Ferrari's Leclerc impresses as Red Bull's Gasly crashes in testing

"Even when he doesn't drive, there are things that can help me with my driving or the performance of the auto".

World champion Lewis Hamilton set the 10th fastest time - an impressive 1:18.097 on the second hardest tyre, while almost everyone else set their best laps on the softest rubber.

"Obviously I think as every team we are not flat out", he said after the morning session.

Anglo-Thai driver Alexander Albon was second fastest with a lap of 1:16.882, also on C5 tyres, with McLaren's Lando Norris third in 1:17.084.

However, he remained upbeat with the way that the test had gone for Ferrari as a whole. "There's still some margin, a bit in myself".

A long-run comparison between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull looked possible in the afternoon as all three teams attempted a race simulation after lunch. "But I'm glad I still got to do a few laps, the team did a really good job to get the auto out again; it was important to get a bit of a feel for the new aero package". The Frenchman, who was promoted from feeder team Toro Rosso, lost control on curve Nine and hit the protective barrier. The accident brought a premature end to Red Bull's afternoon and gave the team's nightshift mechanics a heavy workload ahead of the final day of testing on Friday.

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"I was heading into turn 3 and by the feeling, there was an issue with the front left corner", he told the media over lunch following the mid-morning incident.

"It's testing. I think we are looking strong at the moment whether they are sandbagging more or less or whatsoever we don't know and we'll only know in qualifying but for now, we are pretty happy with the job we're doing".

"But we got it done and that was very positive, especially as this was my last day in the auto before Australia". Given that both cars had race fuel loads, used the C2 compound over three stints and started within 30 minutes of each other, the coinciding race sims are arguably the closest thing we have seen to a true comparison in testing so far.

Meanwhile, world champion Lewis Hamilton was only ninth fastest in his Mercedes with a best lap of 1min 18.943sec after 102 laps.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco drives past a banner in support of former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher during a Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.

"Seventy-five laps of setup work completed and we keep on learning, " Bottas said.

  • Lawrence Cooper