It was yet another successful day for Scuderia Ferrari as they put themselves back to the top of the running order, with Kimi Räikkönen setting a lap time of 1:23.477. It was the last day of the first 2016 pre-season test and saw Ferrari on top for three of the four days.
Räikkönen completed only 80 laps for Ferrari today and used all tyres available, except the harder compound. Ferrari have said that today’s session was used for setup and compound testing whilst also completing long runs. Kimi Räikkönen commented on his day in the car: “Testing time is painful, but it is better to do checks beforehand than having big problems during the Championship. I don’t know if this is going to be a good car, no one can tell, but it seems to be a good car even if there are still many things to try out.”
With Räikkönen leading the way, Red Bull stepped up and proved they are a force to be reckoned with, by finishing second, just eight tenths off of Ferrari’s pace. In the car today was Daniil Kvyat and he completed 96 laps. It was a good way to finish the surprisingly good test for Red Bull. Kvyat commented on his day, saying: “I had two quite good test days, even though we would like to do more laps. But we have two days left next week, so it will be important to extract the maximum out of that opportunity, to figure out where we can make steps forward.”
It was also a surprisingly good day for Renault, as they put their worries of the previous days behind them with Kevin Magnussen completing a whopping 153 laps. Every lap gives the team more data and allows them to fix any niggling issues with their car or engine. Renault finish the test on a high.
Just when McLaren thought 2015 was behind them, it came back to bite them right where it hurts. In typical McLaren-Honda fashion they had a “minor problem” and only managed to record 3 laps, all of which were installation laps and therefore untimed. McLaren have said there was a “coolant leak” and that the car needed to be “completely stripped down in order to perform the necessary checks”. It took the mechanics all afternoon to completely fix the problem and no more running was done. One can only imagine what went through Fernando Alonso’s head after such a positive start to the test. McLaren definitely finish on a low.
Last but not least, Mercedes who claim that the engines in 2016 will be louder, are remaining very quiet. So quiet that they clocked up a whopping 186 laps, but could only manage seventh and eighth in the standings, electing to split their drivers workload again. However even though they don’t find themselves at the top, Nico Rosberg will still be smiling about the fact that he was 0.108 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. However, in typical professional fashion, he didn’t say that. Instead he said: “It’s been a great start. Reliability is looking very, very good and the car feels quick. It’s great even to look at. You take a walk around it and there’s some real innovation there. You can really see how far we’ve come as a team these past few years – it’s very impressive.”
So the first test is now over. Ferrari dominated it with speed, while Mercedes dominated it with distance. This upcoming season is shaping up to be a good one: The ‘Prancing Horse’ vs the ‘Silver Arrows’.