F1 Testing, Day One First Test: Sebastian Vettel fastest, McLaren second
Encouraging start for McLaren and Red Bull-Honda; Mercedes focus on mileage as F1 Testing begins
By Matt Morlidge and James Galloway at Barcelona
Last Updated: 21/02/19 6:03pm
Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets as Ferrari made an impressively fast start to F1 2019 on the first day of pre-season testing.
"I couldn't have hoped for a better first day," said the German. "Unbelievable."
But while anticipation is building for another blockbuster battle between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull this season, it was McLaren who emerged as the Scuderia's closest challengers on Day One.
World champion Lewis Hamilton was only ninth quickest. Mercedes did, however, complete a combined 150 laps after Valtteri Bottas ran in the morning session.
Ferrari and Vettel's flying start trumps McLaren
Vettel flew out of the blocks to set his fastest time, a 1:18.161 just before lunch, a benchmark that didn't look likely to be challenged before Carlos Sainz's eyebrow-raising late surge in the MCL34.
In the closing stages of a fascinating first day, Sainz lapped within half a second of Vettel - an encouraging feat for a McLaren team so desperate for improvement this year.
But this was still Ferrari's day. Vettel also posted the most laps -170 - while his fastest time was two seconds quicker than anything we saw at this stage last year.
Two Ferrari-powered teams, meanwhile, in Haas and Alfa Romeo occupied third and fifth through Romain Grosjean and the experienced Kimi Raikkonen respectively.
Red Bull enjoyed a solid first day with Honda engines, with Max Verstappen fourth and over a second off Vettel's eye-catching pace but also racking up over a century of laps.
"So far so good," said the Dutchman. "Everything was working quite well, we did quite a lot of laps. I'm happy about that but it's still the first day.
"We're happy and we'll keep improving. Like everyone else we still need to learn the car, still need to learn the engine."
Find out more about Sky Sports F1
Watch every race, qualifying and practice session live with Sky Sports F1 in 2019
The biggest enigma were Mercedes as the world champions opted for longer runs, failing to trouble the leading times all day.
Bottas and Hamilton split the running for the Silver Arrows, only slotting into eighth and ninth with a fastest time of 1:20.127.
Renault also appeared to be holding something back, with Nico Hulkenberg and new recruit Daniel Ricciardo surprisingly propping up the timesheets.
Williams, meanwhile, didn't get out on track at all and have also ruled themselves out of Day Two - meaning the Grove team are set to miss a quarter of F1 Testing.
F1 Testing: Day One, Test One Timesheet
|Driver||Team||Total laps||Fastest tyre||Fastest lap|
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||128||C3||1:19.426|
|Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||114||C3||1:19.462|
|Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||77||C4||1:19.464|
|Sergio Perez||Racing Point||30||C3||1:19.944|
|Compound 2=2019 Medium tyre||Compound 3=2019 Soft tyre||Compound 4=2019 Hypersoft tyre|
Day One at Barcelona in quotes
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
"I couldn't have hoped for a better first day. Unbelievable. If we can maintain the level of enjoyment and fun that I found on the track today and saw in people's faces the last couple of months then I'm positive and hopeful for the future."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes
"I've seen [Vettel's] time and the time was very quick."
Christian Horner, Red Bull
"It's a very good starting point [for the Honda engine]. The installation looks great, it's beautifully integrated into the car and we're hopefully going to see exciting progress through the year."
Zak Brown, McLaren
"It's been a good first day. We're coming off a very difficult few years and obviously last year's first day of testing didn't go to plan and today has."
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso
"[Honda] have made big progress over the winter - from the reliability side as well as the performance side,"
Day One at Barcelona in pictures
Get the dedicated Sky Sports F1 channel - the exclusive home of all live F1 next season - for £18 a month in HD with no contract. Get Sky Sports F1.