Daniel Ricciardo also had a solid day. A 1min 20.288sec meant the Australian was third, scoring 126 laps in his McLaren.
Mercedes, as is usual in test sessions, kept a low profile, with George Russell using a late burst to record a lap just under a second slower than Leclerc’s headline time, on the way to completing 66 laps. Carlos Sainz recorded 71 laps to Leclerc’s 79, as the Scuderia – as far as any signs so far can indicate – appear a rejuvenated force. Whether it carries on to the first race, when true pace is shown – or even the next test – remains to be seen.
Chalking up 74 laps, Sebastian Vettel was 0.2sec off Sainz, whilst Sergio Perez had a truncated day.
A breakdown at Turn 13 in the morning brought out the first red flag of the test, with Red Bull confirming the issue as gearbox related. The Mexican got back out in the afternoon, still managing to put in 78 laps. His quickest time was almost 2sec off that of Leclerc.
Another man who caused a red flag was Nikita Mazepin, his fuel pump failing in the afternoon, on a day when his team boss Guenther Steiner pulled out of the FIA press conference after Russia invaded Ukraine this morning. The team’s title sponsor – Uralkali, a huge Russian industrial firm owned by Mazepin’s father – could face sanctions from other global powers.
The Haas driver was a tenth off Perez, with Williams’ Alex Albon just two hundredths off the Russian.
Guanyu Zhou turned his first laps for Alfa Romeo in this test, the Chinese driver clocking a 1min 21.885sec, whilst Nicholas Latifi was just a whisker behind in his Williams.
Lance Stroll’s morning efforts brought him a 1min 21.920sec, with Mick Schumacher three hundredths away from the Canadian.
Esteban Ocon put in a heavy shift to clock 125 laps, 2.5sec off Leclerc, with Valtteri Bottas again struggling for running in his Alfa – 21 laps was all he could muster.
Keeping the lowest profile was Lewis Hamilton. 40 laps represented only two thirds of Russell’s total, a 1min 22.562sec putting him bottom of the pile.