Lewis Hamilton finished the first day of pre-season testing overall fastest at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The former world champion was .11 of a second faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’s Felipe Massa. While Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fourth overall.
The morning saw track times radically improve compared not only to the first morning of testing last year, but compared to Hamilton’s pole lap last May. It was clear early on from when Vettel set his first lap it was going to be a fast morning.
The German set a 1:24.7, just forty minutes into the first session going ten seconds faster than at this stage last year. As ever, the first casualty wasn’t far away as Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo stopped on track with a sensor issue. That was followed not long after by the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who suffered an oil leak. McLaren are looking to get the Spaniard back out on track later.
On track it was appearing as it was the battle between Vettel and Mercedes Bottas. The two were both around the 24.5, but the Ferrari is on mediums while the Mercedes in on softs.
William’s Felipe Massa didn’t prove far off the mark either, slotting into the top four. Carlos Sainz proved Toro Rosso had strength from the aero package when he put the car in seventh on his first lap.
Sergio Perez wasn’t far off either the Mexican was third .4 off Bottas. Later working his way up to P2, but by that point the silver arrow had reached the low 24s along with Vettel. However they were on different tyre compounds so its not comparable
Bottas hands over to Lewis Hamilton this afternoon.
Lewis Hamilton picked up the challenge from Sebastian Vettel during the afternoon session. The former world champion pushed the Ferrari driver off the top spot setting his fastest lap on the soft tyre allowing him to go .11 of a second faster than the German.
Hamilton was the first of the Mercedes drivers to try the sharkfin and spent much of the afternoon on the medium tyres. The world campion was .235 faster than his pole lap in last May’s Spanish Grand Prix. This suggests that the predicted gains of five seconds because of the regulation changes could be met by the first race in Melbourne.
Alonso spent most of the afternoon in the pits as the team set about repairing his car. After a couple of hours the Spaniard attempted to re-join the action, but that ended at the end of the pit lane. The team tried to fix the issue which had developed during the morning.
McLaren says the oil systems issue was in a “difficult access location”. Alonso emerged intermittently in the late afternoon and finished the day with 29 laps to his name.
After going fastest during the morning, Vettel finished .113 down on Hamilton and completed near to Grand Prix distances with 128 laps. However, it is too early to read into these times. Last year, Vettel was fastest through-out the first test which gave hopes that Ferrari could fight Mercedes for the title.
However the team suffered a winless season and lost second to Red Bull in the constructor’s championship. Thou the team will be happy with that result.
Massa improved on his position, jumping from fourth to third in the afternoon. Perez endured a limited day with Force India, spending much of the afternoon in the garage and only completing 39 laps. The Mexican had a broken exhaust.
Impressive work from Magnussen saw him finish fourth for Haas despite a last attempt from Ricciardo. The Australian completed 44 laps after the sensor and battery issue prevented him from running for much of the morning.
Perez was seventh for Force India, despite losing much of the afternoon to a broken exhaust, followed by Carlos Sainz Jr (Toro Rosso) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault).
Marcus Ericsson was tenth for Sauber, over five seconds off the pace.