MERCEDES set the pace from McLaren in the morning session of the second day of pre-season testing at Barcelona.
Valtteri Bottas led the way with a lap of 1:20.270 with a short run on the soft tyres to dislodge McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne from top spot.
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Vandoorne’s time, 1:20.325, was a flying lap faster than anything McLaren produced a year ago across the eight days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya.
However, Vandoorne’s flier was registered on the hypersoft tyres, the quickest compound in Pirelli’s 2018 portfolio, and on a three-lap run.
Unusually cold conditions in Barcelona severely restricted running with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, making his first appearance, limited to just five laps in the opening three hours. A longer run at the end of the morning ended with him setting the third-quickest lap, 0.740s off the pace.
A fuel leak struck Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and restricted the Dutchman to one installation lap.
Unable to set representative lap times, many of the teams focused their work on aero evaluations with a range of garish sensors on the cars.
Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica are both scheduled to run this afternoon.
Could the test be extended?
The cold Barcelona weather – and the forecast of more to come – has prompted discussions about the feasibility of extending the test to Friday.
However, despite support from some teams, a schedule shift appears unlikely given Williams have already booked the circuit for a filming and sponsor day on Friday and all 10 teams would have to agree to an extra day.
“We haven’t been officially asked about Friday,” Claire Williams told reporters.
“I know there have been some conversations about potentially extending the test because of the weather. Yesterday afternoon was quite difficult for all teams to get some decent track running but today we’ve got clear skies, although it’s a little cold.
“We need to see how the next few hours evolve and come back and have the conversation about it. I don’t think every team is there lobbying for the test to continue as far as I’m aware. There are a few teams that would like it to continue but we do have a scheduled filming day, we have booked the circuit and that’s important to us.
“I know Ferrari have the same scheduled on Saturday so maybe if that was the general consensus, people wanted to extend the test, we look at a day extending it into next week.”