Hamilton tops timesheets as first in-season test gets underway


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.

"It was a pretty okay day," he said. "We lost a bit of time in the garage in the early afternoon otherwise it was a productive day with some interesting updates to the car.

"It looks like everything we added to the car is healthy and working as we wanted so overall we were able to improve the car and learn more about it. We've found some interesting things today; it was a good day, overall very positive."

"We're very happy with the new aero parts we tried this morning as they bring a tangible benefit to the R.S.17 in terms of general pace and, in particular, race pace," added Sporting Director, Alan Permane. "In the afternoon we worked more on understanding tyre performance. The car performed well across the day with Nico giving positive feedback. Tomorrow will be Sergey's first time in the car with a full test programme in store."

F2 contender Sean Gelael, whose father was at one stage linked with a possible buy-out of the Manor F1 team, was the surprise addition to the Toro Rosso roster this week, the youngster completing 78 laps on his way to the eighth best time.

"Today is a day I will never forget," beamed the Indonesian, "to finally drive a Formula 1 car is something every driver dreams of, and to do it with Toro Rosso makes it even more special.

"What an amazing feeling! This year's car is a beast, it's so quick! I settled in nicely throughout the day and we definitely made progress. I was able to complete plenty of laps and get used to the car quickly.

"The power and overall grip is amazing and, compared to the Formula 2 car I drive, the grip under braking and the kerb riding are two of the biggest differences I felt. Honestly, it's really fun to drive and I'd like to thank everyone who made this possible! I now can't wait to drive the STR12 again in a few months' time at the test in Hungary."

"Today was an opportunity for evaluation of a number of development items we have been working on recently," added Head of Vehicle Performance, Jody Egginton, "but also a fantastic chance for Sean to sample a current-spec F1 car.

"He acclimatised himself very well, covering a number of test items across a range of tyre compounds, gathering some very useful data for the team. Sean drove consistently, making no mistakes and he therefore should be very happy.

"We will head into tonight with a lot of data to analyse and a further packed run program for tomorrow - Daniil will be driving in the morning and Carlos in the afternoon."

While team co-owner Vijay Mallya was being arrested in London, Alfonso Celis was putting another 71 laps of the VJM10, the Mexican youngster finishing the day tenth on the timesheets.

"It was a straightforward day for me and I completed more than a race distance," he said. "There have been a lot of changes since I last was in the car in Barcelona and the first few laps were a bit of a learning process.

"Fortunately the aero programme at the start of the day gave me some time to get used to the car again," he continued. "We were able to complete some performance runs in the afternoon, but I ran into traffic each time so I couldn't really take everything out of the car. The temperatures out there were much hotter than I've ever experienced on these tyres and it was useful for me to understand how to manage and look after them. All in all, I felt pretty comfortable in the car and I am happy with my performance"

"It was not a trouble-free day," admitted Chie Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, "with our programme disrupted by the numerous red flags for other cars, which always seemed to come out at the worst possible times.

"Despite this, we managed to work through our priority test items and will try and catch up with the remaining tasks tomorrow. We had a busy programme with aerodynamic rakes fitted to the car carrying out mapping and correlation work, even though the windy conditions made the latter quite difficult.

"Alfonso quickly settled back into the VJM10 and drove very sensibly to help us get through our test programme. He didn't make any mistakes and showed good improvement. Our race drivers will be back in the car tomorrow for the final day of testing."

For Sauber, everything went according to the plan, Marcus Ericsson mainly doing set-up work in the morning. Later on, the focus was on tyre and brake work.

"It was a very good day," said the Swede. "We completed our program and I did the most laps of everyone (106). We were able to run through a lot of different set-ups and we worked quite hard on the tyres to get them to work as we want in the right window.

"I think we made some really good progress there, which is very promising for the next couple of races. Also on the set-up side we have been scanning through some different settings, which we haven't had the chance to do so far this season. On that side too we found interesting data for improving the performance."

It was another challenging day of testing for McLaren, as Test and Development Driver, Oliver Turvey, a regular in the simulator, got behind the wheel of the MCL32 for the first time on track.

However, shortly after he completed his install lap, the engineers detected a water leak in the ERS system, which prompted a full PU change to further investigate the issue.

The team worked tirelessly through the day to ready the car for a return to the track, and Oliver stepped back into the cockpit for a second installation lap shortly after 17:00. The team managed two timed runs before the chequered flag fell, and Oliver crossed the line having completed 17 laps.

Despite the lack of mileage covered during today's running, the team was able to collect some useful aero and PU data which will be analysed to help shape the programme for tomorrow's final day of testing, when Stoffel will take over the driving duties.

"I've been looking forward to getting back in the car," said Turvey, "it's been two years since I last tested - so I'm really grateful to McLaren-Honda for giving me the opportunity to drive here in Bahrain.

"It's frustrating to have had an issue this morning which cost us a lot of track time, but, for me, every lap in a Formula 1 car is beneficial and it was great to be back in the car.

"I got a few laps in at the end of the day and managed to get enough of a feel for what the car is like to be able to go back to MTC and contribute to the correlation between the car and simulator, which hopefully will help with the development back in the factory. I do a lot of work in the simulator so being able to correlate between there and the track is really important. I still feel we achieved something today despite the limited running.

"The guys have been working extremely hard in the garage and I want to say thanks to them for helping me to get back out on track. Today for me was about getting a feeling for how the whole package - car and tyres - works together. This is my eighth season with the team as a test driver, and I last drove for McLaren-Honda in 2015, so the car feels completely different. It's hard to compare from year to year, but any time and knowledge I can pick up from my time in the car is important. Tomorrow I'm keen to follow Stoffel's programme, as I think it will be really useful.

"I've been training hard for the last three months in preparation for this test, and I knew the physicality of the new cars would be a step up from the last time I drove, so I felt ready. The high-speed corners felt very quick and the downforce level feels a lot higher than I remember, so I think it's definitely a more enjoyable car to drive this year."

"After Oliver completed his installation run this morning, we discovered a water leak in the ERS which required a full PU change," said Eric Boullier. "We suspect the issue is related to those we encountered over the race weekend in Bahrain, but the circumstances were slightly different, so until the Honda engineers have done a full investigation we cannot be sure.

"I'd like to praise the guys and girls in the garage, who worked really hard once again to change the PU so we could return to the track - a tough job made tougher after a long couple of weeks away from home. Once the car was back up and running, I'm pleased that Oliver - in his first outing in the MCL32 - was able to put in some laps. It's great to see him out here in Bahrain and we're very appreciative of his support.

"The team will be working hard overnight as usual to ready the chassis and PU for testing tomorrow, when I hope we can have a more productive day of running than we managed today."

"Today, we had hoped to work on improving our reliability following the issues we had during the Bahrain Grand Prix," admitted Satoshi Nakamura. "But unfortunately, we faced a water leak issue from the ERS just after completing the installation laps, which happened in a similar place to the issues from the weekend.

"It's still under investigation whether the issue we had today is the same as the one from the last week, and we are also investigating whether those issues are related to the specific features of Bahrain, such as weather or circuit layout. We are working hard to solve these issues before the Russian Grand Prix.

"It's disappointing that we weren't able to complete many laps on the first day of testing, and it's a shame for Oliver who wasn't able to make the most of his day in the car.

"However, we still have one more day to go tomorrow. We will be aiming to complete as many laps as possible in order to proceed with our development in both reliability and performance."

Check out our Tuesday gallery from Bahrain, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 18/04/2017
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