Sebastian Vettel topped the time sheets on the first day of the first test for the new 2016 cars. The German set the fastest time at the Circuit de Catalyuna-Barcelona but it was the reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton who completed double the laps of his rivals.
Hamilton said during the lunch break that the new Mercedes is very similar to the W06 which won 16 of 2015’s 19 races. Before the lunch break Valtteri Bottas was third. It was a much more encouraging first day for McLaren completing a full race distance more than in the whole of the test this time last year.
As ever these test can be unreliable indicators of team’s places with Ferrari toping testing in 2014 and 2015 only for Mercedes to dominate the season. Vettel was .3 seconds down of last year’s pole time.
Hamilton told sky Sports over the lunch break “It feels very much like last year’s car. There are a few bits here and there but generally it’s the same – it’s an evolution of last year’s car and l think that is a positive. 60 laps on the first morning is very encouraging.”
The circuit started off damp and within a few laps the circuit had dried up allowing them to switch to dry tyres.
Romain Grosjean set the first time for the Haas team on their track debut setting a time of 1:28.3 which put the Frenchman eightieth before lunch. However he provided the only drama with a front wing failure which kept him off track for most of the day.
Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo was best of the rest in terms of lap time in third ahead of Valtteri Bottas in fourth for Williams.
Toro Rosso day was halted after a gearbox failure on Carlos Sainz’s car as a precaution in the afternoon. But the team was impressed with the car following the late switch to Ferrari power.
He said “Overall, we are pleased with today after such a late decision on our power unit [switching from Renault to Ferrari], so to get to this point and run the car relatively successfully straight away is very pleasing.”
Eyes were also on Mclaren who this time last year only managed 3 laps completed 27 times more laps than this time last season. Manor was ninth with Pascal Wehrlin ahead of Grosjean and Renaults Jolyon Palmer.
Lap times from Day One
- Sebastian Vettel (1:24.939) 69 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton (1:25.409) 156 lap
3. Daniel Ricciardo (1:26.044) 87 laps
4. Valtteri Bottas (1:26.044) 80 laps
5. Alfonso Celis (1:26.298) 58 laps
6. Jenson Button (1:26.735) 84 laps
7. Carlos Sainz (1:27.180) 55 laps
8. Marcus Ericsson (1:27.555) 88 laps
9. Pascal Wehrlein (1:28.292) 54 laps
10. Romain Grosjean (1:28.399) 31 laps
11. Jolyon Palmer (1:29.356) 37 laps