Sergio Perez set the pace on the morning of the second day of Formula 1 pre-season testing as a new steering wheel innovation adopted by Mercedes caused a stir.

The Racing Point driver topped the timesheets on a 1m17.347s, 0.402s clear of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo in second spot on another drama-free morning of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

But the talk in the Barcelona paddock on the second morning of the opening test was focused around an intriguing new steering mode debuted by Mercedes with its steering wheel.

Onboard footage from Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes appeared to show his steering column moving backwards and forwards as he drove on the straights and on the entry to corners.

The adjustable system, which is believed to be manually-operated by the driver inside the cockpit, appeared to change the toe angle of the front wheels along the straight and in the corners.

Such a solution is understood to reduce drag on the straights and provide greater stability in the corners by enhancing grip levels, potentially improving performance if successful.

Alexander Albon was third-quickest and eight-tenths off the pace on his first appearance for Red Bull as he got his initial taste of running in the team’s RB16 challenger, racking up a total of 59 laps.

The man he replaced at Red Bull, Pierre Gasly, was just 0.010s slower for the rebranded AlphaTauri squad in fourth, with George Russell rounding out the top five in what was another encouraging session for Williams in its bid to recover from a miserable 2019 campaign.

Charles Leclerc was just shy of a half-century of laps as he continued to conduct Ferrari’s winter test programme, before handing over to teammate Sebastian Vettel in the afternoon. The German is the only driver yet to feature in 2020 testing after sitting out the opening day through illness.

After Mercedes grabbed the headlines with a dominant showing on the first day of running, Hamilton was a steady seventh in the order but chalked up a remarkable 106 laps to add to the reigning world champions’ already-impressive mileage log.

Behind Hamilton came Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris, all of whom were in action for the first time during testing for their respective teams Haas, Alfa Romeo and McLaren.

A few driver swaps are expected during the lunch break, with Valtteri Bottas set to complete Mercedes’ afternoon running, while Esteban Ocon will return to the Renault cockpit to takeover from teammate Ricciardo.

The second day of pre-season testing resumes at 1400 hours local time (1300 GMT).

Times at the lunchbreak on day two of the first pre-season F1 test. 

 

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