In an all too familiar tale in the second turbo-era of F1, it’s Lewis Hamilton that tops the leaderboard on the first day of pre-season testing for the 2017 season in Barcelona.
The three-time champion completed 73 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, 7 laps longer than the Spanish Grand Prix. His fastest time of 1:21.765 is a second up on this time last year meaning it’s likely the 2017 cars will be a force to be reckoned with.
Hamilton’s new team mate Valtteri Bottas took part in the morning session with Hamilton taking the reigns during the evening run. The Finn was sixth fastest with 1:23.169 his best effort after 79 laps this morning, putting him 1.4 seconds off his new team mate.
Sebastian Vettel had a busy day completing 128 laps in his new Ferrari SF70H, almost the length of two Spanish Grands Prix. He managed the second fastest time with 0.113 of a second separating himself and table-topper Hamilton.
Felipe Massa was also a busy bee. On his return from a very brief retirement, he set 103 laps in his Williams and was third fastest on day 1, three tenths off Hamilton.
Elsewhere, Kevin Magnussen came quickly acquainted with his new team as the Haas driver was fourth fastest followed very closely by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
In another familiar tale, Honda, McLaren’s power unit supplier, had yet more issues. Fernando Alonso managed one sighting lap in the morning run before retiring to the pitlane. He did manage 28 laps in the afternoon but was seconds slowest on the road, managing to only squeeze out Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Sauber elected a more experimental approach to today’s session focusing on aerodynamics but had a couple of issues, mainly down to using a 2016 Ferrari engine.
Testing resumes tomorrow which will see every team bar Mercedes swap drivers from today. Sauber have already announced that Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi will pilot the C36 tomorrow instead of new signing Pascal Wehrlein.