Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Mercedes impress as Ferrari hit the ground running

2017 F1 season

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Mercedes gave every indication they do not intend to let Formula One’s new rules disrupt their dominance of the sport in the first test of 2017.

The W08 easily covered more than two races distances on day one, first in the hands of Valtteri Bottas in the morning followed by Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon.

The cars matched their out-of-the-box durability with performance, as Hamilton ended the day with the fastest time as well. His 1’21.765 was two-tenths of a second quicker than the team’s pole position time from last year’s Spanish Grand Prix at the same circuit.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Testing day one in pictures
The new season did not begin as smoothly for some of their rivals. Daniel Ricciardo caused the first red flag of the year within the first hour of running when his Red Bull stopped on the track.

A sensor fault on the RB13 was blamed, but it took several hours to rejoin the track as a secondary problem with the car’s battery was discovered. Team principal Christian Horner played down concerns over Renault’s new engine, one example of which failed in a Toro Rosso during a filming day, and all three Renault-powered cars went on to complete significant mileage, though none of them reached a race distance.

McLaren’s problems were even more severe. Having declared himself happy following a successful filming day at the circuit yesterday, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren suffered an oil system problem after its first flying lap today.

In order to press on with their programme the decision was taken to replace the entire unit. Alonso eventually rejoined the track to complete a limited number of laps.

Ferrari came closest to Mercedes’ lap tally, Sebastian Vettel single-handedly completing 121 tours. He also posted the second-quickest time in the SF70H.

Felipe Massa, who also logged more than 100 laps, was third-fastest and just three-tenths of a second off Hamilton.

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Following a minor brush with the barrier early on, Kevin Magnussen put Haas fourth on the times sheets. Marcus Ericsson ended the session at the bottom of the times after a mammoth day of data collection and aero correleation runs in the Sauber.

Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLapsTyres
144Lewis HamiltonMercedesW081’21.76573
25Sebastian VettelFerrariSF70H1’21.8780.113128
319Felipe MassaWilliamsFW401’22.0760.311103
420Kevin MagnussenHaasVF-171’22.8941.12951
53Daniel RicciardoRed BullRB131’22.9261.16150
677Valtteri BottasMercedesW081’23.1691.40479
711Sergio PerezForce IndiaVJM101’23.7091.94439
855Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoSTR121’24.4942.72951
927Nico HulkenbergRenaultRS171’24.7843.01957
1014Fernando AlonsoMcLarenMCL321’24.8523.08729
119Marcus EricssonSauberC361’26.8415.07672

2017 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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  • 64 comments on “Mercedes impress as Ferrari hit the ground running”

    1. Don’t like Ferrari philosophy of showing their hand early. Which is obvious. But so far so good for both Mercedes and Ferrari.

      1. Obvious? What are you basing that on? A hunch.

        1. We can’t take much from today, based on times, tyres used etc. Lets see what happens over the next few days, ultimately we won’t know until Melbourne

          Although what we can see is that Ferrari and Mercedes have good reliability so far.

          Not a good start for Red Bull and McLaren :/

      2. Obvious? They are slower than last years cars, while these new cars should be 5 seconds quicker. I am sure Ferrari hasn’t shown anything. Just testing all systems at this stage.

        1. Correction: they are only slightly faster than last year.

          1. @spafrancorchamps Correction: They’re over 3 seconds a lap fast than last year: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/02/22/2016-testing-day-one/

            You need to compare Apples with Apples and Oranges with Oranges. You cannot just take the fastest lap after all 8 test days from 2016 and then compare it to this first day of testing.

            Better yet: what I’m comparing is not even Apples with Apples if you take into account that 2016 was a continuation of rules, so the cars were evolutions of the 2015 versions, whereas these 2017 cars are all complete new designed, together with much upgraded engines from every manufacturer. So keeping that in mind, the 2017 cars are more prone to first day issues and still having to learn the car than was the case in 2016. But even if you ignore this, it’s still well over 3 seconds faster on day one.

      3. Ferrari, who didn’t even run on soft tires, is “showing their hand early”?

        1. Read your own comment again and ask yourself “what if they did (run soft tyres)?”. So yeah, they are showing their hand early if you ask me, just keeping themselves from top spot by purposely not running the soft tyre.

          1. You must be joking! :D Do you seriously believe this is what they were on track for, to try and be so ever slightly slower on the medium tire than the car that run on softs in front? Showing their hand? :D If this is Ferrari showing their hand, then they will surely be last in the championship this year.

      4. The only obvious thing is your dislike for Ferrari ;)

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          27th February 2017, 17:25

          If Williams are that close to the top of the order I very much doubt Ferrari or Mercedes (or anyone) has shown their hand.

          1. @rdotquestionmark Of course, that’s the main take away from today. The cars are barely faster than last year. I expect times in the vicinity of 1’18-1’19 during the end of the second week of testing.
            Anyone trying to make assumptions based on today’s times should try to keep the excitement down a notch. What people should be getting excited about is the number of laps and reliability shown during this week. If the car is reliable, you can push the engine that little bit more when needed. Let’s not forget the magical second Mercedes always has, which they keep for that special moment in Q3.

    2. – I know it’s one day, but I expected them to be faster
      – Surely the title should be the other way around? Ferrari on medium, Mercedes on soft?
      – Red Bull, cripes
      – McLaren, just, what can you say?

      1. They’re more than 3 seconds faster than day one in 2016, with completely new cars and engines that they’re just starting to understand. I reckon on day 8 they’ll definitely be around 4-5 seconds faster compared to day 8 in 2016.

      2. However, compared to day one of the first test last season the top time was 3.2 seconds faster. The aero regulations are so new that I fully expect to see lap times coming down in massive chunks.

    3. Another boring season of Mercedes dominance on the horizon it seems. Yawn.

      1. We need Red Bull to get a few trouble free days to see what the competition is really looking like. But to be honest, the only thing that could defeat Mercedes is Mercedes… so… it’s a shame they haven’t dropped the ball yet.

      2. It’s early doors, but it’s a fairly safe assumption.

        From the moment you saw that car, it was pretty obvious Merc were still clearly the team to beat.

        1. As if aesthetics alone tell you which car is faster.. that’s nonsense.

          1. It kinda does in F1, in my humble opinion. A launch-spec car with a huge amount of details is usually a dead giveaway that a huge amount of man hours went into those details… and these guys aren’t usually in the business of wasting said man hours chasing details for the sake of it (and usually not unless all the mechanical stuff seems pretty well sorted. Merc were already the team to beat regarding powertrain, and the engine regulations have hardly changed, so I think it’s safe to assume the mechanical stuff has been sorted).

            1. I don’t fully agree with that. Lacking the details means you have a solid base design on which you can further improve (although I don’t think this counts for the back runners of course), maybe Red Bull can add a couple of tenths during the first few races by adding details they already have planned but not sure yet which ones will work best since they haven’t run the car on track.

            2. And how would you know that the base is solid only by looking at the lack of details? Red Bull could have every conceivable aero trick in the book lined up to go racing with, but until the mechanical side is running right, they won’t even be able to evaluate whatever it is they might be sitting on back at Enstone (or in the garage @ Barcelona, for that matter… just like in ’14. They moaned & hollered, & hinted that they were sitting on the very best aero bits in all of Formula One, but a crappy engine package meant they couldn’t even test them properly, let alone race & develop them efficiently.
              Now, Mercedes, on the other hand… all of Mercedes’ bits were installed successfully, & many, many miles later, they’ll know what worked like they planned, & what didn’t, if anything. Tomorrow they’re on to a different program (possibly adding even more detail).

      3. At least wait like everyone else till FP1 of race 1 to declare the championship over!

        1. True that @npf1

          For all we know the teams might be trying to get all kinds of data logged in so they can use it to tweak and tune their parts for the final deal.

      4. With that attitude why do you even watch F1?

    4. Pre season testing isn’t competition, but if it were, Mercedes pretty much started dominating. Most laps and quickest time with absolutely no glitches. At the other end of the spectrum there is Mclaren… Slow, unreliable, disorganised and absolutely shambolic in every way imaginable.

      Hats off to Ferrari as well.. they looked pretty impressive today.

      1. Mercedes starting 14′, 15′, and 16′ preseason testing exactly the same: fastest, most laps, most reliable etc. The f1 season is already over for me IMO.

        1. @mark jackson Sad. How did ‘most reliable’ work out for LH last year? How anyone can assume anything from day one of testing is beyond me. They all have a whole long season ahead of them and many many things will happen. That’s why they run all the races. We have no idea yet how reliable or fast any of them are yet as it relates to actual racing. And different tracks treat different cars and drivers differently. I suggest you let the men on the grid and in the pits determine how the season unfolds and not assume anything just yet after day one.

          1. Mercedes were by far the most reliable team last year, Hamilton´s car isn´t the only Merc.
            I´ve yet to see anyone moaning about Rosberg engine blow in Monza 15 or AbuDhabi 14.

      2. McLaren are an embarrassment. Losing Mercedes has turned them into a laughing stock.

    5. Ferrari & Mercedes look like they did well. Red Bull will probably get over their gremlins… but I’m not sure McLaren will. Haas seemed unexpectedly decent too. I suppose it’s all a bit difficult to read into with only one day though.

      To be honest I just hope either Ferrari or Red Bull – or whoever is closest – can overhaul Mercedes. Another year of total domination by that team won’t be fun to watch at all.

      1. @rocketpanda why does any team need to *overhaul* Mercedes? Red Bull or Ferrari beating them consistently would just mean another team is dominating – it’s just painted differently…

        How about wishing for a balanced grid for a change?

        1. I think the best solution would be for a competetive grid – ideally with multiple teams capable of scoring victories and fighting for the championship but realistically it’s going to be either Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari – at least for this year.

          I suppose overhaul is a poor choice of words – I have no issue with a competetive Mercedes but I’d hope for one that isn’t *quite* as competetively dominant as they’ve been for the last three years.

          Though I can’t say I’m a fan of Mercedes in general so yeah I’d prefer to see the championship go to almost anybody else.

    6. Keith, why haven’t you mentioned any tyre compounds?

    7. I think it’s fair to say that these cars aren’t going to be the fastest cars of all time, they are miles off the pace Alonso set in testing in 2008.

      1. Fastest time on day 1 at Barcelona in 2008 was a 1:21.0xx, only 7 tenths faster than today, so to say “miles off” is a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?

        1. @jamiefranklinf1, I am not sure where you have been getting that timing information from – I think that you might be thinking of one of the later test sessions at Barcelona – because the cars were actually slower in the first test session in Barcelona in 2008 than they were today.

          The first test session in 2008 began on the 1st Feb, and the fastest driver that day was Hamilton (Alonso was 2nd fastest) – his best lap time on the opening day of the 2008 test was a 1:22.263s (Alonso’s best time that day was a 1:22.889s lap), half a second slower than the best time that he set today. http://www.f1technical.net/news/8166

          In fact, I’m rather surprised that Damon85 picked Alonso given that, as far as I can tell, Alonso did not set the best lap time in any of the pre-season tests at Barcelona in 2008, and indeed on only one day did he manage to set a lap time quicker than a 1m22s lap (on the final day of the final pre-season test).

          1. I just used the first round up information from this site. Perhaps that wasn’t after just one day.

            Nevertheless, I think it still proves the point that it was a very exaggerated, and in fact incorrect, claim.

          2. Alonso set a 1:18.483 in April 2008 at a test. These cars will get nowhere near that I’m afraid.

            1. Not at Catalunya he didn’t. The fastest lap ever recorded at the circuit in it’s current form (2007 – present), was a 1:19.995 by Mark Webber in qualifying for the 2010 GP.

              After 8 days of testing last year, the fastest time, on ultra soft tyres, was Kimi’s 1:22.7. The fastest time on the first day of testing last year was a 1:24.9. I believe that time was set on softs, but it may have been super softs. Considering that the times came down by 2.2 seconds over the course of the 8 days of testing last year, if we see the same improvement during testing this year, Hamilton’s day one best of 1:21.7, minus 2.2, would see him set an all time fastest lap around Catalunya of 1:19.5. We also should remember that Vettel’s best time, just a tenth slower than Hamilton’s, was set on the medium tyres. We could see lap times in the 1:18s by the end of the test, which is way faster than we’ve ever seen around this circuit.

            2. I have a feeling they will be in the 1:18s. First day of testing never shows outright pace

            3. Damon85, firstly, even at the time that wasn’t the fastest time that was set during the tests in 2008 – Massa went faster than Alonso by setting a 1:18.339s lap time the previous day, so I still don’t understand the obsession with Alonso’s times.

              Furthermore, you have neglected to mention a major detail – the times that Massa and Alonso set were with cars which were not legal under the regulations for 2008 (they had been modified to accept the slick tyres Bridgestone were introducing in 2009).

              The race legal cars were closer to two seconds a lap slower than that – their best times were in the mid 1m20s, and only after the circuit had been heavily rubbered in and in more optimal weather conditions.

              Your comparison is therefore very misleading – you are comparing cars which which were running in an illegal configuration at a circuit which was in substantially better condition and optimum temperature against cars running for the first time in sub optimal temperatures at a circuit which is considerably dustier and with cars that are running in a race legal configuration.

            4. Wrong again, the outright fastest lap around the circuit is Alonso in 2008. This years cars are not going to get close to that time I’m afraid.

      2. Its only day 1. They still might be slower but don’t judge it off day 1

      3. I’m pretty sure we’ll see a sub 1:20 lap on the ultrasofts by the time the 1st Barcelona test session is over. This was just the 1st day of the test, and no one was doing low fuel runs on supersets or ultrasofts.

    8. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on winning your 4th F1 World Championship! :D

      1. Knowing the rapster he will start partying already and jetting all over. Bottas ftw.

    9. Speed trap numbers could provide some insight into engine pecking order. For all the aesthetic changes, engine power (and reliability) means more this year than last given the extra weight and aero drag.

      1. DRIVER MAX SPEED AVERAGE SPEED
        1. Vettel 283.4 204.7
        2. Hamilton 280.5 204.9
        3. Massa 280.5 204.2
        4. Magnussen 278.3 202.2
        5. Ricciardo 276.9 202.1
        6. Hülkenberg 276.9 197.7
        7. Bottas 276.2 201.5
        8. Sainz jr 273.4 198.3
        9. Perez 270.6 200.2
        10. Alonso 270 197.5
        11. Ericsson 0(don’t ask, idk) 19

    10. First day of testing, and I’m going with my prediction. Which is based on the theory that I shared in the live feed.

      Ferrari world champions, here’s why:

      The nokia 3310 was originally launched in the year 2000, which coincidentally matches the first year of Ferrari dominance.

      Fast forward to 2017 and a new nokia 3310 reached the market, with a new modern design. Coincidence? I don’t think so

      1. Much as I would love to agree, 2014: new engine regulations came in, Mercedes dominated. 2017: engine regulations haven’t changed.

        You see the slight problem ;)

      2. @johnmilk – However charming Your argument is, it lacks a bit of why the Nokia 3310 and Ferrari’s F1 dominance could causally be linked:-) Could it be that issuing Nokia 3310 to the whole team improves the team intern communication to the level necessary to win?

        1. @palle both were dominant in those years amd since then they lacked the greatness that made them unique. But now the stars have aligned again.

          I’m going to place a bet just in case

    11. nothing new no big innovations

      so same old same old looks like Merc steamroller continues

      RBR/Ferrari can steal a couple of wins due to circumstance/weather

      but on pure pace Id say business as usual Merc fast and reliable with qualy mode to lock out front row so WCC

      so its upto bottas to challenge hamilton for WDC

      1. Everyone said that last year but Hamilton did not win the title….Bottas might. Today is correlation and ststems checks after huge rule changes. They will be in 1.18’s by end of next test maybe faster. With huge changes development will also be faster so if cars gain a second over the year these cars may gain 2 or 3 seconds. To be 5 seconds quicker out the box could mean 7 or more seconds on a race to race basis based on 2016 times, no way they will allow that. Today 3 seconds faster than last year already.

    12. Lets not all jump to conclusions and expect another season of Mercedes dominance after only day 1. Ferrari didn’t even use the soft tyres and I think are going to be Merc’s closest challengers.

      Though I do have a feeling that this year could be Vettel vs Hamilton, now I would enjoy that, ofcourse though, we’ll wait and see.

      1. I wouldn’t count on Ferrari even if they set the fastest test times each and every single day of the week. I guess it’s accumulated over the years to not trust the test results. I really do hope the Mercs get some red revenge, though :D

      2. Way too early pal. Would love it because we’ve never seen it. But I doubt it. Mercedes have gotmore I reckon

    13. Of course it’s a little too early to tell but I would be very surprised if Mercedes are not the dominant force this season again. In my opinion their car looks the best and I think this is being born out in these very early stages.

      Ugly cars don’t usually turn out to be winners. I know it’s an oversimplification but this is my gut instinct.

    14. Based on what I’ve read in the book about F1 by Ross Brawn and Adam Parr, I still think this year will be between Mercedes and RedBull, with Ferrari third. And based on the same book I wouldn’t put my money on McLaren-Honda: The problems we see with them, is the same problems the Honda Team had, before it became Brawn and then Mercedes, which is now the dominant team – impressive, but also shows why Honda is not the right partner for McLaren, and never was.

    15. The cars look awesome. Proper F1 cars finally

    16. While I enjoy the rush to a season-winning conclusion as much as anyone, it’s day 1 testing with a new spec. Perhaps some were hoping for a pack-busting double-diffuser Brawn upset session.

      I’m looking forward to the rest of the testing where teams discover a 1 second advantage by not running the shark billboard or at least a half second benefit by using a transparent one.

      Without the panel van signage these new cars look great on track – wider, sleeker and heavier. 2 out of 3 is not bad. Unfortunate we have to wait for another few weeks to see them running wild in earnest. Unless it’s McHonda – they might like another 3 months of pre-season testing.

    17. Get rid of the shark fins NOW! Them look horrible, grotesque, a joke.

      All cars look great, better than last year, but for the fins… :(

    18. Did Mercedes run two cars. Thought only one car to be run by each team during testing

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