Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi topped the timing screens at the end of a morning in which the top three were separated by less than a tenth of a second at the top of the timing screens, as the second Formula 1 preseason test of the 2019 season got underway at Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona, on Tuesday.
Giovinazzi posted a time of 1:8.589 on the second-stickiest C4 tyre compound to narrowly beat the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly who set his time on the harder yellow medium tyre.
Ferrari had issues early on, Charles Leclerc’s SF90 returned to the garage with a cooling issue after just six laps. It took a while, but the Reds sorted the problem and by the lunch break, Leclerc had managed 29 laps, the best of which was good for third.
Despite Leclerc loss of track time, Ferrari stuck to their plan with Sebastian Vettel taking over the car after lunch.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll finally found some pace in the RP19 to end fourth fastest ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, the Dane racking up an impressive 84-laps with the VF19 and ending fifth quickest.
Williams, rebounding from their almost no show at the first test, grafted hard and enjoyed a strong first half of the day, George Russell getting the FW42 around Barcelona in 1:19.662 on the soft C5 Pirelli compound, good enough for P6.
Mercedes continued to keep their powder dry as they wheeled out a heavily revised W10 for the day. Lewis Hamilton ended up eighth, but nearly two seconds off the top times as the World Champions stick doggedly to a work programme clearly designed not to impress or reveal much.
Notably, the W10 sported a different front wing to the one used last week amid whispers that James Allison and his men may have got their sums wrong on this one.
Renault were equally subdued but perhaps for other reasons, the French team content on adding miles to the RS19. Nico Hulkenberg was ninth fastest but with a solid 80 laps to his credit.
The one red flag period during the morning session was instigated by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who stopped out on track. That curtailed his mileage to 38 laps and rendered him bottom of the timesheet.
After lunch, Valtteri Bottas took over at Mercedes from Lewis Hamilton.
At Ferrari and Renault their other drivers will also be in axction, meaning that Leclerc and Hülkenberg will make way for Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo who will be on duty for the afternoon stanza.