So what have we managed to learn from the first outings of the 2017 cars?
1 – The Mercedes looks good.
The car has completed 152 laps and is the fastest. Both drivers got out in the car and were able to drive it at the top of the time sheets. They even experimented with a shark fin in the afternoon. They really look comfortable.
It’s strangely reminiscent of last year.
2 – McLaren or Honda have a bit of work to do.
The car and the power unit ran fine yesterday, but today they were only able to complete 29 laps and had to pit a fair few times to have bits of the engine worked on. They lost hours while sorting out an oil problem due to where the issue was housed. From a few of the statements, it seems that the issues all boil down to a new smaller oil tank.
Let’s hope it’s fixed for tomorrow.
3 – Sauber have the legs.
Marcus Ericsson managed to complete 72 laps and still fit in time for pitstop practice at the end of the day. He completed more laps than over half of the field. They might not be fast yet, but they seem to be able to complete a race distance. This might mean that they are able to pick up points early on, whilst the likes of McLaren and Force India are sorting themselves out.
4 – Ferrari could be the team to challenge
128 laps, that’s more than twice the Spanish Grand Prix distance. We know it’s really early days, but the time sheet and the lap counter are looking pretty promising for Ferrari. Vettel sat in second, around 1 tenth of a second behind Lewis. We know tyres and fuel load and long run factors are all going to be playing a role somewhere in here, but they are close. At least they are a lot closer than they were last year.
5 – Massa has turned up to the party.
He started out well this morning and just kept rising, as times he was quickest on the timesheet. If he’s come out of retirement just to cash in a pay check and coach a rookie through his first year, then Massa has a very funny way of doing it, clocking 103 laps. He looks better than he did last year and who knows, maybe this could be a better ‘send off tour’ for him.
6 – Haas have a package
No-one really expected Grosjean to collect the results he did at the start of the 2016 season and we’re not sure if anyone outside of Haas even hoped to see Magnussen sitting 4th on the timesheets. He’s above Ricciardo in the Red Bull, that’s got to be a decent aero package on that car.
7 -Force India are mid-pack
The times didn’t really come for them and when a reported broken exhaust cut their track time down significantly, they were never going to trouble the back of the top four. Nothing special from them today.
8 – Red Bull
The hole in the nose is for cooling and directing the air. It’s also not the nose. It’s a dummy cover over the real nose. The real nose meets the FIA rules and regs, this dummy nose doesn’t have to worry about meeting the nose regs. Weird and all, but brilliant to find a way to work with the rules and create something different.
9 – Toro Rosso
What might be the best looking car on the grid is not the fastest. No-one really expected it to be, but we’re not sure anyone expected it to be above the factory Renault team either.
10 – Renault
Just what you’d expect from a team trying to rebuild from a pretty miserable last few years. They appear to be battling with McLaren and Toro Rosso, possibly even Sauber if they aren’t careful. There’s hope though as they were running consistently and clocking up the laps.
Day one is over and whilst it’s massively too early to be trying to read too much into it, everyone is. The Mercedes look dominate again, McLaren have power unit troubles again, Ferrari are second again and Red Bull have a suspension which could be contested again.
We love it already.