Kimi Räikkönen topped the timesheets on the second day of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Finn taking the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 for the first time since the car’s shakedown last week.
Testing times mean little, with the focus of the team being on discovering the potential of its 2020 contender. With three of the drivers on the team’s books having now tested the C39, the engineers at the track and back in Hinwil will have their hands full with interpreting the data and feedback collected in these first two days of action.
The first week of testing in Barcelona ends tomorrow, with Antonio Giovinazzi in the cockpit for Alfa Romeo Racing.
Beat Zehnder, Alfa Romeo Racing Sporting Director:
“Today was another valuable day testing the C39, a day in which we were able to cover good mileage without any issues. People may look at the times, but these are of little value right now: the main thing to focus on is the data we are collecting and listening to the drivers’ first reactions. Having two days of uninterrupted running, minus a red flag at the end of today, is where we want to be right now, but it’s still just the beginning of a very busy process of learning about the new car.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car #7):
“For my first testing day, it was an ok one. The important thing is that everything seems to be working well, with no major issues. The immediate feeling is pretty positive, but it’s still early days. There is still a long way to go but I think we made a step forward compared to last year: who knows where this is going to take us, but so far so good.”
What makes Barcelona a good track to go testing?
The track layout of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya features a good mix of different characteristics. There’s low-, medium- and high-speed corners, but also two reasonably long straights where F1 cars will reach high speeds – over 300 km/h on the main straight and slightly less on the back straight. The combination of these different track characteristics make the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya a good overall reference point, as teams will be able to learn a lot about their car’s performance in different situations, about the car’s balance and its tyre management. Teams will use these insights to try and find the best set-ups for their cars for optimal performance, so being able to test at a track with a variety of characteristics is very helpful. There is one potential downside to testing in Barcelona though, as the geographic location of the track means that the weather can make testing tricky. In 2018, for example, teams effectively lost one day of pre-season testing to bad weather – a snow-covered track made running an F1 car impossible. This year, however, the forecast looks much more promising with relatively mild temperatures and sunshine. But even on a fair day, temperatures are usually well below those that teams will experience when they come back a few months later for the Spanish Grand Prix. On a cold, overcast day in winter testing, track temperatures will rarely exceed 20 degrees Celsius and even on a relatively mild and sunny day they are usually in the range of 25 to 30 degrees. On a sunny day in May, however, when teams return to Barcelona for the race, the track can easily hit temperature of 40 degrees and more which has a big impact on the car and the tyres.