Vettel sets the pace again in 2nd day of f1 preseason tests

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Sebastian Vettel continued to show good pace with Ferrari in Formula One's preseason testing on Tuesday, setting the fastest time for the second consecutive day.

Vettel was seven tenths of a second faster than Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, who also used Pirelli's new ultra-soft tire compound in his fast lap.

Vettel's time of 1 minute, 22.810 seconds at the Circuito de Barcelona was almost two seconds quicker than the pole position in Spain last year on the same track. Vettel also was fastest on Monday, ahead of defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

The only setback for Ferrari came just minutes before the end of the afternoon session, when Vettel's car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical problem, bringing out the red flag.

''So far the first thing that matters is that the car is reacting and doing what I asked for,'' Vettel said.

Sergio Perez was third with Force India on soft tires, and Nico Rosberg was fourth with Mercedes on medium tires, two seconds slower than Vettel's time. Rosberg ran 172 laps, the most of any driver. Vettel had 126 while Hamilton drove 156 laps on Monday. A race at the Circuit de Barcelona is 66 laps.

''That was an F1 marathon today,'' said Rosberg, who drove for more than 800 kilometers (500 miles). ''It's great to see that we are already able to do a lot of mileage. Incredible. The opposition are chasing us hard and we need to keep being innovative to stay ahead. Overall, it's been a great start to the testing program.''

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso made his debut in testing by driving 119 laps, another promising sign for McLaren after a disappointing season last year.

''Big day. Proud of the team,'' said the Spaniard, who later dismissed rumors that he was considering leaving McLaren before the end of his contract if he didn't like this year's car. Alonso signed with McLaren through the end of next season.

Teammate Jenson Button had completed a total of 84 laps on Monday, also without any major reliability problems. Alonso was only ninth fastest among the 11 drivers on the track on Tuesday, more than three seconds behind Vettel.

Marcus Ericsson was fifth with Sauber, which will only debut its 2016 car when teams return to Barcelona for the final tests of the season on March 1-4.

Esteban Gutierrez finished sixth in a good second day for Haas, the American-led team debuting in F1 this season. The team had to reinforce its front wings after a failure in the car driven by Romain Grosjean, who finished 10th on Monday.

''We've had a good day and the team's really starting to gel,'' Haas team manager Dave O'Neill said. ''It's all positive.''

Renault, returning to F1 as a full team after taking over Lotus, endured problems for the second consecutive day. British rookie driver Jolyon Palmer ran only 37 laps after software issues on Monday, then completed 42 on Tuesday before his car stopped on the track with a power-unit problem. Kevin Magnussen will take over for the last two days of testing on Wednesday and Thursday.

A red flag came out near the end of the morning session when Max Verstappen stopped on Turn 13 with a mechanical failure in his Toro Rosso. The car had to be towed back to the garage.

Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto was scheduled to make his debut for Manor on Tuesday, but the team changed plans and said it decided to keep German Pascal Wehrlein in the driver's seat the entire day. Wehrlein was eighth fastest.

---

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.