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Hamilton tops timesheets as first in-season test gets underway

NEWS STORY
18/04/2017

The Briton, still smarting from his defeat on Sunday, suffered further frustration when his car stopped on track just 15 minutes into an already delayed session, thereby bringing out the first red flag of the day.

Further red flags over the course of the session were caused by Sean Gelael in the Toro Rosso (twice) and Daniel Ricciardo.

It was another trying day for McLaren, where Oliver Turvey suffered a water leak in his ERS, necessitating an engine change after just two laps of running. The McLaren crew worked throughout the lunch break and just over an hour before the end of the session the Briton headed out to complete a further 15 laps and actually post a time, albeit 3.6s off the pace.

Ferrari had two cars on track, Antonio Giovinazzi running the Scuderia's test programme, while Sebastian Vettel was conducting 2018 tyres testing for Pirelli.

A technical issue for the German compromised his track-time, so Pirelli was given permission for the Bahrain GP winner to continue running for a further three hours after the end of the session.

Following his earlier stoppage, towards the end of the session Ricciardo suffered an engine failure in the afternoon that will mean a change overnight in order to be ready for Pierre Gasly tomorrow morning.

Haas, which ended the day fourth quickest, carried out its much-anticipated test of Carbone Industrie's brakes today, even though Romain Grosjean claims the latest product from Brembo, as used at the weekend, were a big improvement. Has last trialled Carbone Industrie's brakes in Brazil last year.

At Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton completed 98 laps on his way to posting the best time of the day, posting a 1:31.358 on the softs late in the afternoon.

Today's programme focused on evaluating new parts to be introduced over the next few races, aerodynamic analysis and setup work to address issues with poor rear grip in Sunday's race.

"Today was tricky with it being so hot and very gusty," said the Briton, "but we still managed to get through plenty of work. Our focus was on advancing our understanding of the tyres and also the rear of the car so that we can improve our long runs - particularly during the race and on the supersoft compound.

"We came here with a specific goal, so it was positive to get on top of that with the team. Sochi is a smoother track and less abrasive on the tyres, so they can go quite a long way. Hopefully we can rely on the pace of our car there rather than our use of the tyres.

On every one of the 93 times that he sped past the pits, Antonio Giovinazzi must have had a broad grin on his face under the helmet. While he'd already experienced a Ferrari F1 car at Fiorano, the car he drove in that first test was the 2015 SF15-T, while in pre-season testing it was the Sauber.

Consequently, today marked his first day of testing in a current Ferrari.

According to the Italian team, following a massage and some breakfast the Italian's day consisted of no less than nine hours of testing and then came the debrief.

Setting a best lap of 1:31.984 on supersofts, and finishing the day second quickest, the Italian said: "To drive the car that won the last race and is leading the world championship, working with the Scuderia Ferrari engineers and mechanics, is not just a great feeling, it's a dream I've had since I was little and racing in karts. And today it came true."

After finishing fifth on Sunday, Ricciardo was back behind the wheel of the RB13. However, while the team had a successful morning, building on the lessons learned from the opening three races, a power unit issue forced the team to call an early halt to its running.

"This is the team's first real opportunity to look at everything we've learned over the first three races of the season," said Senior Projects Engineer, Jeff Calam, "and use that data as a platform for gaining a better understanding of the RB13 and improving the car.

"In that regard it was good to have Daniel in the car today in order to match some of that work to what he and the team achieved at the weekend here in Bahrain.

"Through the early part of today we got through some useful aero and tyre testing and also some good set-up work. This afternoon we had intended to focus more on longer runs, but then we encountered an issue with the power unit. It was doubtful that we'd get running again before the end of the session, so better to call time and plan ahead for tomorrow."

"It was a good outing for the aero department," added Ricciardo, "we did a lot of data gathering in the first hour, which all went to plan, and that's important for the guys, even though for a driver it's not the most thrilling thing, as you're just trundling around really!

"After that we did a few runs on the soft tyre and made a few mechanical changes, which were interesting, we then completed a couple of runs on the supersofts.

"I think we discovered a few things there. You do try some bigger set-up steps than you might do on a race weekend and it was interesting to see what the results of those changes were.

"We were planning a few long runs in the afternoon but obviously the power unit issue prevented that."

At Haas, Romain Grosjean began the morning session with stock reconnaissance runs, heading out first on the medium tyre for an installation lap before switching to softs for five timed runs totalling 39 laps.

The Frenchman ran 48 laps in the afternoon with a program consisting of four timed stints that recycled the morning's soft compound tyres before switching to the faster, grippier supersofts. With supersofts bolted on the VF-17, Grosjean closed out the day. He ran three stints with a new set of supersofts each time before culminating with a final, seven-lap outing on a used set of supersofts.

"It was a pretty good day," said the Frenchman. "We went through most of the stuff we wanted to, so that's pretty good, very positive. We completed most of our program, which is great. There's a lot of data now to look back through at the factory. That'll help us know what we want to do in the future. It's testing, we're not looking for performance, but I'm happy with the day."

With Gary Paffett on duty tomorrow, today Williams had Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll put the FW40 through its paces, the Brazilian finishing fifth quickest and the Canadian teenager seventh.

"Well, it was only a half day today!" said Massa. "To be honest the track was very windy. It's never really easy to understand all the changes that you make with the car, because the track conditions seem to change on every run. So it wasn't an easy test, but that's the way it is.

"Overall we did some good laps and I hope we can use that to understand more and continue to improve the car."

"Today I have used multiple sets of tyres trying different little things," added Stroll, "nothing special, just tweaking bits and more driving for myself, which is always good.

"I need to try small changes to see how the car feels," he continued. "It really is about the simple stuff. For me all the seat time I can get is good, as there is always something I can gain from being in the car.

"With tests like today, when we are not limited on what we can do, it is just good to experiment. That is something Williams knows I have to do and also I know that myself. For sure I am out there competing and trying my best, but it is also about understanding and learning before I can reach the maximum of my capability as a racing driver.

"We had an interesting day," said Rod Nelson, the team's Chief Test & Support Engineer. "It is very different running continuously in the heat of the day rather than under the floodlights, as we do for qualifying and the race.

"One issue today was the very strong wind, which was blustery so it was stronger at some times and weaker at others, and the track temperatures were in the mid to high forties which makes life a little bit tricky for us.

"In the morning we focused on performance based runs with Lance, before moving on to a series of longer runs with Felipe in the afternoon, looking at car setup and aero configuration.

"Despite the problems we had with the weather conditions, it is actually nice to do some testing on a hot track, and it is the first time this year we have had that so we have got plenty to work on now.

"Tomorrow Gary is in the car and we will continue our aerodynamic tests before moving on to both tyre and mechanical set-up work later in the day."

Renault had Sunday's points-winner Nico Hulkenberg in action, the German completing 74 laps as he ran a programme that included assessment of new aerodynamic parts destined for the next race at Sochi.

Check out our Tuesday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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