Formula 1 pre-season testing for the 2019 World Championship got underway on Monday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel topping the mileage charts and the time sheets.
Despite a minor spin early in the day, the German took the Ferrari SF90 to a fastest time of 1:18.161 in the morning session. While a number of rival teams were able to improve on their lap times in the afternoon running, the four-time World Champion finished the day quickest overall.
The lap times themselves will prove relatively meaningless given the variety of programmes the teams will be running over the first four days of testing, but what was more telling was the SF90’s reliability which allowed Vettel to log an impressive 169 laps.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a better day,” Vettel summarised. “I think it was unbelievable. The car was working really well, we had no issues slowing us down, we did the programme just the way we wanted and we were able to squeeze a little bit more out even.”
For what it’s worth, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. finished the day second-fastest in his first outing for the Woking squad, just under four-tenths of a second shy of Vettel’s fastest time. The new Renault-powered MCL34 managed 119 laps for the day, with its running briefly interrupted by a loss of power that caused a stoppage as he exited the pit lane early in the afternoon.
Ferrari’s chief rivals Mercedes-AMG ran them close in the mileage stakes with the all new W10, although the Brackley team opted to split its running between Valtteri Bottas (69 laps) and Lewis Hamilton (81 laps) over the respective morning and afternoon sessions. Neither driver seemed to aiming for a headline-grabbing time, with the only major incident of note coming when Hamilton and Vettel had a near-miss at the exit of Turn 2.
Third-highest on the mileage charts was Red Bull Racing, which had its first hit-out with Honda power following its off-season switch from Renault. The RB15, with Max Verstappen at the wheel, posted 124 laps for the day.
With Sainz tallying the fourth-highest number of laps, hot on his heels was Kimi Räikkönen in the newly renamed Alfa Romeo Racing team. The Finn brought out the day’s first red flag with a spin into the gravel, but had a productive time behind the wheel thereafter to tally 114 laps on the C2 (hard) and C3 (medium) Pirelli tyres.
Renault was another team that opted to split its running between its two drivers, altohugh neither Nico Hülkenberg (65 laps in the morning) and his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo (44 laps in the afternoon) appeared to be aiming for a quick lap time at this stage.
No other team cracked the 100-lap mark, although both Scuderia Toro Rosso (Daniil Kvyat, 77 laps) and the Haas F1 Team (Romain Grosjean, 65 laps) put in reasonably decent mileage as they got to know their new car designs.
The Racing Point team managed a rather paltry 30 laps for the day, with the Mercedes-powered RP19 beset by a number of minor niggles that kept Sergio Pérez restricted to the pit lane for much of the day.
That was at least more than what Williams was able to achieve. The Grove squad confirmed that it had not finished the assembly of its FW42 chassis and was unlikely to hit the track until at least Wednesday, meaning it will lose at least two vital days of track of action before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
|2019 FORMULA 1 PRE-SEASON TEST – DAY 1 UNOFFICIAL TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:18.161||169|
|2.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:18.558||+ 0.397||119|
|3.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:19.159||+ 0.998||65|
|4.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:19.426||+ 1.265||128|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:19.462||+ 1.301||114|
|6.||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||1:19.635||+ 1.474||77|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:19.944||+ 1.783||30|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:20.127||+ 1.966||69|
|9.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:20.135||+ 1.974||81|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:20.980||+ 2.819||64|
|11.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:20.983||+ 2.822||44|
|12.||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||no time||0|
Image via Scuderia Ferrari