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Vettel leads the way on Day 1 of second test

NEWS STORY
06/03/2018

Though weather conditions at Barcelona today were much improved on last week, the quickest time of the day - a 1:20.396 from Sebastian Vettel - remained over a second off the best time seen in Test 1.

Then again, with teams looking for reliability and consistency before concentrating on outright pace, perhaps it's the 171 trouble-free laps the Ferrari driver completed that should be grabbing the headlines as opposed to his time.

Indeed, in terms of mileage, Mercedes remains strong, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton completing 177 between them, while Max Verstappen completed 130 and Marcus Ericsson 120.

Sadly however, tonight's headlines are more likely to be about McLaren, the Woking outfit suffering three failures, two of which brought out the red flag.

Having completed just 6 laps this morning, this afternoon Stoffel Vandoorne was able to add another 32 laps, but this falls far short of the mileage we should be seeing.

Furthermore, unlike last year, the issues are not related to one specific area - we're talking the Honda engine - rather numerous other issues. While today the Belgian suffered an electrics issue and then hydraulics, last week it was overheating and a rogue wheelnut.

Indeed, at one stage Vandoorne ground to a halt in T3, bringing back memories of that infamous gust of wind incident involving Fernando Alonso a couple of years back.

Another red flag was the result of Max Verstappen stopping on track, and while the flying Dutchman was sidelined for the next ninety minutes he was able to get out again for the closing stages of the session to post some decent lap times.

Having set a strong pace this morning, little was seen of Pierre Gasly this afternoon, the Frenchman only completing 2 more laps. However, while some were some were speculating that perhaps the Honda was up to its old tricks the Faenza team admitted that it had been sidelined by a brake issue.

Talking of brakes, Kevin Magnussen completed a respectable day for Haas, the Dane posting the 6th best time of the day and completing 96 laps.

On reflection, it was pretty much a day of two halves, with most of the best times coming in the morning and the teams looking to longer runs this afternoon.

That said, in both sessions Renault was pretty much anonymous, even though, between them, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz completed 139 laps, the Spaniard carrying out a race simulation. Almost matching one another for best times, the duo were both a round a second off Vettel's pace.

Williams was another team that had two drivers on duty, and while Sergey Sirotkin completed 42 laps this morning finishing 9th quickest, little was seen of Lance Stroll as he completed 86 laps this afternoon. Propping up the timesheets, 2.541s off the pace, looking at his mileage one can only surmise that the Grove outfit was treating today like a Friday practice session working on everything else other than pace.

Like Renault, Force India and Sauber were pretty anonymous, and while they were both over 1.2s off the pace, Sergio Perez and, especially, Marcus Ericsson added a decent number of laps to their teams' tallies.

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