Morning testing report: Ricciardo fastest over Leclerc and Hamilton as just over 0.1s splits top 3
A late attack saw Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo jump to the top of the charts on the final morning of pre-season testing, ahead of Charles Leclerc and third-place Lewis Hamilton – with just 0.134s splitting the top three in a captivating final hour in Barcelona.
Those top three managed their fastest laps on the softest (C5) compound, and while it was Ferrari’s Leclerc on top with an hour remaining, the numbers kept tumbling and Ricciardo’s time of 1m16.276s was unbeaten at the lunch break, and the second-fastest of pre-season testing so far.
"I don’t think I’ve ever done a low [1m]16 [lap] around here so this is the quickest I’ve ever been around Barcelona. I’ve been coming here since 2007. A long time, going round and round, but I’ve finally got a good lap," he said.
"It’s testing. It hasn’t been perfect all the way through, even now it’s nice seeing your name at the top and we know we’re not the quickest car right now. It’s nice to see your name up there but come [the Australian Grand Prix] we’ve still got some work to do.
Fourth-place Sergio Perez of Racing Point led the session at the halfway mark but his fastest lap of 1m16.658s was, impressively, set on the middle C3 compound, and was just two-tenths slower than Hamilton’s best effort.
However, the Mexican driver completed just 43 laps compared to Hamilton’s leading haul of 90.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz also had a stint at the top of the charts early on in the morning, though his fastest time was set on the C4 compounds and he ended up fifth, a whisker ahead of Williams' George Russell.
Kevin Magnussen was due to drive for Haas in the morning but Romain Grosjean took the wheel instead to finish eighth, behind AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat.
The session was uninterrupted although Red Bull’s Alex Albon did put his RB16 in the Turn 12 gravel trap before wrestling it out in a shower of stones, and Kimi Raikkonen spun his Alfa Romeo at Turn 15. They finished ninth and 10th, respectively.
With Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas set to drive in the afternoon, we have just four hours of running remaining to close out 2020 pre-season testing.