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Crucial test for Ferrari gets underway in Spain

BARCELONA, Spain — Less than 48 hours after the chequered flag fell at the Spanish Grand Prix, Formula One’s ten teams have returned to the Circuit de Catalunya for two days of in-season testing this week.

Although in-season testing is a low-key affair, the two days could have a significant impact on the championship. Ferrari suffered its most significant defeat of the opening five races on Sunday, finishing fourth and fifth as title rivals Mercedes romped to fifth consecutive one-two victory.

After emerging from pre-season testing as the team to beat at the Circuit de Catalunya, Ferrari was 0.8s off the pace in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix after losing time in every corner of the lap. The disappointing performance came despite a big push for upgrades from the Italian team and left its engineers searching for answers in the data.

The biggest loss to Mercedes came in the slow corners in the final sector, which will be of significant concern as that is the part of the track that is most representative of the next round in Monaco.

“Each single corner we are slow with quite a lot of understeer,” said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto. “That is not only downforce [we are missing], we have seen something in the data which we need to analyse and understand so I think an early conclusion today would be a wrong conclusion.

“We need a fix on this, but we need a proper analysis and try to understand the matter of balance, the matter of downforce and maybe even tyre concepts. I think we do not have the answer and I would not like to go through it yet.

“I think that Monaco is quite a different circuit to Barcelona in the overall way you set up the car with the mechanical and the tyre compounds will be different to Barcelona so I think in the end it is a different circuit.

“No doubt that downforce is useful in Monaco as it is here in Barcelona but I think our drivers can be good and go well in Monaco. We’ve got two days of testing next in Barcelona which I believe will be important for us and we will prepare our best for Monaco.”

Two Ferraris will be on track this week as one completes 2019 tyre testing for Pirelli. Charles Leclerc is at the wheel of the team’s test car on Tuesday, with Sebastian Vettel driving the Pirelli car. Under the regulations at least two of the four in-season test days have to be completed by a driver with less than three grands prix of experience, so Ferrari junior driver Antonio Fuoco will drive for the Italian team on the second day.

Valtteri Bottas will be testing the sole Mercedes on Tuesday before handing over to F2 driver Nikita Mazepin on Wednesday, who has been working at the team’s simulator in Brackley and testing a two-year old car to help him sharpen his skills.

A full list of teams and drivers can be found below.

Teams and drivers today – In season test
Mercedes – Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari – Charles Leclerc
Red Bull – Pierre Gasly
Renault – Nico Hulkenberg
Haas – Pietro Fittipaldi
McLaren – Carlos Sainz (am) / Lando Norris (pm)
Racing Point – Nick Yelloly
Alfa Romeo – Callum Ilott
Toro Rosso – Daniil Kvyat
Williams – Nicholas Latifi

Pirelli Development Test
Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel
Racing Point – Sergio Perez

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