MONTMELO, Spain (AP) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest time and the most laps through Tuesday’s morning session of preseason testing.
Hamilton’s lap of 1 minute, 20.983 seconds was 0.782 seconds faster than the leading time he set during the opening day of Formula One testing at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday.
As expected from the new regulations intended to boost speeds, Hamilton’s pace through two days is more than a second faster than the top time set on the same track through eight days of preseason testing in 2016.
The three-time world champion will hand over the wheel of the Mercedes to new teammate Valtteri Bottas for the afternoon session.
Just like Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel from Day 1, Kimi Raikkonen was the nearest challenger to Hamilton’s top speed, albeit almost two seconds slower.
Hamilton and Raikkonen also got in the most laps with 66 and 47, respectively, as Mercedes or Ferrari have yet to report any mechanical problems so far.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen could only muster the fifth fastest time.
While world champion Mercedes and Ferrari continue to outperform rival Red Bull, a pair of the more modest teams struggled to get their cars rolling.
Antonio Giovinazzi, who has substituted for Pascal Wehrlein while he recovers from a back injury, spent most of the morning waiting for Sauber to replace his car’s engine. Jolyon Palmer’s Renault, meanwhile, only emerged from the garage in the final minutes of the four-hour morning session.
The opening test will run through Thursday.
The track near Barcelona will host a second round of testing from March 7-10 before the season starts at the Australian Grand Prix on March 26.