Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton topped the times in the first practice session of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, by just two hundredths of a second from team-mate Valtteri Bottas, as the Silver Arrows sailed clear at the top.
The Brit set a time of 1:21.521 to take the top spot on a set of the medium tyres; however no one really set truly representative times, with the majority of teams concentrating on testing out the new parts for the major upgrades they have brought along for the Spanish Grand Prix race weekend.
The Mercedes W08 has had a major aerodynamic revamp, with many new parts to see during this practice session, including radical new scoop-shaped turning vanes that attach to the side of the nose and extend below the chassis.
The German squad have also introduced new bargeboards, featuring a series of vertical fins, as well as a revised rear wing, a two-tiered monkey seat and a re-profiled floor in front of the rear tyres.
Whether it was down to the upgrade or not, the two Silver Arrows drivers were a second clear of anyone else during that session, ominous signs for the rest.
Kimi Raikkonen ended the session in third position, one tenth up on team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who encountered problems early on in the FP1 session, when gearbox issues caused him to stop on track.
The German parked the car at the end of the pitlane with twenty-five minutes gone, allowing the mechanics to wheel the SF70-H back into the garage to investigate. Thirty minutes later, the German was back out on track, and although Vettel had indicated over team radio that the gearbox had broken, Ferrari confirmed that the issue was actually with the rear left of the car, but did not expand further on their explanation
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen was fifth quickest, despite not posting a timed lap until fifty-five minutes of the session had gone. Red Bull appeared to be tweaking numerous components on the RB13 for both their drivers throughout the session, with Daniel Ricciardo four tenths of a second down on his team-mate in sixth.
Haas F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen was seventh, despite having issues towards the end of FP1, after running wide at Turn 4 as he lost the gears halfway through the corner. The Dane then parked up the car near an exit in the barrier. Team-mate Romain Grosjean was a tenth further back in eighth, with the Haas F1 Team looking much improved here in Spain.
Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg was ninth, just one hundredth of a second clear of Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr, who completed the top ten at his home grand prix.
Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were next up, just two tenths of a second splitting the pair, with McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne just seven hundredths of a second off their pace in seventeenth place.
Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa was fourteenth, ahead of the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, with Sauber F1 Team drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein in sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, the German reporting that he was struggling with the rear of the C36 throughout the session.
Rookie Lance Stroll was a disappointing eighteenth, four places and 1.3 seconds off the pace of team-mate Massa, the Canadian looking like he was having to work really hard to get the FW40 around the track.
Sergey Sirotkin, who was back in the RS17 in place of Jolyon Palmer for this FP1 session, once again hit problems. Although the Russian was able to complete a few more laps than last time out in Sochi, ten it total, the floor was taken off Sirotkin’s car with fifty minutes of the session gone, with fluids dripping out everywhere.
A water leak was confirmed as the problem, but unfortunately, for the Russian he took no further part in the session.
It was a poor start to the weekend for home hero Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard spinning the MCL32 as the car snapped around on entry to Turn 3, with smoke billowing from the rear and liquid spilling out below. Alonso parked the car off track, advising over team radio that the engine had gone, which signalled a short, sharp end to practice for the double world champion.
An oil leak was confirmed as the cause of the stoppage and so the Spaniard will be back out for FP2 later today. The power unit in the car was one that had been used in the Australian and Chinese Grand Prix, as well as Bahrain practice, so the Spaniard will not receive a penalty if an engine change is necessary.
It was also confirmed that Alonso had left the track and returned to his hotel prior to the end of the session.
With little real information to take from this FP1 session, as everyone played around with the new parts introduced at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, it will not really be until this afternoons running or tomorrow morning, that we can determine who is on target to take the upper hand on race day. So far however, Mercedes certainly look to have made some performance gains here in Spain.
2017 Spanish Grand Prix – FP1 Results
|5||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:22.706||22|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:23.084||17|
|10||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:24.004||21|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.188||23|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.324||22|
|15||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:24.642||18|
|20||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren-Honda||No time set||1|