World champions Mercedes have started this year’s pre-season on the front foot, in contrast to last year, and carried out a series of short to medium runs across the day, with comfortable breaks in between.
Bottas and Hamilton’s respective best laps came on their third-from-last runs, with Hamilton coming out on top by three-tenths. More impressively, Hamilton was running the C2, a step harder than the C3 Bottas was running for his best lap.
Sergio Perez put Racing Point (with a car that has striking similarities to last year’s Mercedes) in the headlines as they ended up as the second quickest team overall. However, as the graph shows, he completed a series of shorter stints, with his best lap coming on one a third of the length of Hamilton’s, suggesting the RP20 was running much lighter.
Red Bull did a series of shorter runs, too, but they had a much shorter gap between each, suggesting they weren’t refuelling in between. That bodes very well for their overall pace, with Verstappen’s best lap coming on the middle compound tyre. Early signs suggest they have made a step forward this year.
McLaren completed what looked like a race simulation in the afternoon, with Sainz completing three very even stints early in the afternoon, before they turned their attention to shorter runs, allowing the Spaniard to set his best lap inside the final hour of running. It’s early, but they look to be commanding the midfield once again.
All in all, it was a good day all round for everyone involved. Fortunately, there’s not a snowflake in sight around Barcelona, so expect the teams to make the most of the good weather predicted for the rest of the week.
Speed and Number of laps completed as shown above does reveal AMG Mercedes have good track time with McLaren and Red Bull showing quicker times on track over varying times of the day.