Vettel fastest as Hamilton has a day off in Barcelona

Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull appear at this early stage to have the three fastest cars - as they did previous year - while Renault, who were the next quickest team on Tuesday, as they were on Monday, are also looking promising.

Bottas ultimately accumulated 94 laps over the course of the day, posting the second fastest time behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull are hoping their new auto can help the Australian and his Dutch teammate, Max Verstappen, close the gap on Mercedes in 2018. 'It's great to be back in the vehicle after three months off, but unfortunately we didn't get the chance to complete many laps today owing to the bad weather, the Briton had said on Monday evening.

The majority of teams did just that and Mercedes - keen to maximise running in the dry and slightly warmer temperatures - made a call to scrap its planned driver swap at lunch and keep Valtteri Bottas in the auto for the entire day.

On Monday, teams began to discuss whether Wednesday's running in forecast snow should be cancelled, with the test extended into Friday instead.

Hamilton, who is bidding to become only one of three drivers to win the championship more than four times, will open the defence of his title on March 25 in Melbourne.

Despite his lack of running, Hamilton revealed his initial impressions of Mercedes' W09 were positive.

The world champions were a close second to Ferrari in the mileage charts at the end of the second day of testing but their 177 laps with the new W09 were still almost 150 down on the number the W08 had racked up at the same stage previous year.

"I didn't really get the chance to push in the auto and go up to top speeds as the conditions were so bad". Regardless of the testing program he was on compared with the other two drivers, to outpace them must have felt good. "If I perform well, then that will naturally cause some tension (between us)".

Formula 1's first winter test in freezing conditions is going ahead as originally planned.

"For me, if I perform at the level that I aim to perform, I hope to see more on-track battles with Lewis".

Vettel got it very wrong at Turn 2, spinning his SF71H before continuing on his way.

"From our aero testing we managed to complete all of it already, which is always going to be good for the future". Despite taking some time to adapt to his new surrounding after four years with Williams, he quickly showed that he had the speed to compete with the front runners.

  • Stacy Allen