Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Lap times watch: 2018 pre-season testing day four

2018 F1 season

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Last year the Honda-powered McLaren spent more time having its engine changed than turning laps in pre-season testing.

In stark contrast this year the sole Honda team Toro Rosso has accumulated more testing mileage than any of their rivals. It’s an encouraging turnaround, one which explains why Toro Rosso technical director James Key gave a glowing appraisal of their new engine partner today.

How much quicker are they than last year?

Conditions remained tricky at the track on Thursday. However after a wet start by the afternoon it was dry enough for teams to do more representative running.

Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
2018 F1 testing day four in pictures
Lewis Hamilton set the quickest time of the test so far on medium tyres which are the third-hardest of the seven compounds available this year. This more or less matched the fastest time Mercedes managed in this test last year and almost two-tenths off the pole position time.

It’s likely there are much bigger gains still to come however. Pirelli predicts lap times will go under 1’18 next week.

Half of the teams present have already lapped quicker than they did at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix weekend, which is likely to be a more solid measure of progress. McLaren are leading the way here, but note they set their best time on the softest tyre available.

Fastest times by team – first test

4Red BullRB141’20.1790.846Medium
8Toro RossoSTR131’21.3181.985Soft
9Force IndiaVJM111’21.8412.508Soft

Mileage watch

How significant is it that Toro Rosso is heading the mileage chart with its Honda engine? It’s obviously a huge step forward compared to last year. It’s also an essential one: As the only team using a Honda engine, they have to rack up the kilometres.

A big talking point ahead of the new season is that each driver only gets three power units for a 21-race season. They therefore have a duty cycle of seven races plus associated practice and qualifying sessions.

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Having covered just over 1,500km with their Honda, Toro Rosso has nearly done five race distances which puts them well on the way to proving the new engine can do it. How conservatively they’re running it remains to be seen, but it’s not as if their lap times are wildly out of step with their rivals. The early signs are encouraging.

Having slumped to the foot of the mileage chart earlier in the week, largely due to some niggling technical faults, McLaren had a very productive Thursday and moved up the mileage chart. They’ve covered more ground than fellow Renault users (as TAG-Heuer) Red Bull, which is cause for some satisfaction.

2018 pre-season testing so far

Toro Rosso1508.2km
Red Bull972.9km
Force India772.7km

2017 pre-season testing total

Force India3654.2km
Red Bull3184km
Toro Rosso2718.5km

2018 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 14 comments on “Lap times watch: 2018 pre-season testing day four”

    1. So setting aside the conditions and the ‘value’ to the teams of the last 4 ‘rubbish’ days as they have been described, STR has already done 55% of the mileage they did in all the preseason tests last year combined, and for McLaren it is already 57%. That alone should make both teams quite happy, again setting aside that they haven’t learned as much as warmer days would have taught them, but still…same for everyone.

    2. Is a McLaren biting the 3 pound bolt, on their change to Renault?
      Even though many commentators seem to think that the McLaren has not made many advances aerodynamically, a closer look says that McLaren is really pushing the envelope.

      They may be able to win some races and push hard and many others, but the new changes to the number of power units, reliability, is the real big unanswered question

      1. They may be able to win some races

        Care to explain how?

        This year is largely an evolutionary one, on a power-dependent formula. So if we agree that the Renault is the third most complete PU package, with 3 teams that have won in the previous 2 seasons and with Renault having put in 2 years of car integration work behind them, how do you argue for a team that has 4 months of work with a new (to them) PU?

        Let’s suppose McLaren has the best aero package, is it good enough to beat the power deficit to 2 teams and also the know-how of two other teams with far more experience using the PU they just started working with?

      2. I don’t see how. When correcting the times for tyre compounds, they are slower than both other Renault teams and even behind Williams and Haas.
        In other words, they seem to be the 7th team at the moment.

    3. I just want to say that I really appreciate those glorious pictures you always post on this website Keith. They never fail to amaze me.

    4. Im excited for STR. I really hope they do well and that Honda has got its act together. Honda were getting hammered from pillar to post, so a solid year for them would be great. No one wants to see a great manufacturer like that struggle and be the laughing stock. Good luck to them

      1. Good luck to them indeed if Torro Rosso are a dry run for Red Bull to use Honda. James Key recent said the difference between Honda and Renault on the dyno at the end of season specs were minimal. Honda are to add some performance but Renault keeping the same but pushing for reliability. If they move to RB God help them with the whining ginger and Cyclops throwing them under the bus at every opportunity.

    5. I wonder what odds the bookies are offering for Red Bull Honda as 2019 World Champions!

      Wouldn’t that be funny…with my luck in regard teams and drivers I support, there isn’t good chance it will happen!

    6. Ferrari and Mercedes have so far done the exact same mileage, down to a decimal place? Or is that an error in the chart?

      1. SparkyAMG (@)
        2nd March 2018, 6:44


        Don’t you know? They’re working together as one team now…

    7. Surprising to see Force India with the least mileage. They didn’t seem to face any significant issues. Or did they ?

      1. Mazepin spun on the first day and ran only 22 laps.

    8. Hulk has made 1.20.5 on medium not soft. However they are all gong like a Sunday drive so trying to understand something looking at the times it’s almost useless

    Comments are closed.