The penultimate day of testing saw five teams set their fastest times of this pre-season, as the cars are beginning to be stretched on performance runs. However, teams are still evidently reluctant to show their full hands.
Ferrari were once again today’s star performers, with Sebastian Vettel topping the timesheet, despite evidently backing off in the final sector on his fastest ultrasoft attempt. The SF70H was stunning all day, once again proving fast and reliable, and providing more supporting evidence to the theory that Ferrari is the real deal in 2017.
Here are FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day seven of pre-season testing…
Kevin Magnussen is about to embark on a critical year in the context of his career. Few drivers scoop up a second chance in F1. Some analysts would be inclined to say that Magnussen is in fact on his third opportunity already.
After an uninspiring season driving an admittedly challenging Renault, Magnussen has moved in at Haas. In order to beat new teammate Romain Grosjean, the Dane will need to hit top form and he believes the 2017 regulations will aid him in reaching his potential.
After key player Kimi Raikkonen signed a contract extension to keep him at Ferrari for 2016, the 2015 silly season was somewhat of a non-event, with the driver market remaining largely static. So far, this season has more than made up for last year’s deficit.
The rumour mill has been in overdrive over the past few months, with enormous speculation surrounding seats at Force India, Renault, Manor and Sauber. As always, a case of too many drivers vying for too few seats.
Monaco marked the first appearance of the purple marked ultrasoft Pirelli tyre at a race weekend. Introduced at the start of this season and initially billed as a qualifying tyre, the compound seems decidedly similar to a supersoft in both pace and longevity. An assertion supported by Haas and Renault’s decision to take just soft and ultrasoft tyres to the Canadian Grand Prix, avoiding the supersoft completely.
With his fifth consecutive victory and second of the 2016 campaign, Nico Rosberg’s rich vein of form continued in Bahrain. Despite losing out to teammate and chief rival Lewis Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, Nico dominated Sunday’s race after the Briton was heavily compromised by another poor start, followed by contact with Valtteri Bottas at the turn one pressure point. Recovering to finish third, Mercedes’ inter-team battle currently sees Rosberg a substantial 17 points ahead having recorded the maximum so far.
Haas have made an early impression on the paddock. The American based squad converted their excellent pre-season into a strong debut weekend, as Romain Grosjean took full advantage of a timely red flag to secure sixth place. Eight points already on the board for F1’s youngest team and their lightening start has certainly put pressure on Sauber and Manor as the teams who stand the most to lose should Haas continue to shine.
The plot thickened on day three in Barcelona as surprising names appeared at the top of the timesheet. Nico Hulkenberg put Force India on top with an impressive time on the supersoft tyre just three tenths short of Vettel’s ultrasoft benchmark posted yesterday. Meanwhile, Haas cemented what has been a very positive start to life in the sport by finishing the day second.
Here are five things we learnt from today’s running…