The 2015 Formula One season officially started today with the first of three pre-season tests.
In 2014 Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets on day one on his return to Ferrari. The new dad did not drive today, however, with Sebastian Vettel getting the first proper taste of his new car and team, topping the times by a tenth of a second. All eyes were on the four time world champion who was making his long awaited debut for Ferrari and the German was one of the first drivers out on track at the start of the session.
Other drivers making their first appearance for new teams (or new old team as was the case for a certain Spaniard) were Carlos Sainz Jr at Toro Rosso, Marcus Ericsson for Sauber and Fernando Alonso for McLaren. Alonso completed just six laps – a number of installation laps and a three lap run – after a technical issue confined the car to the pits. “Given the complexity of modern Formula 1 machinery, the sorts of issues we encountered today weren’t too surprising,” Alonso expressed after his day. “They’re just the things you experience on the first day of a Formula 1 test.”
It was a solid start to testing for Mercedes as the reigning world champions completed 157 laps over the course of the day, more than double what anyone else managed. Nico Rosberg was at the wheel of the W06 today with world champion Lewis Hamilton due to get in the car tomorrow. Red Bull were running a camouflage livery as Daniel Ricciardo got to drive the car first. Also in action was Valtteri Bottas for Williams. Lotus are at the test but are still waiting for parts to arrive so did not get to the track today.
The day was interrupted by just two red flags, a small amount for the first day of testing. Ericsson suffered a small spin while Sainz Jr broke down on track. At the end of the first day it was Vettel who topped the (unofficial) times:
- Sebastian Vettel – 1:22.260 – 60 laps
- Marcus Ericsson – 1:22.777 – 73 laps
- Nico Rosberg – 1:23.106 – 157 laps
- Daniel Ricciardo – 1:23.338 – 35 laps
- Valtteri Bottas – 1:23.906 – 73 laps
- Carlos Sainz Jr – 1:25.307 – 46 laps
- Fernando Alonso – 1:40.738 – 6 laps
“Today was a good start,” Vettel said. “I can’t say more than that, because this is only the beginning. Everything is different, even the philosophy behind the car, when compared to what I was used to. But I immediately felt at ease within the team and the guys gave me a very warm welcome. For now, lap times aren’t important: I did mine on the medium compound, but the comparison has to be made yet again with Mercedes. They are very quick, let’s just hope they are not quite as fast as last year…”