Mercedes topped the times in the first free practice session of 2017 as Ferrari’s pre-season testing pace appears to have disappeared. There had been hope after a strong preseason testing and Lewis Hamilton trying to insist Ferrari were the fastest, that the Italian team would be able to challenge Mercedes this season, but the first blood has definitely gone to the Silver Arrows. Hamilton set the fastest time of the session with a 1:24.220. Teammate Valtteri Bottas was half a second slower, the pair locking out the “front row”. Mercedes were the only team to run on ultrasoft tyres, so their position at the front of the field isn’t too surprising, but the gap back to Red Bull and Ferrari is a little more worrying. Red Bull took the best of the rest position, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen slotting in in third and fourth. Ferrari left it late to put on super soft tyres, running a test programme that saw them in the bottom half of the timings for the majority of the session. Sebastian Vettel didn’t get much running early in the session when a problem with the German’s DRS. When Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen did head out to set flying laps, it was expected the team would be at the very least challenging Red Bull, who they had beaten in preseason testing, but the expectation wouldn’t be met. Further down the order, McLaren appeared to go through the whole session without an engine change. The team were running aero tests early in the session in an attempt to catch up on the time they lost out on due to mechanical problems in preseason testing. The team did complete 30 laps between the two drivers, prompting hope that they may be able to survive the first race of the season, but it was considerably less than most of the field. Force India did have mechanical problems. Esteban Ocon was late onto the track as the team were changing brake components at the start of the session, keeping him in the pits for the first 40 minutes. When Ocon did get out, the Frenchman had a productive session, completing 22 laps. Jolyon Palmer completed the fewest laps over the 90 minute session, with a transmission problem cutting the Brit’s running short. He completed only six laps. Free Practice One standings: Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:24.220 Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes – 1:24.803 Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:24.886 Max Verstappen – Red Bull – 1:25.246 Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:25.372 Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari 1:25.464 Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:26.142 Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:26.142 Nico Hulkenberg – Renault – 1:26.183 Sergio Perez – Force India – 1:26.276 Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 1:26.450 Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso - 1:26.450 Lance Stroll – Williams – 1:26.734 Fernando Alonso – 1:27.116 Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 1:27.348 Esteban Ocon – Force India – 1:27.656 Kevin Magnussen – Haas – 1:27.667 Pascal Wehrlein – Sauber – 1:28.539 Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 1:28.585 Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren – 1:28.695 For more Formula One news and discussions head over to the RaceDepartment Formula One sub forum and join in with your fellow community members. Do you think Ferrari will be challenging Red Bull this weekend? Do you think Bottas will close the gap to Hamilton? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.