F1 2017 testing: Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen sets new fastest time
Raikkonen raises the bar with new quickest lap of winter testing after Ferrari also beat Mercedes’ soft tyre benchmark
Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of testing so far as Ferrari provided a potential late twist to F1’s winter tale on the penultimate day of action at Barcelona.
After making a fast start to testing at last week’s first test, Ferrari had run on Pirelli’s slower tyres on the opening two days of the second week as rivals and title favourites Mercedes started to show their hand.
However, on his final day in the car before the Australian GP, Raikkonen returned Ferrari to the top of the order with two eye-catching laps just before the lunch break
The first, a 1:23.009 on soft tyres, was 0.013 seconds quicker than Mercedes’ best on the same compound. Raikkonen then switched to the quicker ultrasoft tyre and clocked a new outright fastest lap this winter of 1:22.765.
The Finn, who completed an afternoon race simulation as he topped 130 laps, had started the day with a two-lap trial of the ‘halo’ head protection concept.
Halo device splits opinion in the F1 paddock
Mercedes ended Day Three only fifth on the timesheet as first Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton concentrated on longer runs on the slower medium tyre.
“Testing has gone very well and l feel ready for Melbourne,” said Rosberg.
Rosberg completed 81 laps in the morning, clocking a best time of 1:23.126, before Hamilton took over and added 63 more. The world champion did not set a representative time, meaning he finished a lowly 11th.
“We’ve not really pushed it to the limit yet in terms of qualifying laps,” confirmed Hamilton. “Now it’s really just trying to understand the car on a knife edge, so I’m hoping tomorrow we’ll do a bit of that.”
Hamilton: Mercedes haven’t pushed the W07 yet
However, with the world champions not setting any headline times, it was left to Day Two pacesetters Williams to take the fight to Ferrari on the timesheet.
Felipe Massa switched to the soft tyres in the afternoon and clocked an impressive 1:23.193 lap.
The Williams’ time was within two tenths of a second of Ferrari and Mercedes’ best laps on the soft tyre across the first seven days of testing.
A number of teams had earlier joined Ferrari in completing qualifying-style runs on the ultrasoft tyre – including Force India and Toro Rosso, who finished third and fourth on the timesheet with Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen respectively.
Both drivers then completed race simulations in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, McLaren’s overdue progression continued into Day Three as Fernando Alonso signed off from pre-season by again topping 100 laps in the MP4-31.
However, the pace of the Honda-powered car continues to provoke debate after Alonso’s seventh-fastest time of 1:24.870 was only three tenths quicker than Manor managed on the same supersoft tyres.
Alonso ‘saddened’ by F1’s qualifying confusion
But F1 newcomers Haas had a day to forget with the team bringing out the red flags on three separate occasions as their struggles continued.
Romain Grosjean twice beached his VF-16 in the gravel before the car then stopped on track in the session’s closing minutes. More positive news came from the fact Haas did complete 78 laps, although Grosjean’s 1:27.196 time on soft tyres was the slowest of the day.
Barcelona Test Two, Day Three timesheet
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:22.765, ultrasoft tyres, 136 laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:23.193, soft tyres, 119 laps;
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:23.251, ultrasoft tyres, 137 laps
4. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:23.382, ultrasoft tyres, 159 laps
5. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.126, medium tyres, 81 laps
6. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:24.760, soft tyres, 116 laps
7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:24.870, supersoft tyres, 118 laps
8. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:24.913, ultrasoft tyres, 48 laps
9. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:25.141, soft tyres, 121 laps
10. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:26.224, soft tyres, 98 laps
11. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:26.488, medium tyres, 63 laps
12. Romain Grosjean, Haas, soft tyres, 1:27.196, 78 laps
Provided by : http://www.skysports.com