Formula 1 has fired into action for the first time in 2016 as Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren helped Pirelli complete the first of a two-day wet tyre test at the Circuit Paul Ricard venue.
With the French facility chosen as its trackside sprinklers can douse the circuit in water, Pirelli spent the day trialling 2015 specification wet tyres and new unmarked rubber, with drivers Kimi Raikkonen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Daniel Ricciardo completing 266 laps between them
With the test conducted largely of structured stints with all three 2015 specification cars on track at one time, before being brought in again so the circuit could be dampened again, lap times – though recorded – would prove largely irrelevant.
Even so, it was Riccardo – driving an RB11 minus Infiniti branding and with logos from new engine brand partner TAG Heuer – thata would prove quickest, stopping the clock at 1min 08.711secs. Vandoorne and Raikkonenn followed up four and ninth tenths adrift respectively.
However, it was a typically frustrating return to action for McLaren-Honda, as the troublesome MP4-30 ground to a halt on track, briefly bringing out the red flags in the afternoon. Preventing McLaren from finishing the session with its counterparts, Pirelli nonetheless called an end to proceedings an hour ahead of schedule anyway.
Tomorrow sees Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat take over from Raikkonen and Ricciardo, while Vandoorne will stay in the McLaren.