Winter Testing: Barcelona F1 – Day 1
After over a week of car launches, we’ve finally arrived at pre-season, winter testing in Barcelona. It’s the first of 4 days and this is when teams start to get really ready for the 2019 Formula 1 season – and what a season we have to look forward to….
Today, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team completed the planned programme on the first day for 2019 pre-season testing, completing 150 laps. Both drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton took turns at the wheel of the 2019 F1 car bringing home almost 700 kilometres at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
As we know, teams use the data which has been received to go through and analyse the information – getting things ready for the start of the season.
In the morning, Valtteri Bottas was the driver behind the wheel – gathering tyre and aerodynamic data for the team.
In the afternoon, Lewis Hamilton was the driver to takeover, collecting information on how the car reacts to certain set-up changes.
Today, the team’s focus was on improving the understanding of the new Pirelli tyres for the 2019 Formula 1 season as well as gathering essential aerodynamic data.
Tomorrow, the drivers will switch – Lewis Hamilton will be driving in the morning with Valtteri Bottas driving the car in the afternoon session.
Here’s what both drivers had to say.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s good to be back in the car and it’s great to see the car is running as smoothly at it is. It feels quite a bit different compared to last year and we’re now getting to know it, trying to understand the balance and trying to understand the characteristics we’re working with.”
“It’s been a positive first day, we got through our running plan and there’s lots for us to learn about the new car which we will be working on.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I quite enjoyed this morning, it’s good to be back at the track. I did 69 laps and there were no major issues with the car, so it was a relatively successful run.”
“Since the car is brand new, we immediately found ways to improve the balance and the behaviour and we will continue to work on that in the next days.”
“It’s good to see the car running well and it proves that the entire team is doing a great job, both in Brackley and Brixworth, but also here at the track – I’m looking forward to a more time in the car tomorrow afternoon.”
Overall, it was a good day for Ferrari who tend to look strong during testing sessions despite cars spinning on track today – including Vettel. In spite of this, the Ferrari driver completed 169 laps in the SF90 – 72 laps being in the morning and 97 laps being in the afternoon.
The team programme for the day was a check up of all the car systems followed by a series of runs with the car set in different configurations and the programme was completed without any major problems. For Ferrari fans – a good start!
Sebastian Vettel also ran different tyre compounds to analyse the car’s behaviour on each of them and he set a time of 1:18.161 which was set just before the lunch break.
Sebastian Vettel: “The first impression from today is very good – I could not have hoped for a better day as the car worked really well and we had no issues slowing us down.”
“We completed the programme just the way we wanted and coming here, I was pretty open-minded and had no expectations and I didn’t need that much time to get familiar with the car as it was making everything quite straightforward for me.”
“I must say, I am still a bit rusty – I haven’t been driving for several months but I’ll sleep well tonight. It’s too early to sum it up as it’s just the first day but what I would like to do is to send my compliments to everyone back at the factory in Maranello for how they have tackled all the new rules and what they put on track today – also showing how the team is handling the car in a well-prepared way.”
Tomorrow, Charles Leclerc will be the one driving the car making this his ‘debut’ in testing. Vettel will then return on Wednesday with Leclerc driving again on Thursday.
Red Bull Racing
Back to track for the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team who started the first day of testing with Max Verstappen behind the wheel – posting a total of 128 laps in Barcelona for pre-season testing.
The Honda-powered engine got off to a relatively positive start – recording the second highest lap count with 128 laps and the fourth-fastest time with an afternoon lap time of 1:19.426
Max Verstappen: “To do 128 laps on the first day of testing is a really good day so I’m very happy with that – we’ve collected a lot of data which is really important and this will be analysed overnight to see what we can improve on tomorrow when Pierre (Gasly) is in the car.”
“I’ll also go into all the detail tonight with the team and tomorrow to see where I can improve for my second day in testing – so far, so good.”
“I’m really happy that we were able to do so many laps – I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Head of Race Engineering, Guillaume Rocquelin: “No major problems. We were a bit late in getting out this morning due to a frustrating little niggle but we got that sorted out without any real fuss and once Max got into his stride – we enjoyed a very good first day of testing.”
“We put good mileage on the car and we got through the workload without issue – though most teams aren’t chasing a lap time, Max did put in a respectable lap.”
“I would say that operationally, we are pretty well placed – everything is working as it should be on all sides and a solid start and a good platform for the rest of the week.”
Today, preparations are beginning for Formula 1 teams ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season and this include Renault who had a productive first day for pre-season testing in Barcelona, bringing home 109 laps for the team to go through and analyse.
The main focus for the team was building mileage in the Renault R.S.19 – ensuring that various systems on the car were working as designed and running essentially went as planned with setups voluntarily consistent across tyres, engine and energy management.
In the morning, Nico Hulkenberg was behind the wheel with his new team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo making his debut for the team in an official session during the afternoon.
Tomorrow, Daniel will be driving in the morning with Nico Hulkenberg taking over the afternoon session.
Nico Hülkenberg: “It was fun and very enjoyable to be back driving a Formula 1 car. You forget how fast these cars are, especially Turns 3 and 9 around here, so it’s great to be back driving again.”
“My first impressions are promising, we didn’t have too many problems this morning and that meant we were able to get a decent amount of laps in.”
“We were looking to start on the right foot today so it’s good to get 65 laps on the board and ease ourselves back in.We have things to assess and I’m looking forward to continuing the work over the next couple of days.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “It’s a good feeling to be behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car again after a long winter waiting. Today was about bedding ourselves back into it and, for me, continuing to learn about a new car and a new team.”
“It was a decent afternoon and it’s important we keep increasing our mileage. We have plenty to analyse but it’s been a promising first official day.”
“I’m excited to hit the track again and develop this new relationship.”