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Sergio Pérez fastest early on second day of F1 testing in Spain

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MONTMELO, Spain — Racing Point’s Sergio Perez set the fastest time early on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, with Lewis Hamilton having another solid session for Mercedes.

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday and had the most laps in the morning session on Thursday, though he was only seventh fastest among the 10 drivers who went to the track.

Perez was four tenths of a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of Renault at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. Alexander Albon was third with Red Bull.

Perez had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton ran 106 laps on Thursday morning, 58 more than Perez.

The Mexican driver’s time was nearly a second quicker than the Day 2 time set by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc last season.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of practice

A new adjustment system introduced by Mercedes caught everyone’s attention on Thursday after on-board footage showed Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels.

Drivers will be back on the track on Thursday afternoon, and also on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch Grand Prix. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.

IndyCar will eliminate double points from the 2020 season finale

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Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.

An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.

The news was first reported by RACER.com.

With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.

In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.