Just 48 hours after taking his first race victory of the 2015 campaign around the Circuit de Barcelona, column inches are once again being devoted to Nico Rosberg this evening as he topped the timesheet in the first day of in-season testing. The German’s table topping effort was marginally faster than his best time posted on Saturday afternoon, good enough for pole position. However, today’s best was posted during a tyre test, in which an unmarked compound was used, making the testing timesheet even more academic than usual.
As always with testing, it is the mileage which is the best barometer of success and as such, the mileage graphs make their first appearance since pre-season.
Unlike in February, today’s graph is a story of ubiquitous productivity. Williams may be bottom of the mileage table, but they ended their day early having completed their programme. This was indeed a trend evident in their pre-season schedule. They seemingly aim for quality over quantity when it comes to testing. Meanwhile, Lotus achieved just six laps more than Williams today, as Pastor Maldonado made it to 60 circuits, until the team ended the day prematurely as a precaution, opting to replace the fuel system on the E23 in preparation for Jolyon Palmer’s return to the car tomorrow.
McLaren’s low mileage is perhaps reflective of the fact that this afternoon was based on short runs which therefore effected the eventual total of laps completed. Overall, it seems as though Turvey and McLaren enjoyed a productive day and considering their pre-season woes, 68 laps in one day marks significant progress.
A number of GP2 runners and riders took to the track for some F1 experience today. Hilmer driver and Brit Nick Yelloly enjoyed his first experience of F1 behind the wheel of the VJM08, breaking the century barrier and clearly making the most of his chance. His maiden voyage has come a day earlier than expected, as he was drafted in to replace an ill Pascal Wehrlein. It remains to be seen whether the German will be fit to step into the car, or whether Yelloly will complete double duties and take the reigns, as billed, tomorrow.
Another GP2 ace handed an opportunity today was DAMS driver Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman completed a mammoth 131 laps, (the second highest total of the day), for Toro Rosso, in what was also his first experience of life as an F1 driver. In what is a busy week for Gasly, he will feature again tomorrow driving at Red Bull. It will be intriguing to see if he can surpass his lap total from today, but this is doubtful, given that Daniil Kvyat narrowly broke the 100 lap mark and finished the day 30 laps adrift of the total accumulated by the sister team. Toro Rosso ahead of Red Bull once again, albeit not according to the timesheet.
“I did 131 laps, so it was a lot of experience,” Gasly commented. “It was really useful for me and I could enjoy driving the F1 car.” The Frenchman even produced a line which will look good on the F1 brochure; “Even though the gap to GP2 is not much, everything feels so much better. It was awesome, exceptional, and I am happy to have done it with Toro Rosso.”
Tomorrow will see Gasly’s GP2 teammate Alex Lynn take to the track for a day’s running at Williams. Like Gasly, Raffaele Marciello will head out for a second day of running, as he heads back to Sauber after his outing with Ferrari, and will surly compete with the Frenchman for two day total mileage honors – one of the more irrelevant triumphs. But alas, it gives us something to talk about during testing, which is always a bonus…