By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Ferrari saved their best for the last day of preseason testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as Kimi Raikkonen blitzed the field en route to the fastest time of winter and the second fastest lap ever recorded at the track. His 1:18.634 very nearly reached the 1:18.243 Fernando Alonso set while testing slick tires on the Renault R28 in preparation for the 2009 season. Of far more importance to Ferrari, Raikkonen’s time is seven tenths of a second faster than Mercedes’ best lap and eight tenths better than Williams or Red Bull. Once again, Ferrari completed over 100 laps for the day, which brought their total for the two weeks to 956, very close to Mercedes’ total of 1,096.
Max Verstappen put Red Bull second on the time sheets today with a 1:19.438 on the super softs for the team’s fastest lap of testing. He was impeded by turbo issues for his Renault power unit, but still managed to complete 71 laps, a decent total, but less than what the team hoped for as they clearly do not have the RB13 completely figured out yet.
Carlos Sainz gave Toro Rosso third on the day with their quickest lap of testing as well, 1:19.837 on the ultra softs. The Spaniard completed 132 laps with only one issue that lead to him to stop on track late in the day. Overall it was a far smoother day for STR than some of their other recent outings.
Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton came in fourth and fifth for Mercedes, each lapping in the 1:19.8’s with Bottas narrowly beating his team mate on a day they did an identical 53 laps apiece. Hamilton claimed that he had not quite come to grips with the new W08 and that they are yet to unlock the full potential of the car.
Nico Hulkenberg gave Renault their best time of the test with a strong 1:19.885 on the ultra softs. He completed only 45 laps before he handed the car over to team mate Jolyon Palmer who added just 43 more to Renault’s total for the day.
Haas had a rough day as Romain Grosjean took a trip through the gravel at turn 5 and brought out the first red flag of the day. Later he stopped on track at turn 9 as well. The team were able to sort out their issues and get back on track to the tune of 76 laps and a best time of 1:21.110 for Grosjean on the ultra softs.
Lance Stroll, after starting the week crashing left and right, had a calm day for Williams where he got plenty of seat time for 131 laps which brought Williams’ total up to 800 for the two weeks. The young Canadian had a best time of 1:20.335 on the soft compound tires.
McLaren-Honda will be glad to put testing behind them. They had another miserable day; Alonso only managed a 1:21.389 on the ultra softs and had to stop twice on track with electrical gremlins. This limited the frustrated champion’s running to an abysmal 43 laps on a day when McLaren really needed signs of improvement or at least better reliability.
Sauber continued to bring up the rear, Marcus Ericsson completed 59 laps with a best time of 1:21.670 on the super softs, while Manor refugee Pascal Wehrlein completed just 42 laps with a best time of 1:23.527 on the softs.