Formula 1

F1 Testing: Vettel tops morning session, as Red Bull and McLaren suffer problems

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World © Octane Photographic Ltd. Formula 1 winter test 1, Scuderia Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel. Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Monday 27th February 2017. Digital Ref :1780CB1D6379

Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel topped the times on the first morning of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona on Monday.

The German’s time of 1:22.791 was set during a short run stint on the medium compound tyre, whilst Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Valtteri Bottas was second with a time 0.378 seconds off the pace, on a longer soft tyre run.

The pair traded times at the top of the board for most of the morning, before Vettel cemented himself in the number one spot. Two further laps just prior to lunch, saw the German get to within one tenth of his benchmark time, with both Ferrari and Mercedes looking good so far on Day 1.

Bottas was able to complete 72 laps during his morning stint, and will now hand the reins over to teammate Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon session. Vettel racked up 62 laps in comparison, and will continue behind the wheel of the SF70H after lunch.

Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Sergio Perez was third fastest on the soft tyres, whilst the returning Felipe Massa was fourth with a time set on the medium tyre, for Williams Martini Racing.

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top five, having not set a lap time until three hours into the session in the STR12, but currently tops the polls for best livery of 2017.

Whilst the world champions and Ferrari seemingly continued where they left off at the end of last season, Red Bull Racing and the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team did not fare so well.

Daniel Ricciardo brought out the first and only red flag of the morning session, when the RB13 stopped on track as he approached Turn 4. A sensor issue was deemed the reason, and that saw the Australian lose valuable track time, as he spent the rest of the morning back in the garage, having only completed four laps.

McLaren, spent even less time out on track, with driver Fernando Alonso managing only an installation lap in the MCL32, before an oil system issue with the Honda engine saw the Spaniard’s session end early.

Due to the location of the problem (situated at the very front of the engine), the engineers were left with the lengthy job of having to completely dismantle the engine before they could investigate the issue further. With an estimated timeframe of four to five hours for that endeavour, Honda confirmed that they would be changing the Spaniard’s engine to save time and allow Alonso the chance to get back out on track this afternoon.

The Haas F1 Team also experienced trouble in the first half of the day when new recruit Kevin Magnussen stalled the VF17 at the entry to the pit lane. Luckily, the team were able to recover the stricken vehicle without the need for a red flag.

An hour later the Dane returned to track and posted the seventh fastest time of the morning, before coming a cropper once more, spinning the VF17 at Turn 10 and colliding with the barrier.

That incident saw Magnussen sustain damage to his front wing, but he was able to return the car to the pits, and will hopefully be back out after lunch, once a few repairs have been made.

Renault Sport F1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest for his new squad, just ahead of Magnussen, with Sauber F1 Team driver Marcus Ericsson eighth and Ricciardo and Alonso at the bottom of the pile, having had very little track action this morning.

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