F1 2018 Testing Day One: Red Bull fastest from Mercedes and Ferrari

Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes rounds up all of the 2018 cars on the first day of running at Barcelona

Daniel Ricciardo set the pace on a fast but difficult day for the F1 teams as pre-season testing began in Barcelona.

Ricciardo’s Red Bull edged ahead of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen with a lap of 1:20.179 just before the lunch break at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Ricciardo’s time was set on the medium tyres, as was Bottas’, while Raikkonen recorded his best time on soft tyres.

World champion Lewis Hamilton replaced Bottas in the Mercedes for the afternoon session but completed just 25 laps as plummeting temperatures restricted the opportunity for the meaningful running.

Nico Hulkenberg was fourth in the charts with all of the four quickest runners setting their times in the morning when the conditions were at their best.

But Fernando Alonso recovered from an early crash, attributed to a broken wheel nut, to finish fifth fastest in his Renault-powered McLaren and complete some decent mileage in his MCL33 car.

Although Alonso’s best lap was recorded on supersofts it was nonetheless quicker than any lap the Woking outfit managed during the entirety of winter testing a year ago as their partnership with Honda began to unravel.

Honda, meanwhile, enjoyed a positive first day of their own with new partners Toro Rosso as Brendon Hartley completed 93 trouble-free laps.

First impressions offer plenty of optimism for 2018
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said his team had made a “good start” while Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff said the world champions had enjoyed a “solid” first outing.

“It’s interesting to see there are a couple of cars that have been able to post quick times this morning so we are up for an interesting season,” added the Mercedes chief.

Alonso’s spin into the gravel with barely an hour on the clock immediately sparked memories of McLaren’s Barcelona disaster 12 months ago but there were no further alarms for the team as they bedded in their new Renault power unit.

Renault themselves also impressed with Nico Hulkenberg fourth quickest before Carlos Sainz, in for the afternoon session, took the RS18 to 99 laps for the day.

Hulkenberg and Sainz finished the day either side of Alonso in the timesheets – an early pointer, perhaps, to a close fight between customers and suppliers when the season begins on March 25 in Australia.

F1 2018 makes a very fast start
How much faster will Formula 1 be in 2018?

On first evidence, the sport could be at least two seconds up on 2017 when the teams start to test the full capabilities of their new cars.

Daniel Ricciardo’s pre-lunchtime burst on the medium tyres of 1:20.179 was 1.6 seconds faster than the best time – set on the soft tyre by Lewis Hamilton – on the opening day of testing a year ago and 1.5 seconds faster than the best time registered on the mediums over the eight days of pre-season action twelve months ago.

Barcelona Test One, Day One Timesheet Driver Team Laps Fastest Time Tyre Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 100 1:20.179 Mediums Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 1:20.349 Mediums Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 80 1:20.506 Softs Nico Hulkenberg Renault 73 1:20.547 Mediums Fernando Alonso McLaren 47 1:21.339 Supersofts Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 26 1:22.168 Softs Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25 1.22.327 Mediums Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 93 1:22.371 Softs Lance Stroll Williams 46 1:22.452 Softs Romain Grosjean Haas 55 1:22.578 Softs Marcus Ericsson Sauber 63 1:23.408 Softs Nikita Mazepin Force India 22 1:25.628 Mediums Sergey Sirotkin Williams 23 1:44.148 Softs

The Sky Sports F1 Digital team will be providing live commentary from dawn until dusk for all days of winter testing while Sky Sports News will also deliver live updates from trackside.