NBC Sports Group’s Formula One insider and pit reporter Will Buxton reports from Day 1 in Bahrain, with updates on Red Bull’s struggles, Lewis Hamilton’s confidence after his day for Mercedes, and other odds and ends from the day.
All the talk heading into the 2017 Formula 1 season was that the new cars would be significantly quicker than their predecessors, and in day one of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, that was exactly the case.
Lewis Hamilton took the new Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+ to a best time of 1:21.765, which was nearly 3.2 seconds faster than the quickest time on day one of testing last year, set by Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari (1:24.939).
Vettel was second today in the Scuderia Ferrari SF70H, also in the 1:21 bracket at 1:21.878. Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, now back for 2017 despite his planned retirement, was third in Williams Martini Racing’s FW40 chassis at 1:22.076.
Vettel led the way from a lap count standpoint at 128 of them, with Massa also cracking the 100-lap threshold at 103.
But as Mercedes AMG Petronas banked over 150 laps on day one last year, they’ve done the same this year – albeit with both drivers.
Hamilton ran the afternoon session and completed 73 laps while the team’s new recruit, Valtteri Bottas, did 79 for his first official running with the team in the morning session. That meant Mercedes had 152 laps in the books out of the box.
While Mercedes was pounding away, others were less successful from a lap count and mileage standpoint.
Sensor and battery issues limited Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo to 50 total laps on the day, but the Australian was back going fuller in the afternoon in the not-so-unlucky RB13.
Kevin Magnussen completed the same number of laps in his first day at Haas F1 Team, despite an off at Turn 10 that damaged his front wing of the VF-17 chassi. Magnussen (1:22.894) and Ricciardo (1:22.926) were fourth and fifth on the day.
Their days were still slightly better than Sahara Force India, with Sergio Perez only clocking 39 laps in his VJM10 and McLaren, which lost most of the day to an oil systems issue for Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard made it out for 29 laps.
All drivers with the exception of Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson ran a faster lap today than Vettel’s best time of last year; Ericsson was only able to muster a 1:26.841.
Most of the fast runs were set on Pirelli’s red labeled supersoft compounds.
As ever, times aren’t as important as lap counts in testing and from that standpoint, Mercedes seems to have got off to another fast start with the other two 100-lap teams not as far behind.
Times are below; more to follow.
Testing for the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring took place last week on Thursday and Friday, with Cadillac DPi-V.Rs again setting the pace across the board for the quartet of sessions.
A busy couple of days occurred, with the majority (if not all) those that raced at the Rolex 24 at Daytona joined by a handful of intriguing newcomers or returnees.
The Ferrari debut of Juan Pablo Montoya, along with the U.S. debut of Alex Lynn for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac team and the return of sports car veterans Marino Franchitti (Mazda) and Spencer Pumpelly (Alegra Motorsports) highlighted the new drivers.
IMSA’s recaps from Thursday and Friday are linked in this sentence, with test times below. Use this as a reference for when the series returns from March 16-18 for the second round of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup seasons.
Today marked the first day of running for Formula 1’s new 2017 cars in anger at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, as this week sees a four-day test from today through March 2.
And thanks to an apparent relaxing of the rules to allow for teams to post quick video on social media, you can hear the new cars as well as see them.
This is a good spot from F1 on NBC Sports producer Jason Swales:
Teams and onlookers at the test have taken the opportunity to post up these video clips to Twitter. An assortment of clips are below:
Ferrari and Sauber haven’t yet released clips from their official accounts, but those may come later today. In the meantime, here’s a couple still shots the teams released:
Roborace has formally unveiled the ‘Robocar’ that will take part in the world’s first electric autonomous motorsport series in the near future.
Roborace was announced as a new support series for Formula E late in 2015, planning to push the boundaries of autonomous vehicle development through a racing championship.
Roborace has been present at Formula E rounds throughout season three, with its software being tested out on the ‘Devbot’, a self-driving Ginetta LMP3 car.
On Monday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Roborace officially unveiled the Robocar, with CEO Denis Sverdlov expressing his pride at the launch.
“This is a huge moment for Roborace as we share the Robocar with the world and take another big step in advancing driverless electric technology,” Sverdlov said.
“I am so proud of the entire team and our partners and particularly the work Daniel has done creating this beautiful machine. It was very important for us that we created an emotional connection to driverless cars and bring humans and robots closer together to define our future.
“The progress with Devbot on track and building the Robocar in less than a year has been extraordinary and we cannot wait to continue the journey of learning with the Robocar.”
The Robocar was designed by Daniel Simon, who has created vehicles for Hollywood sci-fi films such as Tron Legacy and Oblivion. It has four 300kW motors and a 540kW battery, capable of producing speeds of almost 200 mph, according to Roborace.
“Roborace opens a new dimension where motorsport as we know it meets the unstoppable rise of artificial intelligence,” Simon said.
“Whilst pushing the boundaries of engineering, we styled every single part of the Robocar. We take special pride in revealing a functional machine that stays true to the initial concept shared, a rarity in automotive design and a testament of our determination. It’s a great feeling to set this free.”
Roborace plans to continue to test with its Devbots at Formula E rounds throughout 2017 before putting two Robocars on-track together towards the end of the year.