Five things we learnt on day two (1st test)

The second day in Barcelona was largely a case of status quo at the top of the timesheet. Sebastian Vettel made it a brace of table topping days for Ferrari, with a run on the brand new ultra-soft tyre. Mercedes, however, were once again supreme in the mileage stakes, with a record 172 laps and finishing fourth on the timesheet after a run on the medium compound.

Here are five things we learnt on day two of winter testing…

Ultra-softs are ultra-fragile

As was largely expected, the purple banded ultra-soft tyre is much like a qualifying compound. The new-for-2016 tyre is primarily set to be used on street circuits where degradation is low. When teams ventured out on the tyres for the first time today the results were fast, but this was short-lived.

Sebastian Vettel’s table-topping 1:22.810 benchmark was set on the first flying lap on the tyre. After one slow lap to cool the rubber, his next hotlap was a full 0.9 seconds down on his previous effort – and that was with one lap’s worth of experience on the brand new compound under his belt.

It would have been fascinating to see how Mercedes stacked up against Ferrari on the ultra-soft compound today, but that will be a treat for another session.

Delta between super-soft and ultra-soft is established

On this day in history at the Circuit de Barcelona, it seems that the delta between the super-soft and new ultra-soft tyre is eight tenths. This was the difference when both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel switched between the compounds earlier today.

McLaren are reliable

Honda’s torrid 2015 season, where unreliability seriously hindered their progress, seems to be in the past, as Fernando Alonso completed 119 laps. As such, the Spaniard recorded more miles in one day than he managed in his entire winter testing programme last year.

However, the MP4-31 was certainly not setting the timing screens alive. Alonso finished ninth on the timesheets, despite running the soft tyre. On the same compound, Haas managed to lap a full five tenths faster. Reliability, for now at least, is still the top priority.

Haas hit the ground running

The Ferrari partnership was always going to make it easier for Haas to enter the sport well-equipped from the start. Unlike the 2010 newbees, the US squad have essentially received a ‘leg-up,’ and so far, it appears to have been an effective strategy.

With Esteban Gutierrez at the wheel, the VF-16 managed a sizeable 79 laps today, recording fairly competitive times in the process. It marks the best start to pre-season testing for a new team since Toyota’s entry in 2001.

Manor five seconds faster than last year

Manor Racing are surely going to blow the competition away in the most-improved stakes. The team ran with a 2014 chassis last season, meaning that the MRT05 is their first new car in two years. Combine this, with the Mercedes powertrain driving them forward and the Manor package looks very competitive ahead of the 2016 season.

Pascal Wehrlein was once again in the car today and managed 71 laps, recording a 1:25.925 in the process. When compared alongside the 1:31.200 that Will Stevens managed in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix in the equivalent car last season, the scale on the improvement is realised. It has been a phenomenal effort so far.

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