With the eight days of pre-season testing now over, things are looking very bright for Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of the test during the second week, taking the SF71H around the Barcelona circuit in a time of 1:17.182s, which now stands as the unofficial lap record.
Sharing testing duties with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen – who registered the second-fastest time of the test, just a tenth of a second behind – Vettel declared the car to be to his liking, and came away from the weather-interrupted sessions in a positive frame of mind.
Such is the mood in the Ferrari camp that Raikkonen claimed he could have gone even faster, had there been the inclination to do so. Testing is intended to quantify new parts and check that all systems are working, rather than get to grips with the outright speed of the car.
In terms of long-run pace, Ferrari looked very good – on a par with, if not slightly better than, main rivals Mercedes-Benz, with Red Bull not far behind. Reliability was also impressive, with the team meeting all targets in terms of laps run during the eight days.
Countdown to Melbourne
The teams have now packed up and will head to Melbourne, Australia, for the first Grand Prix of the 2018 season on the 25th March. A unique circuit, it is not unknown for unusual and surprise results.
Vettel and Ferrari will be looking to repeat their 2017 victory in Australia, and set the scene for the season to come. The main opposition is expected to come from Mercedes and Red Bull, while the works Renault team showed promise during testing, and McLaren – now with Renault power – were very fast, but suffered from a number of notable reliability issues over the course of the two weeks in Spain.