FEBRUARY 27, 2019
Preseason test two, day one - Lando and Fernando
By Dan Knutson
Fernando Alonso created quite a bit of excitement when he showed up in the paddock of the Circuit de Catalunya on the first day of the second preseason test. The Spaniard was not there to drive but to observe and to visit with the McLaren team. Lando Norris, meanwhile, turned the fastest lap time of the day in his McLaren. The rookie driver completed 80 laps and stopped twice on the track with mechanical problems.
"On the whole today was a good day, although we didn't get to do quite as much running as we wanted," Norris said. "We've improved the car slightly since last week, especially on the longer runs, so we're going in the right direction, which is positive. It's important that we keep doing that. Overall, I'm feeling more prepared. I now have one last session in the car on Thursday, to finalize everything before Australia."
Pierre Gasly did 136 laps - more than any other driver during the day - and ended up second in his Red Bull.
"We pushed a little more today," he said, "but really it's all about understanding how the car works. There were a lot of aero tests and a lot of items to evaluate for the team today, and that's good for me as it helps me get more comfortable with the car. Lap after lap it's getting better, but of course there's still work to do. The pace was good, but we just have to focus on ourselves and work through the program we've defined for each day."
Racing Point had its smoothest day of testing so far, and Lance Stroll completed 82 laps.
"The car felt good so I think we are heading in the right direction," said Stroll who was third on the scoring monitors. "These days are about building confidence and getting to grips with the new car, but also getting used to this new environment. I am getting on really well with the crew in the garage. They're great people and everyone is working so hard. We ran on a mix of different tires today and tried a lot of test items."
Sebastian Vettel took fourth place in his Ferrari.
"We are still trying to understand the car, trying various set-ups," he said. "This afternoon, we also had a first go with the super soft compound, just to get some more information. The next couple of days will be important for us."
Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi completed 99 laps in car number 99 and rounded out the top five.
"We have concluded another constructive day and started the second week of testing on a positive note," he said.
After a delayed and slow start to the first preseason test, things went much better for the Williams team on the first day of the second test session. George Russell completed 119 laps in the new Williams. By comparison, the team had completed a total of just 88 laps in the first test.
"I was great to get some laps on the car, just understand a bit of low fuel, high fuel, what the car's doing, and gives us an indication of what to do the rest of the week," said the rookie driver. "What was important was we got laps and had no problem with the car. We would like some more laps! But that was our main priority really. We need laps on the car to understand the issues and that's what we've done."
"It certainly has not made up for (missing two and a half days of testing) last week as everybody else at this stage are fine tuning the balance (of their cars) whereas we are needing to understand the car," Russell added. "But I feel we're at a good spot, the car isn't in the perfect window right now but I feel like it's definitely got the potential and we've still got three days ahead of us to do that."
Preseason Test 2
Day 1 lap times
Lando Norris (McLaren) - 1m17.709s - (C4) compound - 80 laps
Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) - 1m17.715s - (C3) compound - 136 laps
Lance Stroll (Racing Point) - 1m17.824s - C5 compound - 82 laps
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 1m17.925s - (C3) compound - 81 laps
Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) - 1m18.589s - (C4) compound - 99 laps
Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso) - 1m18.649s - (C4) compound - 103 laps
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - 1m18.651s - (C3) compound - 29 laps
Kevin Magnussen (Haas) - 1m18.769s - (C4) compound - 131 laps
George Russell (Williams) - 1m19.662s - C5 compound - 119 laps
Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) - 1m20.107s - (C3) compound - 77 laps
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 1m20.167s - (C2) compound - 7 laps
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 1m20.332s - (C2) compound - 83 laps
Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) - 1m20.348s - (C3) compound - 80 laps
(Pirelli has five different compounds of slick tires which range from the hardest C1 to the softest C5.)