F1 Testing, Day Four First Test: Mercedes up pace, Hulkenberg on top
Hulkenberg sets fastest time of test as Bottas sets Mercedes' best laps of first test on final day; But Ferrari are considered current pacesetters
By James Galloway at Barcelona
Last Updated: 21/02/19 8:47pm
Renault's Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest time of F1 Testing so far, while Mercedes showed the first glimpse of their car's speed, as the first week at Barcelona came to an intriguing close.
Hulkenberg denied Toro Rosso a second successive appearance at the top of the end-of-day charts with a new benchmark lap of 1:17.393 on Pirelli's fastest tyres.
However, his Renault soon afterwards broke down on track.
But it was the emerging competitive picture among F1's established leading teams which proved Day Four's biggest talking point.
Mercedes show a glimpse of their speed
Mercedes had focused on heavier-fuel, long runs across the first three days but started to let the shackles off the W10 as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas tried out some of Pirelli's faster tyres.
Hamilton had various appearances at the top of the timesheet before lunch, with his quickest lap of 1:17.977 coming on the C4 compound - the second-fastest available.
Bottas then went a tenth quicker on the outright fastest tyres when he took over in the afternoon, finishing fourth behind Daniel Ricciardo, Alex Albon and Hulkenberg.
Ferrari the team to beat?
Renault and Toro Rosso's times stand as the quickest of the week, but both teams did so with the fastest tyre on short, seemingly lower-fuel runs.
In reality, there is a growing consensus as to week one's real pacesetters.
"Ferrari are at the moment the fastest car and then it's Red Bull and Mercedes," Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told Sky Sports News.
Bottas said: "Ferrari are very strong - there is no doubt about that. We feel at this point maybe they are a bit ahead."
The Scuderia were actually only sixth fastest here, but Charles Leclerc completed the second-most laps on the impressively-reliable SF90. Ferrari did not run as fast tyres as Toro Rosso, Renault and Mercedes, but remained within 0.7s of the lead.
Meanwhile, under-pressure Williams completed their first full day of testing with the delayed FW42 at the fourth time of asking. Encouragingly, the Grove team completed over 60 laps with Robert Kubica and then George Russell.
McLaren were seventh and Lando Norris completed well over 100 laps on another satisfactory day for the Woking team. The rookie's only noticeable error came early in the session when he beached the MCL34 on a slow lap when he appeared to get caught out by cold tyres on a cold track - the third such unwanted incident for a driver this week.
Alfa Romeo, Haas and Red Bull all topped 100 laps as the F1 2019 field continued to show immense levels of reliability - though Antonio Giovinazzi did finish the test with two stoppages on-track.
F1 Testing: Final Day, Test One Timesheet
|Driver||Team||Total laps||Fastest lap tyre||Fastest lap|
|1) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||24||Compound 5||1:17.393|
|2) Alex Albon||Toro Rosso||136||Compound 5||1:17.737|
|3) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||34||Compound 5||1:17.785|
|4) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||57||Compound 5||1:17.857|
|5) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||58||Compound 4||1:17.977|
|6) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||138||Compound 3||1:18.046|
|7) Lando Norris||McLaren||132||Compound 4||1:18.431|
|8) Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber||154||Compound 3||1:18.511|
|9) Romain Grosjean||Haas||64||Compound 3||1:18.563|
|10) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||66||Compound 3||1:18.720|
|11) Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||146||Compound 3||1:18.780|
|12) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||72||Compound 2||1:19.664|
|13) George Russell||Williams||17||Compound 3||1:20.997|
|14) Robert Kubica||Williams||48||Compound 2||1:21.542|
Day Four at Barcelona in quotes
Helmut Marko, Red Bull
"Ferrari are at the moment the fastest car and then it's Red Bull and Mercedes,"
Sky F1's Mark Hughes
"The order looks quite clear actually. It looks like Ferrari have got maybe four or five tenths over the rest. Red Bull and Mercedes - there's very little to choose between them on outright pace when you do the corrections with tyres and the lengths of the runs."
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
"Ferrari are very strong - there is no doubt about that. We feel at this point maybe they are a bit ahead."
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
"They are probably not pushing and we are not either."
Helmut Marko, Red Bull
"The engine is reliable and I can say we would never have had such a good preparation for the season. It's a very good relationship. The concern was reliability but so far it's not a problem at all."
Pierre Gasly, Red Bull
"Looking at Toro Rosso, they seem really fast with the Honda engine. And we are happy with it as well. There is still some work to be done but I think Honda did a really good job over the winter."
Day Four at Barcelona in pictures
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