PIRELLI: FERRARI FASTEST AS MERCEDES GOES FURTHEST

Ferrari threw down a marker to at least show Mercedes might have a fight on their hands this year. There was little between both teams when Vettel and Hamilton ran on mediums on Day 1. Enough to be negated by fuel load and longer runs.  That changed on Day 2, with the help of Pirelli’s new Ultrasoft tyre, as The German set a blistering pace with a time of 1:22.810. A time that would have put him 1.8 seconds clear of Nico Rosberg’s pole time from last year. (Set on Mediums)

That time difference can be explained by the gaps between Pirelli compounds with the gaps being circa Ultrasoft (0.5s) Supersoft (0.5s) Soft (1s) Medium. What it does show is that Ferrari seem to have made a massive step. The only question is how much closer they have got to the outrageously high benchmark set by Mercedes.

That wasn’t the full story though. While others may have closed the gap this year at times it looked like Mercedes were preparing for a 6hrs endurance race such was the mileage they clocked up during testing. Only Sainz in the Toro Rosso (On Day 3) came close to matching their lap total. (Sainz 161 laps v 162 laps of LH & NR, who split the day)

Total Mercedes AMG F1 team distance covered over the four day test:
675 laps. (Lewis Hamilton 156, 88 & 99. Nico Rosberg 172, 74 & 86)
3,190Km. Enough to cover 10 race distances.
They did not run on Ultras, Softs or Supersofts.

TOP TIMES Seb sensors

Compound Driver Team LapTime Test Day
ULTRASOFT Vettel Ferrari 1:22.810 DAY 2
SOFT Vettel Ferrari 1:23.741 DAY 2
MEDIUM Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.867 DAY 2
SUPERSOFT Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.110 DAY 3
HARD Massa Williams 1:28.214 DAY 3

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Compound Driver Team LapTime Test Day
ULTRASOFT Vettel Ferrari 1:22.810 DAY 2
SOFT Vettel Ferrari 1:23.741 DAY 2
MEDIUM Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.867 DAY 2
SUPERSOFT Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.110 DAY 3
HARD Massa Williams 1:28.214 DAY 3

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Compound Driver Team Laps Test Day
MEDIUM Magnussen Renault 30 DAY 4
HARD Bottas Williams 26 DAY 2
SOFT Bottas Williams 17 DAY 2
SUPERSOFT Vettel Ferrari 8 DAY 2
ULTRASOFT Vettel Ferrari 7 DAY 2

TOP TIMES Day1

Driver Team Compound LapTime
Vettel Ferrari MEDIUM 1:24.939
Hamilton Mercedes MEDIUM 1:25.409
Ricciardo Red Bull MEDIUM 1:26.044
Bottas Williams MEDIUM 1:26.091
Celis Force India SOFT 1:26.298
Button McLaren SOFT 1:26.735
Sainz J Toro Rosso PROTO M 1:27.180
Ericsson Sauber MEDIUM 1:27.555
Wehrlein Manor SOFT 1:28.292
Grosjean Haas MEDIUM 1:28.399
Palmer Renault MEDIUM 1:29.356

TOP TIMES Day 2

Driver Team Compound LapTime
Vettel Ferrari ULTRASOFT 1:22.810
Ricciardo Red Bull ULTRASOFT 1:23.525
Perez Force India SUPERSOFT 1:23.650
Rosberg Mercedes MEDIUM 1:24.867
Ericsson Sauber SOFT 1:25.237
Gutierrez Haas SOFT 1:25.524
Bottas Williams SOFT 1:25.648
Wehrlein Manor SOFT 1:25.925
Button McLaren SOFT 1:26.082
Palmer Renault SOFT 1:26.189
Verstappen Toro Rosso MEDIUM 1:26.539

TOP TIMES Day 3

Driver Team Compound LapTime
Hulkenberg Force India SUPERSOFT 1:23.110
Grosjean Haas SOFT 1:25.874
Raikkonen Ferrari MEDIUM 1:25.977
Magnussen Renault SOFT 1:26.014
Rosberg Mercedes MEDIUM 1:26.084
Sainz J Toro Rosso MEDIUM 1:26.239 (161 laps)
Nasr Sauber SOFT 1:26.392
Hamilton Mercedes MEDIUM 1:26.421
Kvyat Red Bull MEDIUM 1:26.497
Massa Williams MEDIUM 1:26.712
Button McLaren MEDIUM 1:26.919
Haryanto Manor SOFT 1:28.249

TOP TIMES Day 4

Driver Team Compound LapTime
Raikkonen Ferrari ULTRASOFT 1:23.477
Kvyat Red Bull ULTRASOFT 1:24.293
Celis Force India SOFT 1:24.840
Magnussen Renault SOFT 1:25.263
Sainz J Toro Rosso MEDIUM 1:25.393
Nasr Sauber SOFT 1:26.053
Rosberg Mercedes MEDIUM 1:26.187
Hamilton Mercedes MEDIUM 1:26.295
Massa Williams SOFT 1:26.483
Gutierrez Haas PROTO M 1:27.802
Haryanto Manor SOFT 1:28.266

PIRELLI ULTRASOFT:
The tyre will achieve maximum efficiency at fairly low temperatures, so it will reach the optimal working range very quickly. Given the characteristics of the Catalan track, with its highly abrasive surface and fast turns that put great pressure on the tyres, the Ultrasoft tyres won’t be used on race weekend in Spain in mid-May.

The Ultrasofts are designed for tracks with slower turns and surfaces with low levels of grip, such as Monte Carlo, or circuits like Canada, Singapore, Austria, or Abu Dhabi. Situations in which grip will have to come from the tyres, since it won’t come as much from the aerodynamic features of the cars. That’s where the Ultrasofts come into their own.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director:
“There are not too many conclusions you can read into the first test of the season, as teams are all trying different things with different specifications of car, making it quite hard to interpret from the outside the characteristics of each tyre. However, from the inside, all the data we have seen so far indicates that the overall tyre performance is about where we expected it to be, during both longer and shorter runs. Our biggest news was the debut of P Zero Purple Ultrasoft tyre, which set the fastest time of the test and provided the extra performance we had aimed for, even though Barcelona is not the type of circuit it is particularly suited to.”

Video and Images by courtesy of Pirelli.