Russell records alarming benchmark on the final morning of Barcelona testing

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F1 Test, Barcelona, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Mercedes driver George Russell set the benchmark with a time of 1m19.233s on the final morning of the three-day Barcelona testing which was interrupted five times.

While the previous two days of the Barcelona shakedown testing went by without lengthy interruptions, today’s final morning was interrupted on five occasions, preventing the teams from continuous work.

Alpine started the day strongly with Fernando Alonso topping the session early on, but the Spaniard came to a halt after just 12 laps into his day. The team has confirmed that the problem was related to the hydraulics of the car which will prevent the team from further running today.

"After further investigations in the garage following Fernando Alonso’s on-track stoppage earlier this morning, the team can confirm the issue was a problem with the hydraulics. A minor sealing issue led to a fire in the back of the car. The team has successfully completed 266 laps during the three days of the Barcelona shakedown. Repairs on the car will continue, and as a result we won’t be running for the remainder of the day. We look forward to be back in action at the next test in Bahrain," read the team's statement.

The later phase of the session was dominated by Mercedes driver George Russell, who started exploiting the potential of his brand-new Mercedes W13. The young Briton has registered the best time of the week so far with a 1m19.233s on Pirelli’s softest compound, the C5. The former Williams racer was not only fast, but his morning was also productive in terms of mileage after he was able to rack up a total of 66 laps.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen ended the morning session second fastest with a time of 1m19.756 which he registered on the C3 compound.

Following a low-key start to the shakedown testing, Sebastian Vettel tried out the softest Pirelli compound this morning which helped him end the session in P3. The Aston Martin driver notched up a total of 48 laps before he stopped with around five minutes left. The AMR22 caught fire in the third sector of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc ended his final morning in P4, completing 44 laps in total of which his 1m19.831s was the fastest. Surprisingly, Williams worked with both its drivers in the morning which is quite unusual given the difficulties and time it takes to set up the car for a certain driver. Nicholas Latifi used the C4 compound on his way to P5 while his new team mate Alexander Albon finished tenth fastest.

Alfa Romeo's Guanyu Zhou completed 41 laps in total, ending the session in P8 with a best time of 1m22.496s. The sport's first Chinese driver stopped in the gravel at Turn 10, bringing out a red flag. He caused a second stoppage when he crawled to a halt on the main straight.

Reliability was a big concern for Haas this morning. The team's Russian driver Nikita Mazepin completed just nine laps due to what the American outfit called a “suspected leak”.