Barcelona Test Day 1: Ricciardo fastest as snow looms

Daniel Ricciardo made a promising start to Formula 1’s preseason testing by setting the fastest time and racking up the most laps on the day at Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, rain-affected proceedings later in the day and thus the times set earlier in the day were there to stay.

In unusually cold conditions, Ricciardo rose to the top of the timesheet in the morning with a time of 1:20.169 set on medium tyres. The lap, which left him just under two-tenths of a second clear of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, stood until the end of the day as conditions worsened in the afternoon, with rain falling in the final part of running.

There was further good news for Red Bull as Ricciardo also topped the lap count for the day, the Australian getting through 105 laps of the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya. The impressive reliability marked a significant improvement on recent years in which the Renault-powered squad has struggled for pre-season reliability.

Bottas logged 58 laps in the morning session before handing over to team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon. The defending world champion posted just 25 laps during his outing, recording a best time of 1:22.327 that left him 2.148s off Ricciardo and in seventh place on the timesheet.

Third place in the session went to Kimi Räikkönen who got Ferrari’s 2018 campaign underway with the best lap of 1:20.506, set on soft tyres. That left him +0.327 behind Ricciardo. The Finn’s first posted 80 laps on his first day at the wheel of the team’s SF-71H car.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top four, with the German using the medium tyres to finish four-hundredths of a second behind Räikkönen after his morning’s work. Carlos Sainz then took over at the wheel of the Renault for the afternoon and the Spaniard logged a further 26 laps to climb to sixth on the timesheet.

That put him behind compatriot Fernando Alonso who was getting his first taste of Renault power in McLaren’s new MCL33 car.

Alonso’s outing wasn’t trouble-free, however. In the morning, with the session less than an hour old, the McLaren lost its right rear wheel and was pitched into the gravel traps with just 10 laps on the board. The team lost several hours in making repairs but in the afternoon Alonso was able to add a further 41 laps, taking fifth place with a time of 1:21.339 set on supersofts.

Times set in the morning gave Brendon Hartley and Lance Stroll eighth and ninth places respectively, with Hartley working through an impressive tally of 93 laps as Toro Rosso ran with Honda power for the first time.

Tenth place went to Haas’s Romain Grosjean, with Alfa Romeo-Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson 11th. Force India’s Nikita Mazepin took 12th place but the development driver did not in the afternoon after a morning spin left him in the gravel traps at Turn 4.

Propping up the timesheets was Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who took over from teammate Stroll in the afternoon.

Snow is being forecast for the next few days which may force teams to stay on in Spain to complete four full days of testing. Discussions regarding this have taken place but no decision has been made as yet.