FÓRMULA 1

Vettel flies on 'ultrasofts' and Alonso, 10th, completes 71 laps

Vettel fastest on new ultrasoft tyre, as Alonso records 2nd-most kms behind Rosberg's Mercedes in Barcelona.

Under a grey sky on a chilly morning in Barcelona with the sun timidly sneaking the occasional glance at the track, Fernando Alonso walked to the pit. A few minutes after 9am he was getting acquainted with his brand new MP4-31, a complex synergy of hardware and software upon which rests all his very human hope of getting back to where he feels he belongs.

During the first hour, the Asturian limited himself to a getting-to-know-you with the car, one year and one day exactly after the worst accident of his career. Fernando was still in the intensive care unit of the 'Hospital General de Catalunya' this time last year after colliding with the wall on the Catalan circuit.

Now, everything looks different. Alonso completed ten laps in his first hour, taking it tranquilo, bedding the car in and adjusting the power train. The morning passed without problems for the new motor, completing 71 problem-free laps before the midday break.

At lunchtime it was Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel setting the pace with a formidable 1:22.810 sec, hardly touching the ground on the new ultrasoft tyres.

Vettel took advantage of a new ultrasoft tyre to propel himself back to the top of the timesheets on the second day of pre-season testing.

 Vettel was also fastest in Monday's first day of testing as Ferrari look set to live up to expectations they can challenge Mercedes' dominance of the sport for the past two years.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo also used tyre manufacturer Pirelli's fastest tyre to get second fastest, but was seven tenths down on Vettel's flying lap of 1min 22:810sec.

However, once again Mercedes were arguably the most impressive performers as Nico Rosberg completed 81 laps and went within 0.2 seconds of his qualifying lap to land pole position at the same circuit for last season's Spanish Grand Prix on slower medium tyres.

The German giants have prioritised miles over times early, but Rosberg also went nearly half a second quicker than teammate and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton on his marathon 156 lap run on Monday.

The McLaren-Honda partnership had another busy morning off the track with the news chief motorsport officer Yasuisha Arai will be replaced by Yusuke Hasegawa before the first race of the season next month.

On the track, more progress was made as Fernando Alonso logged 71 laps before lunch.

However, the MP4-31 was still well short on speed as the two-time world champion was 10th fastest behind F1 newbies Haas and rookie Pacal Wehrlein in the Manor and Jolyon Palmer in the recently returned Renualt.


Morning times in Barcelona

Position Driver Team Time Laps
1 Vettel Ferrari 1:22.810 46
2 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.525 58
3 Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.867 81
4 Pérez Force India 1:25.692 48
5 Ericsson Sauber 1:25.734 49
6 Bottas Williams 1:25.872 56
7 Wehrlein Manor 1:25.925 36
8 Palmer Renault 1:26.189 41
9 Gutiérrez Haas 1:26.931 32
10 Alonso McLaren 1:27.198 71
11 Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.346 59