Making up for lost time: F1 Teams hammer out the mileage as Hamilton tops times
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Mar 2018   |  6:34 pm GMT  |  217 comments

After the washout on Wednesday, the F1 teams were keen to get as much mileage as possible on the final day of the first F1 test in Barcelona.

As things stand, there are now just four more days of testing before the start of the new season in Melbourne. Next week’s test, traditionally the one where teams push for performance, will therefore be more critical than ever.

It was wet in the morning, but the teams were able to move onto slicks in the afternoon as the temperature came up to a relatively tropical 15 degrees, compared to the Siberian conditions.

Sergey Sirotkin for Williams was the only driver not to get a run on slicks.

Pierre Gasly (above) cracked out 147 laps in the Honda powered Toro Rosso, indicating that the Japanese are well on with their reliability work compared to a year ago. The Honda was also fourth fastest through the speed trap at 333km/h. Sebastian Vettel covered 120 laps for Ferrari and the Sauber pair covered 138 between them.

McLaren covered 161 laps.

Red Bull lost time with a trip to the gravel for Max Verstappen when on a push lap on soft tyres. At 35 laps, he did by far the least running of any driver. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the day, in the low 1m 19s on medium compound tyres.

Hamilton set the time on lap eight of an 11 lap run on mediums, so not in any way a performance run. In contrast Vandoorne’s second place time of 1m 19.8 was set on the first lap of a four lap run on hypersofts. Vettel set his 1m20.2 on the eighth lap of a nine lap run on softs.

Other Talking points

One thing that was immediately noticeable was the Renault powered cars down near the bottom of the (end of straight) speed trap, with Hulkenberg and Verstappen slowest on 313km/h, Vandoorne on 316.

Magnussen was fastest on 336, Vettel 334 with Hamilton on 333.

There was nothing to choose between the Ferrari and Mercedes engines on speed across the start/finish line, which is more of a measure of acceleration out of the final chicane and last turn.

Renault has said that it is focussing on reliability at this stage and is at a similar power level to the peak at the end of 2017. The Melbourne evolution and the second and third engines of the season will clearly address that so it will be interesting to see when the maximum evolution of the Renault engine comes on stream.

The new specification unit can be used at any time, but with only three engines to last a whole season per driver, the earlier the new spec comes into the engine pool, the more likely the driver is to need a fourth and to take a penalty. There is a tactical argument for planning that in, of course and that may be what we see.

“The reliability seems better, ” said Daniel Ricciardo of the Renault PU. “While the power is currently at the level where we finished last season, it remains a question mark relative to Mercedes and Ferrari. But in Australia we should have a new evolution power unit.”

The teams now face a challenge to get back to the UK, Italy and Switzerland as the ‘beast from the East’ winter weather front continues to cause travel air and road disruption across Europe and particularly in the UK.

The second test will start on Monday.

All Photos: LAT Images

What do you make of this first test? Who’s impressed you? Who’s disappointed so far? Leave your comments in the section below

Lap Times – Day 4 (Barcelona)

1. Hamilton (Mercedes) – 1m19.333s (medium) – 69 laps
2. Vandoorne (McLaren) – 1m19.854s (hypersoft) – 110 laps
3. Vettel (Ferrari) – 1m20.241s (soft) – 120 laps
4. Magnussen (Haas) – 1m20.317s (supersoft) – 96 laps
5. Alonso (McLaren) – 1m20.929s (supersoft) – 51 laps
6. Sainz (Renault) – 1m20.940s (medium) – 60 laps
7. Stroll (Williams) – 1m21.142s (soft) – 54 laps
8. Perez (Force India) – 1m21.973s (soft) – 65 laps
9. Verstappen (Red Bull) – 1m22.058s (soft) – 35 laps
10. Gasly (Toro Rosso) – 1m22.134s (supersoft) – 147 laps
11. Hulkenberg (Renault) – 1m22.507s (soft) – 49 laps
12. Bottas (Mercedes) – 1m22.789s (medium) – 60 laps
13. Leclerc (Sauber) – 1m22.808s (soft) – 59 laps
14. Ericsson (Sauber) – 1m23.825s (supersoft) – 79 laps
15. Sirotkin (Williams) – 1m31.979s (intermediate) – 47 laps

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Ricciardo’s options for the near future are determined by Verstappen’s decision to stay at RBR.
I am still very disappointed by Max’ choice because it’s going to preclude his winning a WDC any time soon.
Just cannot see Renault getting their engine on par with Mercedes and Ferrari.
Barcelona test results point to improved reliability but still no match in the speed traps. The only long shot for a Red Bull title appears to be Honda: hope for a miracle performance at Toro Rosso, put all your money on that and become a
dedicated works team. Implies a different attitude however than the one adopted by Mateschitz, where there’s only been mention of selling STR.

Max should have gone for a Mercedes contract. Not sure it would have materialised but it was worth a serious shot. He should have done so completely in the open, let Marko/Horner know it just wasn’t going to happen at RB until further notice and they knew it. Could have promised he would not sign a long contract and would come back at the earliest opportunity.

Everybody says time is on Verstappen’s side. That’s a cliché and only very partly true. Formula 1 is not like football, where a young star is almost certain to end up in a top team. In both disciplines there is the wish to acquire the best/most promising actors but the penalty for a team to be delaying or even not signing is very different. In football your opponent who gets the star might punish you in the Premier League or Champions League this very season. In F1, you can afford to do nothing as long as the star does not have a top car. For the sake of argument, if Max is the best driver by some margin and everybody considers him to be that, there is still no necessity for MB or Ferrari to hire him. The only necessity would be the fear that the other top team would acquire him.
So F1 is a peculiar sport where there are only occasional windows where you can do business teamwise, maybe just 3 or 4 of those windows during a career. They should be taken bloody seriously at any age and even then you have to be very lucky.

The Aussie community seems to think Verstappen owns Marko. Unfortunately it’s the other way around: Marko owns Verstappen.
As tough as the Verstappens are on and around the track, in negotiations they have proved to be so many fruit cakes. In a recent interview Max said Marko was ‘like a second father to him’.
There you go.
Says it all.
Now he’s committed and stuck with a losing car. No idle promises will change that.

As for Ricciardo, many Aussies are complaining he’s going to get the Webber treatment. Actually, they should be grateful Max stayed on because this slightly improves Ricci’s chances for a contract with a winning team. Ham/Max at MB would have written finish for Daniel’s chances at MB/Ferrari because vettel is not going to allow him alongside. At least now there is the remote chance MB are interested. I think it’s a far cry but actually that still gives Daniel better chances of a WDC than Max for the coming seasons.

marius kritzinger

His top time slower than the Ferrari last year. I know it has been cold there but if he really wanted to push he would have put softer tires on. In testing top times mean nothing. He tried to entice the competition to push so they can gauge where they are in the mix.


If Ricciardo is correct and they will have the new evolution unit in Australia I hope they will be track testing it this week in which case the renault powered cars should show better speed. If they do not and are still lagging behind that may mean that the new evo PU will have only had bench testing. I hope Renault are not becoming the ‘new Honda!


The Mercedes look ominous!


James, did Mclaren run in reduced power modes in test 1 due to exhaust issues?


I was watching a you tube video to check the sound of Honda vs Mercedes. I was surprised to see Torro Rosso length against Mercedes its looks like a baby car……


…a shattered dream 🙁

Any man’s dream : to drive a Formula One car…

…has ended for me as I am highly claustrophobic.'s_visor_cam_lap_of_Barcelona.html


Any car using a qualy tire will look very good. Mclaren is the “only” team using them, makes me think something is up. They’re definitely trying to impress someone, question is; who?


The conditions that theses teams are testing under do not represent any racing condition that they will experience throughout the season ..

The times are meaningless…


Testing is not racing, but you have to say that Hamilton’s headline laptime looks fairly ominous. My impression is that Mercedes is the best package and have a clear advantage, but think behind them it’s very close between RBR/Ferrari & McLaren, all covered by 0.2s or less. We’ll know a bit more after the 2nd test, but I’d be surprised if I was revising my view very much.


I’m sorry but it is clear that Mclaren has a slow car at these conditions.

On supersoft, they are even slower than the Haas F1 team.

Of course, when Renault opens up the tap, perhaps it isn’t as bad as they are now but I bet Mclaren will still be the slowest Renault powered car.

Alonso appears doomed to the faith of driving a slow and/or unreliable car.


Actually Renault and McLaren will be very close: but yes Renault are just fractionally ahead. McLaren’s record of in-season development however is superior so personally I see them out developing Renault and prevailing over them by the season end for 4th.


Who will be 3rd then?


or worse – fighting with the Toro Rosso Hondas!




James – few bits of site feedback:

– I’m no longer receiving e-mail notifications of replies

– On mobile the replies to existing posts aren’t indented anymore, making it really, really hard to follow the threads of conversations.

I don’t know whether other users have mentioned these yet or if it’s just me…



Re the order of posts – the site defaults to newest post first – if you are missing Sebee being at the top of the page (unlikely I know) you can manually alter the order to either oldest or the best !


I’ve never noticed that 😂

I have also retroactively noticed that I got the first post for this article, I need to order myself another trophy…


The posts are not indented not only on mobile. On my chrome 64.0.3282.16, desktop, it is the same.


Not just you. Exactly same issues for me!



Your not alone Andrew.



Working through some issues with comments plugin, bear with us


No problem, just flagging.

Also the first post is now the most recent I see, that’ll show Sebee 😀


I see McLaren are saying they lost so much time at Barcelona because a £2.00 bolt broke in the exhaust.

I’m amazed – how the mighty have fallen – in the days of Ron Dennis I doubt that the team would buy ANYTHING for one of their modern formula 1 cars that cost less than £500 quid !


Have you not noticed that this is the new caring sharing cost cutting (so say the FIA) road relevant F1 and it is fine for bits to fall off just like our road cars so fans can have empathy with the teams 🙂


Monza, I feel sure that Ron would have fully optimised the ‘exhaust gas extraction system retaining aparatus’…..



Could you give us a bit more detail on why you think the McLaren is not so far off?

I posted yesterday that I was concerned it might currently be showing at least 1.5s off Mercedes’ pace. From what I read on the BBC (the excellent Andrew Benson) that estimate may in fact be accurate (with the proviso of ‘let’s wait and see’)..

But without asking you to reveal sources, i’m interested to know why you think the McLaren looks promising. Because I’m certainly hoping that’s right, but struggling to see evidence to show it.


Engineering and aero friends in the ecosystem. They admire the detail on this car, a real statement from Prodromou


One notable thing from first test is that all 4 engines have their reliability sorted out. Is it by reducing some performance? Maybe. We will know only after a few races.

It looks that the midfield battle is going to be very close and we may not have back end car. After top 3/4, we might have the remaining teams closed in one group. That’s good sign for interesting racing for me.

Honda-TR is a good surprise and I wish they do well. Gasly looks impressive and Hartley is consistent- low profile but dependable drivers are always good for the team.

I am disappointed with Force India. They haven’t improved enough and car is not looking a big step forward. Renault might be quite handful for them this season.


How is TR a surprise?

2015 year Honda was lapped by the whole field and unreliable

2016 Honda had evolved the engine, caught up with the backmarkers and was more reliable, qualifying in q2, sniffing at q3.

2017 Honda had redesigned the engine from scratch and got solidly in the mid field, occasionally qualifying in Q3, but were very unreliable.

2018 Honda has evolved the engine, and if you look at the series, it is to be expected that they improved on reliability and power.

2019 the top engines will become pretty close with Mercedes and Ferrari on par and Renault and Honda down a few horsepower.

2020 one should expect that all engines will have evolved to be pretty even matched with each engine having a slight edge in one aspect or another over the competition.


it will be interesting to see if teams push their week one power unit into week two. I wonder who will be first to break one?


Sure. Teams would like to know their engine durability. This is the best time to confirm. Let’s see who, if at all, breaks first.


As a McLaren fan, I have no doubt Alonso will be a WDC contender this season. This McLaren is fast and their aero team is top class, they will come on strong with development and the Renault PU will get better as the iterations come. I remember the comments coming from Lotus that Alonso could have won the WDC in the car Kimi steered to a few wins.


That’s a great comment LS and I do hope your predictions are accurate. If they are, we’re in for a classic year. Watch out for the doom gloom & negative sayers however, their bad karma is draped over F1 like a bomb blanket..



Not he won’t. So you are saying a driver in a team that have not won a race since what 2014, in a Mclaren using a Renault power unit in its 1st year, will be better than Red Bull. Hell No. Respectability is what they need to show this year, and I think they will. Ahead of Renault or just behind them, with a few podium finishes will do. But please be realistic about what Nando & Mclaren will achieve this year.


Brawn Mercedes and Button won the championship on their first year of using a Merc Engine.


if Alonso had so much faith in McLaren he wont be looking at WEC. Lol – Alonso wont make the top 8 this year. List of drivers who will beat him – Lewis, Vettel, Bottas, Max, DR. Kimi, Hulk and Sainz. Yep you can take this to the bank!


I think Kimi will struggle to match the Red Bulls and the McLarens. Even Bottas might have his hands full. I don’t rate Renault as quite there yet.


While I have enormous respect for Alonso, I can’t see how McLaren will consistently finish above maybe P7 each race. Without a crystal ball we can only really go off what we have learned over the past 3 or 4 seasons to determine a rough sort of pecking order. Disregarding driver ability, it would seem that Mercedes are most likely to finish on top. Ferrari would be second and Red Bull third. That’s the top 6 places gone each weekend. Admittedly McLaren have “upgraded” to a Renault power unit but I dont see enough evidence to support them jumping Red Bull or even less unlikely, Ferrari or Mercedes. I support Danny Ric but dont see the Red Bull being able to jump the Ferrari or Mercedes either. The evidence just isn’t there. Of course this all assumes perfect reliability all round which is rarely the case. I believe the status quo will remain as these engines near the end of their development potential. Only some sort of silver bullet (double diffuser, F-Duct, tiny slots in the floor 😉 ) will upset the pecking order as we know it. Just my opinion.


I think the McLaren and Red Bull driver talent will make a difference this year. Alonso, Verstappen, and Ricciardo are totally relentless drivers and maybe Vandoorne will live up to the billing now the Honda PU is gone.


That’s optimistic!

However, I do also agree that for the first time since 2013, Fernando Alonso will be driving a relatively competitive machine, and that, as always, the amazingly motivated Bearded Spaniard will give absolute commitment and precision when strapped in the cockpit – he always has done, and always will do.

Alonso always tries his hardest – and who can say that about a driver after 15 straight years in the business? He is McLaren’s greatest asset, and proof, yet again, that it’s the bag of skin and bones in the cockpit who ultimately makes the crucial difference during a race.


I suspect that for McLaren this year, the only difference in making the switch from Honda to Renault will be that there are no more excuses if the Red Bull turns out to be faster. I don’t expect the Renault and Honda to be very far apart in terms of power and reliability.

McLaren had a pretty draggy and downforce heavy car last year and that made the Honda engine look worse than it was.


Totally agree. I think a competitive McLaren will spur him on even more. For me Alonso is one of the legends of the sport.


I”ll keep repeating. If mercedes solved their suspension issues from last year, 2015 all over again. Hammertime. 🙃

Tornillo Amarillo

It looks like the Red Bull is quite quick


Why Hamilton says this, is RB really up there?


Its all psychological. If he says RBR are quick and beats them (which he will) then he has beaten a quick car. If he says they are rubbish then he has beaten rubbish. Exactly the same thinking as when a driver says his team mate is the quickest guy in F1. Kvyat said that about Ricciardo a few seasons back. He doesnt believe it but he looks mighty when he beats him.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, can we have the speed trap chart with tyres used?

Or which speed trap for Stroll in Williams?

Tornillo Amarillo

Speed trap (from MOTORSPORT.COM) =

1 Haas-Ferrari 209.0mph

2 Ferrari 207.7mph

3 Mercedes 207.1mph

4 Toro Rosso-Honda 207.1mph

5 Williams-Mercedes 205.8mph

6 Force India-Mercedes 205.8mph

7 Sauber-Ferrari 204.6mph

8 McLaren-Renault 201.5mph

9 Red Bull-Renault 199.1mph

10 Renault 199.1mph

“mph” means “may people hint”…


Now that Renault have reliability, can they please crank it up beyond GP2 speeds.

It’s testing, I know and you can’t tell yet, BUT… 20kph slower than Lewis on the straights already!

What’ll it be over a race distance when Merc crank up their engine mode.

I have a feeling all the racing and all the action is going to be Alonso v Max v Hulk v Dan v Stof v Carlos.

Sounds good actually, who needs the steamroller that is the Year 5 $$$ Mercedes PU with Toto’s bull PR spin or $100m advantage for Ferrari to come second again with failed in season development.

Simple solution Liberty, Formula Renault F1 is better than F1.


Clark, ultimately it’s lap time and track position that matter. Speed traps don’t mean diddly squat in testing as you don’t even know what program they are on. It’s hardly a level playing field. Experience has proven that the fastest cars nearly all run the highest downforce a la Red Bull but together with their ‘slow’ PU can often as not attack the sharp end of the field.. The ominous bit is the cars that run the highest downforce, post the quickest lap time and are top trumps in the speed trap.


The positive is Honda power doesn’t seem as bad or it could be the weather.

Hamilton seems like he can jump into anything and set a fast time.


According to Ricciardo RedBull were using 2017 spec engines for practice.


The Renault teams going head to head could be amazing, and I hope it is! I also hope that they will be in the mix at the front of the field, not giving way to cars that have considerably more mumbo in a straight line.


I agree that to have the 3 Renault powered teams having a close fight would be entertaining, but l would rather see Red Bull being part of a three way fight for the top spot. We shall find out soon enough now. Marc


James, after watching some footage online at sounds as though the Mercedes engine in hamilton and bottas’ car is quite a bit louder than the rest, this was particularly noticeable when leaving the pit lane.

Is this true? Could the works team have developed a unique exhaust??


In general the merc PU is louder and smoother than the rest. I’ve noticed it’s quite abit louder. Methinks, Any Cowell is up to his wizardry again.


Nicely done Lewis 👍

But the true times and Engine Power will be shown in Test Week 2 to a certain extent and the resl engine outputs wont be seen until Qualifying at start of the season. Glad Mclaren are doing well. But reckon Red Bull are looking mighty in Test One.


People always say times dont matter in testing. Which is true to an extent. Context is much more reliable. And the context here is lewis did that time on lap 8 of a 11 lap stint. Meaning, it wasn’t low fuel, as mercedes don’t chase time. The lap was just lewis and the raw performance of the car and condition.



Yep Oblah

It certainly was an eye opener to the other teams. Especially on the choice of tyre.

But Mercedes never open their engine performance until later in testing. They fuel heavy and leave the fast laps until FP3 then Q3 at first race. So its still a game of smoke and mirrors.


I’m really trying not to be negative.

But the cars look s#!t with the halo.

Testing is admittedly weather disrupted but my god it’s boring.

If things carry on like this I’m gonna start watching curling instead.


Yes the cars look crap with the halo, yet this is always an exciting time before the season starts trying to ascertain who’s got the best car.


@f1can, speaking of boring…i think we need to collectively decide to give up on the halo bashing…it’s here to stay, so lets move on and complain about something else. The only issue that i think needs resolving is the driver identification…i think they need to do more than just colour the top of the camera mount yellow or black/red.


The fact is

Lol – you start off saying the fact is, then divert on some wild tangent completely bereft of any facts whatsoever. Although, fair play to you Gaz, you have managed to shoehorn several of your favourite political analogies into one post, but – big fail – you omitted to get a reference to Alonso’s beard in. Maybe you were in a rush 🙂

Seriously though Gaz, if LM are as weak as you say, and bow to pressure from some bearded donkey jacket wearing lefties – then how did John Malone get to be so rich? I’m thinking he can’t be quite the soft touch you suggest – what do you reckon?


RE C63: Will all due respect C63, it’s not the grid girls per se, it’s the bigger issue surrounding it.

The fact is, a bunch of bearded donkey jacket wearing left wing Guardian readers said “jump”, to which Liberty Media replied “how high?” They caved in. Quickly. That’s a sign of weakness.

Great leaders do not cower, do not surrender. Whatever you think of Mr E, he would have told the Donkey Jacket brigade to **** off interfering in my sport. Or a good political analogy, is can you imagine Maggie giving into Arthur Scargill and his thugs during 1984/85? No? She give him a black eye. Which is what LM should have done to their critics – with Maggie (and Mr E) it was my way or **** off!

Liberty Media were too quick to give in. A good political analogy is they are Jim Callaghan’s – they surrendered to the bullies. What Formula 1 leadership needs is someone……………..well, like Maggie really, who would give any critic a shiner if they interfered.

By giving in to the left wing wooly jumper brigade, Formula 1 is becoming more like the Soviet Union or Communist China where lets just ban anything that is fun, joyous, decadent, hedonistic…………is that you want?


They need to get rid of it and bring in a more aesthetivically pleasing solution.


Agreed, I’d rather not have it but the endless “death-of-F1” comments are far worse.


i think we need to collectively decide to give up on the halo bashing…

Well said LKFE, and whilst were at it – please can we stop the moaning about the Grid Girls disappearing. I mean, seriously – has that changed anyones life (apart from the grid girls)?


Is there a reason why McLaren was doing so many laps on the hypersoft and ultrasoft whereas all the others were mainly on mediums?

Some more cynic comments are that they might be hiding a lack of performance, but are there other reasons? For example, could they be doing this to assess patterns of tire-wear? (softer tire wears faster, so such things should be more visible) Or could it help them in assessing how quickly they can get tires to temperature? Or other things?

Just curious… it seems that such a different tire strategy in testing must have a reason but I have not found a good explanation for it.


They worked through the range wheats others did more mileage on one tyre type

No real significance just a different approach


Guys, can somebody answer please?

I am using this blog on an iPhone. I am no longer able to understand who replies to what comment. There used to be a view where allposts were arranged in threads. Not anymore for me. It is still like this when I check on Mac, but not mobile. Completely cannot understand it. Is it just me?


On my iPad running iOS 11.2.6 I have the indentations but not the grey boxes for James’ comments.


Thanks for the feedback


@AlexD – I have exactly the same issue with the posts not being indented in a thread form. Been like this for about 2wks. Makes the comments section all but irrelevant (for me) as its impossible to follow. On Windows 10 and Opera.


Opera? I used that many years ago. It’s gone totally Chinese now..🙁


Not just you and it happens with the laptop/pc as well. There isn’t an indentation anymore and wort of all James’ comments are highlighted in the grey box anymore!! I have to search for his name to find his comments. James – is there a reason for this? I preferred it the old way.



it may be useful to state what browser&version of software you are using to create the page for those experiencing page layout issues to know if it is an update necessary.

I insert this as I am totally puzzled by comments complaining about PC and laptops. I don’t know about Android (small screens) as I consider those just emergency tools. No sensible person would subscribe to a newspaper printed on a post stamp 🙂


Thanks – we had an issue with decomments plugin and have now to work through different browser experiences etc


Indentation is fine on Firefox/Win 10 but yeah, there are some niggles…



Same for me. Also no email notifications of a reply to my comment for several weeks. I think others are experiencing something along the same lines.

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