Alfa Romeo’s Robert Kubica set the fastest time of the morning session as the second Formula 1 test began at Barcelona, with most teams focusing on long runs and harder tyres.
Kubica – in a test and development role for the ex-Sauber team this year following his exit from Williams – bolted on the softest tyre and jumped eight tenths clear of the field with around 40 minutes to go, in a lap not really representative due to the softer tyres.
AlphaTauri and Red Bull only ran install laps at the start of the session and spent most of it in the pits with screens up in front of the garages – which is only allowed when serious work is taking place.
The problems were understood to be car related rather than anything to do with the Honda engines, and while Red Bull didn’t offer further explanation, AlphaTauri said a “loose pipe” was the cause of its delay. Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon leaped up the order late on once each team was back on track.
Gasly’s lap on the second softest C4 tyre enabled a lap worthy of the fourth fastest time, and then he boosted that at the last, going 0.598s slower than Kubica for second.
Using the second-hardest C2 tyre, Albon set a rapid lap of 1m17.550s, 0.608s slower than Kubica to go third overall. He managed to bag 29 laps – four more than Gasly – despite the lengthy spell in the garage.
Lewis Hamilton had been the lengthy table-topper for Mercedes after seeing off an early exchange of times with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton went clear with an impressive 1m17.753s as part of a stint on the second-hardest C2 tyre with an hour and a half left.
He then improved with 22 minutes to go at the start of another run of C2-shod laps, dropping the deficit at the end of the session to 0.620s – which put him second, before Albon and Gasly improved.
Hamilton completed the most laps, with just under 80, and the fourth fastest time.
Lance Stroll’s Racing Point ended the day fifth, after he had managed a mid-session benchmark of 1m17.787s on the medium softest C3 tyre, continuing Racing Point’s impressive positioning on the order so far in 2020 pre-season testing.
His lap was closely followed by the first red flag caused by a spin for Vettel with two hours to go. He had earlier had set Ferrari’s fastest lap of either test on the medium softest C3 tyre, before carrying too much speed into Turn 7, causing a trip through the gravel into Turn 8.
Vettel’s best was enough for the sixth fastest lap overall, and he managed the second highest number of laps in the session.
The only other red flag came after Nicholas Latifi pulled the Williams off the road on the straight following Turn 9 due to a problem with the car’s Mercedes engine.
Latifi’s red flag triggered a number of improvements just after the red flag he had initiated had been rescinded with an hour and 21 minutes to go.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo set the seventh fastest time of the day among that flurry, while Caros Sainz Jr joined Ricciardo in improving and settled for eighth in a day focused on longer running for McLaren.
Latifi managed ninth, ahead of a quiet session for the Haas of Romain Grosjean.