|Circuit||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya|
|Distance||307,104 km / 190,866 miles|
||Scuderia Ferrari||retired / accident|
Maurizio Arrivabene: “Shame for the end result, but we leave Spain knowing that we can count on a car that is solid and very quick. Seb’s race was very good from the start, and he was able to lead for many laps. In the last stint, despite being on Medium tires, he held off Hamilton until he had to give way to his main rival, who could take the best of DRS and Soft compound. More time was lost behind Bottas and also because of the Virtual Safety Car, which ended just when we had to pit to cover Hamilton’s move. Kimi’s race did not last long, as he was rammed at the first corner. That’s racing, and we must keep our concentration and humility, as we are aware that there is still a lot of work to do and so much to improve. The championship is still a long way and we are already focusing on the next race at Monaco.”
Sebastian Vettel: “My start was good, I saw Lewis struggle with wheelspin, and kept looking in mirror to see if anybody else had a better start. The first stint went ok, then we had to pit, otherwise they might have got us with an undercut. My second stint was also pretty good: I managed to get close to Valtteri who was all over the place with his tyres. He blocked me, in the end I managed to get past, but by then I had lost an awful lot of time. Then in the last stint we did everything we could, the car was good, it was close with Lewis. I am happy when we have the chance to race the Mercedes cars, we can be very happy but not entirely happy today. The most important thing, though, is that we were in the fight; the team is in great form, we need to improve because we want to be ahead of them.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “I made a good start, but on the main straight I got blocked once by Bottas. I chose to lift and go a little bit on the left to leave him space, but, I don’t know how, he hit me on the right rear corner , my car jumped and I end up going into Verstappen. There was nothing me or Max could have done, when you get hit from behind in that way there’s no way to avoid the collision. I’m pretty sure Valtteri had enough space. Unfortunately my race ended there. Obviously it’s very disappointing, we had been running quite well all weekend and I was happy with the behavior of the car.”
Seb finishes 2nd in Spanish GP to maintain championship lead. Kimi knocked out at start
Montmelò, 14 May – “Thanks everyone, the car was very good and very quick today.” That was Seb’s message to the team over the radio, similar in fact to what he had to say after qualifying. Scuderia Ferrari leaves Spain with Vettel still leading the championship, while Kimi had the misfortune to be the first retirement, after a collision on the opening lap. In the five races so far this season, the Scuderia has always finished on the podium.
This race was one of the best of the year. A perfect getaway from second on the grid saw Seb move ahead of Lewis Hamilton and into the lead. Things did not go so well for Kimi: at the first corner, he was tapped from behind by Bottas and that pushed him into Verstappen which meant the Iceman had to pull over to the side of the track with broken front left suspension.
Seb pulled away in the early laps and behind him, Hamilton reacted. For the opening laps, the gap stayed around the 2 second mark and then it looked as though the Mercedes man was trying to close with the intention of pulling off an “undercut” by pitting early to emerge in front. Ferrari reacted, bringing Seb in on lap 14, fitting another set of Softs. Vettel rejoined behind Ricciardo. At the start of lap 16, he passed the Red Bull under braking and set a fastest lap of 1’24”901.
Hamilton pitted on lap 21 and went for the Medium tyres, while Seb was attacking Bottas who was doing everything he could to keep ahead. Lap 35 and Seb dived to the left, went onto the grass and got by at Turn 1, so the Vettel-Hamilton duel was back on. Lewis was 4” down but on the harder rubber. On lap 33, Vandoorne closed the door on Massa, went off the track and the race went into Virtual Safety Car mode. Hamilton came in on lap 37 and soon after the race was on again. Seb went for the mandatory set of Medium tyres.
Hamilton was passed on the straight and yet again the duel resumed. Seb pushed hard, really hard in the first two corners. The SF70H hung onto the lead, while Bottas retired. Seb made the most of getting through the backmarkers to also be able to use the DRS down the main straight. But with a clear track, Lewis made the most of his tyre advantage and the moveable wing to get ahead finally on lap 44.
But the fight wasn’t quite over, because Seb’s rival had to look after his softer tyres. “Keep your head down,” engineer Ricky Adami advised his driver. But there were no more opportunities for attempting one final assault. The next episode in this thriller will unfold in Monaco in a fortnight.
Seb thanks team for ‘massive effort’. Kimi: “Disappointed, but the speed was there”
Montmelò, May 13th – Scuderia Ferrari secured second and fourth place on tomorrow’s starting grid with Seb and Kimi respectively. But numbers don’t tell the whole story, as a precautionary replacement of the Power Unit on car #5 required an extraordinary team effort to have Seb on track in time for Q1.
“I don’t know how the mechanics did it”, said Seb after the end of the session. “It’s a lot of work to put together. I want to say a big thanks to the team. This morning we couldn’t do what we wanted to. We know the track and the car, and I know that it is working. In the end we could have got pole position, but I missed the apex at the chicane. I was a bit late and lost a bit of time there. But, overall, putting the car on the front row is a massive success. I think we worked really well. We realized that there was an issue and that we could fix it. Tomorrow, with the race rhythm, it will be fine, because when you get into the pace it is easier. A good start looks always good, so we’ll see, but I am confident for tomorrow and I always try to keep a smile”.
Kimi was not as happy, as some small errors during his last flying lap meant that he missed third slot on the grid by 0.066 secs. “The car has been working well the whole weekend and I’m happy with that, but I’m disappointed with the qualifying result . Track conditions were a bit tricky today, better than yesterday though. Although I felt I had a lot of speed I struggled here and there, making small mistakes, hitting the kerb, running wide, so I did not put a good lap together. Tomorrow we’ll try again. We can make hundreds of different plans for the race, but there’s no guarantee things will run as we wish. We know the strategies of our two cars, but we don’t know what the others will do. We’ll try to react in the right time and take the right decisions. The length of the DRS area has been increased: we don’t know if it will make a big difference, but it’s probably going to help a little bit”.
Seb 2nd, Kimi 4th in qualifying for the Spanish GP
Montmelo, 13th May – In today’s qualifying at the Catalunya circuit, Sebastian Vettel set the second fastest time of 1:19.20. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in 1:19.439. Sebastian tackled qualifying with a new power unit, fitted as a precaution thanks to some impeccable work in the garage.
Seb told to pit in closing stages as a precaution
Montmelò, 13 May –Ferrari finished first and second in the final free practice session at the Spanish track. Kimi Raikkonen was fastest with a 1:20.214, followed by Sebastian Vettel who was 0”242 slower. The work was aimed at qualifying, with some practice race starts towards the end. The Scuderia Ferrari drivers ran the Hard compound for the first run and then the Medium and Soft. Towards the end of the hour, Seb had to be called back to the pits to check an anomaly on the telemetry system on his SF70H. As a precaution, it has been decided to change some components of the Power Unit prior to qualifying.
Difficult conditions in P1 and P2. “The car is quick, we just need to get it right”
Montmelò, May 12th – Gusty wind conditions and a hot tarmac surface turned the Circuit de Catalunya into a very different track from the one we had seen during winter testing. Kimi and Seb made the best of it to take third and fourth place in both sessions. Conditions will certainly evolve during the weekend and the fine-tuning of the SF70H car will proceed accordingly.
“Today the conditions seemed to be quite challenging, but we can improve,” said Seb. “I wasn’t totally happy as I think a lot was left in the track and I didn’t find it at the end. At the same time I feel the car is quick so I just need to get it right. Overall, the atmosphere is good, but obviously now I am more focused on what happened today. I think everybody struggled today. I don’t know who brought more updates but I think what really matters is who brings the best ones”.
Kimi is on the same page as his team-mate, in terms of his thoughts on the day: “It was pretty windy and slippery out there today. I think it was the same for everybody; the first day you find out how the track is and you go from there. The lap times from today’s practice don’t tell a lot , we were able to follow our programme and try different things. Compared to winter testing, it’s pretty normal to find different conditions, because temperatures are higher and the track status changes. As on any other Friday, there is some work to be done, so we’ll see what we come up with for tomorrow”.
Difficult track conditions as Kimi and Seb are 3rd and 4th fastest
Montmelò, 12 May –Second free practice ended with the Scuderia Ferrari drivers in third and fourth places, courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel respectively. The Finn’s best lap was a 1’21”112 and the German did a 1’21”220.
Track conditions today are significantly different to those the teams encountered during winter testing at Spain’s Montmelo circuit, with much higher temperatures and intermittent wind. As usual during the first part of the session, the Scuderia Ferrari drivers did a series of quick laps, before focusing on race simulation work. Both men used the Medium and Soft compound tyres in this afternoon’s session.
Kimi and Seb 3rd and 4th fastest in first free practice
Montmelò, 12 May –The first session for the fifth round of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix, has just come to an end. Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest with a time of 1:22.456, while his team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s best lap of 1:22.600 was good enough for fourth on the time sheet. For this first session, Scuderia Ferrari opted to start on the Hard tyre, before switching to the Medium. Over the 90 minutes of track time, work on the SF70H centred on evaluating various new solutions introduced this weekend. At one point, Seb’s car suffered a small problem on the left rear wheel, which was quickly fixed.
Seb: the winter feeling was good, but circumstances may vary. Kimi: the learning process is never-ending
Montmelò, May 11 – The Spanish Grand Prix marks a turning point in the F1 season and so, traditionally, it has been associated with major changes being brought to all cars in the pit-lane Furthermore, the Circuit de Catalunya has a variety of corners which require both downforce and stability and this has contributed to it being regarded as one of the iconic tracks of the current Formula One calendar. Some of these assumptions are true, while others could be challenged nowadays.
Seb Vettel has his own view: “Historically, a lot of updates have been brought here because in Europe it is much easier to do so. However, in the last eight or nine years it hasn’t been like that, because updates have been brought everywhere else as much as here”.
But according to the Scuderia Ferrari driver, “ if your car works here, it generally works everywhere. Here there are straights, low speed sections, high speed corners, all of which are challenging for the tires and the car. The feeling we had a couple of months ago here for testing was good. If we can keep that feeling I am sure we will be quick”. Yet, Seb takes nothing for granted: “It depends on how the weekend goes, on the circumstances. We are working very hard to make Ferrari the best car”.
And it’s hard work also on Kimi Raikkonen’s side, after finishing on the podium in Race 4 at Sotchi: “In the last race weekend I was much happier with the car set up; we have understood a lot since the first race, but obviously there are always thing you can improve and do better. Little by little, it is getting better and hopefully we can keep going that way and be in the front again. It’s a never-ending process”. In this learning process, Kimi is keeping very focused on the job he has to do: “So far this weekend I haven’t seen the other cars, and from tomorrow’s free practice we won’t get much information about them. We’ll do our own stuff, follow our own schedule and try to improve. We have a good plan and we’ll follow it. As for the rest, we cannot control what the others do; we just have to get the best out of the package and I’m sure we can take the fight to them. The season is still long, there’s some work to be done, but that’s what we are here for. As a team we are doing a good job, but we want to do better”.
A track that has it all: very hard on tyres, different logistics
The Spanish Grand Prix is traditionally regarded as the race that kicks off the European part of the season. It’s not strictly true as Sochi, home to the previous round is also in Europe, but the race in Barcelona marks the first appearance of the team “motorhomes.” The logistical aspect and preparation work for this event is also different. Prior to this race, the cars return to the team’s headquarters for the first time since the start of the season. There, they will be prepared and repainted before heading off on Tuesday for the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, by road this time. It means that, unlike at the first four rounds, the cars arrive in Spain more or less ready to go. The Montmelo track, to the north east of Barcelona, first hosted a Formula 1 race in 1991. Ever since, it has been the preferred venue for winter testing, because it boasts every type of corner. There are some very fast ones, specifically turns 3 and 9 and in pre-season testing, the new 2017 specification cars proved capable of taking them flat out, thanks to the wider tyres and increased aerodynamic downforce. The final sector features slower corners, including the turn 13 chicane, which was put in a decade ago, where good traction on exit is a requirement. The track layout means overtaking is difficult. On the tyre front, it’s more or less the opposite to Russia, which is why Pirelli has brought its hardest trio of compounds, the Hard, Medium and Soft. Last year, Scuderia Ferrari got both its drivers, Kimi and Seb, onto the podium. During winter testing, the SF 70H went well here, but the F1 teams will encounter very different weather this weekend, with temperatures predicted to be around the 22-23° mark.