Nobody doubted Red Bull and Renault would recover, but the big story on the first day of the 2014 Formula 1 season proper was the massive stride the team has taken.
A simple glance at the timesheets, on which Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest, three quarters of a second slower than pacesetter Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, made that much clear. But even that shrouds the possibility that Red Bull's recovery is even more impressive than that.
To nobody's great surprise, Mercedes was the strongest team today both on single-lap and long-run pace. Hamilton's mark of 1m29.625s - which like all the fastest times was set on the soft-compound Pirellis, which at their peak are 2-2.3s faster than the mediums - put him half a second quicker than the best non-Mercedes, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.
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