Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen admitted that he is eagerly looking forward to the start of the new Formula One season after setting the fastest time in Friday’s final testing session at Montmelo, near Barcelona. The 2007 F1 world champion brought an end to the eight days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya with a best lap of 1min 17.221sec, over half a second quicker than McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
It left the Finn, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen’s Scuderia Ferrari German team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, as the only drivers able to dip below 1min 18sec over the course of the fortnight in Spain: “Overall, I feel we have a good package,” – Kimi Raikkonen said, as reported by the international news agency headquartered in Paris Agence France-Presse – “The car gives me a good feeling and, even if there are still a lot of things to improve, it’s reasonably easy to drive. However, no one can say where we really are, compared to our rivals. We will have a better idea in a couple of weeks in Melbourne and then, in general, after the first few races of the season. I like racing, testing is fun, but a race is always something special and I can’t wait to start.” – the Finnish driver added.
Fernando Alonso’s 1:17.784 display gave McLaren a welcome boost for a team hit by a series of reliability problems, although the Spaniard did have to endure five hours in the pits on Friday due to a turbo failure. Regarding Scuderia Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel signed off on Thursday with the fastest lap yet around Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya: “The times on these test days don’t mean much,” said the German, playing down his 1:17.182, set on the new hypersoft tyres. The important thing is that the SF71H (car) has proved to be very strong, allowing us to run all day without any significant problems. We are still working on some things for the first race and it’s not really possible to make any predictions based on the performance of the other teams, because everyone is running a different programme.” – Sebastian Vettel explained.
The first round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship is scheduled to take place on 25 March in Melbourne, as the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit will host the 2018 Australian Grand Prix. The race will mark the eighty-second race in the combined history of the Australian Grand Prix—which dates back to the 100 Miles Road Race of 1928—and the twenty-third time the event will be held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.