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…
Dauntingly, for those who have endured difficult weeks, today marks the midpoint of 2017 winter testing. The final day of the first test saw this season’s wet and intermediate compounds showcased as the circuit was twice artificially watered to induce representative wet running. Mercedes’ first major technical issue ensured that Lewis Hamilton missed out on experiencing what wet weather will feel like in 2017.
Given that Hamilton joked that he would “fake a pulled muscle” when speaking to journalists on Wednesday night, I doubt he was too disappointed. Mercedes have had a pretty good week.
Here’s FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED on day four 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.
The 2016 silly season has been more about musical chairs among F1’s current roster, rather than teams taking the plunge on fresh blood. Sure, Williams have taken a punt on Lance Stroll, but this largely goes against the grain.
Even Stoffel Vandoorne feels like a known quantity having raced for McLaren in Bahrain and being a familiar paddock personality already.
Sauber’s seem to be following the seasonal trend. Marcus Ericsson has unsurprisingly been confirmed at the team for 2017, leaving just one available seat at the Swiss squad.
Forget Donald Trump’s big news, the F1 driver market cauldron has been stirred again today, with Jolyon Palmer becoming the latest to throw his cap on a 2017 seat. The Briton will remain at Renault, partnering Nico Hulkenberg at the French marque.
It’s a fascinating development. Palmer had been widely tipped for the Enstone exit door in recent weeks, with the team supposedly favouring Kevin Magnussen for the seat. However, the Dane now seems bound for Haas, therefore allowing Palmer a route back into the frame.
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.
Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon, Felipe Nasr, Dave from the chippy and Steve from accounts have all seemingly been linked to the Force India seat for 2017. In Thursday’s Drivers’ Press Conference ahead of the Mexico Grand Prix, Esteban Gutierrez threw his name into the ring in not-so-subtle fashion.