Just two days after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula One teams were back in action at the Sakhir Circuit, with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheet for Mercedes as F1’s first in-season test of 2017 got underway.
The session start was briefly delayed while shopping containers were removed from near to the pit lane exit and Hamilton too suffered an early setback as his Mercedes ground to a halt soon after running began.
His car was recovered to the garage and after an electrical fault was identified and rectified last Sunday’s second-placed driver was able to continue with the team’s run plan.
It eventually resulted, late in the day, in the day’s quickest time, a soft-tyre lap of 1:31.358. He was followed by Ferrari test driver Antonio Giovinazzi who finished the day with a time of 1:31.948, just over six tenths of a second behind the three-time champion.
Third on the timesheet was Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, with the Australian’s best time coming earlier in the day as the team first focused on aero tests and then tyre and set-up work.
“We did a few runs on the soft tyre and made a few mechanical changes, which were interesting, and a couple of runs on the supersoft. I think we discovered as few things there,” said Ricciardo of his morning’s work. “You do try some bigger steps than you might do on a race weekend and it was interesting to see what the results of those changes were.
The Renault-powered team had envisaged a number of longer runs in the afternoon but an issue with the car’s power unit forced the Milton Keynes squad to call an early halt to its programme.
There were power unit problems, too, for sister team Toro Rosso, with Formula 2 driver Sean Gelael forced to stop his Renault-powered car with a suspected engine issue. The Indonesian driver did return to the action in the day once again he stopped with an unspecified issue. He finished the day in eighth place.
Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest, putting 87 laps on the board and logging a best time of 1:32.542, just under a tenth of a second ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. Lance Stroll was seventh for Williams ahead of Gelael, while ninth place on the timesheet was taken by the second Ferrari on show on day one, driven by Sebastian Vettel.
The German was undertaking testing for Pirelli aimed at developing its 2018 tyres, though that process was interrupted for a long period my a mechanical problem with Vettel SF70H. With the agreement of teams, Vettel’s outing was extended until 9pm local time to make up for the hours lost in the garage.
Ferrari’s time in pit lane was nothing compared to that of McLaren, however. After another troubled race weekend, the team endured a difficult test day, with driver Oliver Turvey confined to the garage for the bulk of the session as an ERS water leak led to a power unit change.
Turvey was able to get track time in the final hour and completed 17 laps, although ended up in P12, behind Alfonso Celis of Force India 1and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Formula One Bahrain In-Season Test – Day One, Best Lap Times
* Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was conducting a dedicated 2018 tyre development programme for official suppliers Pirelli, and was granted an additional three hours’ testing due to technical difficulties – he therefore continued running alone after all other drivers were shown the chequered flag, hence his data is subject to change.