Pre-season testing Day 2: Raikkonen fastest before he brings out red flags
Kimi Raikkonen’s late surge sent his Alfa Romeo C39 to the top of the charts on the second day of pre-season testing with a fastest lap of 1m17.091s – before he brought out the first red flag of the week having stopped on track with 15 minutes remaining.
The standings were headed up by Sergio Perez in the morning but Raikkonen, who took over from Wednesday runners Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi for Alfa, ran the second-fastest C4 tyre compound to eclipse the Racing Point driver with under an hour left.
Raikkonen managed more than 130 laps in a session uninterrupted by red flags until he parked up on the run-up to Turn 9, with just six minutes left on the clock.
There were also spins for the Finn, his compatriot Valtteri Bottas and a clip with the Turn 9 kerb that damaged third-place Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault. Ricciardo’s team mate Esteban Ocon had a fragmented afternoon as Renault worked on his R.S.20, giving him 52 laps at the wheel with the 12th-fastest time to his name.
Mercedes made the headlines even though Bottas finished 2.216s off the pace at the bottom of the standings, thanks to their ingenious and intriguing DAS device, a moveable steering wheel believed to alter the attitude of the front wheels which caused a big stir in the paddock once it was spotted thanks to an onboard TV shot from Lewis Hamilton's car.
Bottas took over from Day 1 leader Hamilton in the afternoon but the Finn managed just 77 laps – due to an electrical issue with his W11. Between them, the pair still managed to finish 10 more laps than on Wednesday.
Red Bull continued in the same fashion as Day 1, this time Alex Albon completing 134 laps as he ended Thursday fourth-fastest.
In fifth was AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who had a near-miss with 10th-place McLaren driver Lando Norris towards the end of the session as Norris attempted to pit with Gasly passing at speed.
Flu-like symptoms did little to worry Sebastian Vettel, who missed the first day of testing but returned to complete an afternoon of running and 73 laps for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc running in the morning to finish eighth-fastest.
The two Ferrari drivers were split by Williams driver George Russell, who took the wheel after splitting Day 1 duties with team mate Nicholas Latifi.
For Haas’s Romain Grosjean, P11 was all he could muster as the Frenchman struggled with cool temperatures in the morning that led to numerous lock-ups and wobbles. A consolation for Grosjean was the highest lap count, with 158 - though he still had an off late in the day, damaging his rear wing after hitting the barriers at turn four, and drawing a withering shake of the head from his team boss Guenther Steiner on the pit wall.
Of course, with just under 1.5s splitting Grosjean and leader Raikkonen, and three different tyre compounds used to complete flying laps by the 13 drivers out, reliability was the only clear point of difference on Day 2 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The running gets back underway on Friday morning at 9am local time for the final day of the first test, and you can follow every lap right here on F1.com.
Jolyon Palmer's verdict: Ferrari remain elusive, Mercedes 'ahead of the game' on Day 2
"Ferrari, it is still impossible to get a read on. Between them, Haas and Alfa, they all appeared to not be doing much until Raikkonen topped the timing sheets, which indicates what Ferrari might be capable of if they turn their engine up.
"Raikkonen topping the leaderboard at the end of the day shows how difficult it is to call testing, as up until that point Alfa hasn't looked particularly good."
"Racing Point look good once more, and as for Mercedes – they look ahead of the game in most areas. But at least their rivals can gain some hope from their reliability woes towards the end of the day, with what appears to be an ERS issue."