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Perez quickest on Thursday morning

NEWS STORY
20/02/2020

It is somewhat ironic, that while Racing Point technical director, Andrew Green was fiercely denying claims that the team's 2020 car is a virtual clone of the 2019 Mercedes, Sergio Perez was topping the Barcelona timesheets with a pace that will have impressed his team's friends in Brackley.

An uneventful session in terms of incidents, following Pierre Gasly's spin at T9 early in the day, the main topic of conversation was the mysterious movement of Lewis Hamilton's steering wheel, the purpose (and legality) of which is likely to be discussed for some time to come.

Fact is, had it not been for the device - whatever it might be - there would be little to say about the world champions, who went about their programme with customary German efficiency, allowing Hamilton to complete the most laps (106) before handing over to teammate Valtteri Bottas this afternoon.

Second quickest was Daniel Ricciardo, but like yesterday Renault was late to join the party, the Australian not leaving his garage until almost an hour into the session.

Alex Albon was third quickest in the Red Bull, ahead of former incumbent Pierre Gasly. Between them the pair completed 135 trouble-free laps which will certainly please Honda.

Williams continues to impress -certainly compared to this time twelve months ago - as George Russell not only completed an impressive 71 laps but also claimed fifth on the timesheets.

It was a quiet morning also for Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque only completing 49 laps, leaving one to ponder whether Ferrari is preoccupied with the legality of a certain silver car.

Early days, but the Maranello outfit has yet to impress in the same way that it did last year. Then again, considering how its season fell apart, perhaps that's a good thing.

Sebastian Vettel takes over this afternoon, having hopefully recovered from the illness which laid him low yesterday.

Romain Grosjean completed the second highest amount of laps, the Frenchman adding 87 to the team's tally on his way to posting the 8th best time of the session, albeit over a second off Perez' pace.

Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris finished the morning ninth and tenth, the Briton, like Hamilton, posting his best time on the hardest (C1) compound.

As was the case yesterday, the session got underway in somewhat chilly conditions, with the air temperature 9 degrees C, and the track temperature 11 degrees. Thankfully, by lunchtime this had risen to 15 and 23 degrees respectively, though wooly hats and padded jackets remain the order of the day.

Mercedes controversy aside, the most interesting thing to come out of testing thus far is the lack of incidents together with the almost clockwork reliability of the cars. That said, as the teams begin to turn up the wick in the coming days, that could all change.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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