I am going to ignore the comments made today by Bernie Ecclestone, on the basis that it was absolutely the wrong time to say it, and because I completely disagree with what he says. Perhaps I will come back to it later in the week, to try to make sense of why the promoter of the World Championship should want to say such things and perhaps what he is trying to achieve.
Today, however, is a joyous day for F1 fans, as the circus went back into business after nearly two months without any significant running. We should not read too much into anything on the first day of testing because no one knows who is doing what and so the times mean very little. The number of laps is often more important as a measure and, in this respect, there was a clear winner with Lewis Hamilton completing an impressive 156 laps, nearly twice as many as anyone else. The fact that he was four-tenths slower than Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari will excite the tifosi, but should not be taken too seriously.
Yes, perhaps Ferrari is closer to Mercedes, perhaps it is even ahead, but we don’t really know yet. Vettel did only 69 laps.
Third fastest time went to Dan Ricciardo’s Red Bull (don’t say Renault) TAG-Heuer, 1.1 secs down on Vettel’s best, but with 87 laps under his belt. Valtteri Bottas was next for Williams, a fraction slower than Ricciardo.
One must put it all into perspective when one sees F1 new boy Mexican GP3 driver Alfonso Celis Jr next in the Force India, two-tenths off the Williams.
The times thus must not be taken too seriously. Let’s see how patterns develop later in the week.