JEREZ, Spain – official series release — Mark Thompson/Getty Images Europe photo —
Kimi Raikkonen ensured Ferrari ended the first preseason test of 2015 on top by going fastest on the fourth and final day at Jerez on Wednesday.
The Scuderia’s new SF15-T had already topped the first and second days in the hands of Sebastian Vettel, and Raikkonen carried on that momentum by setting the best time of the test on Wednesday, dipping down to 1:20.841 to finish comfortably clear of the chasing pack.
“Over the winter, we have made a good step forward and this car is definitely an improvement over the 2014 one,” Raikkonen reflected. “It’s the whole package that has progressed, but there is still a lot of work to do.”
“We are not comparing ourselves to the others, we just got on with our own job, without looking at what they were doing. Times are of relatively little importance; what matters is that we have put together a good number of laps without having any real problems. We now have a good basis from which to start the development work.”
Behind him, Marcus Ericsson continued Sauber’s encouraging start to the new season by finishing second fastest, after new team mate Felipe Nasr had put the team top of the timesheets on day three.
The Swede also broke into triple figures in the lap charts, although Mercedes once again led the way in terms of total mileage as Lewis Hamilton clocked up 114 laps en route to setting the third fastest time of the day.
Max Verstappen worked his way up to fourth for Toro Rosso, as the team continued to clock up far more mileage than parent team Red Bull, with Daniil Kvyat restricted to 64 laps of running in the new RB11.
That was still more than Jenson Button managed at McLaren, who was disrupted by engine problems in the morning and then a fuel pump fault in the afternoon. However, in between issues the Englishman managed to help the Woking team to their most productive day of the test, completing 35 laps and setting a best time of 1:27.660.
McLaren engineering director Matt Morris said despite some minor issues, the team leave the first test feeling positive.
“Our prime objective coming away from this test was to ascertain that the main car architecture worked, and we’ve done that,” he said. “Today, we had a couple of stoppages, but we were still able to get on with our aero program – obtaining correlation data for the guys back at the factory, just so we can check that everything’s working as we expected.
“Additionally, Jenson’s been able to give Honda some really good feedback – he’s been constantly providing analysis after every run. That’s to be expected: it’s a new power unit, so there’s a lot of information that being sent back to Japan, and Honda are constantly upgrading the car.”
Button ended the day eighth overall, behind Verstappen, Williams’ Felipe Massa, Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and Kvyat in the Red Bull.
Three red flags punctuated the day – Kvyat brought the first out after that ERS issue after just eight laps, while Hamilton spun at the chicane at midday and then Ericsson stopped out on track ten minutes from the checkered flag.
The teams now have two weeks before testing resumes at Barcelona on Feb. 19-22. Force India are expected to join the fray, although their new car is not likely to appear until the third and final test, also at Barcelona, Feb. 26-March 1.
CREDIT: Formula One