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Vettel fastest as Hamilton clocks up mileage on day one

22 Feb 2016

The top two teams in last year’s constructors’ championship, Mercedes and Ferrari, looked in fine form as F1 testing got underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain on Monday.

Sebastian Vettel set the day’s fastest time for Ferrari with a rapid medium tyre-shod run in the SF16-H just before lunch, whilst perennial rival and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton clocked an astonishing 156 laps in the Silver Arrows’ brand-new F1 W07 Hybrid.

All 11 teams were in action, and all bar Sauber gave their 2016 cars their official track debuts. Among them were newcomers Haas, for whom Romain Grosjean finished 10th after 31 laps in the Ferrari-powered VF-16, despite suffering an early front wing failure.

Hamilton, whose mileage total topped the 695.196km managed by team mate Nico Rosberg on last year’s opening test day in Jerez, finished 0.470s back of Vettel, having also set his best time on medium tyres in the morning session.

“It's good to be back,” said the world champion. “The car has been great so far. It's very similar to last year's - which is a good thing, as it gives us a great foundation to work from. The key is to get as much mileage as possible in the short time we now have for testing and we've made a fantastic start.”

Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest for Red Bull, just ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, both reporting largely positive first impressions of their new steeds, while rookie test driver Alfonso Celis was just two-tenths back in Force India’s latest machine.

“I’m feeling very happy with how things went today,” said the young Mexican. “The start of the day was special when we launched the VJM09 and it was a big honour to be the first to drive the car.

“It was only my second day in a Formula One car, but I was able to enjoy the experience more than last time because I knew what to expect and I had a bit more confidence. We managed to work through the whole plan with good reliability. I could not think of a better way to start the season.”

Jenson Button was an encouraging sixth as McLaren’s pre-season got off to a far more positive start than last year’s, just ahead of Carlos Sainz whose running in the interim-liveried Toro Rosso came to a slightly premature halt thanks to a suspected gearbox issue on the Ferrari-engined STR11.

Marcus Ericsson finished eighth in Sauber’s upgraded 2015 car, while ninth spot went to Mercedes protege Pascal Wehrlein, the German rookie making his first appearance as a Manor race driver in their newly-launched MRT05.

“260kms with a brand new package is a dream start to pre-season testing,” said Manor’s technical chief John McQuilliam. “It couldn’t have gone any better for us and every single team member deserves a round of applause for an impressive achievement. Pascal has slotted straight into the team and after a steady start to the day we really got into the swing of things in the afternoon session.”

Completing the timesheets in 11th, behind Grosjean, was former team mate Jolyon Palmer who debuted Renault’s first Formula One car in over six years. A number of ‘teething problems’ with the new RS16, primarily on the software side, limited Palmer to 37 laps.

Testing continues in Spain until Thursday.

Monday's unofficial testing times from Barcelona
POS Driver Team/Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF16-H 1:24.939   69
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid 1:25.409 0.470 156
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12 1:26.044 1.105 87
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes FW38 1:26.091 1.152 80
5 Alfonso Celis Force India-Mercedes VJM09 1:26.298 1.359 58
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:26.735 1.796 84
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR11 1:27.180 2.241 55
8 Marcus Ericcson Sauber-Ferrari C34 1:27.555 2.616 88
9 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing-Mercedes MRT05 1:28.292 3.353 54
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari VF-16 1:28.399 3.460 31
11 Jolyon Palmer Renault R.S.16 1:29.356 4.417 37


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