Scuderia Ferrari German driver Sebastian Vettel continued where Finnish team-mate Kimi Raikkonen left off yesterday by setting the pace for the Maranello team on the second and final day of the post-Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre test, marking the end of 2017’s action. The four-time Formula One world champion clocked a time of 1:37.551 on the Hyper Soft tyre at the Yas Marina Circuit, a couple of tenths quicker than Raikkonen managed yesterday.
Sebastian Vettel and his counterparts continued to gather extensive data on Pirelli’s new-for-2018 slick range, which has been expanded to seven compounds, as each team had 20 sets of tyres available at the test, 12 selected by Pirelli and eight by themselves.
Pirelli’s new Hyper Soft tyre is two steps softer than 2017’s Ultra Soft compound, while a back-up Super Hard tyre will also be introduced as a precaution. Sebastian Vettel’s time on the pink-marked rubber put him the best part of a second clear of Mercedes rival Valtteri Bottas, who claimed pole position and victory at last weekend’s finale. Max Verstappen was a couple of tenths further back in his Red Bull, followed by Force India racers Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, who split running following Nikita Mazepin’s outing on Tuesday. Carlos Sainz Jr. gained further valuable mileage with Renault, after four late-season appearances for the team, en route to sixth position, around two seconds off the pace.
Williams continued to assess its options to replace Felipe Massa by fielding both Sergey Sirotkin and Robert Kubica over the course of the day. Kubica, who appeared late in the afternoon, rose to seventh, half a second up on Sirotkin, though exact run plans were not divulged by the team.
Monégasque racing driver and member of the Ferrari Driver Academy Charles Leclerc was the busiest driver of the day, racking up 148 laps, equivalent to almost three race distances, on his way to 11th in the standings.