Valtteri Bottas has set the very early standard in Barcelona as Formula 1 returned to action with the first day of pre-season testing.
Bottas posted a 1:17.313 on the C3 medium tyres to sit clear at the top by 0.062 seconds to Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen rounded off the top three, four tenths behind on the hard compound.
The day, so far, has not gone completely to plan for Ferrari, however, as they were forced into an unscheduled driver change due to Sebastian Vettel falling ill.
Charles Leclerc took over on driving duties but spent quite a large chunk of time in the Ferrari garage to leave them lagging behind a little bit in terms of lap count compared to their main rivals.
Photographers also snapped Leclerc doing some homework in the Scuderia garage. His notes revealed that the SF1000 understeered in ‘the mid-corners’.
Love this. Leclerc's notes on the first run for Ferrari, track conditions not that bad and tyre warm-up not a problem but "a bit of understeer mid-corner in the long high-speed corners like T10/11 and 15" #F1 #F1Testing https://t.co/qv4vWauuwc
— Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) February 19, 2020
Leclerc was able to return to the track briefly before the lunch break but remained in P7, a shade under a second off the early pace.
Carlos Sainz, P4, and Esteban Ocon, P5, were both six tenths behind, while George Russell, who won the honour of being first out on track on Wednesday (12 months on from Williams being two-and-a-half-days late for testing) also slotted in above Leclerc in P6.
Alfa Romeo’s reserve Robert Kubica, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat completed the top ten; the latter having the only known slight issue of note with a coding issue discovered on the new-look AT01.
It was promptly fixed, though, on a morning which saw zero red flags and many drivers get a Grand Prix distance under their belts already.
The afternoon session will see four driver changes take place. Daniel Ricciardo replaces Ocon, Antonio Giovinazzi is in for Kubica, new boy Nicholas Latifi makes way for Russell and, most notable of all, the reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton will get his first taste of track action in Barcelona.
Day 1 morning timesheet:
1 Valtteri Bottas 1:17.313 (M) 78 laps
2 Sergio Perez +0.062 (M) 58 laps
3 Max Verstappen +0.474 (H) 91 laps
4 Carlos Sainz +0.688 (H) 64 laps
5 Esteban Ocon +0.691 (M) 59 laps
6 George Russell +0.855 (M) 73 laps
7 Charles Leclerc +0.976 (M) 64 laps
8 Robert Kubica +1.073 (S) 57 laps
9 Kevin Magnussen +1.153 (H) 54 laps
10 Daniil Kvyat +1.546 (M) 54 laps