The Red Bulls ultimately weren’t quite in same orbit in terms of lap time as Mercedes. Perez’s 1min 19.556sec was good enough for third, whilst Verstappen was exactly two tenths further back, but testing has never been a reliable indicator of the true competitive order, with teams running individual programmes. The drivers completed 133 laps between them; short of the 160 achieved by Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel was the cause of one of five red flags which came out in the morning, but before that he posted a time which would eventually leave him fifth in the running order – his time was a 1min 19.824sec. He completed 48 laps before his car caught fire on the track due to an oil leak. It wouldn’t reappear and Aston began packing up early.
Seven thousandths behind the German was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. He managed 44 tours in a morning’s running. His team-mate Sainz did even better enjoying a highly productive afternoon of 92 laps, just 0.25sec behind.
Another with an impressive lap tally was Alex Albon. His Williams showed good reliability to match Hamilton in clocking 94 circuits with a final time of 1min 20.318sec, with team-mate Nicholas Latifi going 0.35sec slower.
Next was the McLaren pair: Daniel Ricciardo recorded a 1min 20.790sec and Lando Norris a 1min 20.827sec. Though perhaps showing a more subdued pace, a total of 85 and 52 laps respectively was impressive and Ricciardo made the most of the wet circuit; leaving the pitlane as soon as the afternoon session began.
A hydraulic issue caused a dramatic fire for Fernando Alonso during the stop-start morning session which ended after 14 tours of Circuit de Cataluyna. His time of 1min 21.242sec left him 12th at the end of the day and, like Aston Martin, the team lost the afternoon session.