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Formula One 2018: Pre-Season Testing Recap – Day 1

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Esteban Ocon in the 2018 Force India

Photo: Jen_ross83

Formula One was back in session today with the first of eight pre-season testing days at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. Though many will be looking at the lap times, it is important not to put too much weight on these at this stage of the season, as none of the teams will be pushing their cars and drivers for all-out speed.

Instead, reliability is always the primary concern before the teams head to the first race in Melbourne, Australia, on March 25. Getting as many laps completed as possible, getting a feel for the chassis, the engine, and the car as a whole is paramount.

In past years, Mercedes-powered cars almost never set the fastest lap times in pre-season testing, but did complete the most amount of laps by far…before proving to be the most reliable engine and winning four championships on the trot from 2014 to 2017.

After the 2018’s first day of tests, it is looking far more even. Daniel Ricciardo topped the table with 105 laps (304 miles) completed for the Red Bull team, followed closely by Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, who completed 93 laps (269 miles). This was a great achievement for the latter, as no one was quite sure how well the STR13 would fare with Honda’s new RA618H power unit.

That being said, Honda would likely prefer to have more than a single team running its engine. All of its rivals supply three teams, giving them significantly more feedback and data than Honda could ever get even if Toro Rosso does supremely well.

Despite suffering no engine issues, McLaren still didn’t have the run it would have hoped: two-time champion Fernando Alonso spun at the last corner after his right rear wheel came off the car, which was later identified as being a “wheel nut issue.”

So far, Renault engines top the chart in terms of mileage. Renault-powered cars completed 255 laps (737 miles) while Ferrari-powered cards completed 195 (564 miles) and Mercedes-powered cars completed 179 (518 miles). Renault, however, said it would be focusing on maintaining reliability in the first part of the season even at the cost of performance, while Ferrari and Mercedes are already both confident in the reliability of their engines.