It may be the first day of testing but defending champions’ Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes look to be the in-form parties once again after Hamilton topped the timesheets by three-tenths over team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes completed 173 laps between the two drivers.
Bottas competed in the morning session, completing 79 laps with a best time of 1:17.313, before being eclipsed by team-mate Hamilton in the afternoon session. The six-time champion was the first driver to go below the 1:17 barrier, with a 1:16.976 and a total of 94 laps completed.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez completed the top three, with the RP20 sporting a Mercedes-inspired front nose and finishing just 0.062 seconds off Bottas.
Max Verstappen completed the most laps of anybody on the day, with a total of 168 laps in the new Red Bull RB16 and finishing in fourth place, over a tenth off Perez in the Racing Point. His session was not without incident, however. Spinning twice during the session, although the Dutchman claims the RB16 to be “faster everywhere” than the predecessor.
In fifth place was the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat, completing 115 laps and a best time of 1:17.698.
Daniel Ricciardo’s afternoon run was slightly delayed as the Renault outfit carried out work on the new R.S.20, eventually making it out to finish seventh overall, whilst team-mate Esteban Ocon finished behind him, the pair completing 118 laps between them.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc received a late call-up to replace Sebastian Vettel in the new SF1000 after the four-time World Champion was unable to partake in the days testing after falling ill, and subsequently returned to his hotel to recuperate. Leclerc would finish the day in eleventh place, a second down on Hamilton’s time and only one place ahead of rookie Nicholas Latifi in the Williams.