Feb.28 (GMM) F1 has burst back into life for its all-new era, delivering on the promise of much faster cars.
“Lewis (Hamilton) is already quicker than qualifying last year,” said Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo as the first of just two four-day Barcelona tests began.
That enthusiasm was obvious up and down the paddock and pitlane, but there remains some scepticism that the ‘show’ will be improved from an overtaking point of view.
“The tyres are very hard and very consistent,” said Mercedes’ Hamilton. “I was behind a few other cars and it was not easy to pass them.”
But Fernando Alonso said: “These are real racing cars again.
“We need to apologise to the fans for what we gave them over the past six years.”
Ricciardo, however, is not sure the six second per-lap promise of the 2017 regulations will materialise.
“I don’t know but I think that’s pretty optimistic,” he said.
Force India’s Sergio Perez agreed: “I was expecting more grip. I would say the improvement in laptimes will be three or four seconds.”
And although the chassis and tyre rules are changing, the controversial ‘power unit’ regulations have remained fundamentally unchanged.
“We need to live with these engines until at least 2020,” said Red Bull designer Adrian Newey.
As for Monday’s pecking order, Mercedes came out a tenth ahead of Ferrari, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz noting: “The worst thing today was comparing the laps we did compared with Mercedes.
“It is incredible to see how they are Ferrari arrive at the start of the preseason with their homework done so well.”