AS MERCEDES DEBUT NEW STEERING SYSTEM
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen went quickest on Day 2 of the first pre-season Formula 1 test in Barcelona, though the day’s major talking point was the arrival of Mercedes new ‘dual axis steering’ system.
In-car footage of Lewis Hamilton from the morning session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya showed the six-time champion adjusting the extension of his steering wheel during a lap with the result that the toe-in angle of his front wheels changed depending on whether Hamilton was on a straight or entering a corner.
How the mechanism works and the positive effect it brings about remain to be seen but the system’s debut was the talk of the paddock on a day when teams once again logged significant mileage and on which the grid’s oldest driver set the pace.
Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez led the way for much of the day but with 45 left in the session, 40-year-old Räikkönen bolted a set of Pirellis softest compound C5 tyres onto his Alfa Romeo C39 and set a table-topping time of 1:17.091.
Räikkönen then went some way to ensuring he would remain the day’s fastest man by bringing out the first red flag of this test. The Alfa Romeo driver stopped on track between Turn 8 and Turn 9 with 17 minutes remaining in the session. The green flags were shown again with around 10 minutes left but there were no further improvements. Räikkönen had, however, managed a productive 134 laps until the moment he stopped.
Second quickest on day two was Pérez, with the Mexican’s morning best, on C3 tyres, leaving him 0.256 behind Räikkönen. Third place went to Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo who posted a time of 1:17.749. However, on a second day of large lap totals, Renault were the only team not to pass the century mark. Ricciardo completed just 41 laps in the morning and team-mate Esteban Ocon ended the day with a total of 52 on the way to P12.
Fourth place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon. The Thai driver finished eight tenths of a second behind Räikkönen, though the Red Bull man used C2 compound tyres to set his best time.
Albon also managed a useful 134 laps on his way to P4, reaching the total despite losing track time when the team undertook a precautionary power unit change after Honda engineers had noticed concern data from the engine.
AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly ended up fifth fastest ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who missed day one due to illness. Vettel finished a second behind former team-mate Räikkönen and posted a total of 73 laps after taking over from Charles Leclerc who completed 49 laps in the morning to finish in P8.
The Ferrari duo were split by Williams's George Russell, who continued the team's strong start to testing by posting 116 laps.
Hamilton set the day’s ninth-quickest time as he got used to Mercedes’ new ‘DAS’ system. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas was also seen trying the steering out but the Finn’s day finished early when an electrical problem sidelined him in the afternoon. Bottas finished the session in P13.
2020 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test 1, Day 2
1 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:17.091s 134
2 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1:17.347s +0.256s 145
3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:17.749s +0.658s 41
4 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing 1:17.912s +0.821s 134
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:18.121s +1.030s 147
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:18.154s +1.063s 73
7 George Russell Williams 1:18.266s +1.175s 116
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.335s +1.244s 49
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.387s +1.296s 106
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.474s +1.383s 137
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:18.496s +1.405s 158
12 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:18.557s +1.466s 52
13 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:19.307s +2.216s 77