Felipe Massa leads the way on the penultimate morning of Formula 1 pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya as teams began to show their hand with a flurry of soft tyre runs and Mercedes struggled with set-up concerns.

Brazilian Massa, who was quickest in the Williams on Thursday, steadily lowered his best time over the course of the morning, peaking with a 1m 23.262secs, just over a hundredth quicker than Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari.

Another clue that the Williams is set to emerge as one of Mercedes' closest rivals when the season gets underway in Australia in less than two weeks' time, Raikkonen's closely matched lap time is nonetheless a suggestion that Ferrari is also in good contention.

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That said, though Mercedes has been clearly earmarked as the team to beat by rivals, it endured a difficult morning as it opted to sit out 90mins of track action as it pores over the W06's set-up.

Following on from Nico Rosberg's comments from yesterday after saying the car was 'all over the place' despite its rapid lap time at the end of the day, Lewis Hamilton managed just 36 laps before the team broke for 'lunch' early, claiming it is looking at 'experimental set-up changes' in the break.

Meanwhile, a flurry of soft tyre runs would see the order change in the direct run up to lunchtime, with Marcus Ericsson emerging third fastest in the Sauber with a 1min 24.477secs lap, albeit four tenths slower than team-mate Felipe Nasr's equivalent from the day before.

In fourth was Nico Hulkenberg, who continued to get multiple laps on the Force India VJM08, the German turning in a remarkable 76 laps and having time to fit soft tyres for a 1min 24.939secs lap.

Similarly, McLaren chose this morning to it a soft tyre to the MP4-30 in the hands of the returning Kevin Magnussen, and proved relatively competitive given the Dane's lack of track time with a 1min 25.225secs.

Behind them, having led the way early on, Hamilton slipped to sixth fastest, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Lotus' Romain Grosjean, who followed alternative programmes and continued to lap on the medium tyres.