Formula 1 Testing: Barcelona Day 1

By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer

Testing for the 2016 season began today in Barcelona and for many Formula 1 fan’s, it is like Christmas morning.  With teams rolling out their cars “in the flesh”, we are finally getting to see them, hear them and most importantly, find out where the stand out on the track.

Lewis Hamilton, the three time and defending World Champion, was the first to hit the track in the Mercedes W07 Hybrid.  There was an immediate impression that the cars sounded louder, with a deeper tone thanks to new rules that require the turbo waste-gates to have their own exhaust. Pat Symonds, of Williams, described the sound as at least a 12% improvement!  Thank goodness!

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will hunt for the 2016 title

The morning testing was filled with team roll outs, system checks and installation laps just to insure that all of the new car’s systems were working and functioning together from the engineer’s perspective. Once systems checks and performance benchmarks were established, some of the teams went immediately to aero testing, getting their first chunks of data to later correlate with their wind tunnel and CFD efforts.

All of the teams were in attendance at this test with their 2106 cars, except for Sauber, who ran the 2015 version with updated livery. Sauber plan to have the new 2016 car ready to roll next week in the second set Barcelona test.

Newcomers Haas F1 Team provided the first red flag of the season when Romain Grosjean returned to the pits without his front wing. Haas confirmed that their car suffered a front wing failure and were investigating the cause. They were able to implement an interim fix which got Grosjean back out of the track late in the day.

Haas VF-16 first track action

The time sheets were topped by Sebastian Vettel who sapped the top spot of the leaderboard with Lewis Hamilton throughout the day. Vettel set a time of 1:24.939 for the morning session which proved the quickest of the day and is fairly close to the fastest time set last year of 1:22.792 by Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton put in an astounding 156 laps to top the boards for most laps of the day. Over all, initial reliability is far better for all teams and engine manufacturers this year and no team suffered the technical failures and embarrassments seen in 2014 and 2015.

Driver Team Time Laps
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:24.939 69
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.409 156
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:26.044 87
Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:26.091 80
Alfonso Celis Force India 1:26.298 58
Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.735 84
Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:27.180 55
Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:27.555 88
Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:28.292 54
Romain Grosjean Haas 1:28.399 31
Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:29.356 37

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Growing up in a racing family, Steve Aibel was surrounded by Allards, Crosleys and Corvettes! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Steve was drawn to the automobile magazines strewn throughout the house and Formula 1 in particular. With go karts, motorcycles and vintage race cars in the garage, it was inevitable that the torch would be carried by Steve. Lime Rock Park was his own personal playground while still keeping an eye on the pinnacle of motorsports overseas called Formula 1. Now, in the shadows of Circuit of the Americas, Steve is able to not only follow F1, he makes it the object of this racing stories. This passion for Formula 1 is shared weekly writing original articles for both Tribute Racing and Drafting the Circuits. He also participates in two weekly radio shows. Drafting The Circuits, (, which airs Tuesday evening at 7 pm CST and Formula 1 Racing Plus (, which broadcasts throughout the week on Performance Motorsports Network. Steve's motorsports photography can be found at

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