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BARCELONA TEST TWO DAY THREE – Charles Leclerc breaks lap record going fastest by six tenths

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fastest on the third day of the second test at the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya setting a 16.231 to go fastest by over half a second over Alex Albon. The Monacan’s time set on the C5 tyre was only six tenths off the outright fastest lap set last year.

Leclerc set his fastest time during the morning despite his Ferrari stopping on track early on, he remained at the top of the times all day managing a hundred a thirty-eight laps. However, his running was brought early close as he stopped on track in the final half hour.

Ferrari’s benchmark is quick, however, it remains to be seen what Mercedes and Red Bull can do in response as they are yet to do qualifying runs. Early on, Albon had fought with the McLaren of Lando Norris for the outright pace, but on the same compound of tyre, it was the Londoner ahead of the Bristolian.

Leclerc told reporters that there was more to come from the team. Saying “I think we are looking strong at the moment. Whether they are sand-bagging more, or less, we don’t know and we will only know in Melbourne qualifying.”

However, on comparison over sixty-six laps, the race distance in Barcelona, and at the same time of day Ferrari were a quarter of the second faster over a race distance than Mercedes. This will make them the favourites in Melbourne when racing begins in a fortnights time.

Norris along with the rest of the top eight, all set there fastest time on the C5 compound, going just seven thousands faster than Pierre Gasly. The Red Bull driver’s running was cut short after a crash at Campsa.

Gasly’s crash saw him rip off both the front and rear wings off the Red Bull, but Gasly was able to get out of the car and declared he was OK after a visit to the medical centre. He had just finished sixty-five laps, just under a race distance, and had just switched to the C2 tyre for a long run.

The Renault duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg ended up fifth and sixth fastest, they were spilt by almost three-tenths of a second. However, Ricciardo’s focus was on short runs and as so he completed less laps than his teammate.

So good running for Racing Point by Lance Stroll allowed the team to clear a hundred laps, going seventh fastest. However, on his hundred and third laps the Canadian driver stopped on the track causing a red flag with just over an hour to go.

Mercedes continued their low key test in terms of outright pace, with Lewis Hamilton tenth with eighty-five laps, and Valtteri Bottas thirteenth with ninety-three. This means the real pace of the reigning five times champions remains unknown.

Hamilton did set his fastest time, 1:18.097, on the second hardest tyre available, the Compound 2. Bottas told Sky Sports, “I definitely feel improvements since last week with the stability of the car and the overall downforce, but we haven’t unlocked everything there is to unlock.”

“Even though we are approaching the end of testing, we are learning still massively with each run and each day. We still need to make improvements.”

Antonio Giovinazzi was seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean, after taking over from teammate Kevin Magnussen. It was Magnussen who carried the majority of the team’s mileage, after repairs because of an exhaust issue.

Qualifying simulations were also the main order of the day in the midfield, this proved that the gap in the midfield remains as tight as ever.

Williams’s George Russell recorded more laps than any other driver one hundred and forty ending the day with the eleventh fastest, ahead of Magnussen and Bottas, who both recorded their best laps on the mid-range C3 tyre.

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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