Kimi Raikkonen has blown away the F1 field by notching up a new fastest lap of pre-season testing on the new purple ultra-soft Pirelli tyres.

The Ferrari driver had all eyes on him at the start of the third day of the second test as he rolled out the garage with a prototype of a 'halo' cockpit protector for his installation laps. After unclipping the safety structure Raikkonen spent the morning focusing on outright single lap speed as well as adapting to the new ultra-soft tyre compound.

The Finn became involved in a hot lap shootout with Force India's Nico Hulkenberg but after strapping on the new compounds for a qualifying simulation he set the fastest lap of the test so far, a 1m 22.765s, and despite the German driver responding he remained half a second off.

Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen also enjoyed a late sprint on the ultra-soft tyres and despite closing the time deficit failed to displace the top two, end the morning two-thirds of a second off Raikkonen.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg once again produced a marathon number of laps (81) during his morning in the W07, resisting the softer compounds which placed him fourth overall and ahead of Felipe Nasr in the Sauber.

Fernando Alonso rattled through various tyre compounds and stints to take sixth on the timesheet ahead of Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull.

Despite missing the opening 90 minutes of the session Felipe Massa quickly made up for lost time with a shade below a half-century of laps while Palmer back in the Renault continued to struggle to count up a healthy number of laps compared to his team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

New team Haas looks to have finally shaken off its reliability worries after completing just one lap yesterday, as Grosjean ticked over with 59 but his running was prematurely ended with a crash at turn four minutes before the lunch break. Pascal Wehrlein endured a low-key start to his day at the bottom of the pile.



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