[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] PRE-SEASON TESTING: FINAL WRAP

The action continued at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya last week, with the final four days of pre-season testing, and in much-better conditions.

And just as with 2017, Ferrari topped the timesheets, with Sebastian Vettel – and Kimi Räikkönen in the low 1-minute 17s. The top-five times all set on Pirelli’s new softest compound, the hypersoft tyres.

Mercedes refused to show its hand, but the W09 looks quick with stunning reliability – both drivers doing full race simulations on the penultimate day.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished eighth and 10th fastest overall, though on the ultrasofts, estimated to be between seven and eight tenths slower per lap than the hypersofts.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished third overall, over half a second adrift of the Ferraris – but the squad still has to iron out packaging issues with its new Renault power unit, suffering five breakdowns over eight days.

Red Bull Racing heads to Melbourne in strong form, with Daniel Ricciardo admitting the squad is in the best pre-season shape since he joined.

The Australian was fourth fastest overall, his 1:18.047 over eight tenths off Vettel’s best. Max Verstappen finished 20th, 1.8 seconds off Ricciardo, the gap – the difference between the softs he was on and the hypersofts.

Haas could be a surprise wild card, with Kevin Magnussen sixth fastest on the supersofts, the American team leading a competitive midfield featuring Renault, McLaren and Toro Rosso. Force India looks to have slipped back.

Mercedes topped the distance standings, completing 1040 laps, 111 more than the Scuderia. Toro Rosso again impressed with Honda in third. While McLaren did just 619 laps, 421 less than Mercedes.

With pre-season testing done, it’ll be round the clock work for the teams to make any final upgrades – before flying out to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix.