Nico Rosberg’s pace-setting lap time from the morning’s session stood as the time to beat through to the chequered flag at the Circuit de Catalunya on Tuesday.
The German driver, who handed the W07 over to Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon, posted a 1:23.022 to top the timesheets at lunch.
Despite several of Mercedes’ rivals swapping to the soft tyres later in the day – and even the ultra-softs for Valtteri Bottas – his time stood as the day’s P1.
Those ultra-softs, though, did elevate Bottas up the order as the Williams driver posted a best time of 1:23.229, which was 0.207s shy of Rosberg’s time.
Fernando Alonso was third fastest on the soft tyres. The Spaniard’s day was not without drama as he brought out the red flags in the morning when he broke down as he exited the pit lane. According to reports it was an electrical issue that caused the MP4-31 to stop.
The day’s second red flag belonged to Kimi Raikkonen. He finished fourth fastest for Ferrari despite his efforts being halted in the afternoon when he stopped on the run to Turn 1. Raikkonen spent several hours in the garage as the Scuderia worked on his SF16-H, only emerging for the final hour.
Daniil Kvyat, whose RB12 suffered a small fire because of a brake casing, was fifth ahead of Hamilton. The Mercedes driver focused on a race simulation – including live pits stops – before switching to shorter runs late in the afternoon. His best was a 1:25.051 on the medium tyres.
Max Verstappen with 144 laps to his tally, Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Nasr in his new Sauber C35 and Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten. The latter was responsible for the day’s third and final red flag as he stopped on the outside of Turn 3 in the Renault.
Meanwhile Esteban Gutierrez was forced into an early shower having covered just 23 laps as his VF-16 suffered a fuel system issue. He was P11 ahead of only Rio Haryanto. The Manor driver was slowest of all with an 1:27.625 and managed just 45 laps due to an oil leak that limited him to just two laps in the morning.
1 Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.022 82 laps
2 Bottas Williams 1:23.229 123 laps
3 Alonso McLaren 1:24.735 93 laps
4 Raikkonen Ferrari 1:24.836 72 laps
5 Kvyat Red Bull 1:25.049 69 laps
6 Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.051 90 laps
7 Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:25.176 144 laps
8 Hulkenberg Force India 1:25.336 121 laps
9 Nasr Sauber 1:25.493 103 laps
10 Magnussen Renault 1:25.760 119 laps
11 Gutierrez Haas 1:26.661 23 laps
12 Haryanto Manor 1:27.625 45 laps