Charles Leclerc sets the fastest time on the morning of Day 1 in Barcelona
The brand-new generation of Formula 1 cars finally emerged on track on Wednesday, as pre-season running began in Barcelona - and it was Ferrari's Charles Leclerc who set the fastest time on the opening morning in Spain.
Leclerc established the early benchmark and later improved, conditions warming up after a chilly start, to set the quickest lap of 1m 20.165s on the morning of Day 1. The Ferrari driver tallied nearly 80 laps and ended up three-tenths ahead of Lando Norris – the McLaren driver having improved for P2 with 13 minutes remaining.
Mercedes' George Russell was therefore bumped to P3 as the 1pm deadline approached, but completed a productive 75 laps, with Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel in fourth.
Reigning champion Max Verstappen enjoyed the highest lap count (80) as he finished sixth, behind AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda in P5. The Red Bull RB18 turned heads, its form differing massively from the launch version offered earlier in February.
Fernando Alonso was seventh for Alpine, while Nicholas Latifi was eighth for Williams, three seconds off the leading pace.
In the camouflaged Alfa Romeo C42, reserve driver Robert Kubica completed a handful of installation laps as he finished 10th after a late flying effort, the Haas of Nikita Mazepin having eclipsed him for P9 in the dying moments of the morning session.
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We are set to see Carlos Sainz take over from leader Leclerc for Ferrari in the afternoon, while Lewis Hamilton gets to take the wheel of the Mercedes W13. Lance Stroll will take over in the Aston Martin, Alex Albon in the Williams, Valtteri Bottas for Alfa Romeo, and Mick Schumacher for Haas.