Hamilton finishes on top after the first day of pre-season testing
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News February 27, 2017 Updated: 3:01 PM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton got right down to business beating out Sebastian Vettel to the top of the time sheet of the first pre-season test in Barcelona.
Hamilton took over from his new teammate Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon session and finished the first day strong with a 1:21.765 on soft tires (Red-banded).
"It’s been a good day, a really positive day for the team. The car looks fantastic and it feels great. We did lots of laps and collected loads of information today, so we can try to improve the car as we move forward. We’ve not done any work to get the balance perfect yet, as today was all about ticking off the list of checkpoints and racking up mileage.
I definitely put my body to the test today. These test days are like training. It was good to feel the wider, beefier car. It’s faster, more physical… it’s a beast! You’ve got to drive it a bit differently. It’s so much better than last year’s cars. The G-Forces are definitely higher. We’re pulling two more G than we’d usually pull around here. There’s so much more downforce, which is something you always want as a driver. You always want to go faster through the corners.
The tires are so hard that they don’t drop off. Most likely we'll be doing more one-stoppers. Normally you get a lot of degradation with these tires – but these ones don’t degrade. They’re very consistent, and there’s not a big difference between the feeling on the first lap and the last lap.
Over the next few days, we’ll start to look to improve the car. I still think we’re the team to beat – but we have a lot of work ahead of us to do, the same as every single team on the grid. Right now we’re just focusing on our own job to do the very best that we can," said Hamilton.
The three-time world champion racked up 152 laps total, with Bottas putting in 79 to finish sixth on his first official as a Mercedes driver.
"I did a few laps at Silverstone, but now this is proper testing. It was very special to do the first few laps. This is a new era for Formula 1. The car feels very different to last year. You can definitely feel the impact of the new regulations – the increased loads, the bigger, heavier cars, and more grip. I think they look great. They’re great fun to drive and they’re fast in the corners too. Racing is still unknown, but so far so good. Physically the cars feel more demanding, but luckily I am well prepared for the season ahead," said Bottas.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel ended the day second logging in 128 laps on the medium tire. So far the team have made a strong start in the first day of pre-season testing. Ferrari are hoping to bounce back this year after going winless last season.
McLaren-Honda ran into trouble within the first 60 minutes, which allowed driver Fernando to only get one lap in before the afternoon session. The team discovered an oil systems issue, which cost them a chunk of running time. Alonso returned in the afternoon finishing the day 10th with only 29 laps.
Williams Felipe Massa had a good day finishing third racking up high mileage on his first day out, while Haas F1's Kevin Magnussen ended the day fourth on soft tires, putting him a full second behind Hamilton.
“We had a few issues, but the good thing is that they were small issues. Even though they stopped us from some running, it wasn’t something that is at all worrying for the coming days. It’s kind of the typical baby problems you have with the cars when they’re completely new," said Magnussen.
Daniel Ricciardo's RB13 had suddenly stopped at Turn 4, which brought out a red flag, RedBull later discovered it was a sensor issue.
Things continued to worsen for the team when a battery issue was discovered which held them up even further after lunch but Ricciardo still manage to put in 44 laps to finishing sixth.
“Today’s session was okay, I felt I got up to speed relatively quickly,” said Daniel. “We had a bit of a slow start this morning but the afternoon was better and the last two hours were more like a test. It’s nice to end the day on a bit of a positive,“ said Ricciardo.
Scuderia Toro Rosso, had a quiet day, with Carlos Sainz finishing eighth, ahead of new Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, who ended the day ninth with 57 laps in the books. Sauber's Marcus Ericsson finished 11th after a 72 lap run behind the struggling Alonso.
2017 Formula One Testing – Barcelona Test 1, Day 1
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.765s – 73
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:21.878s 0.113s 128
3 Felipe Massa Williams 1:22.076s 0.311s 103
4 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:22.894s 1.129s 51
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:22.926s 1.161s 50
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:23.169s 1.404s 79
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1:23.709s 1.944s 39
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:24.494s 2.729s 51
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:24.784s 3.019s 57
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:24.852s 3.087s 29
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:26.841s 5.076s 72