Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest on the second day of the first test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. The German set his fastest lap during the afternoon to go just over three tenths faster than the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and seven tenths faster than the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.
However, it wasn’t plain sailing as unseasonably cold weather saw Vettel limiting his running to five laps during the morning. A longer run at the end of the morning ended with him setting the third-quickest lap, 0.740s off the pace.
Vettel was one of three drivers to have off-track incidents during the day. He lost it at Turn One, while Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen also had spins.
Many teams spent most of the morning working on the cars, the track began to get busy before the lunch break. However, the lunch break was abandoned allowing teams to continue running as more snow is expected later this week.
Both Bottas and Vandoorne set their fastest laps during the morning, with the McLaren driver going a lot faster than anything that McLaren produced a year ago across the eight days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Belgian set his fastest time on the hypersofts, Pirelli’s new fastest tyre.
However, the team was again hampered by technical problems as it looked as if the car was overheating. It was later confirmed that a clip holding the exhaust in place had come loose resulting in parts of the wiring loom becoming damaged.
Also having problems were Haas, Kevin Magnussen going off at turn four. Joining him were Charles Leclerc, who was tenth, the Sauber driver completing eighty-one laps.
The cancellation of the lunch break meant that Mercedes chose not to run Lewis Hamilton as that would have meant the team losing valuable track time.
The weather wasn’t the concern of Red Bull, as Max Verstappen failed to complete a single meaningful lap. A fuel leak during the morning restricted him to a single lap, before recovering to fourth and was one-thousandth of a second off McLaren. However, the Dutchman managed to complete a race distance during the afternoon.
It was another good day for Toro Rosso, the team completing eighty-two laps with Pierre Gasly going sixth fastest. Showing further improvement from Honda who has solved the reliability issues which hampered McLaren last season.
Robert Kubica returned to the cockpit for the first time in preseason testing since 2011. The Williams driver going seventh fastest, ahead of the team’s race driver Sergey Sirotkin. However, it is unknown what setups, fuel loads and run programmes they were running.
As it stands after two days 2018 is shaping up to be a three-horse race as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull lead the way. However, all the teams will be expecting to make gains heading to Melbourne at the end of March.
However, the best of the weather could be over for this week the forecast is for wet weather and cool temperatures with a few snow storms nearby.