F1 preseason testing as it happened: Norris puts McLaren top, Ferrari has strong start

The opening day of testing saw McLaren and Ferrari roll back the years and go quickest out of anyone else.

This of course all needs a massive caveat that it's the first day of preseason and preseason can be wildly misleading, but encouraging for fans of both teams.

Mercedes and Red Bull lost out on a lot of 2022 development time last year as they battled for the title until the final lap of the season, but neither showed major signs of trouble.

Also, unusually for an opening day of preseason, there was not a single red flag stoppage for a crash or car breakdown.

Times at close:

1. Lando Norris - McLaren - 1:190.568 - 103 laps
2. Charles Leclerc - Ferrari - 1:20.165 - 80 laps
3. Carlos Sainz - Ferrari - 1:20.416 - 73 laps
4. George Russell - Mercedes - 1:20.784 - 77 laps
5. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:20.929 - 50 laps
6. Sebastian Vettel - Aston Martin -1:21.276 - 52 laps
7. Yuki Tsunoda - AlphaTauri - 1:21.638 - 121 laps
8. Fernando Alonso - Alpine - 1:21.746 - 127 laps
9. Max Verstappen - Red Bull - 1:22.246 -147 laps
10. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1:22.572 - 23 laps
11. Alex Albon - Williams - 1:22.760 - 66 laps
12. Mick Schumacher - Haas - 1:22.962 - 23 laps
13. Lance Stroll - Aston Martin - 1:23.327 - 67 laps
14. Nicholas Latifi - Williams - 1:23.379 - 66 laps
15. Nikita Mazepin - Haas - 1:24.505 - 20 laps
16. Robert Kubica - Alfa Romeo - 1:25.909 - 9 laps

Some key moments and observations (all times local):

18:00: The chequered flag is out. Norris is still fastest ahead of the two Ferrari drivers. We managed to get through a whole day of testing without a single red flag stoppage. Impressive stuff with ten all new F1 cars on track.

17:50: Norris improves again to a 1:19.568 in the McLaren. He sets the new fastest time on C4 tyres and has a trail of sparks coming from the rear of his McLaren. It's not often we've seen sparks from the rear of cars today, presumably because none of them are running too low a ride height at this stage of testing.

17:30: Lando Norris has set a new fastest lap time with a 1:19.951 in the McLaren on C4 tyres. That's a couple of tenths fastest than the Ferrari.

17:20: Just got back from watching the cars trackside. The first observation is that they look great, and despite the relatively slow lap times they still look impressive through the corners.

At one stage Sainz was following Verstappen closely for several laps and managed to stay relatively close to the Red Bull through Turns 1, 2 and 3. A colleague of ours, Chris Medland, was watching at Turn 10 and said Sainz attempted to pass at Turn 10 on one lap but was blocked off by Verstappen. We're not sure where the Ferrari eventually got past, but the fact it wasn't at either of the two main overtaking places suggests Verstappen probably pulled over.

15:30: Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton has been on track in the Mercedes this afternoon. He's completed 21 laps so far, adding to the 77 by teammate George Russell this morning, and holds the fourth fastest time.

He spoke to the media during the lunch break and almost sounded offended when he was asked if he had any doubts about Mercedes' potential to fight for championships again this year.

"Why would I ever think that? We've won eight in a row. Why would I ever feel that way?"

The journalist added: "Because the team could have made a mistake with the car..."

Hamilton immediately hit back, saying: "My team don't make mistakes. Of course there is always a risk. But we don't make mistakes, we have very intelligent people in our factory I trust in them 100%, and whatever we start with today, good or bad, we will work through it. We have always had a great development plan and workforce."

15:00: We're an hour in to the afternoon session and Leclerc still holds the fastest time from his morning effort. Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren stopped on the pit lane exit, but it wasn't a major drama as his mechanics were able to run down to the car and push it back to the garage.

13:00: Leclerc finishes the morning session on top for Ferrari on a 1:20.165. Impressive stint from the Monaco native, with 79 laps completed across the session.

Worth not getting too carried away by times at this point. You can see just by looking at the cars that they're not being driven at anything close to full beans yet.

Productive sessions for George Russell, Max Verstappen and Nicholas Latifi, who all finished with over 65 laps to their names.

Haas had some issues with the floor early in the session and then had some further gremlins as lunch approached, so Nikita Mazepin finished his first stint of 2022 with 20 laps to his name.

11:50: Charles Leclerc has reclaimed his place at the top of the timing screens, with a 1:20.165. George Russell has also just improved to a 1:20.784. But on the first day of testing, the real stories tend to be down at the bottom of the timing screens and it's a pretty sad sight for Alfa Romeo at the moment, which has only completed four laps all morning. Reserve driver Robert Kubica was at the wheel of the car when it emerged this morning, showing off the team's camouflage livery, which is a one-off for this test before the race livery is launched on Sunday.

No update on the car issue this morning but Alfa have provided a press release about a new clothing range linked to the testing livery. It says: "The camouflage livery is the result of an AI-driven process aimed at creating a dazzling pattern: we can all agree it is a looker - and it inspired Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN's teamwear partner, CODE-ZERO, to create a bespoke, limited-edition collection to celebrate this iconic design." So now you know.

11:32: George Russell is fastest in his brand new Mercedes. The time, a 1:21.039, was set early on a 12-lap run on the C3 tyre compound ... so make of that what you will. Probably the more important statistic at this stage of testing is that the Mercedes has completed 45 laps without any major issues. However, rivals Red Bull lead the way on the lap count with an impressive 54 for Max Verstappen so far.

10:00: One hour down already. Times are pretty irrelevant on day one, with teams going through systems checks and stuff like that. But, here they are if you're wondering...

09:50: Charles Leclerc is in the Ferrari today. Like all the teams will throughout this test, it was sporting some rather fetching "aero rakes" this morning. These devices help the teams measure air flow around the car, which helps them work out how efficient their aerodynamic packages are.

That's always important but given that these are brand new cars, it's vital data.

09:20: There's lots of interest around the Red Bull this morning as it's one of the only 2022 cars we're yet to see. Red Bull's "launch" was effectively an unveiling of their new title sponsorship, a five-year $500 million deal with U.S. tech giant Oracle, with the livery shown off on a 2022 show car.

Red Bull designer Adrian Newey is considered to be the best in the business so whenever Red Bull releases a new car there is excitement. His first car at the start of a new rules cycle is perhaps when there is maximum interest. The car looks pretty remarkable compared to what we've seen so far, with incredibly aggressively designed sidepods.

F1 journalist Albert Fabrega got a close up shot in the pit-lane this morning, you can see how deep the sidepod inlet much deeper into the car than anything else we've seen so far.

09:00 Lando Norris heads out in the McLaren to officially kick off the first day of 2022 preseason testing. George Russell follows him out in his new Mercedes.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen joins shortly afterwards, in his brand new number one branded Red Bull.