By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Kimi Raikkonen topped the time sheets for Ferrari on the first day of Pirelli’s Abu Dhabi tire test, where all 10 Formula One teams are evaluating the prospective 2018 tire compounds. The Finn clocked an impressive 1:37.768 on Pirelli’s new hypersoft compound, just three tenths ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, and nearly a second ahead of World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton, who qualified and finished second behind team mate Valtteri Bottas on Sunday, hailed Pirelli’s hypersoft tires as the best tire Pirelli has made since they became F1’s sole supplier in 2011.
“On early impression, the new hyper-soft is the best tire that Pirelli have produced since returning to F1. I found that the other compounds are still a bit too hard for my liking, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Though most teams and drivers were focused on the new tire compounds like Hamilton, the eyes of the world were on Robert Kubica who sat behind the wheel of the 2017 Williams for the first time, as the team continues to evaluate the Polish driver for the seat just vacated by the now retired Felipe Massa.
Kubica logged 100 laps on the day, focused on long runs he set his best time on the softs, while the other runners all set their top times with the new hypersofts. Robert will be back in the car Wednesday afternoon where the team will asses his speed and see what he can do on the softer compounds. Despite Williams denial that any contracts have been signed, Kubica is looking more and more like the front runner for the team’s vacant seat.
Testing resumes tomorrow at Yas Marina before the teams and drivers get some holiday rest ahead of the 2018 season.
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1:37.768
2. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1:38.066
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 1:38.551
4. Romain Grosjean, Haas – 1:39.270
5. Lance Stroll, Williams – 1:39.580
6. Fernando Alonso, McLaren – 1:39.762
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault – 1:39.803
8. Nikita Mazepin, Force India – 1:39.959
9. Robert Kubica, Williams – 1:41.296
10. Sean Gelael, Toro Rosso – 1:41.428
11. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber – 1:41.681
12. Oliver Turvey, McLaren – 1:41.914