The Formula 1 engines finally roars again on the Barcelona - Catalunya for the first Free Practice session, after the classic winter test sessions back in February, with a bittersweet taste for the fans and the organization, thanks to the rumors that suggests this is the last Spanish GP.
There’s a lot of excitement too for the first European Grand Prix of the season: the Barcelona GP is famously known as the upgrades GP, the point of the season where several teams brings technical upgrades to raise the bar for the Championship.
The one team that is doing an all-in is clearly Ferrari: the Prancing Horse team anticipated the new engine spec (ICE), which was set to be used in Canada, with a new fuel which will increase performances too, with other aerodynamic upgrades. The engine cover is updated, as well as the front wing that Charles Leclerc has testes in the first laps of these FP1. Ferrari brought a new rear wing too. After four consecutive one-twos from Mercedes, Ferrari is ready to risk it all to take the last chance for the Championship.
Ferrari is not the only team who brings upgrades: Renault has brought, only on Ricciardo’s side, the ICE (Internal combustion engine), the TC (Turbo charger), MGU - H (Motor generator unit heat) and the CE component for McLaren too. The Woking team is also trying out new aerodynamic upgrades with Lando Norris’ car: the young British man hit the track at the start of the session with green flow-wiz all sprayed on his MCL34. Flow-wiz tests for Alfa Romeo and Antonio Giovinazzi too: no engines upgrades for both Ferrari powered teams (AR and Haas).
After 30 minutes of action, both Ferraris are on top of the standings, with Vettel leading with a lap time of 1.18.407s wearing the C3 red compound, the softest of the three selected for the GP from Pirelli. Bottas and Hamilton are still hiding at this point, with 1.3 and 2.7s of disadvantage respectively.
Both Mercedes drivers start doing their job with 30 minutes of action left: Bottas leads the group with a lap time of 1.17.990s, while Hamilton puts himself in 4th position, 5 tenths slower than his team mate. From this point, the top four drivers keep fighting themselves for the best lap time and Valtteri Bottas wins the fight, but has to stop later, with just 15 minutes left, as his Mercedes has an hydraulic issue, an oil leak that caused the engine to shut down.
Some issues for Max Verstappen too in the Red Bull garage: his mechanics removed the floor, it is still unknown the cause of the issue, while rumors about Fernando Alonso and Red Bull are spreading around the Paddock, suggesting the Spaniard could replace Pierre Gasly from the Belgian GP on.
At the very end of the session, Lance Stroll hit the barries in Turn 9 with his Racing Point, one of the fastest turn of the track. The session is obviously ended after the red flag, with Valtteri Bottas leading the group, followed by Vettel, Leclerc and Hamilton.