Testing got underway today at Circuit de Catalunya Barcelona, with the Toro Rosso Honda STR13 the first to take the track. As the team enters a new era with Honda, it was clear it wanted to make a mark, making it the first time since 2014 that a non-Mercedes kicked off winter testing.
The session got underway 10 minutes late to allow the pitlane to be properly ready after the roll-outs earlier in the morning by Haas F1 Team and Scuderia Toro Rosso. The latter were unfazed though, with them allowing Hartly to queue up at the red light to be the very first to get out on track. Valtteri Bottas joined him quickly enough, with all cars doing their installation laps in the first 5 minutes of the session.
After a brief moment of silence, Bottas seemed immediately comfortable and set a 1:22. Still, far off the usual benchmark, but interestingly several seconds faster than the first few laps of Alonso in the McLaren MCL33 and the Haas of Grosjean.
The first red flag then came little before 10:00, as after 37 minutes, Alonso found himself in the gravel trap on the exit of the final corner. He has just set purple sectors, but went off track as his right rear wheel went off the car. The Spaniard and the car seemed fine, but it was of course the start of an investigation in the McLaren garage to find out what exactly happened in order to avoid such repeats further in testing.
One hour later, Force India's Nikita Mazepin came to a halt on track, and had to be recovered along with his car at around 11:00, but further on, there were no more interruptions ahead of lunch.
On the contrary, the morning session ironically ended with Toro Rosso Honda completing the highest number of laps while McLaren did the least, even though they still managed to get Alonso out to do an extra few laps before the track closed for an hour.
At 13:00 local time, just before lunch, the timing sheet looked as follows:
|1.||Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||RB14||1:20.179||-||60|
The afternoon session was reasonably straightforward, even though it proved difficult for most drivers to get their tyres up to temperature. As track was cooled down after several short moments of drops of rain here and there, numerous drivers locked up at various corners around the track as they got surprised by the lack of grid. It wasn't a major issue for anyone though, as there was no damage to any car.
When the final hour of the session arrived, rain started to properly come down, triggering several teams to call it a day. Fernando Alonso however kept going, trying to at least complete some laps after having lost several hours of running in the morning. Daniel Ricciardo similarly went out, rounding a lap in 2:08 compared to Alonso's 2:14.
Sergey Sirotkin, who was in the Williams in the afternoon, also went out for a few laps in the wet. Surprisingly perhaps, given that he was already incredibly slow in the dry conditions. Williams have likely put him on an acquantance programme, trying to make sure the team can continue to keep using the car while avoiding any crashes until the team's new drivers gets comfortable with the new Williams FW41.
|1.||Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||RB14||1:20.179||-||104|