Hulkenberg leads Renault charge in last day of First Formula 1 Pre-season Test

The first Formula One pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona is done and dusted as teams took the opportunity to perform first runs of their 2019 challengers. Although the first testing usually meant more of a shakedown rather than actual testing, it still offered teams plenty of data to work with to fine-tune the cars before the upcoming test, prior to the start of the season,

After four days of vigorous testing, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg topped the time sheets from Toro Rosso’s rookie driver Alexander Albon. Hulkenberg’s team mate and ex-Red Bull driver Daniel RIcciardo was third overall, ahead of the Mercedes duo of Valtteri  Bottas and Reigning F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton.

The R.S. 19s driven by Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were the fastest cars as Hulkenberg made his mark with a lap of 1:17.393.  Renault might be the dark horse this season, challenging the Mercedes and Ferraris for championship bragging rights. 

Toro Rosso’s rookie, Albon, completed the session in second, and prior t that he had topped the sheets in the first half. “The team made me feel comfortable after that and we were able to get on with the programme. I think everything is going to plan quite well, we’ve hit our mileage target which is important for the guys back at the factory, and of course at the same time, I’m still learning the car. The grip is so high that it took a while for my head to adjust to it, it’s been a big learning curve! I’m still not fully in the rhythm yet but I think after next week I’ll be there and ready to race.”  

Hamilton and Bottas covered 116 laps, with Hamilton’s best lap at 1:17.977 and Bottas at 1:17.857. Hamilton isn’t too concerned about not topping the time sheets. “The reliability has been really solid which is a great showing of all the hard work that everyone in the factory has done. But we have to keep on pushing, the competition looks very strong.”

Charles Leclerc, Lance Norris, Antonio Giovinazzi and the Haas’ of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten of the first pre-season classification. Alfa Romeo’s rookie driver Giovinazzi built on the progress made over the past three days together with teammate Kimi Räikkönen,

Most teams focused on aerodynamic testing and set-up work for both short- and long-runs throughout the 4-day testing.

2019 Formula One Pre-season test

1. Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 Team 1:17.393
2. Alexander Albon Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 1:17.637
3. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team 1:17.785
4. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 1:17.857
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 1:17.977
6. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow 1:18.046
7. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 1:18.431
8. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1:18.511
9. Romain Grosjean Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 1:18.563
10. Kevin Magnussen Rich Energy Haas F1 Team 1:18.720