The last of the eight days of pre-season testing at the Catalunya Circuit in Barcelona has finished with Kimi Raikkonen setting the fastest time overall with an impressive lap on the Super-soft compound of 1m18.634s, after 111 laps completed on Friday. This gave Scuderia Ferrari an eight-day total of 957 laps of the Spanish track, which is the equivalent 2,767.6 miles of running. Second fastest overall in the test was German Sebastian Vettel, who set a 1m19.024s lap on Friday, but it was obvious that the Scuderia Ferrari driver was backing off in the last part of the lap. His best possible lap time was probably about the same as Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel’s best time of 1 minute 19.024 seconds on Thursday had already raised hopes that Ferrari, who haven’t won a drivers’ title since Kimi did so in 2007, may in fact be capable of bringing an end to three years of dominance by rivals Mercedes.
The most important question now, however, is not whether the Italian team was fast but rather to what extent the Mercedes were hiding their true potential, if indeed they were… And, of course, there is also the question of long distance runs, although these are more difficult to accurately evaluate due to the possible manipulations that only the F1 team in question would know about. In other words, we can analyse as much as we like, but we will not really know the answer until Sunday night in Australia – and even then this may not perfectly illustrate the entire picture of what to expect for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
What is certain is that the SF70H did emerge as a strong and reliable car and Scuderia Ferrari will be heading to Australia as the fastest team on each compound, on paper at least:
Supersofts: Kimi Raikkonen, Day Eight, 1:18.634
Ultrasofts: Sebastian Vettel, Day Seven, 1:19.024
Softs: Kimi Raikkonen, Day Eight, 1:19.267
Mediums: Sebastian Vettel, Day Three, 1:21.609
As the preseason training period draws to a close, there are certain indications that Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and their Ferrari may be capable of challenging Mercedes in 2017. If not for the Formula 1 title, at least for a number of wins and podium finishes, which should make the 2017 championship a lot more exciting and interesting.