Aero Rakes, Flo-Vis paint and race simulations the order of the day in Barcelona

Preparations for the opening grand prix of the season continued apace as teams reconvened at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for three more days of testing.

Last week’s opening Barcelona test threw up many interesting talking points, including Mercedes’ innovative Dual Axis Steering system and whether the Racing Point is just a Mercedes in pink! Data gathering was again the order of the day for many teams on the opening morning of the second three-day test, hulking great Aero Rakes in evidence as well as Flo-Visibility paint with which to measure aerodynamic efficiency.

The focus for the opening day was also about completing race distance simulations, although both Red Bull and sister team Alpha Tauri did experience complications, Alexander Albon’s running hampered by a suspension problem before Pierre Gasly’s car experienced a fuel pipe issue and had to be dismantled. Despite an engine change, George Russell still managed a productive day for Williams, completing 58 laps of the circuit.

For the record, it was the Alfa Romeo of Robert Kubica who topped the times ahead of Max Verstappen, who spun late in the session, Sergio Perez’s Racing Point and the Alpha Tauri duo of Daniil Kvyat and Gasly. Albon was next, despite his early problems and limited running ahead of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, who managed a substantial 89 laps of the circuit – the second highest bar Romain Grosjean’s 109. Lance Stroll, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel rounded off the top ten runners.

“Every time you jump in a new car, you’re learning new things,” commented Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. “We still have a lot to work through to keep learning as much as we can before the first race, and there are a lot of areas we can still improve at this stage, as always in testing. But overall, it was another really solid day – even if this afternoon was a little bit tricky with the wind changing a lot from the beginning to the end of the session. I’ve got one more day in the car on Friday, so I’m looking forward to that and hoping we can extract the maximum from our package to end the test on a strong note before we head to Melbourne.”

Although respective pace is always hard to judge at this stage due to the closely guarded fuel loads, tyre choice can give an early indication and unsurprisingly, Mercedes already looks the team to beat, with Racing Point raising a few eyebrows in the paddock with their competitiveness.

Testing resumes on Thursday and concludes on Friday, before teams load up their trucks and fly out to Melbourne for the opening race of the season. Only then, and certainly in the races to follow, will we gain a true picture of who holds sway at the start of the 2020 season.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.