From Hungary to Barcelona, an overview of pre-holiday testing
“There’s hardly any testing these days and you have to make the most of every opportunity.” That’s a sentiment always shared by Kimi, Seb and the entire Scuderia Ferrari crew. Ever since 2009, when in-season testing was drastically reduced and strictly controlled, every session is extremely precious, because it’s the best way to bring together all the work carried out in the factory, in the simulator and on computer.
The difference between these tests just completed and the two winter sessions is pretty marked: in February and March, Barcelona serves as a test bed for a car that has yet to tackle the rigours of the race track. One is mainly looking for reliability, while learning about the car and establishing a baseline set-up. On the other hand, at the in-season tests, one is dealing with a known quantity and its strengths and weaknesses can be understood. The work therefore focuses on improving on what one already has. But where can that improvement come from? At the Hungaroring test and also at the session in Bahrain in April, many journalists were asking how can a team prepare for an upcoming race on the calendar, on a track which might have very different characteristics. Consider for example that the Hungarian test will be followed by races at Spa and Monza. The reality is much more complex, because a test programme involves validating new solutions that might be of use throughout the rest of the season, aside from the fact that one might use a high or low downforce wing. When a car emerges from the garage, it is not necessarily fitted with all the new components available…
Lap times do not count for that much in testing, but one can say that the SF70H worked well in Hungary, both with the race drivers and with Charles Leclerc at the wheel. The regulations insist that part of the test is given over to “young drivers,” who have taken part in a maximum of three Formula 1 Grands Prix. Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi then split the work load at the Pirelli test in Barcelona. In this instance, the SF70H was kept in standard trim, because, during tyre testing, teams are not allowed to make any significant changes to the car.
One final point: the two tests this season, in Sakhir and at the Hungaroring, both followed on from a Scuderia Ferrari victory. Worth noting that the final test takes place in Abu Dhabi, just after the final round of the championship.
Seb and Kimi optimistic: “We’ve picked up momentum, want to be stronger everywhere”
Mogyorod, August 2 – The second and last in-season test session of the year ended with both Scuderia Ferrari drivers back on track at the Hungaroring after last Sunday’s one-two in the race. Sebastian Vettel took the wheel of the SF70H this morning at 9, and handed over to Kimi Raikkonen after a couple of hours, for the Finn to continue the development work. Sebastian completed 47 laps, his best time being a 1min17sec124 on Supersoft tires, while Kimi ran 60 laps with a best time of 1’’17’842 on Supersoft tires. Now it’s time for our guys – not only the drivers, but all the team – to have some well-deserved rest during the two-week summer break, to get ready for the forthcoming challenges.
“You don’t get a lot of testing over the season”, Seb said “so it was a good opportunity to try a couple of things and get a feeling from the car. Obviously, in such a brief test you are not expecting to turn the world upside down, but it will be useful for the next races and for a better understanding of the car. I think this year we’ve been strong pretty much everywhere, of course there have been races in which we did not perform at our best; of course there will always differences from track to track, but the purpose of all the work we do is to be in a good shape for the rest of the season. We’ve picked up momentum with the win in Hungary, now it’s up to us to keep it going, but I am confident that we have the right people and are going in the right direction. As for my holidays… I haven’t done much planning, I think I’ll just be getting some rest, after all those flights!”
“We always bring something different, irrespective of where we are and try to learn from it, commented Kimi. “We had a very good result, as a team, here in Hungary, but we always try to improve further. Today was a normal testing day, but obviously here you have more time and tires available than you have during a race weekend, so we try to get the best out of it. In the last few races, my feeling with the car has improved consistently, which shows that the new things we’ve brought have helped me drive better and better. Also, I am happy that I could help Charles Leclerc prepare for his test, but then it’s fair to say that all the team supported him”.
98 laps in the SF70H: “Driving a Ferrari is never a normal thing”
Mogyorod – 98 laps at the wheel of the SF70H in the boiling heat of the Hungaroring and a final lap time of 1’17”746, on the Soft tyres. It was also the fastest lap overall on the day. But for Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari Driver Academy student and current leader of the F2 championship, the stopwatch readout was not the most important aspect of this day.
“Driving a Ferrari is never a ‘normal’ experience,” commented the 19 year old Monegasque driver. I felt as though I was driving a race car for the very first time. It’s a great honour I have been accorded and I thank Ferrari with all my heart for this opportunity. I am pleased with the work I did and I hope the team is too. Driving the SF70H was a fantastic feeling and coming from F2, it’s a whole other world, from every point of view. It was the first time that I’ve driven a Formula 1 car with the wider tyres and this level of aerodynamic downforce and it was an incredible feeling. I also learned a lot from the work in the garage: Ferrari has the best engineers in the world and I felt very comfortable working with them. To set the fastest time is nice, but, in testing, its importance is only relative. I can now go on holiday in a happy mood, before concentrating on the second part of the F2 season. For the moment, Formula 1 is just a dream. I still have work to do and I know that: one step at a time.”
Tomorrow, 2nd August, the test continues with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen driving.