Ferrari’s fine start to pre-season testing continued on day two as Charles Leclerc’s 1m18.247s kept the team atop the timing screens and completed more significant mileage.
After Sebastian Vettel set the pace on the opening day — one he described as “unbelievable” as Christian Horner admitted he was impressed by the lap time — Leclerc was just 0.086s slower than his new teammate on his first day in the SF90 on the same tire compound. Vettel managed 169 laps on Monday and Leclerc was only 12 laps adrift of that benchmark, although the two Mercedes drivers combined exceeded that total.
There was a sense of déjà vu when looking at the standings at the end of the day, with McLaren once again exceeding 100 laps and ending up second on the timing screens.
This time it was Lando Norris behind the wheel but in similar fashion to Leclerc — who set his best time on the same C3 compound in the morning as Vettel did — the rookie’s best time came in the closing moments on the C4 compound, just as Carlos Sainz had done on Monday. Norris was also 0.005s faster than Sainz had been, with his final lap of 1m18.553s just 0.005s faster than the Spaniard.
The striking similarities continued with Haas in third place but struggling for mileage, as Kevin Magnussen completed just 59 laps — eight fewer than Romain Grosjean yesterday. The Dane had to end his running early due to a seat fit issue that resulted in Pietro Fittipaldi taking over and adding 13 laps at the end of the day. Magnussen’s best lap time of 1m19.206s was less than 0.05s off Grosjean’s best on day one and good enough for third.
Alexander Albon’s debut at an F1 testing session got off to an ominous start when he spun on his out lap, bringing out the first red flag of the day after only a few minutes, but a suspected steering issue was to blame. A more conventional spin approaching the hairpin later on resulted in no damage, and the Thai driver duly finished the day fourth overall and with 132 laps to his name.
A best lap of 1m19.301s from Albon was also 0.163s quicker than teammate Daniil Kvyat on Monday, with both Toro Rosso drivers setting their best lap on the C4 compound that is equivalent to last year’s supersoft.
Rather than being seen as a form guide at this stage, the repetition highlights the similar programs most teams are running when alternating between drivers.
Fifth was Antonio Giovinazzi — just as Kimi Raikkonen was for Alfa Romeo on day one — as the Italian just crept above the 100-lap mark at the end of the day. Giovinazzi’s time of 1m19.312s was just over 0.1s quicker than Raikkonen recorded but Tuesday saw the benchmark set on the softer C4 tire.
While the majority of the teams near the top of the times had relatively smooth days, the same could not be said for Red Bull or Renault. Pierre Gasly was getting his first taste of the RB15 and had enjoyed solid running until just over an hour from the finish, when he lost the rear at Turn 13 and spun into the barrier.
The rear of the car sustained enough damage to prevent Gasly returning in the final hour, leaving him seventh overall just behind Valtteri Bottas.
Gasly’s final lap tally of 92 was three shy of Nico Hulkenberg’s total despite the German taking over from Daniel Ricciardo for the afternoon session. Ricciardo had a scary moment in the morning when he lost the top part of his rear wing and spun off at Turn 1, but managed to get the car back to the garage.
The incident ended his day after 28 laps, with Renault investigating before sending Hulkenberg out after lunch to carry out more than a race distance.
Lance Stroll gave Racing Point some solid mileage after only 30 laps on day one, with 79 added on Tuesday. However, it was another day without Williams, as the team had already announced it would miss the second day of running due to delays with the FW42.
Williams has confirmed to RACER the car is set to arrive at the circuit in the early hours of Wednesday morning, which is likely to result in its first appearance coming after lunch on day three.