Formula 1’s first sighting of the ultra-soft Pirelli tyres in Spain this week resulted in blisteringly quick lap times with Sebastian Vettel posting a 1:22.810.
Following on from Monday’s P1 at the Circuit de Catalunya, the Ferrari driver was again hovering near the front of the timesheets as he battled Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg for the fastest time on Tuesday morning.
Ricciardo swapping to the ultra-softs prior to lunch seemed to have decided the battle as he posted a 1:23.525 – faster than last year’s pole position at the Spanish track.
However minutes later Vettel made the swap and crossed the line with a 1:22.810 to edge the Aussie by 0.715s.
Rosberg, who picked up where Lewis Hamilton left off on Monday as he piled on the laps to bring his tally to 81, was third quickest. His best time, a 1:24.867, was set on the medium tyres as Mercedes trailed new parts including a radical bargeboard design.
Sergio Perez on his first day in the VJM09 was fourth ahead of Marcus Ericsson, who used the soft tyres on his C34 to edge the Williams of Valtteri Bottas. The Finn spent his morning only using the medium tyres and finished with a 1:25.872.
Pascal Wehrlein was seventh for Manor, a great showing for the team, as he put the soft tyres to good use to beat Jolyon Palmer and Esteban Gutierrez. The latter only joined the track action after the first hour as Haas sought to resolve the front wing issue that Romain Grosjean experienced on Monday. Gutierrez covered 35 laps.
Fernando Alonso, who concentrated on aerodynamic evaluations and amassed 71 laps, was P10 ahead of Max Verstappen. The Toro Rosso driver brought out the morning’s only red flag when he stopped by Turn 13. He was slowest of all with a 1:27.346.
1 Vettel Ferrari 1:22.810 45 laps
2 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:23.525 58 laps
3 Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.867 81 laps
4 Perez Force India 1:25.692 48 laps
5 Ericsson Sauber 1:25.734 49 laps
6 Bottas Williams 1:5.872 54 laps
7 Wehrlein Manor 1:25.925 36 laps
8 Palmer Renault 1:26.189 41 laps
9 Gutierrez Haas 1:26.931 32 laps
10 Alonso McLaren 1:27.198 71 laps
11 Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.346 59 laps