Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo ending a cold and wet opening day of Formula One 2018 with fastest time of all - but are the times representative of the new F1 running order?
Ricciardo and Red Bull would go fastest of all before the rain came down in Barcelona to mark an impressive debut for the new Renault powered car, adding further expectation to the Milton Keynes based outfit as the Australian was the only driver to break the 100 lap barrier today, a stark contrast to the troubled opening day of running for the former champions this time last year.
Speaking of former champions, it would be an interesting day for fellow Renault powered outfit McLaren, with star driver Fernando Alonso managing to complete a reasonable afternoon of running despite missing much of the morning thanks to an errant wheel detaching itself and leaving the Spaniard stranded in the gravel at the final turn. Overcoming this setback somewhat in the afternoon, Alonso and McLaren would recover to fifth overall with 51 laps, a reasonable start to the new look partnership in 2018.
One of the largest surprises of the day would perhaps come from Toro Rosso, having a trouble free day of running with the new Honda PU strapped to Brandon Hartley and his STR13, managing 93 laps as the Kiwi wound out the day in eighth overall on the timesheets, despite claims from the team that outright performance was not on the agenda for the small Italian outfit during the opening day of testing.
Representing the reigning World Champions in Barcelona would be both Valtteri Bottas (AM), and Lewis Hamilton (PM) in the new W09 Mercedes, both drivers looking to get some early laps in the new Silver Arrow as team and driver look to make a strong start to the 2017 title defence. Bottas would open the running in the morning session, completing 58 laps before handing over to four time World Champion Hamilton after the break. Hamilton would be disrupted in his programme thanks to a downpour late in the afternoon, completing just 25 laps on his way to seventh overall.
Despite a largely uninterrupted day of running for the Grand Prix teams, the overall pace would still have some way to go to match that of 2017 after the opening round of activity. With potentially warmer weather in the days ahead, and a newly surfaced Barcelona circuit since February last year, expect the times to tumble as teams continue to feel their way into Formula One 2018 style...
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