Max Verstappen edges Sainz and Vettel after first in-season F1 test day
Posted By: Editor   |  15 May 2018   |  7:14 pm GMT  |  32 comments

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen posted a late lap on the supersoft tyres to narrowly beat Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to the top spot on the first day of F1 2018 in-season testing.

Less than two days after the conclusion of the Spanish Grand Prix, all ten Formula One teams were back on track at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first of four official in-season test days, with the majority of teams completing well over one hundred laps of the track.

Fresh from his first podium of the season at the weekend, Verstappen completed 148 laps en route to posting the best lap time of the day – a 1:17.528. However, this lap was several tenths off the pace of his fastest qualifying lap time from the weekend.

Sainz had been on course to land end the day fastest. He set his best lap of the day with just under two hours to go on the Pirelli hypersoft tyre, the street racing tyre that will be used in Monaco next week, but his lap time was beaten by a mere 0.034 of a second.

Prior to Sainz’s hypersoft effort, Vettel had been heading the time sheets. Equipped with the standard soft tyre, Vettel registered a 1:17.659, but his effort ultimately fell 0.131 behind Verstappen’s late effort.

Part-way through the day, Ferrari confirmed through Twitter that they had been running both versions of the Pirelli tyres. These were the newer, thinner tyres used for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend (and will be used again at Paul Ricard and Silverstone) and the original tyres used in the first four races of the season.

Ferrari also revealed after the test that Vettel’s best lap was set on the original tyres, the ones which weren’t used at the Spanish Grand Prix. They had made it clear during the weekend they weren’t I favour of the thin gauge product, but Vettel said after having the rare chance to back to back the tyres, that the Pirelli decision had been the right one and he would have struggled more on Sunday with the original gauge tyres.

Following his disastrous start to his Spanish Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean completed a much-needed day of solid running. He set the fastest time of the morning session of hypersoft tyres, which remained his best time for the rest of the day as he clocked up 136 laps for Haas.

Force India’s Canadian reserve driver Nicholas Latifi – who was forced to miss out on pre-season testing due to an illness – was given his first run-out in the VJM11 ahead of his free practice debut at the Canadian Grand Prix next month.

He made a series of improvements over the final hour to set the fifth-fastest time of a 1:18.530 on the hypersoft tyres.

Sixth-placed Lewis Hamilton set his best time in the morning session on soft tyres, which remained his fastest time in the afternoon. The Briton racked up the most mileage of any driver, completing 151 laps, well over two Spanish Grand Prix race distances.

The Mercedes car was fitted with a new rear lighting system during the opening day. As well as the usual red light at the back of the car – which is used in wet weather and signify if a car’s power unit is ‘derating’ – the rear wing end plates were extended and fitted with thin strips of LED lights.

This was at the request of the FIA, who are looking into an alteration of the rear light to improve visibility. However, due to the sunny conditions in Barcelona, the FIA may consider retesting on a day when conditions are worse.

Stoffel Vandoorne was one of only two drivers to complete the full day and not register one hundred laps. However, without any noticeable problems occurring for the team, his best lap was a 1:18.981 and he completed 85 laps of the circuit.

Antonio Giovinazzi caused a late red flag by pulling over at the chicane, but otherwise it was a blemish-free day of running for Sauber, who completed 135 laps. Giovinazzi will take over from Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari for day two of the test tomorrow. He is one of the drivers putting pressure on Romain Grosjean for his Haas F1 seat.

Oliver Rowland completed his first outing for Williams since his switch from a development driver role at Renault at the start of the season.

He made improvements throughout the day and clocked a 1:20.009 on supersoft tyres in the afternoon session. He will make way for Robert Kubica to return to the cockpit tomorrow.

Lando Norris, George Russell and Oliver Turvey were given fresh opportunities to sample Formula One machinery with both McLaren and Force India undertaking Pirelli testing duties.

The Pirelli tests (on unmarked tyres) meant that the two teams were permitted to use two cars for the test. Norris and Turvey had half-a-day each in the McLaren, whilst Russell had a full day in the Force India.

Norris was the fastest of the Pirelli testers in tenth place with a 1:20.997, whilst Russell ended the day eleventh with Turvey thirteenth.

Sean Gelael separated the cars equipped with experimental Pirelli rubber. The Toro Rosso team swapped the car’s Honda power unit as a precaution to a chassis issue which developed part-way through the day, meaning they only completed 50 laps.

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m17.528 147 laps
2 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m17.562 119 laps
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m17.659 136 laps
4 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m18.449 129 laps
5 Nicholas Latifi Force India/Mercedes 1m18.530 107 laps
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m18.543 151 laps
7 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m18.981 85 laps
8 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.693 135 laps
9 Oliver Rowland Williams/Mercedes 1m20.009 121 laps
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m20.997 76 laps
11 George Russell Force India/Mercedes 1m21.478 123 laps
12 Sean Gelael Toro Rosso/Honda 1m21.935 50 laps
13 Oliver Turvey McLaren/Renault 1m23.070 58 laps

All Images: Motorsport Images

What do you think of the potential lighting system change, aesthetics or otherwise? Leave your comments below.

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Kubica is killing it today.


As I read through the article, I noticed a Toro Rosso heading down into turns 5 & 6, & kept on reading.

Because the aspect of the photograph was following cars down the track from behind, I had looked down into turn 5 & completely missed the lights on the back of the Mercedes. I had to scroll back up & look again.

I believe they are not big enough & do not suit the job requirement.

Glare will scatter light everywhere, so a thin light could be lost in the glare.

Water filled vorticies could shroud such a small light, but being led technology, the light could be brightened intensly, but a bright flash in the eyes could temporarily reduce a driver’s retina function.

Are they to become a standard part which may affect the individuality of aerodynamic design?

I can see what the FIA are trying to achieve & I fully support their intention, but on this occasion, I must give a firm no.

Back to the drawing board please.

Mind you, if this means “Pimp My Ride” has made it to F1, then I say, Bring it on!!!


Wow. That is some piece of scaffolding on the Red Bull.


Goes well with the so called “halo”. Should become a regular fixture in the actual races in the near future.


@ James…a couple of points. is there any specific reason why Ricciardo is not driving in these tests ? Second point, OT, and one that i’ve posted before but haven’t yet seen any response. Are in-box alerts off the menu? It would be great to get them back.


Let’s be honest, those extra rear LED lights are really rather cool.


I see Williams are running Rowland and Kubica in this test, are they using either of their race drivers as well?


TimW Is it worth running their racing drivers?

Kubica and Rowland probably have more to give than the Wealthy Boys and their bottomless bank accounts.

Rather hope Williams have them with a box of crayons, colouring car prints, while trying not too go over the oulines and edges. Maybe that’ll help them keep on the circuit.


Bkf, well Kubica beat both of their quali times yesterday, so no, probably no point running either of them!

It’s depressing seeing what a once great team has become, how did it happen that a smaller team with less resources runs two quality drivers in Perez and Occon, and Williams are using those two? No doubt there will be the usual ‘explanations’ from the team for Kubica out pacing their race drivers yet again, but the more times it happens the stupider they look. How are they expecting to keep quality tech staff when the management clearly isn’t interested in on track performance?

It should have been Kubica and Wehrlein in that car this year, even Kvyat would have been better.


When’s Claire Williams going to be called to account for her running of the team?


The additional lights are a good idea. Being a fixed distance apart they give distance and rate of closure cues to following drivers when, in bad weather, it might be all they can see of a car ahead.

Less seriously, why not let’s have decorative lights on the halo as well? might make it marginally less hideous. Talking of which (Halos) since they have removed any faint lingering ability for us to identify the driver from his helmet colour, why not mandate that the halo is painted the same main colour as the driver’s helmet?


Nothing can make the so called “halo” look good. I would have thought that this being 2018 they would have come up with some kind of invisible force field that deflects debris.

In fact, make that the next tech challenge to make f1 the pinnacle of tech again, because attaching a dynamo to the turbine really isn’t impressing anyone anymore.


I rather like those lights. Makes the car look a bit more aggressive. The testing is important for parties involved, but the time sheet is not reflecting the real standings.

Now to address a rumor. James maybe you can confirm. FIA discovered that Fer had something going on with their energy recovering system, it seems that the output exceeded the allowed maximum output and hence the first 4 races Fer actually were driving an illegal car and hence they should be punished. Seems though that after flipping their opinion regarding the aero package for 2019, they might be of the hook. Quid pro quo ???


I heard that, yes. Normal give and take in F1.

Ferrari’s deficit to Merc was in certain specific corners in qualifying

Engine had to be managed in the race, especially after Raikkonen’s problem


I also heard Hartley is getting the boot sooner than later. Any truth to that?


Pimp my ride F1 Style.

How bout LED under the cars too. So they look as if they are hovering on a disc of ultra blue man that’ll be tripping x i bit boyz…😃

Okay far to middoe management to swing that street chat.

Maybe abit of “Del La Soul” but thats about it.

Stick with George Clinton, Creedance Clearwater Revival or The Au Pairs on The Old Grey Whistoe Test.

With Whispering Bob Harris on Da Microphone.😃

Think its a good idea. That little square light is difficult to see especially in cloud bursts like in Japan a few years back.

But having the LED strip onthe rear wings get obscured & lost behind the vortex of mist and spray from the rain at high speed?

Also each team would have a slightly different aero package so the light strips may be visible more on some cars and less on than others.

Assuming the FIA did okay it. Does this mean more expenses batoning down tougher regs on rear wing specs?


The LEDS have been used in WEC with no problems… it’s not as if F1 is the only place to try out new ideas


The lights are cool. They make the rear of the car look like 2035. Then you look at the cockpit and your heart sinks as you are effortlessly transported back in time to the 50s.


Charlie Whiting has mandated that we should look to the camera above the air box.. black forteam driver with the lower number and yellow for the driver with the higher number. Which all makes the rule that the driver can’t chnage helmet colour rather redundant! Thanks Charlie. Why did he go when Bernie went?


I believe all teams would be worst off using the original (thicker) tires, but in relative terms, Ferrari would be fare better than both Mercedes and Red Bull.


Hmm good point.


Finally! They (sorry Luke, you can blame James, or who’s giving this a go). Never mind the bolocks, it’s got to be writtnen about. Test day’s are important, period, and Max is good. We will get the details later. Jokes aside what is going on, is’nt that what everybody want to know? Every detail of their upgrades. What have they one, and not.

And more news about the tyres, what is the (truth), who has done what? Well sleepy time


Vettel said –

“the Pirelli decision had been the right one and he would have struggled more on Sunday with the original gauge tyres.”

But maybe Mercedes would have struggled more than Ferrari??


What is the purpose of not marking the test tyres? Aren’t the team’s able to figure out the type of tyres just from the grip and pace of them?


they’re probably something different that they are trying out.. maybe for next year??

Sure the team will know if they’re ‘as grippy as super-soft and last as long as mediums’ but don’t know what they’re going to be called next year.


they do mark the tyres! – just not in the way you are accustomed to. Using the secondary marking as for race tyres would confuse – what colour should they use?


what colour should they use?

They have run out of colours…they’ll have to start naming them after fruit perhaps!

Lewis..”I need to come in these banana’s are not going to last..”

Pit crew…”Noted…box box we’ll through on some watermelons for the last stint”

Lewis…”What about the pineapples?”

Pitcher…” Negative Ricciardo has them and is losing time to Kimi!”


Did think of naming the different hardnesses after various states of , ahem, arousal, but I imagine James would have taken a dim view.

Just stamp the entire range with “Unsuitable for F1 use” please, and give the contract to Michelin.


Some compounds are “lemons’ and some are ‘peachy’. Beware the ‘Mandarins’ though, they are cheap Chinese knockoffs!!!!




these banana’s are not going to last

hahaha.. Hilarious! that was super funny 😀


For a smooth transition to the fruit tyres, they could start with the already available “oranges” (superhards).

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