Raikkonen raring to go after setting good testing time

BARCELONA • Kimi Raikkonen said he is eagerly looking forward to the start of the new Formula One season after setting the fastest time in Friday's final testing session at Montmelo, near Barcelona.

The 2007 world champion brought an end to the eight days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya with a best lap of 1min 17.221sec, over half a second quicker than McLaren's Fernando Alonso.

It left the Finn, Alonso and Raikkonen's Ferrari team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, as the only drivers to dip below 1min 18sec over the course of the fortnight in Spain.

"Overall, I feel we have a good package," Raikkonen said. "The car gives me a good feeling and, even if there are still a lot of things to improve, it's reasonably easy to drive.

"However, no one can say where we really are, compared to our rivals. We'll have a better idea in a couple of weeks in Melbourne and then, in general, after the first few races of the season. I like racing and I can't wait to start."

Alonso's 1:17.784 display gave McLaren a welcome boost for a team hit by a series of reliability problems, although the Spaniard did have to endure five hours in the pits on Friday due to a turbo failure.

Vettel signed off on Thursday with the fastest lap yet around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

"The times on these test days don't mean much," said the German, playing down his 1:17.182, set on the new hypersoft tyres.

"The important thing is that the SF71H (car) has proved to be very strong, allowing us to run all day without any significant problems.

"We are still working on some things for the first race and it's not really possible to make any predictions based on the performance of the other teams, because everyone is running a different programme."

Mercedes' reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton posted the 11th fastest time (1:19.464) on Friday, as the Briton focused on longer stints out on the track ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 11, 2018, with the headline 'Raikkonen raring to go after setting good testing time'. Print Edition | Subscribe