally, while Ferrari and McLaren also continue to look good.

Indeed, while Hamilton's 94 laps were impressive, Carlos Sainz completed 92 and Daniel Ricciardo 85.

If it was looking good for Mercedes, spare a thought for Hamilton's former (favourite) teammate, Valtteri Bottas whose pre-season test has gone from bad to worse. Following the problems for teammate Guanyu Zhou this morning, Bottas only managed ten laps this afternoon.

Indeed a number of teams had issues, with Alpine, Haas and Aston Martin all bringing their tests to an early end and Yuki Tsunoda not getting in any running following Pierre Gasly's crash this morning.

Alpine called it a day before lunch, the French team citing a hydraulics issue. This afternoon, Aston Martin and Haas both followed suit and called it quits.

"The team has determined that it was an oil leak that caused Vettel to stop on track shortly before lunch," said Aston Martin. "The oil leak caused a small fire but with the car now back in the garage, we are investigating where the issue came from."

"Whilst we'd hoped that the car would be able to return this afternoon, the repair work is going to take several more hours," said Haas, "so unfortunately we will not be back on track today."

While full wets were the order of the day after lunch, the army of water tankers having done their work, the track soon dried sufficiently to allow the switch to Inters.

Though the sun appeared to have gone on holiday, drivers were subsequently able to switch to slicks and with ninety minutes still remaining the times were tumbling.

The teams now head back to their various bases where they will analyse the data acquired over the last three days in preparation for the Bahrain test and the season-opening Grand Prix that follows days later.

For all the fuss about Alfa Romeo's camouflage livery they might as well have run the C42 in its 2022 glory, such was the amount of time the car spent in its garage.

Sadly, like Alfa Romeo, Haas is another team that appears to have its work cut out in the days (and possibly months) ahead. Like Alpha Tauri, where Tsunoda never got to run this afternoon, the American team's issues meant that Mick Schumacher was unable to participate.

In just under two weeks the final - indeed, according to F1, only pre-season test gets underway, and as the action switches to Bahrain things are likely to hot up in every sense.

Other than expecting to see the cars looing slightly different to what we have witnessed this week it is going to be interesting to see how they have dealt with the porpoising issue, unless they don't expect to see anything remotely fishy in the desert.

At Mercedes, Russell was out first, covering valuable miles and experimenting with the car set-up to further the team's understanding of the bouncing issue being experienced with this new generation of car.

The circuit was wetted at lunchtime via tanker, offering Lewis the chance to run the Intermediate tyre before moving to a dry set-up to perform a tyre sweep from the C3 to C5 compounds. Hamilton would go on to complete 94 laps, banking solid learning to build on in the official pre-season test in Bahrain in two weeks' time.

"It's been an interesting few days," said the seven-time champion, "it's not been the easiest or smoothest running - we have some obstacles to overcome. We'd always want more laps but I'm happy with today's running, I got almost 100 laps in today which for half a day's running, isn't too bad. The car is a lot different to drive than in previous years, as are the tyres, but we're working our way through our programme.

"The whole team have done an amazing job this week," he continued, "the men and women back at the factory have worked so hard, we've got a lot of data to go through from these three days and we'll just put one foot in front of the other and put in the work. It was good to get a feel for the different tyre compounds but you never know where you are compared to the other teams on the first days of running."

"The three days in Barcelona have been incredibly intriguing," added Russell. "I don't think the lap times are very representative at all, we were top of the timesheets today on the C5 compound which is incredibly strong around Barcelona, but I wouldn't read much into it.

"The Ferrari and McLaren look strong and I think we've got lots of improvements to make, we're not fully happy with the balance of the car and the other limitations we have currently. But it is only testing, we're here to learn and we have made some important experiments this week and have a good idea of the direction we need to go in."

"We're pleased with how the week has gone," said Andrew Shovlin, "we planned a very busy programme for the three days and we managed to get through the high priority items, making good progress with the car and power unit. It has taken a huge effort from the team in Brackley and Brixworth to bring the W13 to the track so it's very satisfying for everyone to see it cover 1800km without significant issues, and to show good promise from a pace point of view. We've learnt a huge amount over the last few days and still have a lot of data to go through ahead of Bahrain. The rate of progression is going to be very high for all teams and whilst we look to be in a good place here, we need to be mindful that our competitors may have a lot of performance to come between now and the first race.

"We'll be working with the drivers on the simulator over the next few days; we've still got work to do tuning the balance both for single lap and long run. Bahrain is a very different circuit to a cold Barcelona but hopefully we can make good progress in those areas and build on what has been a promising start to our winter testing programme."

Red Bull finished a productive week, with Max Verstappen running during the morning session and Checo Perez taking over the wheel for the afternoon.

The world champion completed 59 laps in the RB18 before Perez clocked up 74 in some wet weather conditions at a cloudy Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

"Everything worked well in the running we got and the car felt good," said Verstappen, "but our morning was somewhat interrupted by a number of red flags across the session so we couldn't complete all of our planned programme. We just continued from what I did on day one and I think that was the most important objective for Barcelona.

"What is positive is that the car is running smoothly," he added, "I don't pay attention to the lap times just yet, I will look into that when we get into Q3 in Bahrain. I just focus on doing a lot of laps and nailing down every single aspect of the car. I have really enjoyed driving the RB18 this week, it has a nice stable balance and I think it looks cool as well so it's good to jump into. I think following does seem a little easier in these cars, of course we won't know if there is any real change until race one when everyone is on the same tyres and fuel, but my initial thoughts are that I do think it's a step forward."

"I think we have a good baseline and good potential," added Perez. "It is obviously early days, but I am really hopeful we will make some good steps before Bahrain and keep progressing with all the information we are going to gather from Barcelona. It is important to keep learning from my driving and the way I am adapting to the car and my team and then what the best way will be to maximise that. I think this season the challenge will be about maximising the whole weekend under the new regulations."

"We had a good day today," said Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin, "the drivers were happy and we started to put in some decent lap times. To sum up the week I would say it has been a very promising few days with this new car and the most pleasing thing for me is that we have got a solid platform and direction to build from. We will consolidate some things that we have learnt here before Bahrain, but it is more considerate than a big step."

"It was a shame not to complete any laps this afternoon," admitted Lance Stroll, "but it has been great to be back behind the wheel of a Formula One car. We have already learned a lot about the AMR22, which is important because the cars are so different this year. It is a whole new philosophy to understand so we are working through how these cars like to be set up and driven. We are on a big learning curve now, like all the teams, and the goal is to continue to make progress in Bahrain in the next test, and we will still be doing so in the early races too."

Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona, here.

"It has been a useful few days," added Sebastian Vettel, "and we have learned a lot about the AMR22, although we, like all the other teams, still have a lot more to learn considering that we are all dealing with a brand-new generation of Formula One cars. Even so, my first impression of the AMR22 has been relatively positive, so I am really looking forward to working with the team to take further forward steps in Bahrain. It was a shame to end the day with an issue, but we have completed many laps, so we can be happy with our work this week."

"The first two days' testing were reasonably productive," said Tom McCullough, the team's performance director, "but the third day was interrupted by a small oil leak that caused a small fire, which was efficiently controlled but sadly put an early end to our testing and prevented our trialling the new 18-inch tyres in the wet. In summary, though, apart from the issue that affected Sebastian's running, we conducted a useful testing programme.

"With plenty of laps completed, we can now continue to learn as much as possible about the AMR22. Considering how different the cars are this year, not just from a regulation viewpoint but also with the 18-inch wheels, all data is hugely important to us. So we will now go back to Silverstone, work through our information, and aim to have a productive test next time out in Bahrain."

At Ferrari, Leclerc got the ball rolling, as on the previous ones, he ran the C2 and C3 compound tyres. The work involved evaluating the handling of the car in different set-up configurations. This morning's four hours of track time was red flagged no fewer than five times when cars stopped out on track. The Monegasque completed 44 laps, equivalent to 206 kilometres and so over three days, Leclerc did 203 laps (949 km).

Sainz took over after the lunch break. The Spaniard ran wet and intermediate tyres, as the track had been artificially watered. Once the track dried, he then switched to the C2, C3 and C4 dry tyres. He did 92 laps, or 430 kilometres, which brought his three day total to 236 laps (1103 km).

The Scuderia now returns to Maranello to assess the large amount of data it has acquired in order to prepare for the second and last pre-season test at the Sakhir circuit, from 10 to 12 March.

"Overall, this has been a solid test session for us as we completed many laps," said Laurent Mekies. "We got through most of our programme, which was based around three key elements: firstly to get an initial read on reliability, hence our primary focus on the number of laps completed; secondly to map several parameters of our car, from aero performance to tyre performance, to vehicle dynamics performance. We have a long list of scans to work through and we got through a fair number of them over these three days.

"Last but not least, it was important to give our drivers sufficient laps to familiarise themselves with what is a completely new car. It calls for a different driving style and a different approach to the various racing conditions. We did this with both drivers, sharing the workload across the three days. It was also good for the race team to be back at the track. For them, it was a useful warm-up before what will be a long and intense season, getting used to procedures such as the pit stops and, for the various crews that make up the team, to all be back working together again and interacting well with our drivers.

"We still have a lot of work ahead of us and we can expect an intense fight, so everyone has many items on their job list now. Our thanks must go to everyone back at the factory, who have worked so hard over the past few months to ensure we arrived at the race track well prepared. It's only the first step of a long year, when we intend to push very hard, working all together."

This morning and again this afternoon, the Williams pair shared driving duties. Over the course of the day Latifi completed just 13 laps however Albon completed 94.

"Today's running was slightly more disrupted than the first two days with a number of red flags in the morning," said the Canadian. "However, none were caused by us and we still gained some good learning, especially as we got to experience the intermediate tyres in the afternoon which was valuable. Overall, I think it has been a productive pre-season session in Barcelona.

"We have had a few minor issues here and there but that is par of the course with a new car as it's a new learning for both the drivers and the team. It's an exciting time and I'm looking forward to going to Bahrain now and building on everything we've learned from this week."

"We got some really good mileage in today and managed to maximise the limited testing time we have before the first race of the year," added Albon. "Overall, the team have had a very successful few days in Barcelona; the car has been reliable and so we've done well to build a very good foundation to work from. It's still early days and we can't read too much into lap times, but I think we should be very pleased with how these sessions have gone and I'm looking forward to getting back out in the car in Bahrain.

"We had a strong finish to this first round of running," said Dave Robson, the team's Head of Vehicle Performance. "Although we were held up this morning following some minor damage to a brake duct and some red flags, we managed a smooth afternoon, including our first experience of the 2022 Intermediate tyres, which we were able to share between Nicholas and Alex. As the track dried, we were able to complete the final round of data gathering before completing a sequence of long runs with Alex.

"With the 2021 cars being largely carried over from 2020, it has been enjoyable to once again get to grips with a whole new car. Whilst it has been hard work, the team have worked well together and as a result we have collected a lot of data. This will be used to guide both the next round of car development and the run plans for the crucial test in Bahrain."

"It's been a good week and start to the year," said Lando Norris, who completed 52 laps in the morning. "Many things have gone well. Of course, a couple of problems here and there but we've got through a lot of our test programmes, and we've understood the car more. As a driver, I've been able to get comfortable with the car nice and quickly. Our focus now moves onto learning and reviewing everything we put together and tested, to try to make progress going into Bahrain, and make sure we're ready for the first race of the season.

"A massive thanks to the team for getting the car ready. I don't think we've had as many problems as a lot of other teams. We've had a reliable car and a good car so far that has given me the confidence, so all the hard work is paying off at the minute. We need to keep it up and keep pushing."

"It was good to get a little bit of wet running," added Daniel Ricciardo, "there was quite a lot to learn from that. We then got into a different programme to yesterday where we racked up plenty of laps, which was really productive. Now it's about giving that information back to the team and trying to build on this positive start.

"I think we're in a good spot, but there's always something to work on and improve. So, we'll give the team some data to work with and some areas of work to do, I'll focus on what I can keep doing better. Overall, a pretty flawless three days for the team, a really awesome start to the season. Thanks to everyone back at MTC for putting the hard work in over the winter to put us in this position."

"It's been a productive first three days for us," said team boss Andreas Seidl, "and we leave Spain with plenty of data to analyse before we head to Bahrain for the official pre-season test and Grand Prix.

"As a team, we've been able maximise our running time with both drivers running a total of 365 laps over the three days. We're pleased with the amount of work we've been able to complete to help us get a better understanding of the MCL36.

"The team, both in Barcelona and back at McLaren Technology Centre, alongside our colleagues at Mercedes HPP have done an excellent job to deliver a reliable car across testing. The hard work from the entire team has been crucial in enabling us to achieve our objectives.

"Thanks to Lando and Daniel for their tireless work and valuable feedback. To step straight back into the car and complete more than 150 each laps isn't easy to do, and they've given the team back in Woking plenty of direction as to how the car can be continuously improved.

"Despite the significant regulation change, the competition is looking very tight between the teams. There doesn't appear to be any clear leader or backmarker at this stage, even though there are a wide range of philosophies and solutions up and down the grid. We look forward to heading to Bahrain, where we will further gather data to help us develop the car before kicking off the 2022 season in just under a month's time."

"It was a positive day, with quite a bit of running and some good indications," said Guanyu Zhou, "until nearly the end of the session. I was able to run with the C3 compound, but unfortunately a spin and a small hydraulic leak meant I couldn't try the C4 tyres. It's only testing and we can't really compare what we are doing against the other teams, but the feeling is that we are going in the right direction. The most important thing is to work together as a team to make sure we take a step forward ahead of testing in Bahrain."

"The team has made good progress with the C42," added Valtteri Bottas, "even though I wasn't able to get all the running I would have liked. A few technical issues stopped us in the afternoon, but the data we collected during the morning session will allow us to keep working and developing the car. Our focus switches to making the most of the time between now and the Bahrain test, and maximising our mileage when we get there. I am confident we can make up the time we lost and be fully ready for the season ahead."

Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona, here.

"It's been a productive test," said Pierre Gasly, "and I think it's been very interesting for everyone to see how these new cars behave on track.

"We've learnt a lot, every run, about our car," he continued, "and also driving wise I've been able to develop how to work with this new car and get the most out of it. I think it's been really good.

"Obviously, you can't really look at any sort of performance at the moment, so this test has really been about focusing on myself and trying to get good feedback so the team can understand what you need from the car as a driver, to find more performance. I must say, it feels quite different to drive these cars - it obviously is visually but also how it responds too, even the way you get into the corner and braking. I've been trying a variety of things and fine-tuning my driving to work with the car balance that we have, this is all part of the learning process.

"Unfortunately, I locked up my tyres during the morning running and damaged the car, but testing is about finding the limits and we've still been able to gather a lot of valuable data over the three days. This is of course only the first test, and we have a lot to analyse before the three more days of testing in Bahrain."

"It's been a good three days of testing," added Yuki Tsunoda, "it's been really productive, and we've learnt a lot about the new car. I've been really excited to get back driving since Abu Dhabi, especially knowing that it's a whole new car, and I've really enjoyed my time getting to know the AT03.

"There's still a lot to do ahead of the next test in Bahrain, from my side I need to make some more adaptions to my driving style to suit this new car but overall, it's been a really positive test. It's a shame that I wasn't able to complete the afternoon session today but it's testing, and these things happen. We've still got three days in Bahrain before the first race, so we need to prepare as much as possible ahead of this so that we can start the season off well."

"Following two solid days of testing today has been a bit more challenging for us," admitted technical director, Jody Egginton. "The day started well, with our early runs being used to gather aero data and conduct various other background test items. Unfortunately, Pierre went off during an early baseline run, damaging the car, and despite the best efforts of the team we simply ran out of time to get it turned around and back out for Yuki to drive in the afternoon session, meaning our day ended early.

"Looking at the test as a whole, we have covered some good mileage during days one and two, completing a large number of test items and gathering a massive amount of data to aid our learning and development of the AT03. So, looking at the big picture although we are satisfied with our progress it's hard to draw too many conclusions about our competitiveness due to the diverse range of programmes being run across teams, but we have plenty of data to work with ahead of the next test in Bahrain, which I am confident will allow us to move our package forward.

"We now head to Bahrain with the target being to complete the winter test plan, continuing to understand and develop our package ahead of the first race."

"The first test has been really positive," said team boss, Franz Tost. "I think that our engineers have developed a good car, that seems to be both fast and reliable. We have managed to complete many laps with both Yuki and Pierre, and I think that we have a really strong foundation for the year.

"Unfortunately, today Pierre had a lock-up of the front tyres, which meant he spun off at corner five, therefore we lost a lot of running time and Yuki was unable to run this afternoon.

"Across these three days we have completed 308 laps (1,439.9km) and I think this is a good basis for the next test in Bahrain. We've collected a lot of data here in Barcelona, which should also help to build up a good correlation between CFD and the wind-tunnel, which should be a proper baseline for future development steps. We will of course change some smaller things for Bahrain, but we have a good groundwork for the next test."

Having set a combined total of 108 laps on Thursday, the final day at the Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya concluded with Haas limited to just 9 laps set by Nikita Mazepin in the morning session. An oil system issue prevented the Russian from adding to his tally and stopped Mick Schumacher from running at all - the VF-22 parked in the garage for the remainder of the day.

"Today we could unfortunately only do nine laps," said Guenther Steiner, "we had an issue with the oil system in the engine. There was a leak that we couldn't sort over the day, so we didn't do a lot of running.

"About the rest of the test - the first day was a little bit clumsy, I would say, but we learned enough that on the second day we were well prepared. The second day was actually pretty good, we learned a lot, if you think we had three days of testing but really we only managed one. I think we made good progress.

"Now we have to get prepared for Bahrain. We have information - we know what to do and we will get it done. Hopefully in Bahrain we don't have any gremlins."

Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 25/02/2022
Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.