Cold weather continued to cause havoc for Formula One teams on Wednesday, with snowfall delaying the third day of testing and keeping cars mostly in the garage.
Parts of the track were covered in snow when teams arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, and when conditions improved only five drivers ventured out.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was the only driver to post a time after running 11 laps on full-wet tires with his Renault-powered McLaren.
“The poor weather conditions made things difficult all day long,” Alonso said. “In the few laps we did at the end of the day we managed to collect some good data for future development, so even with the little running we could complete, the information we got is very positive. I’m happy that despite a difficult day of testing for everyone, we made the best of it.”
The other four drivers who made it to the track — Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, Marcus Ericsson of Sauber, Robert Kubica of Williams and Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso — only ran installation laps in the near-freezing temperatures.
“We tried but it was nearly impossible to do anything so we stayed in the garage for most of the time,” said Kubica, Williams’ test driver.
Mercedes, Ferrari, Force India, Renault and Haas didn’t get their cars out on the track. McLaren said Alonso was able to work on a series of tests and checks during his runs.
“We adapted our program to maximize our time both in the garage this morning and later this afternoon when the track began to dry out,” McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said. “I’m satisfied that despite the challenges, we used our time efficiently today.”
The unusually cold conditions near Barcelona have hindered the teams’ ability to learn much about their new cars throughout the week, with the track lacking enough grip for proper runs. It should be warmer for Thursday’s final session, but more rain was expected.
“We shuffle our program around and try to fit all the work we need to do into seven days instead of eight,” Mercedes technical director James Allison said. “There’s just slightly less time available now. It is the same challenge for all the teams, so we take it on the chin and move on.”
There were talks about adding extra days of testing in Barcelona, but the decision would need to be unanimously approved among the teams.
It was cold for the first two days but cars were able to stay much longer on the track. They couldn’t run for most of the morning on Wednesday as organizers couldn’t open the track until visibility improved and the medical helicopter was cleared to fly.
“Thanks for making me feel at home, Barcelona,” Ericsson, a Swede, said on Twitter after arriving at the snow-covered track.
There will be another four-day test session in Barcelona beginning next Tuesday. The season-opening Australian GP in Melbourne is March 25.