Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished ahead of British driver Lando Norris on the opening morning of Formula One’s first pre-season test.
Two months and 11 days after last year’s controversial finale in Abu Dhabi – which saw Lewis Hamilton denied a record-breaking eighth world championship – F1 emerged from its winter hibernation at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
The sport has undergone the biggest overhaul of its regulations in a generation, and Hamilton was among the interested spectators outside rival Max Verstappen’s Red Bull garage when the running started at 9am.
But despite the technical rule-book rewrite, to some surprise, the majority of teams were able to deliver a number of trouble-free laps. Indeed, there was not one red flag in four hours of running.
Leclerc led the way for Ferrari – three tenths clear of McLaren’s Norris – with fellow Briton George Russel third in his first morning as a Mercedes driver.
Verstappen, who took last year’s title following the most contentious final lap in F1 history, was only sixth, 2.1 sec slower than Leclerc.
However, times in testing have to be treated with caution with the teams operating different strategies and Verstappen completed 80 laps – more than any other driver.
Hamilton will take over from new team-mate Russell after the lunch break as the 37-year-old is entering his 16th campaign as an F1 driver.
While the grid’s major players clocked up the all-important mileage, there was trouble for Alfa Romeo and Haas.
Alfa Romeo test driver Robert Kubica managed just nine laps with Haas’ Nikita Mazepin limited to only 19.
The first test runs until Friday, with three further days in Bahrain next month ahead of the season-opening round in the Gulf Kingdom on March 20.