A wrap up from testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
On Tuesday, a little over 40 hours after he popped a champagne cork in celebration of landing the team’s 150th podium finish in the Spanish Grand Prix, Max Verstappen was back behind the wheel of the RB14 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as F1’s first in-season test of 2018 got underway.
And after his Sunday heroics, Max was clearly in the mood for more, topping the day one timesheet with a best lap of 1:17.528s set on hypersoft Pirelli tyres. Max’s time, set in the final hour of the session, edged out Renault’s Carlos Sainz by three hundredths of a second, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 0.131s off the pace in third place.
“The day was about gaining even more understanding of the car and tyres and we completed more than the programme we set out, so it was very good,” said Max of his 148 laps.
Max’s next stop is Zandvoort in his home country of the Netherlands where he’ll be thrilling fans at this weekend’s Jumbo Racedays event. “Daniel, myself and David Coulthard will be doing some show car runs there, and I hope we can give all the fans there a really good show,” he said.
Today’s final day saw a new name on the timesheets for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, as Simulator Development Driver Jake Dennis took part in his test debut for the team.
And despite a number of red flags in the afternoon session, GT racer Jake completed 75 laps as he gained valuable real-world experience of the RB14 to aid with the team’s simulator programme and as the team continued to explore aero mapping solutions and test items targeted at upcoming races.
Explaining the team’s programme for the day with the simulator driver, Senior Projects Engineer Jeff Calam said: “It was about very much an engineering-biased day and we didn’t expect to rack up the kind of mileage we amassed on day one or to target any kind of meaningful lap time.
“The morning was focused on aero mapping and after that we had quite a long stop over lunch to make some changes to the car. The downtime ended up bit longer due to some red flags in the afternoon but while we lost about an hour and a half it didn’t affect the programme we were running and we got through all the test items on the agenda.
“It was very useful day for Jake, too, and he was able to get a good feeling for the car and provided us with good feedback throughout. In all I’d say he did a good job and did everything that we asked of him.”
With the team opting for data gathering, much of Jake’s running was conducted on the medium tyre and it was on that compound that he delivered his best time of the day, a lap of 1:20.440. That left him 11th on the timesheet on a day when Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1:16.904. The Mercedes driver’s time, set on supersoft tyres, saw him finish 0.068s ahead of Ferrari tester Antonio Giovinazzi and 1.135s clear of current F2 championship leader Lando Norris, who was driving for McLaren.
“My first day in the RB14 went really well,” said Dennis of his track debut for the team. “Obviously it’s a big step up from what I’m used to in GT racing but I got used to the speed and the grip quite quickly and we managed to get through the whole run plan in the end. The morning session went pretty smoothly and then in the afternoon I managed to get quite a few laps under my belt, which was good. It was nice to change a few things to give me a proper representation of the difference between the simulator and real life. So we have a few things to work on back in Milton Keynes to help Max and Daniel and make it even more realistic for them. But overall, super happy, a big thanks to the team for giving me the opportunity, and hopefully I’ll be back in the RB14 soon!”