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Lewis Hamilton tops testing timesheets

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has topped the timesheets in the opening day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

The Brit and runner-up in last season’s championship posted a time of 1:21.765s, a lap which was faster than any recorded over all eight days of pre-season running at Barcelona last season, as 2017s new machines, promising speed enhancements of 4 to 5 seconds per lap, were finally unearthed.

Hamilton’s fastest time was one-tenth of a second faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who kept up pace with the Mercedes despite running on the slower ‘medium’ tyres compared to the Mercedes ‘softs’.

“It has been a good day, a positive day for the team,” Hamilton told BBC Sport. “Lots of laps and information gained so we can try to improve the car.

“The G forces are definitely higher. The load on the drivers is a considerable amount, more than before. It is a lot more physical.”

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari stuck to the ‘medium’ and ‘hard’ compound tyres throughout the opening days running. The team’s fastest time of the day, just one-tenth slower than that of Hamilton’s Mercedes while running inferior tyres, was mightily impressive and puts them as pace-setters after the opening action of the season.

Although, Ferrari failed to win a race last season despite finishing the opening-day of testing at the top of the timesheets, proving much of these early times an irrelevance.

Hamilton’s new Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas, drafted in to replace the now retired Formula One champion Nico Rosberg, finished the day sixth fastest after driving the W08 in the morning session.

Despite reliable opening days for both Mercedes and Ferrari, the same could not be said for some. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was plagued by an ‘oil system failure’, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo only managing a handful of laps due to sensor issues in the morning and a battery problem soon after.  

Williams had a promising opening day with Felipe Massa clocking the third fastest time with a 1:22.076 on soft tyres. Kevin Magnussen finished fourth for Haas despite completing only 51 laps.

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