Ferrari may well have spent the majority of Formula 1's first pre-season test looking like the team to beat in 2019, but the Scuderia may return for test two with accusations of sandbagging ringing in their years after lap times tumbled rapidly on Thursday.
Test two will likely offer more hints at the true playing field of headline pace in F1 for the year to come, but the first instalment ended with a string of surprising names at the top of the timesheets, no matter how much salt must be pinched along with them.
Nico Hulkenberg ended the test as the fastest driver, having clocked 1:17.393 in the afternoon session, with Daniel Ricciardo having put in a similarly impressive lap, four tenths slower, earlier in the day. Although Renault's pace was impressive, they only managed 58 laps across the day.
So what did you make of #F1testing – part one? Here’s how the final day looked. But there’s plenty more to come next week! #Fit4F1 pic.twitter.com/XVSn4yC8qJ — Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) February 21, 2019
Behind the German come both Toro Rossos, with Alexander Albon following Daniil Kvyat's Wednesday best with another impressive lap, prompting suggestions that Red Bull's junior team may well be taking the Honda power unit to limits that the senior outfit do not want to just yet.
The Honda PU certainly looks as reliable as any in 2019, Albon clocking 136 laps, while Pierre Gasly put up 146 for Red Bull.
It remains unclear at this stage whether Mercedes have clawed back the lap time they predict Ferrari hold in hand – Toto Wolff even speculating that Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel hold half a second over their rivals.
Both Williams drivers made it to the track, although Robert Kubica conceded that his morning running was largely inconsequential, while George Russell faced a long wait to get in the car after lunch and only made 17 tours of the Circuit de Catalunya.
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A busy press call for @Charles_Leclerc who says he ‘does not feel pressure’ ahead of his first season with team, despite being the youngest @ScuderiaFerrari driver for more than 50 years. #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/qwULYMBVHL — Rob Watts (@robwattsf1) February 21, 2019
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