It was business as usual at the first day of the first pre-season test at Barcelona as the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets.
The smell of petrol was once again in the air as the 2017 cars took to the track for the first official day of the first pre-season test. F1 is back, though you could be forgiven for the sense of déjà vu, as once again the Mercedes team have topped the time sheets. Showing that the new rules and regulations for 2017 are not stopping their strive for a fourth consecutive Drivers and Constructors championship.
Much like at the 2016 pre-season test the Mercedes car was quick and reliable out of the gate, managing over 150 laps, the distance of two and a half Spanish Grand Prix’s. Also like in 2016 the driving duties were shared between the two drivers. Mercedes debutant Valtteri Bottas took the morning session, predominantly running the harder medium tyre. While Hamilton took the afternoon session where he tested a shark fin for the Mercedes car. He used the soft tyres to set the quickest time of the day, a 1:21.765, faster than any time we saw in testing during 2016 on any of the days. After the day, Bottas was quick to praise the handling of his new Mercedes.
“It was fast in the corners as we expected. I also love seeing the other cars on track, I think they look great. We did more than a race distance this morning and we had no issues at all.”
The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel finished just over a tenth of a second behind Hamilton on the timesheets, however he set his time on medium tyres. While today was the first time in four years a Ferrari failed to set the fastest time on the opening day of pre-season, the car was no less impressive than the Mercedes and just as reliable. Vettel spent the entire day running the medium tyre and, in the process of setting the second fastest time of the day, the four-time world champion was also the first driver to break the 100-lap mark, ending the day on an impressive 128 laps.
It was also a positive day for Williams, with Felipe Massa setting the third fastest time of the day in the FW40, albeit over three tenths of a second off of Hamilton’s best time. Massa was the only other driver to break a century of laps, finishing the day on 103 laps.
All eyes were on Red Bull this morning, the team many felt were going to be the ones to take the fight to the Mercedes, but for all the wrong reasons. The team had a discouraging start to the first day of testing by bringing out the first red flag of the season when Daniel Ricciardo’s RB13 car was hampered by a sensor failure. They tried to resume running later only to be hampered by a faulty battery. Both incidents were immediately downplayed by team boss Christian Horner and Ricciardo returned to action late in the day to set the fifth fastest time on the timesheets. Being beaten by Kevin Magnussen making his debut in the Haas.
Red Bull were not the only team to suffer issues today, as it was some back to school nightmare for McLaren as well. Once again the team did not have a smooth day running, after the car broke down following an instillation lap. The team reported it was an ‘oil system’ issue that would leave them out of running for most of the day, as the fault would require them to change the engine. Fernando Alonso eventually completed just 29 laps in his car, the lowest of anyone throughout the day. His time was not something to be thrilled about either, with a time of 1:24.852 he was officially the second slowest car of the day. Only backmarkers Sauber, who finished over five seconds off the pace, didn’t beat the McLaren.
Testing continues again tomorrow at 9AM. And a full report will be available on Overtake Motorsport.
Day One Timesheet
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 73 laps, 1:21.765
2) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 128 laps; 1:21.878
3) Felipe Massa, Williams, 103 laps, 1:22.076
4) Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 51 laps, 1:22.894
5) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 50 laps, 1:22.926
6) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 79 laps, 1:23.169
7) Sergio Perez, Force India, 39 laps, 1:23.709
8) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 51 laps, 1:24.494
9) Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 57 laps, 1:24.784
9) Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 29 laps, 1:24.852
11) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 72 laps, 1:26.841
Feature Image Credit: Red Bull Racing Press Release