(Photo credit: Morio)
Esteban Ocon, Romain Grosjean and Brendon Hartley were first out for Day 2 of Test Two in Barcelona where the conditions were mild and dry. They were followed by Fernando Alonso who was hoping for a better day having failed to make the most of his time on the circuit on Tuesday. There was a feeling in the garage this was a crucial day for the team from Woking and Alonso provided some early cheer with an eye-catching lap time of 1:20.320.
As the morning went on that time was bettered by Alonso himself and also by his old rival Lewis Hamilton who had clocked a best figure of 1:18.317 after 37 laps. Meanwhile, Red Bull continued to impress, Daniel Ricciardo registering a time of 1:19.555.
More woes for McLaren
McLaren’s early optimism was shattered mid-morning when Alonso stopped his car in the track with smoke billowing ominously from the engine bay. This just a day after Stoffel Vandoorne had been forced to stop three times with a battery fault and hydraulic issues. While it is not unusual for a team to face such teething problems, it does not offer encouragement to those who hoped McLaren’s fortunes would improve following their split from Honda. Later, the team reported that an oil leak had caused the breakdown.
As the session wore on, Sebastian Vettel joined the jostling for fastest lap, while Hamilton broke Kimi Raikkonen's lap record set last year only to be bettered by Ricciardo moments later. Meanwhile, McLaren’s mechanics were busy trying to replace their broken engine and get their car back on the track. Alonso was conspicuous by his absence.
Overall, it was a good day for all the teams bar McLaren. Times were up across the board and most drivers got plenty of laps under their belts, most notably Daniel Ricciardo who completed an incredible 165 circuits. The Aussie was the star of the day, posting a new lap record and beating the reigning world champion by four-tenths of a second. That won’t bother Hamilton too much as he was on a slower tyre when he clocked his fastest time. Bottas was also on the ultrasoft option when he posted his best lap, finishing just a tenth of a second behind his teammate.
Ferrari avoided the soft compound tyres again suggesting that they may have kept something up their sleeve for the final two days of testing. Kimi Raikkonen was not feeling well so there was no surprise he was off the pace in the final standings having called it a day after 46 laps.
Somehow the McLaren mechanics got their car back out on the track but there was only enough time for Alonso to complete a handful of laps. He finished fifth fastest on a day that once again provided more questions than answers for the Silver Arrows.