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Bottas tops morning timesheets at Barcelona

NEWS STORY
19/02/2020

Ahead of a season which sees precious few rule changes, the worst possible scenario would surely be Mercedes arriving in Melbourne next month and leaving several days later with yet another 1-2 in the bag. And based on this morning's evidence that might not be too far from the truth.

However, though Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets as proceedings stopped for lunch, the Finn didn't have it all his own way.

Just 0.062s behind was Sergio Perez in the Racing Point, however, this wasn't entirely unexpected, for, making its debut in the flesh, so to speak, the RP20 bears a striking similarity to the 2019 Mercedes. Then again, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Third quickest this morning was Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, the Dutch youngster completing the most laps (91) on his way to posting a best time 0.474s off Bottas' best.

However, while Bottas and Perez posted their best times on the medium rubber, Verstappen, along with fourth quickest, Carlos Sainz, posted his best on hards.

Fifth quickest was Esteban Ocon, as the Renault R.S.20 was revealed to be every bit as dark (i.e. black) as the renders witnessed at last week's 'launch'.

The Frenchman completed 62 laps this morning, before handing over to teammate Daniel Ricciardo for the afternoon.

One man who will be feeling understandably upbeat is George Russell, who not only completed 73 laps but posted a best time (18.168) only marginally slower than what he achieved during the entirety of last year's pre-season test. Hopefully, a positive sign from Williams.

Shortly before the session got underway, Ferrari tweeted: “Change of plan: Seb not feeling great this morning so Charles is taking over driving duties for the day.”

Quite what has caused the German to not feel great isn't clear, however he was well enough to attend the somewhat cheesy driver photoshoot on the pit straight before the start of the session.

Then again, knowing Seb's desire to avoid social media and the like, the photoshoot might have been a step too far.

Robert Kubica was eighth quickest in the Alfa Romeo, ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat.

Between them the ten drivers completed 659 laps, with Kvyat (54) completing the fewest.

There were no red flags, indeed there were few incidents of note other than a couple of spins, an off for Magnussen and a software issue that necessitated Kvyat being rescued from the end of the pitlane.

One rule change for this year is that the screens that the teams usually use to black the unwarranted attention of the media, and thereby rival teams, however, in order to get around this Ferrari appears to have drafted in extra crew in order for them to stand at the front of the garage and form a wall.

While the cars will gradually change over the course of the six days of testing, other than the Racing Point W10, the main points of interest were the exhaust on the Red Bull, not to mention the RB16's nose.

As ever, this being the FP1 and FP2 of winter testing, the sensors were bigger than ever while the flo-viz was generously applied everywhere.

Other than the driver change at Renault this afternoon, Lewis Hamilton will take over the Mercedes - the silver one as opposed to the pink - Antonio Giovinazzi will swap with Robert Kubica at Alfa Romeo, Nicholas Latifi replaces Russel at Williams and Lance Stroll takes over the Mer... Racing Point.

Check out our Wednesday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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