(Motorsport-Total.com) – On the first day of the 2019 Formula 1 winter tests, Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari was four tenths of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz in the McLaren. Red Bull was 1.3 seconds behind, Mercedes even 2.0 seconds behind. This shows how little you should give the results of the test launch. And that’s no different in 2020.
Lewis Hamilton secured the fastest time on the first day of testing in Barcelona Zoom download
The result, however, did: defending champion Lewis Hamilton set a daily best time of 1: 16.976 minutes on the C2 Pirelli in Barcelona (Spain), underscoring the strong early form of his Mercedes team with the brand new F1 W11 EQ Performance.
Toto Wolff is an almost perfect start to the test winter: “Everything went smoothly compared to last year. Too smooth. That almost worries me,” says the Mercedes team boss to ‘auto motor und sport’.
Ultimately, three Mercedes cars led the classification: Hamilton ahead of Valtteri Bottas (+0.337) in the real silver arrow, ahead of Sergio Perez in the “Fake-W11” (+0.399). One of the hot paddock topics of the day (apart from the slider comparison: Racing Point RP20 vs. Mercedes W11) was that the Racing Point looked amazingly similar to the Mercedes, apart from the paintwork.
Racing Point doesn’t understand the excitement
“Should we maybe take a look at the second or third best car?” Is how Racing Point technology chief Andrew Green is quoted by ‘auto motor und sport’. “It is logical that we take the world champion car as a template. Anyone else could have done that too.”
The excitement does not detract from the satisfaction of the world champion team: “Both drivers are positive about the balance,” says Head of Technology James Allison – and adds: “We only have six days this year, but want to do the same work as before in eight days! “
The main opponent of Mercedes will be Red Bull in 2020 and not Ferrari, Wolff conjectures ‘Sky’: “Max could be the youngest world champion if he wins. I think Red Bull and Helmut [Marko] because it is very important. It would be nice for them, so I think Red Bull will focus enormously on 2020. “
The most hardworking driver in terms of number of laps (168) was Max Verstappen. The 22-year-old turned twice in the corner complex before the home stretch, was once again in the middle sector off the track; but he did not raise a red flag. In the end, he finished fourth, 0.540 seconds back, making him the first “Mercedes” pursuer.
Ferrari: Vettel not in the car due to illness
And Ferrari? Particularly noticeable was the absence of Sebastian Vettel, who didn’t feel fit in the morning and recovered off the track. Charles Leclerc jumped in at short notice, completed 132 laps with the SF1000 and finished eleventh, 1.313 seconds back. “Not so bad,” the Monegasse had scribbled on his notepad after his first runs.
It seems obvious that Ferrari didn’t uncover the cards: chief boss Louis Camilleri didn’t seem particularly worried, and the mechanics were constantly busy shielding annoying photographers from the pits. After all, the previously used partition walls will be banned for the first time in 2020 …
And otherwise? Daniil Kwjat (+0.722) secured a good fifth place in the blue and white AlphaTauri, which is packed with Red Bull technology. The “copies” of some teams were the main topic of conversation in the paddock. In addition to Racing Point and Mercedes, there are striking similarities between Haas and Ferrari.
Renault: problem with the drive shaft
Renault has developed a completely independent design. Daniel Ricciardo (7./+0.897) landed just before new signing Esteban Ocon (8./+1.028). Ricciardo could only start his program late in the afternoon. Because the conversion took longer, as Renault claimed on Twitter. Because there was a problem with the drive shaft, as we researched.
Impressive: There was not a single red flag on the first day of the test. The kilometer comparison shows how reliable the new Formula 1 generation is: in 2019, the teams (then without Williams) shot 4,473 kilometers. A year later, Lewis Hamilton & Co. made around 6,300 on the first day!
“The midfield is very close,” said AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost. “It’s about hundredths of a second. It’s going to be an incredibly tough season because everyone is so close together. But that’s good for Formula 1. Formula 1 is entertainment – and people want to see that.”
(Further information can be found in the live ticker from the Formula 1 test in Barcelona 2020!)