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Kimi Raikkonen leads day two of F1 testing for Ferrari in Barcelona

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Kimi Raikkonen led Ferrari to the top of the timesheets on day two of Formula 1’s pre-season test running in Barcelona, edging out Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari made an impressive start to testing with the new SF70H car on Monday as Sebastian Vettel completed over 100 laps of running.

Raikkonen enjoyed his first extended run in the car on Tuesday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, recording the fastest time of the day.

The Finn’s lap of 1:20.960 was two-hundredths of a second faster than that of Hamilton, who once again split running for Mercedes with teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton’s fastest lap came on the super-soft tire as Mercedes began to focus on race simulations, with Bottas racking up a century in laps during the afternoon session despite a brief scare while exiting Turn 9.

Bottas was one of three drivers to manage over 100 laps, along with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and day leader Raikkonen.

Max Verstappen finished the day third for Red Bull ahead of Magnussen, while Force India’s Esteban Ocon ended his debut run in the team’s 2017 car fifth overall.

Daniil Kvyat was sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Bottas and Jolyon Palmer, while Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi ended up ninth during his run-out with Sauber in place of the injured Pascal Wehrlein. An engine issue limited Giovinazzi’s running in the morning, but the Italian managed 66 laps in total.

McLaren endured another tough day as further issues with its Honda power unit left Stoffel Vandoorne on the sidelines for much of the running. Vandoorne completed 40 laps in total, but the issues raised further concern following a tough start to testing for Fernando Alonso on Monday.

Williams rookie Lance Stroll propped up the timesheets in 11th place, having completed just 12 laps after spinning at the exit of Turn 9 and damaging his FW40 car. Williams confirmed just before lunch that it would not be going back out on Tuesday, with parts in need of repair and en route back to its base in England.

Testing continues on Wednesday in Barcelona from 9am local time (3am ET).

Reports: Fernando Alonso to test on September 5 at Barber Motorsports Park

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According to a number of media stories Thursday afternoon and evening, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will reportedly test an Indy car at Barber Motorsports Park on Wednesday, September 5.

The 2.38-mile permanent road course just outside Birmingham, Alabama, per those stories, will play host to Alonso as he reportedly tests with IndyCar’s Andretti Autosport team and Honda.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) President Art St. Cyr issued a statement late Thursday afternoon about Alonso’s reported upcoming test:

“Fernando Alonso is one of the premier racing drivers of this generation, and we very much enjoyed working with him at the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

“He has shown that he can be very competitive right off the bat, and it would be great for IndyCar if he were to decide to drive here full-time after his F1 career. Having Alonso as a driver would be an obvious benefit for any team or manufacturer.”

However, St. Cyr’s statement also included a reference to Honda potentially not being able to field a new engine for Alonso in the IndyCar series in 2019.

“Our engine lease agreements are made between HPD and specific teams,” St. Cyr’s statement said. “Several of our current IndyCar Series teams already have agreements in place with HPD for the 2019 season, and we have been operating near maximum capacity all year long to properly provide powerful, reliable engines for all of our teams.

“We have had discussions with several current and potential teams for 2019, and those discussions are ongoing.”

Rumors of Alonso potentially racing for a hybrid operation that would include Andretti Autosport, McLaren and Harding Racing have been picking up speed. But there’s one potential major hurdle: Harding’s Dallara’s are powered by Chevrolet engines.

Alonso announced earlier this week that he’d be retiring from Formula One at season’s end, saying he’s looking forward to new adventures.

Because of his loyalty to McLaren, it’s increasingly looking as if Alonso comes to IndyCar, McLaren will have some involvement – although perhaps not as much as it potentially could do if it went all-in with a full-time effort immediately in 2019.

There is no word whether Chevrolet or Harding Racing could potentially be on hand at the Sept. 5 test at BMP, even in just an observation role.

Since being part of the winning team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Alonso’s desire to become only the second driver to win motorsport’s triple crown – the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 – has increased exponentially.

He’s already won the first two; just a Indy 500 triumph remains on his bucket list.

The late Graham Hill is the only driver to have accomplished the triple crown feat to date.

Alonso, who turned 37 on July 29, has made just one prior IndyCar start, in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. He led 27 laps of the 200-lap event and appeared to have a car strong enough to win before it suffered engine failure with 21 laps remaining.

Instead of what likely could have been a top-five finish, if not a win, Alonso’s first foray into IndyCar racing ended disappointingly with a 24th-place finish.

In addition to being courted by IndyCar, NASCAR has also jumped into the Alonso sweepstakes, saying he’d be welcome to race in the 2019 Daytona 500.

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