Charles Leclerc sets the pace on the second day of testing Spain, as McLaren continues to impress.
As previously reported, the buzz word at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today was porpoising despite the hope that the phenomenon had been relegated to history, much like the thought of one country needlessly invading another.
The ground effect related phenomenon, together with concerns over weight and a number of other issues, including cars bottoming out under braking, mean that no clear picture is yet emerging, a situation not helped by the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull not showing consistent form.
Despite stoppages for Sergio Perez (gearbox) and Mazepin (fuel pump) it was another busy day, with the 16 drivers on duty completing 1,169 laps.
Though there remains a question mark over one aspect of the rules overhaul, a number of drivers have given the thumbs up in terms of dirty air. Today, like yesterday, we saw a number of examples when drivers deliberately shadowed a rival in order to check out the disturbance when following closely, and the early signs are that it is looking to be less of a problem.
The day after Max Verstappen completed 147 laps in the Red Bull, former teammate Pierre Gasly completed the same distance in the AlphaTauri as the Italian outfit continues to show good form.
One of the teams seemingly most affected by the porpoising factor is Alfa Romeo, and while Valtteri Bottas' trials and tribulations continued this morning, this afternoon teammate Guanyu Zhou was able to complete 71 trouble free laps on his way to posting the tenth best time of the day.
Haas also had a better day of it, for although Mazepin lost track time this afternoon with his fuel pump issue he was able to add a further 42 laps to the team's tally on his way to posting the 8th best time of the day - Schumacher having completed 66 laps this morning.
As made clear from the beginning this week isn't about outright speed but rather reliability and in that department a number of teams are already showing promise whilst others are not.
While Leclerc was quickest today, the Ferrari driver was unable to beat Lando Norris' best from yesterday, and no doubt the Briton, who is back in the MCL36 tomorrow morning, will be keep to maintain the status quo.
Earlier predictions of rain tomorrow appear to be wide of the mark, however tomorrow afternoon the track is being artificially dampened to allow some wet weather testing, something not entirely possible in Bahrain next month.
As was the case yesterday, a key objective was for the Ferrari drivers was to continue to familiarise themselves with the new car, while also enabling the pit stop crew to get used to dealing with the new 18 inch tyres. Sainz and Leclerc also began to work on fine tuning the car, running various set-ups.
Sainz jumped into the car at 9:00, leaving the garage a few minutes later. The Spaniard did 71 laps, running the C2 and C3 compound tyres, using the latter to set his best time of 1:20.546. Over the two days, he has done 144 laps, or 673 kilometres.
Leclerc went out on track shortly after 2pm and ran the C1, C2 and C3 tyres completing 79 laps. His best time was a 1:19.689, on the softest C3 compound, that was also the fastest of the day. Over the two days so far, he has completed 159 laps, or 743 kilometres. The F1-75 itself has therefore racked up 303 laps (1416 km) the most of any car on track.
"A pretty good afternoon," said the Monegasque. "We completed a lot of laps again, which is what counts the most at testing. Our aim is to drive as many kilometres as we can, to complete as many different tests as possible and that's exactly what we did.
"Again, we should not get ahead of ourselves, because P1 doesn't mean anything at this stage. We have to keep working extremely hard. Tomorrow is our final day at Barcelona and we have to make the most of it before we turn our attention to Bahrain."
"It was another productive day in which we were able to complete the whole run programme, which at this stage is the most important thing," added Sainz. "We ran both the C2 and C3 tyres and that allowed us to further assess those compounds while trying different set ups in the car. Our 71 laps this morning were a good asset and also allowed me to start working a bit more on the driving style, gaining confidence with every lap. I'm satisfied with the work we've been able to do so far and I look forward to continuing this trend."
"I must say I am super excited to be back," said Pierre Gasly who took over from Yuki Tsunoda today. "It was good to understand a bit more about how this car works and so far, it's been really positive.
"Straight out of the box, I've felt quite confident inside the car, and it has responded the way I wanted. Obviously, there's still a lot of work to do, but it's been a pleasing start to the year.
"Personally, I'm trying to focus on how the car feels when I'm driving it and what I need to do myself to improve. Tomorrow we will continue to explore some different directions in terms of set-up, we have some good ideas that we would like to try and I'm sure we have more performance to come. There's still so many unknowns so we'll be looking at everything tonight with the engineers and then pushing for more tomorrow."
"After some aero rake running first thing this morning - to characterise the mappings - we got straight into set-up work and explored a number of different directions," added chief race engineer, Jonathan Eddolls. "The baseline car was already in the right ballpark, but we learnt some more from the larger changes.
"The wind picked up over lunch and the track was slower, which combined with the harder C1 tyre made the grip and balance at the start of the afternoon more difficult than the morning. However, with some set-up tuning we improved this and by the time we switched to the softer tyre in the last hour Pierre was happier with the car in general. We closed the day with some pitstop practice, which is particularly pertinent for this year as the wheels are much larger and heavier than the 13" variety we have become accustomed to.
"Other than a few small niggles the car remained reliable, and this allowed the team to focus on performance. Although there remains a mountain of work to do before race one, we are making good progress and look forward to ticking off further items tomorrow, including the wet running in the afternoon."
"A good day from many angles," said Daniel Ricciardo who finished the day third quickest having completed 126 laps. "I think reliability was great. That's on the team and everyone who's worked hard to put this car together, so massive thank you to them. They're pretty awesome to build a whole new car, put it on track and have it run so smoothly, so big thanks to them again.
"Both days have been over 100 laps, which for me and Lando gives us more opportunity to learn the car and push ourselves, so really pleased with that. We've got some good strengths and we just need to keep working on a few of the areas where we can improve."
"Our second day of testing has been very productive," said Andrea Stella, the Woking outfit's Executive Director. "With Daniel in the car today, we were able to put together a lot of laps with no particular problems, either from an operational or a reliability point of view. We've completed a series of tests and acquired a lot of information on tyre performance, set-up and aerodynamics.
"We're learning more about this new car with each run, and this is helping us extract the most from the MCL36 in preparation for the season ahead."
At Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was in the cockpit for the morning, clocking up 40 laps of set-up learning before his session was curtailed by a sensor issue. George Russell got to work in the afternoon, completing a number of test procedures and continuing to further the team's understanding of the harder tyre compounds.
"We had a difficult morning with Lewis, experiencing a data logging issue that delayed our start and in general, we were struggling a bit more with the balance," admitted Andrew Shovlin. "Some of that may have been setup items that we were trying and some of it the harder tyres that we were running today. We managed to get a few runs completed then unfortunately had a sensor issue that prevented us doing further performance work so we stopped early for lunch in order to fix it.
"George had a more productive session in the afternoon and we got through some useful setup scans and completed some of our tyre programme. We've still got plenty of issues to work on from a performance point of view but we are continuing to learn with every run which in turn will make us faster. We've got a busy day planned for tomorrow, plenty more setup work and a first look at some of the softer rubber compounds for this year."
Check out our Thursday gallery from Barcelona, here.