Now for the real stuff! F1 teams ready for season opener

PRETTY IN PINK: Forca India's new car for 2017
PRETTY IN PINK: Forca India's new car for 2017

The eight days of pre-season F1 testing permitted prior to next weekend’s opening Grand Prix of the 2017 season in Australia have reached their conclusion, with the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel topping the winter timesheets.

The two red Ferrari cars clocked the fastest times set across the full eight days of action at the Circuit de Catlunya near Barcelona, with Raikkonen’s top spot accomplished after a high-speed run on Pirelli’s new Super Soft tyre compound.

Mercedes duo, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, were third and fourth respectively with their new W08 Silver Arrows.

Bottas said: “The cars are great to drive and certainly are very different to what I have experienced in F1 so far during my career. All the teams seem to have something to offer and it will be interesting to see where we are all placed next week when qualifying starts.”

Two drivers looking for to find speed in Australia are the Toro Rosso racers, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. The duo spent two test sessions getting to grips with their new part Bicester-based STR12-Renault.

Sainz said: “It is obvious that teams have found jumps in pace. I think we will have to fight really hard to make a Q3 in qualifying, but we shall see. I know the team are going to be working really hard to allow us to find the pace.”

Kvyat added: “I set the 14 fastest time during testing in Spain and for the start of the season that is acceptable.

“But I will be pushing hard in the opening races as scoring points early in the season is important.

“I’d like to be in a strong position for when we travel to Sochi and the Sochi Autodrom for the Russian Grand Prix. I did not have a good race at the track last year so 2017 is important for me.”

The 2017 season gets going next week in Melbourne.