Ferrari launched their 2017 challenger the SF70-H on the 24th of February. Three days later, the first preseason tests began. Mercedes began as the firm favourites, but Ferrari looked threatening. The car has a really aggressive look this season and the test results are showing it. In 2016, Ferrari topped the time sheets in 3 out of 4 days and this year they topped in 2 days. But, unlike last year, both drivers feel confident about the car. While Mercedes set quicker times on the soft tires, Ferrari opted to run on the harder option tires. The car has been incredibly reliable and seems more stable as compared to the SF16-H. But the question still remains as to whether the SF70-H can beat the Mercedes. Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen said “We will see, but the first feelings are good, and that’s the main thing. We know what we are doing, and we are reasonably happy with how things are running. Some years it runs smoothly, some years not – and this year has been good so far.”
On Day 1 of the second test at Barcelona, Sebastian Vettel engaged in an endurance race with Felipe Massa but both ended the session with 168 laps before the session was brought to a close by red flags. On the second day of testing, Kimi Raikkonen ended the session 3rd despite a crash. Raikkonen’s lap was 1.1 seconds slower than his fellow countryman Bottas. The Finn lost control at Turn 3 and spun into the barrier, Vettel was unable to go for a run because of the accident.
Despite this, Mercedes are wary of the looming threat from the Maranello squad. “I think Ferrari are looking very good – they seem to be consistent and fast,” said Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. “We shouldn’t underestimate them or Red Bull. We’ll need to keep working hard to be in the best shape possible for Melbourne.” Teammate Lewis Hamilton also tipped them to be the favourites for the season. But, Sebastian Vettel has downplayed Hamilton’s claims. “The car is much better than last year because the nature of the formula has changed, so far things are making sense – but it’s still early days,” said Vettel.
“If you look at the amount of laps Mercedes has done, if you look historically how slow they go in the testing, how much they were able to ramp it up for the races…it’s clear.’
“They’re very fast if you look at their long-run pace. They’re the ones to beat.’
“For us it doesn’t really matter where exactly we are now, we are growing, we need to work hard, we know that we have to improve. That’s why it’s important not to get distracted right now.”