Formula One: Renault blame batteries for Red Bull, McLaren issues

Grant SmithMar 08, 2018

Hamilton led the lap charts with 90, one more than Ricciardo. The only other driver to break the 100-lap mark was Marcus Ericsson of Sauber, with 120.

Ricciardo edged out Hamilton by 0.353 seconds for fastest time, but the Mercedes was substantially quicker when the cars were on equivalent tyres.

"It's been a good day", Hamilton said. We are trying to make the best out of our vehicle to make sure the aerodynamic platform is delivering much more.

Admittedly it was the first time McLaren had completed an engine change with a Renault power unit, but the delays only added to the growing doubts in the paddock about the team's chances this year.

"We have some little issues and this is just part of the process".

The issues returned in the afternoon, but this time with a hydraulic failure on the Belgian's 38th lap of the test, stopping his auto in turn three.

While most teams were progressing with their timetables, it was McLaren who endured a frightful day, as Stoffel Vandoorne began with an installation lap that saw the Belgian return immediately back to the pits to correct a battery failure caused by the power unit. It is the same not only in winter testing but before when testing was free we would test in between races like before Monaco and Canada - going to Paul Ricard and doing 20 laps a day and there was no coverage. Practice is restricted in F1 but teams are allowed to take their cars to the track for a few brief periods for marketing and commercial purposes. An oil leak was to blame and although it was not directly engine related, McLaren made the decision to change the car's power unit meaning Alonso will have to wait several hours before returning to the Circuit de Catalunya circuit for what is scheduled to be his penultimate day in the vehicle.

The first four days of testing last week were hampered by bad weather in Barcelona, keeping cars in the garage most of the time.

Their star driver Fernando Alonso, who agreed to stay at the team this year on the proviso they would be front runners once more, will test for the Woking marque on Wednesday.

Asked if he feels confident he can challenge for a podium at his home race, the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 25, he said: "I think that, looking at it now, we are close".

Sauber said Tuesday it signed Tatiana Calderon as its test driver for 2018.

Times in Barcelona have been far quicker this year than in the past, even eclipsing the efforts from last year's pre-season testing.

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