Thursday at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya brought a reprieve to Formula One teams after wintry weather the day before prevented most from even venturing onto the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn track.
Slightly warmer temperatures greeted teams on the final day of the first week of preseason testing, but the effects of Wednesday’s snow and rain was still evident as the track remained thoroughly wet.
This meant the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire was the choice for the day’s start, with the Green intermediate tire appearing later in the morning. By early afternoon, the track was dry enough for drivers to switch to slicks.
Kevin Magnussen was back at the wheel of the Haas VF-18, looking to improve upon the 36 laps he logged on Tuesday (167.580 kilometers/104.129 miles). Teammate Romain Grosjean opened the first week of testing with 55 laps on Monday (256.025 kilometers/159.086 miles). Grosjean was unable to turn any more laps this week because of Wednesday’s wash out.
Magnussen wasted no time getting onto the track when it opened at 9 a.m. local time, making three reconnaissance laps on full wets. He transitioned to intermediates at approximately 11:30 a.m., with two eight-lap runs.
Haas F1 Team worked through lunch and shortly after 1 p.m., the track was dry enough for slicks. Magnussen donned a used set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires just before 1:30 p.m. and tip-toed around the track, as it remained slippery. A more involved, six-lap run that began shortly after 1:40 p.m. yielded a quick time of 1:24.286 on his 30th lap.
It was a sign of things to come, as in each subsequent stint, Magnussen bettered his lap time, first with a 1:22.768 on his 35th lap and then with a 1:21.764 on his next lap followed by a 1:21.509 on his 38th lap. His 39th lap brought him down to 1:21.477 before an even quicker tour on his next go-round generated a 1:21.135.
Magnussen made the switch to Red supersofts at approximately 3 p.m. He performed back-to-back seven-lap stints before a nine-lap run, with a 1:21.509 on his 56th lap during the second stint being the best. But it was during the last 90 minutes of the session where Magnussen pushed ever harder, recording a 1:20.640 on his 73rd lap and a 1:20.317 on his 81st lap.
A three-lap stint on Yellow softs followed by a 10-lap drive on supersofts ended the day.
When it was all done, Magnussen completed 96 laps to log 446.880 kilometers (277.678 miles). His quick time of 1:20.317 put him fourth overall among the 15 drivers who took to the track.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set the day’s quickest time (1:19.333) and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly ran the most laps (147).
Haas F1 Team’s total for the first week of testing was 187 laps and 870.485 kilometers (540.893 miles), with Magnussen accounting for 132 laps and 614.46 kilometers (381.807 miles).
“It was a very good day. We got a lot of laps and, finally, the weather decided to behave. It was nice to feel the car and get the first touch of the car’s balance and performance. I’m looking forward to continuing the work next week. We’re happy with what we’re seeing and we have something to work with.”
“A solid day. I think it’s a good end to a difficult testing session. The first few days were compromised by the weather, but today we got 96 laps in. We made some progress and we understand the car a little bit better. Next week we need to start from where we are now, get better, and then work toward being ready for Australia.”
Teams get a four-day break before the final week of testing resumes on Tuesday, March 6 where Magnussen will be back in the Haas VF-18. Grosjean returns to the car on Wednesday, March 7, with Magnussen getting his last preseason testing drive on Thursday, March 8. Grosjean wraps the final day of testing on Friday, March 9.