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Verstappen on top as Red Bull make up for lost time

Max Verstappen and Red Bull set the early pace during the final morning of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Red Bull moved to the top of the times as F1 testing continued at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday morning, with Max Verstappen at the wheel. Verstappen made several improvements over the course of the opening two hours, working his way down to a best time of 1:19.765 – set on the Medium (C3) compound tyre. It compares to the 1:19.689 posted by Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc on Thursday, with teams starting to explore the performance of their new F1 cars. Verstappen was also one of the most productive drivers, completing 34 laps of the track, making up for some of the time lost after teammate Sergio Perez suffered a gearbox problem on Thursday. But the mileage leader was Mercedes driver George Russell, who racked up five more laps of the circuit en route to P2 in the times, the best part of a second behind Verstappen – having also used the C3 rubber. Nicholas Latifi jumped into the Williams earlier than expected, taking over from Alex Albon, and rose to third on the timesheets with the Soft C4 tyre.

A difficult morning for Alonso and Alpine

Further back, there were problems for Fernando Alonso and Alpine, as the A522 came to a shuddering halt out on track. Alonso parked up in the final sector amid plumes of smoke, with Alpine confirming that he stopped "due to a loss of pressure". It followed an earlier trip through the gravel trap, and a moment at the top of the times, for the double World Champion. While Alonso could only manage 12 laps, Nikita Mazepin was the least productive driver in the first two hours, touring the circuit just nine times due to an unspecified leak on the VF-22 – after Haas emerged with an all-white livery . The track is set to be artificially dampened over the lunch break to allow F1 tyre supplier Pirelli to gather some much-needed data on their Wet and Intermediate rubber this afternoon. You can stay up to date with all the action from Barcelona in the dedicated RacingNews365.com live blog .

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