“It was almost like an ice-skating rink” says Brendon Hartley

Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Brendon Hartley reflected on a positive first day of winter testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya despite difficult conditions putting an effective end to the afternoon session.

Hartley completed 93 laps for Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in the STR13, setting the eighth fastest time of the day – with Honda showing initial signs of big improvement over the winter break.

Not only was Hartley’s 1:22.371, set on soft compound tyres, a respectable time; but he ended the day second fastest in the speed trap, behind Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Räikkönen.

“It was a really positive day,” said Hartley. “We had no issues at all but we stopped early because of the weather, it was almost icy conditions out there.”

“Everything felt pretty good from out of the box, we had some test items that we didn’t get to complete because of the weather, but getting through 93 laps on the first day of testing was a great start to the campaign with the new Toro Rosso-Honda [partnership].”

Hartley added that the cold conditions in Barcelona wreaked havoc with tyre temperatures, but said that he found out about the car’s general characteristics. Despite being happy with the engine and chassis performance, the New Zealander believes there is even more potential left to find.

“Balance-wise, we were pretty comfortable straight away but I still think there’s potential to unlock,” he added.

“I’m really happy with how the day went, I think everyone probably struggled with tyres, but doing one corner slow the tyres drop out of the window and it was almost like an ice-skating rink.

First day “really positive in all aspects”

“It’s quite a challenging day to get the tyres working in the window all the time. I think we learnt a lot and set ourselves up nicely for the rest of the test, probably more so next week when the weather gets a bit better.

“The driveability of the engine is one of the best I’ve driven in a Formula 1 car, so it was really positive in all aspects. Absolutely no complaints from me.”

Former Porsche LMP1 Team ace Hartley is entering his first full season in Formula 1 after replacing on-loan Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Carlos Sainz Jr. from the United States Grand Prix onwards.