We already have our first livery change of 2022 courtesy of Haas, while Alpine’s Barcelona running met a premature end.
The group shakedown at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has brought a mixed bag of early fortunes across the grid – the likes of Ferrari and McLaren look strong, while for teams such as Haas and Alfa Romeo it has been a struggle to get out of the blocks and complete many laps.
Reliability problems hindered Haas on the opening two and a half days, while for day three they also had a livery redesign to attend to.
Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, was the first of several drivers to lure out the red flags on Friday morning.
Here is how the action unfolded on day three in Barcelona…
Max Verstappen wasted no time getting out onto the circuit, looking to build on his mammoth 147-lap stint from the opening day.
Unlike his team-mate Sergio Perez on Thursday, there were no morning troubles for Verstappen.
It was a busy start to the session with all 10 participating drivers taking to the track within the first 10 minutes, but perhaps the driver everyone was most eager to catch a glimpse of was Nikita Mazepin.
Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Haas made the decision to strip the branding of their primary sponsor Uralkali from the livery, leaving a predominantly white VF-22.
We must say, though, it does not look bad at all! The camo livery Alfa Romeo has been using here now has a rival.
After only nine laps though, Mazepin was forced back into the pits with a suspected leak, marking further reliability struggles in what has been a problematic Barcelona shakedown for Haas.
Haas were not alone though, as before the opening hour was up we had our first delay of the morning as Alonso brought his smoky Alpine A522 to a stop on the track.
That stare and body language made it clear Fernando was not a happy bunny. Alpine’s Barcelona test was over.
There were no such interruptions for Lando Norris, who was enjoying a second day of smooth operating with 52 laps completed in the morning.
The same was true for Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, who was looking to get in on the action of Norris, Verstappen and Mercedes’ George Russell with the hot laps at the top.
Russell upped the stakes when he bolted on a set of the C4 tyres, pumping in a 1:19.608 to take over P1, although Verstappen responded by clocking a 1:19.756 on the C3s, showing he was very much in the conversation.
But once Russell went to the top of the range with a set of C5s, there was no catching his 1:19.233.
Sadly, a second red flag period of the morning was to come, this time Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri giving up on him on what was his 41st lap.
He picked up some damage on the AT03 during the crash at Turn 5.
Williams were keeping things interesting with a mid-morning driver swap, Alex Albon handing over to Nicholas Latifi after 21 laps in the FW44.
It was also looking like another strong session for Alfa Romeo rookie Guanyu Zhou – until the red-flag festival began.
Zhou spun the C42 at Turn 10, ending up beached in the gravel and forcing a third appearance for the red flags during the morning session. He later triggered the red flags again as he came to a stop in the final sector.
— Motorsport.com Türkiye (@motorsportcomtr) February 25, 2022
Four red-flag periods were not enough though…Sebastian Vettel made it five!
A puff of smoke from the rear of the Aston Martin was the dreaded sign as Vettel then pulled over before frantically spraying the extinguishers over the AMR22.
— tami. (@Vetteleclerc) February 25, 2022
With Vettel’s car on the truck and heading back to the pits, while a clean-up operation took place on the track, that was the end of the morning session.
The final session of the test was all about wet-weather running as the track received a man-made drowning to put the wets and intermediates into action.
Daniel Ricciardo was first out, though it did not take long for him to switch to intermediates, the track drying perhaps a little too quickly for Pirelli’s liking.
Aston Martin meanwhile confirmed that it was an oil leak which had struck down Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages of the morning session.
There was to be no further track time for Aston Martin in Barcelona.
The track continued to dry and the lap times ramped up, with the inevitable switch to slicks arriving just 90 minutes into the session, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas the first driver to make that call.
He would manage only 10 laps for the afternoon, capping off what has been a very low-mileage Barcelona shakedown for the Finn.
Long runs had been the focus for Lewis Hamilton during much of the session, but as the test neared its conclusion, the Mercedes driver started to have some fun in the W13.
With a set of C5 tyres bolted on, he would shoot to the top of the standings with a 1:19.138, comfortably the fastest time of the Barcelona test.
It was a familiar sight then of a Mercedes one-two, with Russell’s efforts from the morning ensuring that he finished P2, just under a tenth down on his team-mate.
Sergio Perez bounced back from his Thursday troubles to deliver a solid run in the RB18 on Friday afternoon, completing 74 laps and setting the third-fastest time, finishing just over four-tenths down on Hamilton’s benchmark but without making the step from C4s to C5s.
Sainz finished with a total of 92 laps for the day meanwhile, as well as the overall highest lap count of any driver across the test with 236.
El Plan goes awry in Barcelona
Fernando Alonso's third day of test stopped when his car went up in smoke.