Valtteri Bottas debuts, McLaren and Red Bull struggle in F1 testing

Valtteri Bottas impressed in his debut drive for world champion Mercedes on Monday as the new Formula One pre-season got under way.

Mercedes will add a "shark fin" to their newly-launched 2017 auto for the forthcoming official testing in Barcelona.

The Finn Bottas, world champion Nico Rosberg's replacement at Mercedes, had topped the times at one stage in the morning but slipped to only sixth-fastest overall after Hamilton stepped into the cockpit.

"It's very nice to start proper testing and it was a good morning, lot of laps, no issues and some good tests", he said.

Both constructors will have been pleased with the reliability their new cars showed, with the pair completing nearly 150 laps combined.

"So whether you feel it in the neck - there'll be a muscle you didn't even know you had, deep down under your rib cage, and you're like 'what the hell?' - through those testing days you figure those weak areas out".

"After the first day I'll know exactly where I'm weak", Hamilton told reporters at the launch of his Mercedes team's W08 auto at Silverstone on Thursday. I like the stability especially in the high-speed corners. We did lots of laps and collected loads of information today, so we can try to improve the vehicle as we move forward. "I very much enjoyed it". "Secondly, we are world champion, and three our auto looks a thousand times better than everyone else's so that would be expected!"

Hamilton, despite having just four hours of running, managed to complete 73 laps.

"It is a beast", he said after getting out the new Mercedes W08. He did finally get in some running and ended the day with just under 50 laps.

Daniel Ricciardo lost most of the morning after a sensor issue stopped the Red Bull RB13 on track, and a subsequent battery problem caused further delays.

In contrast to their rivals, Mercedes made a typically strong start to their preparations for the season.

American team Haas will take away plenty of positives from their performance with Kevin Magnussen producing the fourth-quickest lap.

Vettel stuck to the "medium" compound of tyre for most of the day before a brief run on the "hard", so on the face of it his lap time looks impressive.

On his return to the cockpit after his brief winter retirement Felipe Massa soon seemed at home in the Williams FW40, setting the third best time of the day and also logging over 100 laps.

  • Santos West