Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Vettel fastest but Hamilton goes furthest by far

2016 F1 season

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The first day of testing for the 2016 season was a repeat of last year’s: Sebastian Vettel was quickest for Ferrari but Mercedes demonstrated stunning reliability out of the box.

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Grosjean’s front wing parted company. More pictures
Lewis Hamilton began his world championship defence by leaving the pits the instant the lights went green at the Circuit de Catalunya. By the time the chequered flag had fallen on the first of eight days of pre-season testing he had covered 156 laps – roughly two-and-one-third race distances. His total mileage of 726.18 kilometres was 30 kilometres more than his team mate managed on the first day of testing last year at Jerez.

Hamilton’s best lap time was just under half a second slower than Vettel’s benchmark of 1’24.939. Daniel Ricciardo was a further half-second back in third, fractionally quicker than the Williams of Valtteri Bottas. The entire field was covered by less than four-and-a-half seconds.

Of the eleven teams present all bar Sauber had their new cars ready for the first day of running. Newcomers Haas completed 31 laps with their new car, though Romain Grosjean had a scare when his front wing detached on the main straight. He was able to recover to the pits though the session had to be red-flagged while the track was cleared.

Manor, who failed to participate in any of last year’s pre-season tests, also got off to an encouraging start with their mew MRT05. Pascal Wehrlein lapped just over three seconds off the pace set by fellow Mercedes user Hamilton.

Toro Rosso also made third first appearance with a new engine supplier, Carlos Sainz Jnr driving a largely blank car now using 2015 Ferrari power. The car was only just completed in time for testing – hence the minimal livery – but lapped well until the team brought their running to an end after detecting a gearbox fault.

Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLapsTyres
15Sebastian VettelFerrariSF16-H1’24.93969Medium
244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW071’25.4090.470156Medium
33Daniel RicciardoRed BullRB121’26.0441.10587Medium
477Valtteri BottasWilliamsFW381’26.0911.15288Medium
534Alfonso CelisForce IndiaVJM091’26.2981.35958Soft
622Jenson ButtonMcLarenMP4-311’26.7351.79684Soft
755Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoSTR111’27.1802.24155Medium
89Marcus EricssonSauberC341’27.5552.61688Medium
994Pascal WehrleinManorMRT051’28.2923.35354Soft
108Romain GrosjeanHaasVF-161’28.3993.46031Medium
1130Jolyon PalmerRenaultRS161’29.3564.41737Medium

2016 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Vettel fastest but Hamilton goes furthest by far”

  1. I’ve never seen this amount of mileage in opening day. Just mega. Anyway, every teams managed reasonable amount of laps, so it’s safe to say reliability of PU has been significantly improved, especially Honda and Renault.

    1. I’ve never seen this amount of mileage in opening day.

      Rosberg did 157 laps on opening day last year.

      1. On the shorter circuit, Jerez

      2. In Jerez (Shorter track) so 30km less thab Hamilton

      3. He did say mileage not laps and the article even stated it was 30km more than what Nico did last year.

      4. Hamilton went about 4% further than Rosberg last year – not exactly destroying the previous amount of mileage completed. It depends on how Merc tests – are they going for sheer mileage, or are they looking at things per lap. If it’s by laps, then they must have been doing a similar program as they did last year.

        We also know that the Merc PU is ultra-reliable from last year. Not surprising to see the same numbers this year. It’s more interesting to see the McLaren-Honda get in 84 laps and Red Bull to get in 87 laps. Those are good numbers for engines that had major reliability issues last year.

        1. @uan It’s already been discussed that Merc are going for mileage this preseason.

  2. Ouch for Renault – I wonder whether driver or car or both!

    1. Yes, not desirable. I would have expected better, especially as Red Bull have got the same engine.
      Oh … here we go, if you check out Keith’s article on the RS16 you will find a list of excuses, e.g. 2015 car and 2016 engine, had to make changes to accommodate the new engine, 2016 chassis on the way, insufficient downforce, need to update the suspension, need to do aero updates, etc.

  3. Vettel’s time is only 3 tenths of last years pole lap (with the same tyre compound), and faster than his time.
    Also, Manor is nearly 3 seconds up on their qualifying effort (although if the Autosport page is to be believed, they were on the soft compund, but still…)

    1. @michaeldobson13, I really wouldn’t read anything into the comparison with the pole position times from last year, because teams have, for the best part of the 15 or so years that they’ve been using the Circuit de Catalunya for testing, consistently set faster times during pre-season testing than during the race itself (for example, back in 2004 Schumacher’s best time in pre-season testing was around half a second better than his pole position lap, so it definitely isn’t a trend that is specific to the current regulation package).

      Essentially, it seems to be the case that the conditions at the circuit are more conducive to setting faster lap times during the winter test season than the race itself, which is perhaps in part due to the teams being able to reduce the cooling apertures due to the lower ambient temperatures and therefore cutting drag.

      1. I would think that the reason the times for testing is so much faster than race and race qualifying times is that they push the engine harder in testing than racing as it has to last longer when racing. Just shows you how much they have to hold back in racing, which is a real shame.

        1. @aliced That’s still unproven though…..and to me makes less sense than Anon’s explanation (teams holding back like that in a competition in which they put the tyre chamber above Pirelli’s reccomendations? Errr…….I doubt it)

  4. 84 laps without the Honda blowing up even once? is that a record??? ;)

    in all seriousness, without looking too much into a single day of testing, I have a feeling McLaren is now where the aimed to be at the end of testing last year: a car that is somewhat reliable, has an average pace, hopefully good enough to fight for points on most tracks.

    this is truly Year 1 for McHonda! :)
    except now they are 2 years behind everybody… :/

    1. *they aimed

    2. @arrows98

      84 laps without the Honda blowing up even once? is that a record??? ;)

      (96 is way below what Team Brackley managed in theis year’s Day 1 testing though)

  5. Reliability looks great again. I certainly am glad 25 points is huge to keep making up.

  6. The McLaren unable to set a time or something?

    1. Button was 6th – 1’26.735

  7. Either Alfonso Celis is pretty handy for a pay test driver or that Force India is potentially quite quick.

    1. Hopefully we’ll have a competition in the midfield this year. The more, the merrier.

      1. I thought the same. Usually he sucks so hopefully that’s a very fast car.

    2. or they just drained the tanks a bit more than the competition to get a nice time on the clocks @philipgb

  8. Pretty impressed with Mclaren. They managed to get 80+ laps in without any failure on the PU side.

    Hopefully, they can keep this up during the test, and turn in to a genuine mid field team this year

  9. What circuit layout do they use for testing at Barcelona? Is it the current one or the old one, with the sweeping final corner instead of that chicane? I just can’t believe that with it being day 1 some teams are lapping faster than they were at the Grand Prix last year.

    1. @jackysteeg
      Why not? I’d be surprised if they weren’t faster than last year. They are running the normal Barcelona circuit (with the chicane) btw.

  10. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the Championship running order by the end of the year… maybe swapping Manor and Haas…

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