Hamilton picks up where he left off as testing begins

Michelle Foster


Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes laid down the first marker in pre-season testing with the Brit topping the charts ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez in the W10 copy.

Mercedes split the driving duties on Wednesday, the first day of pre-season testing, as fans finally got a look at all 10 cars out on track.

Arguably one of the best sights was the Williams FW43 taking to the track with George Russell behind the wheel.

And unlike in 2019 when the team missed almost three full days of running, this year Williams was the very first car out, beating McLaren.

Russell covered 73 laps in the FW43, declaring that the car’s handling is “much” better than last year’s machine. A positive first day for Williams.

Russell handed the car over to Nicholas Latifi in the afternoon with the Canadian adding a further 63 laps.

But while Wednesday was a positive day for Williams, it was by no means the only team smiling.

Mercedes had cause for optimism as Hamilton topped the timesheets, the only driver to drop into the 1:16s.

The six-time World Champion clocked a 1:16.976s on the Compound 2 tyres to beat Bottas by three-tenths.

Mercedes was the busiest team too as the W11 showed by both pace and reliability with the team-mates completing over 170 laps.

Perez was third fastest in the Racing Point RP20 that rivals say looks too much like last year’s W10 for their liking.

Max Verstappen finished fourth and was the first driver to reach 100 laps. His tally for Day 1 was 168 laps.

He did, however, make life a little difficult for himself as he suffered a couple of big spins in the final sector. All proved harmless and he continued on his way.

Second to fourth used the medium tyres while Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo were on the Compound 2.

Ricciardo, who replaced his new Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon at lunch, took nearly 90 minutes to venture out the pits for his first lap of the day.

Auto Motor und Sport reported it was due to driveshaft leak.

Ocon, Russell and Lance Stroll completed the top ten ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari. The Monégasque driver missed a chunk of the afternoon running for a reason that Ferrari have yet to disclose.

Latifi, Alfa Romeo test driver Robert Kubica, Kevin Magnussen and Antonio Giovinazzi completed the timesheets.

Magnussen joined Verstappen in having an off, his at Turn 9.

Wednesday’s running saw the 15 drivers in action cover more than 1,200 laps without a single red flag with just over three seconds separating the field.

The teams will be back in action on Thursday for Day 2 of the three-day test.

1 Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.976 94 laps
2 Bottas Mercedes 1:17.313 79 laps
3 Perez Racing Point 1:17.375 58 laps
4 Verstappen Red Bull 1:17.516 168 laps
5 Kvyat AlphaTauri 1:17.698 115 laps
6 Sainz McLaren 1:17.842 161 laps
7 Ricciardo Renault 1:17.873 54 laps
8 Ocon Renault 1:18.004 62 laps
9 Russell Williams 1:18.168 73 laps
10 Stroll Racing Point 1:18.282 50 laps
11 Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.289 131 laps
12 Latifi Williams 1:18.382 63 laps
13 Kubica Alfa Romeo 1:18.386 59 laps
14 Magnussen Haas 1:18.466 104 laps
15 Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:20.096 78 laps

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.