Mercedes are likely feeling incredibly satisfied at the end of the first pre-season test, after completing more laps than any other team with a whopping 558 laps completed, resulting in a total 2,597km.
Hamilton set the pace on day one in the same session in which the team introduced a new shark fin to their chassis. Day two saw another addition to their car in the form of a double t-wing, before the team sent Bottas out to complete the only race simulation conducted by any driver this week.
After their additions to the car, day three saw Mercedes make an addition to their personnel, as reigning F1 World Champion, Nico Rosberg spent the day with the team in his new role as a team ambassador. In the same day, Bottas took charge of the field, setting the pace with the first lap time under 1:20.0.
Red Bull also faced issues across the sessions, contradicting the team’s statement that the RB13 would “break the tradition” of the unlucky number after which it is named. Day one saw Ricciardo confined to the garage for most of the morning with a battery issue, and then again for the afternoon of day three with an exhaust issue.
However, when Verstappen took the wheel from his Australian team-mate on day four to explore the artificial wet track, he was graced with an issue-free day. As the track was left to dry naturally, he was then the first two switch to Pirelli’s intermediate tires.
By the end of day four, Kimi Raikkonen had put his Ferrari on top of the timing sheets, nearly a second ahead of Verstappen. The Finn also enjoy ending day two atop of the timing sheets, albeit just marginally ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
These fast times seem to be proving that the FIA’s new regulations are doing exactly the job they were intending to, by making the cars quicker. Day one provided us with lap times faster than we had seen in the whole of the 2016 season. Day two then improved on this further by providing the fastest times since the Spanish Grand Prix of 2013. Day three saw the Barcelona circuit have its lap record, set in 2010 by Mark Webber, unofficially broken by Valtteri Bottas.
McLaren began the week with far less reliability than the current Constructors World Championship holders, Mercedes. The team conducted two engine changes in the first two days, meaning the drivers failed to complete 70 laps and remained 10th fastest.
However, McLaren seemed to get these issues under control, allowing them to reach a total of 200 laps and end day four with the 7th fastest time.
Kevin Magnussen, in his first outing for Haas, was the first driver in 2017 to make contact with the barrier on day one. However, a similar incident from Lance Stroll on day three was far more severe, causing the Williams team to end their day early, as well as subsequently missing day four. This incident came after two similar spins from the rookie, in his first two days in the FW40.
Day two saw the most technical issues for various teams, with work from the night before keeping Force India and Renault in the garage for most of the morning session.
Similarly, Sauber faced problems with Italian Giovinazzi at the wheel, in place of the injured Wehrlein. A power unit failure allowed them to only complete five laps in the morning session.
Formula fans, luckily, won’t need to wait much longer to see the teams in action, as the second test begins on March 7, before the first race of the season in Australia on March 26.
– Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sport)