Christian Horner says he is surprised by just how fast Formula 1's all-new cars are proving to be, with teams tackling one of the biggest regulation overhauls in the sport's history.
All 10 teams took to the track in Barcelona on Wednesday morning to learn as much as possible about their new cars, as Max Verstappen (Red Bull), George Russell (Mercedes) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) all completed more laps than an average race distance.
But it was Leclerc who topped the timesheets with a 1:20.165, a benchmark seemingly faster than Red Bull boss Horner expected to see so soon.
The 2022 machines are predicted to be slower than their 2021 predecessors, but are still proving to be fast through the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya's high-speed corners on day one of the new season.
Horner "surprised" by F1 2022 car performance
Verstappen's best time of the morning was a 1:22.246, but it is important to note that, with teams running varied testing programmes, little can be gathered from such early pre-season efforts.
"I think it is already surprising how much performance these cars have got," said Horner, speaking to selected members of the media that included RacingNews365.com.
"They are certainly not going to be lacking in the high-speed corners. It's been an encouraging morning getting to know our RB18.
"It's always interesting to see the cars for the first time after what is such a big regulation change – and in what are pretty prescriptive regulations, to have such a variance, it's fascinating to see how the teams are interpreting these rules.
"Of course, there will be convergence over a period of time, but we certainly have some very varied themes between the teams, and it is going to be pretty fascinating to see how it plays out."
He added: "I am sure they will all look very different by the time we get to [the final race of the season in] Abu Dhabi."
McLaren boss Seidl also impressed with the new cars
McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl has also been impressed with the speed of the new 2022 cars and is keen to see that pace continue for the remaining two-and-a-half days of F1's first pre-season test in Barcelona.
His driver (Lando Norris) completed 50 laps on Wednesday morning and registered a near-timesheet-topping 1:20.474 in the new MCL36.
"As Christian said, it is impressive to see where the lap times are straight away," added Seidl.
"The main focus is on ourselves and getting our car to work but, with the huge regulation change, there is a huge interest - especially on the aerodynamics side - on everyone else, to see what they have done to interpret these new regulations and to see if there are any new ideas we should take onboard moving forward.
"These are exciting times for everyone, for you [the media] as well, which is great for Formula 1. It will be great to see everyone moving forward until the first race in Bahrain."
With F1 pre-season testing getting underway in Barcelona this week, our journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look ahead to what to expect.