By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
After playing it safe for the first Barcelona test, Mercedes opened up the second test by showing just what its new W07 chassis is capable of. Nico Rosberg had the morning’s testing duties and with a set of softs on the car he clocked a blistering 1:23.022 lap. His time just two tenths of a second behind Sebastian Vettel’s best lap of testing so far. The worrying difference there, is that the Ferrari did its time on the new ultra-soft compounds, the Mercedes set its time merely on the softs.
Valtteri Bottas gave Williams reason to smile by coming in second on the time sheets with a strong 1:23.229 on the ultra-softs. Although buoyed by improvements from his team, the Finn is worried that for now, Mercedes may be out of reach.
Where we are now it looks like it’s going to be quite tricky for anyone to challenge them at the beginning of the season. That is a fact at the moment. – Valtteri Bottas
Rosberg handed the car over to team mate Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon session where the Brit focused on long runs on the medium compounds and racked up another 90 laps for the team.
Fernando Alonso gave McLaren some hope today and despite a small technical glitch put in 93 laps en route to the third best time of the day with a 1:24.735 run.
Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen came in a solid fourth on the time sheets, but with only 72 laps on a day when many of their rivals did much more.
Red Bull and Danill Kvyat put in even fewer laps than Raikkonen and Ferrari, after a brake casing caused the back of Kvyat’s RB12 to catch fire in pit lane. Thankfully no one was hurt and the car suffered little damage.
Max Verstappen put the new Toro Rosso STR11 through its paces today and logged a mammoth 144 laps around Circuit de Catalunya. The team focused on long runs instead of chasing top times but his fast lap of 1:25.176 was bested only by the front runners and an inspired Alonso in the McLaren.
Towards the back of the field, Sauber had a trouble free debut for the new C35 and in the hands of Felipe Nasr it not only completed 103 laps, but set a better time than Renault, Haas and Manor. Nasr seemed pleased with the car and said it feels like the team has made a step forward in all areas of its design.
Kevin Magnussen completed 119 laps in the new Renault but stopped on track in the final minutes which brought out the red flag. Esteban Gutierrez struggled to put in just 23 laps with the Haas VF16 as the American outfit once again had fuel system issues. He was still ahead of their chief rivals Manor, who suffered an oil leak that held Rio Haryanto to only 45 laps and saw him nearly five seconds off the pace.
|Danill Kvyat||Red Bull||1:25.049||69|
|Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:25.176||144|
|Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:25.336||121|
Image: Mercedes AMG Petronas