Mercedes and Williams unveil 2015 cars as F1 testing begins

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Formula 1 2015 has burst into life with the start of the first pre-season test in Jerez today, giving the drivers and the teams their first taste of the cars for the coming season.

Ahead of the start of on-track running, defending world champions Mercedes lifted the covers off the new W06 Hybrid that follows in the footsteps of one of the most dominant cars in the history of F1, the W05.

The team had already released some spy shots and a short video profiling the car, but as the sun came up in Jerez, the media got its first real look at the new challenger as defending world champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg lifted the covers off the W06 Hybrid.

The new car features a reprofiled nose design and new sidepods, but is otherwise an evolution of the successful W05 design that took Mercedes to both world titles in 2014.

“The launch of a new car is an exciting moment for everybody involved,” team boss Toto Wolff said. “To see the product of all that hard work turn a wheel for the first time is a great source of pride – and rightly so.

“However, there is a long road ahead before we reach the first race. We must build a fast, reliable racing car to be able to compete with rivals whose ability and competitiveness can never be underestimated. At this point, every team is on zero points.

“The only thing we know for sure is that we have consistency in our driver line-up for the third year running and they know what’s expected of them, just as we know what they expect from us. We’re looking forward to seeing them push each other and the team forward. It will be another fascinating battle between the two, but we must wait until Melbourne until we know if we have provided them with a car that allows them to fight each other for wins.”

Following in Mercedes’ footsteps, Williams unveiled its new car in public for the first time before heading out on track just 30 minutes later.

The FW37 features a revised nose once again but breaks the trend of the flat, rounded designs that most of the other teams are sporting. Instead, a small protrusion – rather like a nose – extends from the front of the car.

“After such a strong season in 2014 we are looking to continue the move back towards the front of the grid,” team owner Sir Frank Williams said. “The move from ninth to third was a tough challenge, but ultimately every step up from now on will be even harder. I am confident that we have the appropriate personnel and talent in this team to make those steps.

“We have an experienced driver line-up, with both drivers finishing on the podium throughout last year and hungry for more success in 2015, new commercial partners to add to the continued support from our already impressive roster, and have a technical team that is amongst the best on the grid.”

After successful 2014 campaigns, both Williams and Mercedes will be hoping to hit the ground running in Jerez and start as they mean to go on in 2015.

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
Dan Mullan/Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

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The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.