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Mercedes and Ferrari enjoy productive first F1 testing session

Mercedes newcomer Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas completed more than a full race worth of laps on the first morning of F1 testing alone. Warriors @ Cavaliers

Mercedes and Ferrari enjoy productive first F1 testing session
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Mercedes dominates first F1 testing

There was a familiar feeling as the 2017 Formula One season began in earnest on Monday as Valtteri Bottas' Mercedes dominated performance in the first morning of testing in Barcelona.

Bottas completed a mammoth 79 laps in the four-hour session - punctuated by red flags - driving the race distance at the Circuit de Catalunya, and 13 extra laps for good measure.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in action.
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Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in action.ALBERT GEAREUTERS

Mercedes hit the ground running

The Finn handed over to Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon session, perhaps explaining why he spent so much time on track, but the session left strong hints that Mercedes are ready to hit the ground running again after three seasons of dominance were threatened by 2017's regulation changes.

Sebastian Vettel managed to go quicker than Bottas, setting a flying lap time of one minute 22.791 seconds - just three hundredths of a second off the fastest lap set in all of 2016's testing on the same track by his Ferrari stable-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Faster F1 cars

The German's rapid lap suggests that F1's promises of faster cars will certainly come to fruition come the first race in Australia in late March.

Adding to the sense of deja vu was Red Bull and McLaren struggling in pre-season testing.

Daniel Ricciardo managed just four laps for a Red Bull side that many have tipped to take advantage of the new aero rules to push the Silver Arrows close.

Frustration for Alonso

Fernando Alonso had tweeted to suggest his happiness at the new McLaren on Sunday after a shakedown on a filming day in his new car, but familiar frustrations reared their head on Monday. The Spaniard completed one installation lap before a reported oil leak curtailed his entire session, with suggestions that the issue could wipe out McLaren's effort across the second session also.