Reliability and long runs were arguably the biggest story of the first day of official testing ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season, with Ferrari ending quickest ahead of Mercedes at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
In total, more than 700 laps were completed on the first of the four-day test.
While Sebastian Vettel’s morning time of 1:24.939 in the Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H stood as the day’s fastest time, as teams focused primarily on longer runs, it was the 156 laps turned in by Lewis Hamilton in the new Mercedes W07 that turned heads.
Hamilton already had a full Spanish Grand Prix race distance of 66 laps under his belt in the morning, and only served to increase that in the afternoon running.
The 156-lap total was staggering, simply because on the first day of testing when the new hybrid power units premiered at Jerez in late January 2014, there were only 93 laps completed combined on the first day.
It was nearly double the next-best in the field, 88 laps from Marcus Ericsson in the 2015 Sauber C34 and 87 laps from Daniel Ricciardo in the new Red Bull RB12.
Of course, you can’t read anything into lap times yet, but the fact Hamilton’s number of laps were completed – as well of those throughout all 11 teams – spoke highly of the collective efforts of the teams over the winter.
Hamilton was second on times, Ricciardo third, with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India reserve driver Alfonso Celis Jr. completing the top five.
Celis, the young Mexican who is the lone reserve driver testing this week, banked 58 laps in his first of two days. He’ll return to the car on Thursday.
It was a productive day of running for McLaren’s Jenson Button, who completed 84 laps in the MP4-31 Honda, which put their trying 2015 test times to bed at least for one day.
A gearbox oil system issue limited Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz to his car number, 55 laps, in the new STR11.
Haas F1 Team returned in the afternoon after front wing failure cut the morning short for Romain Grosjean in the VF-16 Ferrari. Grosjean completed 31 laps, which was fewest on the day but still a very good number for Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner in their first official day on track.
Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer completed a handful number of laps than did his predecessor at what was then Lotus, with 37 laps banked.
Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein completed 54 laps, and that was a good number for the German rookie and very good for the team as a whole. Manor’s preseason race last year was simply to make the grid at Melbourne, let alone to bank testing time.
Some insights from NBC Sports Group F1 producer Jason Swales are below:
Times are below: