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Formula One 2018: Pre-Season Testing Recap – Day 7

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Red Bull RB14

Photo: Artes Max

Formula One pre-season testing is almost coming to a close and the teams are making every possible use of the time—and sunny weather—available to them. Today they collectively completed more than 1,600 laps, or nearly 4,700 miles, in the pursuit of more data.

It was, for once, a day almost uninterrupted, apart from Marcus Ericsson’s brief trip in the gravel, which caused the red flag to come out just as McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was completing a proper race simulation run.

Sebastian Vettel once again topped the mileage sheets with 188 laps, just one more than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. More than half of the drivers completed a century of laps, with many of them staying out for periods at least as long as that of a Sunday Grand Prix.

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A lot of fuss was made over Vettel’s 1:17.182 lap time, a new unofficial lap record—and by some margin—but this is not something that should be interpreted in any way as meaningful. The lap was completed on the new Hypersoft tires, which are faster than anything we’ve seen last year, and the track itself was recently resurfaced, which has lowered lap times.

More important are the average lap times over the course of the teams’ race simulation runs, and here the data looks a little more ominous: Mercedes is clearly in the lead, with Ferrari at least half a second behind and Red Bull another two or three tenths.

Nonetheless, it remains to be seen how this will translate into actual qualifying and race pace. In the past, there has been only slight correlation between pre-season testing lap times and in-season performance. More relevant is the reliability of the teams, and on that front they are all for the most part looking much stronger than ever.

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