Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari topped the times at the end of the second day of running in Barcelona, the Finn just beating the best time set by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Once again the big story was a lack of mileage run by McLaren, while Williams also had a quiet day after Lance Stroll damaged the FW40’s front wing in the morning.
The day began more grey and overcast than Monday, although the sun came out and the track warmed up in the afternoon. Eight of the 10 teams switched drivers today, with Hamilton and Bottas again sharing the Mercedes, and Kevin Magnussen staying in the Haas for a second day.
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Despite suffering the effects of flu, Raikkonen continued the good from shown by Sebastian Vettel on Monday, with the SF70H running reliably for 108 laps, and Kimi logging his best time on soft tires.
Hamilton ran 66 laps in the morning, setting his best on the supersoft, with Bottas completing an impressive 101 in the afternoon, and bringing the team’s total up to 167 for the day. The Finn had a spectacular half-spin at one point, but was able to continue.
“I didn’t do a huge amount of laps today but I got a really good feel for the car,” said Hamilton. “I think we’ve made some steps forward in development. My quick lap felt fast and tidy. We’ve not really exploited the potential of the car, so it’s all good foundation building at this stage.
“These new tires seem to be lasting a lot better than they did previously, so I think you can push them more and fight harder, lap after lap, so that’s a good step in the right direction.
“I’m finding the car is much more physical to drive than in the past. It’s so much faster in the corners. The force you feel on your body and on your neck is much higher. I’ve got bruises and bumps where I’ve never really had them before. Physically I feel fine though, as it’s only half a day of testing. I’ve trained enough over the winter to be ready for more.”
Red Bull had a much better day after problems for Daniel Ricciardo yesterday, with Max Verstappen setting the third best time of the day on his first run in the RB13, and completing 89 laps.
Haas had a reliable day as Kevin Magnussen was fourth fastest after running 118 laps. Force India also did more running, with Esteban Ocon taking the wheel and setting the fifth best time of the day ahead of Bottas.
“It’s very early days, of course,” said Ocon, “but the initial feelings are positive and we found a good direction for setting up the car. The only issue was an oil leak just before lunch, but it didn’t cost us much track time and I’m satisfied with the number of laps we covered. I hope we will make similar progress tomorrow and the day after. This was my first experience of the new generation cars and I have to say they are proper beasts: the high-speed corners are very impressive and there are big gains in the low-speed corners so it’s a good step forward.”
Daniil Kvyat took over the Toro Rosso from Carlos Sainz, while Jolyon Palmer replaced Nico Hulkenberg at Renault, although the Briton started the day late after modified power unit parts brought from Paris had to be fitted, running only one lap before the lunch break.
“It was a decent first day in the car for me and we were able to complete a good number of laps, which is always the main objective with a new car,” explained Kvyat. “We lost a bit of track time after lunch, but this always happens in testing – it’s normal to carry out precaution checks in order to double-check everything before going out. My first impressions of the STR12 are positive – it’s fast but we obviously need to keep working hard to improve this package. There’s still a lot to discover and that’s what we will keep on doing during the test.”
“The downforce is a massive change; it’s completely different from last year,” said Palmer. “It takes a little bit of getting used to but it’s actually a lot more enjoyable to drive. For today, we had a productive afternoon with 53 laps. It’s just a shame not to have ran this morning but we learnt a lot regardless and we aim to have a fuller day tomorrow.”
With Pascal Wehrlein sidelined by back injury, GP2 star and Ferrari protégé Antonio Giovinazzi drove for Sauber, but the blue car spent most of the morning in the garage with engine issues. The Italian was able to do some decent mileage in the afternoon.
Stoffel Vandoorne ran 29 laps before lunch and only another 11 after the break and a power unit change as McLaren and Honda continued to struggle.
On his first run in the Williams FW40 fellow rookie Stroll had a relative minor trip into the gravel, but damage to a winglet – the only one the team had in Spain – meant that his day finished after just 12 laps.