19 February 2020
Thoughts on the first day of winter testing...
One should never be led into thinking that lap times in the early days of winter testing are worth anything, but the first day of F1’s six days in Barcelona resulted in a Mercedes F1 1-2, with Sergio Perez third fastest in a Racing Point that looks a lot like a pink Mercedes. So much so, in fact, that there was a lot of grumbling in the paddock about the relationship between the two teams.
To be fair, it is not so very different from the Ferrari-Haas or Red Bull Racing-Alpha Tauri relationships…
However, that was not really the story of the day. What stood out was the fact that the 10 teams collectively completed an astounding 1,355 laps, which equates to 3,918 miles of running, or 20 cars completing the full Spanish Grand Prix race distance – straight out of the box. There wasn’t a red flag all day. No-one even ran their cars out of fuel at the end of the day. It was all about data, data, data.
Mercedes ran both drivers and completed a total of 173 laps, which was five more than Max Verstappen did in his Red Bull. Carlos Sainz racked up 161 laps for McLaren, while Alfa Romeo did 138 laps, split between Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams completed 136 laps, shared between George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, and Charles Leclerc, who jumped in the car in the morning after Sebastian Vettel called off sick, did 132 laps. The lowest total was Haas F1 with 105 laps, four less than Racing Point.
To put things into perspective, last year the first day of testing saw nine teams (Williams being absent) recording just 886 laps.
And the lap times were way quicker, aided by the fact that the weather in Catalunya was mild. Lewis Hamilton best run, on the hard Pirelli tyres, was a 1m16.976s, which was 1.185secs faster than Vettel’s best 2019 first day lap.
There were no real incidents with Verstappen having a couple of spins, without any serious damage.