Sergio Perez, in his pink Mercedes, topped the second morning session of pre-season testing – but all anyone is talking about is Lewis Hamilton and his steering wheel.
With TV cameras present at every day of pre-season testing this year, there is going to be very little that gets past the viewers and team members. Thursday morning was testament to that.
As part of a mammoth 100+lap stint by the six-time World Champion, Hamilton was seen, at times, using a very interesting ‘trick’ steering wheel system that immediately caught everyone’s attention and sparked debate over what exactly was going on and, more importantly, the legality of it.
Whilst we are used to seeing steering wheels being moved side to side, Hamilton was pushing and pulling his to create dynamic movement of the tyres that were being toed in and out during a lap.
OK, don't just watch the back and forth of the movement from the steering wheel, watch how the wheel toes back in as the car straightens. This is a trick to improve upon the issues caused by POU for the driver… https://t.co/Qj8UukvVyP
— Matthew Somerfield 🅢🅞🅜🅔🅡🅢Ⓕ① (@SomersF1) February 20, 2020
This system allows Hamilton to have better handling through the corners, a reduction in drag down the straights and decrease the rate of tyre degradation.
Hamilton and Mercedes technical boss, James Allison, are due to speak to the press on Thursday afternoon where the system is bound to be the number one talking point.
It certainly raised plenty of eyebrows in the paddock, with TV cameras also picking up the Renault team huddled around monitors to watch Hamilton’s on-board footage.
Back to the actual testing timesheet, and Perez topped the charts with a 1:17.347 after the first four hours of running in cold, crisp conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Daniel Ricciardo, who was left playing catch up once again after spending more time restricted to the garage, finished the session in P2 and four tenths off the pace.
Alex Albon, get his first taste of testing action in the RB15, rounded off the top three, eight tenths behind but on the harder C2 compound. Perez and Ricciardo’s best times came on the C3s.
Pierre Gasly recovered from a very early spin to put his AT01 into P4, while Williams’ George Russell enjoyed another productive morning in P5 by racking up another 69 laps.
Charles Leclerc kept another low profile in P6, nearly a second off the pace in the Ferrari SF1000 and a little down on mileage again, too, while Hamilton plonked himself into P7 with a mighty 106 laps to his name all while everyone was talking about him.
Romain Grosjean, Kimi Raikkonen and Lando Norris completed the top 10.
Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel are all due to be in action on Thursday afternoon, the latter set to undertake his first testing laps after being ruled out on Wednesday due to illness.
Day Two morning timesheet:
1. Sergio Perez, Racing Point, 48 laps, 1:17.347
2. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 41 laps, +0.402
3. Alex Albon, Red Bull, 59 laps, +0.808
4. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, 76 laps, +0.818
5. George Russell, Williams, 71 laps, +0.919
6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 49 laps, +0.988
7. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 106 laps, +1.040
8. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 87 laps, +1.149
9. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, 65 laps, +1.161
10. Lando Norris, McLaren, 48 laps, +1.190