Ferrari tops final test but Mercedes' pace impresses most

Hamilton unfazed by impressive Ferrari (2:00)

Lewis Hamilton reiterates his desire for a close-fought championship as he reacts to Sebastian Vettel's record lap. (2:00)

MONTMELO, Spain -- Ferrari ended pre-season testing at the top of the timesheets after Kimi Raikkonen finished 0.563s clear of Fernando Alonso's McLaren on the final day at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Raikkonen set a 1:17.221 in the morning session using hyper-soft tyres, leaving him just 0.039s shy of the new track record set by Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel on Thursday.

Alonso's lap came right at the end of the session and followed an engine change on his McLaren in the morning due to a turbo failure caused by an oil leak. It rounded off a troubled two weeks of testing for McLaren after the team switched from Honda engines to Renault over the winter in the pursuit of improved performance and greater reliability. Alonso caused a stir in the closing moments of the session when he set a 1:16.720, but it later emerged he had cut the final chicane and the time was deleted.

Carlos Sainz was third fastest using the hyper-soft compound ahead of Daniel Ricciardo on super-softs, Romain Grosjean on ultra-softs and Valtteri Bottas on mediums. But the picture at the front of the field is clouded by the use of a mixture of tyre compounds, unknown fuel levels and laps set at different times of the day.

Using Pirelli's rough estimates for the performance deltas between compounds and then applying the relevant deductions to the times accordingly, Riccardo had the potential for a 1:17.0 on the ultra-soft compound while Bottas could have clocked a 1:16.2 on the softest rubber. While the consensus in the paddock remains that world champions Mercedes currently have the quickest car, the picture may be different on a very different circuit layout at the first race in Australia.

Despite setting the third fastest time, Sainz's day in the Renault was significantly curtailed by a gearbox issue in the morning. The R.S.18 completed the day with just 45 laps as a result -- the fewest of any team in the pit lane. At the other end of the spectrum, Mercedes topped the mileage charts once again with 201 laps split between Lewis Hamilton in the morning and Bottas in the afternoon.

Brendon Hartley was seventh fastest, rounding off a strong first test for Toro Rosso's new partnership with Honda, ahead of Esteban Ocon in the Force India. Charles Leclerc was ninth fastest and returned to the track in the afternoon after clipping the barrier at Turn 12 during the morning session. The two Williams drivers were split by Hamilton's morning time at the bottom of the timesheets, with Sergey Sirotkin, who enjoyed the majority of the day's running, 0.8s faster than teammate Lance Stroll.

The next time all ten teams will be on track together will be during Friday practice at the Australian Grand Prix on March 23.

Times at close:

1. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:17.221, 157 laps (Hyper-soft)
2. Alonso, McLaren, 1:17.784, 93 laps (Hyper-soft)
3. Sainz, Renault, 1:18.092, 45 laps (Hyper-soft)
4. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:18.327, 92 laps (Super-soft)
5. Grosjean, Haas, 1:18.412,181 laps (Ultra-soft)
6. Bottas, Mercedes, 1:18.825, 104 laps (Medium)
7. Hartley, Toro Rosso, 1:18.949, 156 laps (Hyper-soft)
8. Ocon, Force India, 1:18, 967, 163 laps (Hyper-soft)
9. Leclerc, Sauber, 1:19.118, 75 laps (Hyper-soft)
10. Sirotkin, Williams, 1:19.189, 105 laps (Soft)
11. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:19.464, 97 laps (Super-soft)
12. Stroll, Williams, 1:19.954, 27 laps (Soft)