Sebastian Vettel finished the first day of official Formula 1 winter testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on top for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow.
Vettel’s time of a 1 minute 18.161 seconds, set on the middle-range C3 specification tyres in the morning session, proved to be an unassailable time for the other eleven drivers.
The German also completed the most laps of anyone, recording an impressive 169 laps, to lay down a marker for Ferrari’s 2019 championship charge.
Carlos Sainz Jr. provided some hope for the McLaren F1 Team by clocking the second fastest time on the C4 tyres – one step softer than Vettel’s compound – inside the last hour, around four-tenths behind Vettel’s benchmark lap.
Before his fastest time, the afternoon session brought issues for Sainz Jr. as he stopped at the end of the pitlane with a fuel pressure problem. The Spaniard still managed 119 laps on a pleasing start to his McLaren career.
Romain Grosjean rounded out the top three for the new look Rich Energy Haas F1 Team on C3 tyres, under a second shy of the German’s time with a 1:19.320. Like Sainz Jr, Grosjean suffered a fuel pressure issue that led to him stopping at the final chicane and losing a section of track time.
Max Verstappen gathered some useful data for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on its first official outing with Honda power, setting the fourth fastest time also on C3 tyres. The Dutchman had previously shown good pace on the C2 tyres after a quiet start to his day.
Verstappen was followed by the Alfa Romeo Racing car of Kimi Räikkönen, who had an eventful start to his 2019 season. Having unveiled the C38 in the Barcelona pitlane to open the first week of testing, Räikkönen treated the photographers to another angle of the car when he spun into the gravel trap at Turn 5 in the first ten minutes.
Despite losing 40 minutes, Räikkönen completed 114 laps throughout the day and held second position until the late improvers showed their hands. A breakdown on the pit straight with less than five minutes remaining in the day brought out another red flag period and ended the day’s running.
Daniil Kvyat‘s return to Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda saw him finish the day in sixth, two-thousandths behind Räikkönen on the C4 tyres. The Russian jostled for track position with Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon, giving those watching their first glimpse of overtaking action with a wider DRS opening.
SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team‘s Sergio Pérez only completed 30 laps over the course of the day in the new-for-2019 RP19 in a quiet day for the rebranded team.
Reigning champions Mercedes started its testing programme off with 150 laps split 81-69 in Hamilton’s favour. The Brit assumed running duties from team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon but could not better the Finn’s time, both drivers on the C2 tyres focussing on race simulations.
The Renault Sport Formula 1 Team also shared responsibilities between its drivers. Nico Hülkenberg set the tone with 69 laps in the morning before handing over to new signing Daniel Ricciardo at lunch. The Australian could not match the German’s quantity of laps, completing 44, but stood just 0.003 behind Hülkenberg on the timing screens.
ROKiT Williams Racing did not run as expected, and it does not expect to appear before Wednesday morning.
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