The first official day of testing commenced at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya on Monday.
The eagerly awaited first day of testing got off to an expected slow start as the new cars trickled out of their respective garages to set the first installations laps. First out on circuit was Renault’s RS17 but the rest quickly followed suit.
The first red flag of the testing session was brought out by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who parked his brand-new RB13 at turn 3. Nevertheless, before the stoppage Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had set a quickest time in the 1:24s with a set of Pirelli’s new medium compound tyre.
This time was soon eclipsed by Sebastian Vettel who put the Ferrari on top of the timing sheets with a 1:23:560. The Ferrari and Mercedes teams easily set the most number of laps in the opening morning of testing. Meanwhile, gremlins struck in the McLaren garage as Fernando Alonso’s car developed an oil system problem. The team estimated a four to five hour period to get to the bottom of the issue.
McLaren’s problems with their engine seem like a repeat of last years testing and was summed up by AutoSport’s Gary Anderson rather eloquently.
“It’s not good news for McLaren-Honda to be sat in the garage chasing some kind of oil system problem. The engines coming to this test should all be test-bench run and where the engine connects up to the system of the car should be bulletproof. Using the excuse that this is testing and things will go wrong is rubbish because you only have eight days and you need to hit the ground running. Losing a big part of a day is time you will never recover, and by the time the McLaren runs again, most of its rivals will have built up a lot of mileage. We’ve seen a lot of finger problems for McLaren and Honda during the past few years, and maybe this is the same again. Not a good start to testing.”
UNOFFICIAL CLASSIFICATION (END OF MORNING SESSION)
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 27, 2017
The second half of the day was more productive for the teams that were off to a slow start in the mornings.
McLaren changed the engine in the MCL32 and sent Alonso out on track for a few laps and to catch on on some running he missed during the morning. Alonso ended his day with 14 laps on the board with a fastest time of 1:24.852.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 27, 2017
Ricciardo was the first one to emerge from the pits after the lunch break and Red Bull were able to get going with their testing program and managed to complete 50-laps before the end of the day. Ricciardo’s fastest lap put him 5th fastest on the day with a time of 1:22.926.
Mercedes topped the time sheets at the end of the day and had the highest tally of completed laps on the day. Lewis Hamilton jumped into the car after lunch and set the fastest time of the day of 1:21.765. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the second fastest with a 1:21.878. Vettel completed 128 laps and will welcome a day’s rest when Kimi Raikkonen takes over testing duties on Tuesday.
— Renault Sport F1 (@RenaultSportF1) February 27, 2017
After a brief retirement, Felipe Massa completed 103 laps on his return. He set the 3rd fastest time of the day with a time of 1:22.706.
With limited running, Sergio Perez completed 39 laps for Force India and finished the day 7th fastest ahead of Carlos Sainz who was 8th fastest on the day. ON his first outing for Renault, Nico Hulkenberg set the 9th fastest time of the day completing 57 laps around the Circuit de Catalunya.
Compared to last year the times are already much quicker and are set to become faster as testing goes on. The times have almost no meaning at this point. The objective for the teams is to get as much mileage on the cars during these few days as possible and learn as much about the car as they can. Engineers will be pouring over the data and will be ready with new setup parameters tomorrow
Let’s do it all again tomorrow 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Z34oYcB6ZK
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 27, 2017