Formula 1

Nico Rosberg blitzes the field for Mercedes on final test

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Nico Rosberg fired the most ominous warning yet that Mercedes will once again be unbeatable on day two of the final test.

The German set two times within .01 of each other as he lapped the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 1:22.792 on the soft compound tyres for the first time this year. His lap was enough to finish 1.2 seconds clear of Williams' Valtteri Bottas on the day, and seven tenths clear of Felipe Massa's previous soft tyre best from Thursday.

Perhaps even more impressive is the comparison to his own pole position time in 2013 which was only a second faster than the time he posted on Friday on a compound that would have been quite similar to the then-medium even if the construction of the Pirelli tyre is a lot different now.

On longer runs too the Mercedes was comfortably the quickest on track lapping two-to-three seconds faster than the expected midfield teams were managing albeit over a full race simulation the previous day.

McLaren reach the century mark

On a day with several keynote stories, McLaren finally gave its fans reason to smile as Jenson Button completed 101 laps behind the wheel of the MP4-30 - almost double the previous best the team had managed over a single day and adding almost 50% to their lap tally compared to the previous 10 days of testing.

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The team had had to change the Honda engine on Thursday following a hydraulic leak but after McLaren revealed they would supply the electrical part of the power unit, the MGU-K, the car ran trouble free right up until 20 minutes from the end of the day.

In further positive news, once the car was running, the pace was good with a best of 1:25.590 to end the day fifth fastest only two tenths slower than the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel on the same tyres.

Force India's new car finally breaks cover

After using their 2014 car to conduct tyre tests during the first test in Barcelona last week, Force India finally brought their much delayed 2015 car, the VJM08, to the north-east of Spain early on Friday.

Nico Hulkenberg was the man given the privilege of driving the car for its official debut and, despite only getting out on track just before lunch, completed 77 laps which is again testament to the Mercedes power unit that customer teams are able to get down to some serious testing from the get-go.

The same was true for Lotus when their 2015 car was a day late arriving in Jerez earlier this month, despite the rush to get the car ready once done it was able to put a very good day's work in and that has continued throughout this pre-season.

Friday was no exception as Pastor Maldonado tallied 140 laps in the E23 as race pace seemed the main aim for the Enstone team.

Ferrari top the lap count

As Rosberg finally opted to reveal some of the performance that the new Mercedes is capable of, Ferrari finally settled down to completing a race simulation.

Focussing on the harder compound tyres lap times were not as impressive as certainly Rosberg's pace on the mediums but by the end of the day Sebastian Vettel had managed 143 laps with a best of 1:25.339 once again pointing to the focus on high fuel.

The other Ferrari-powered team, Sauber, also had a very productive day, a qualifying run on the soft compound yielded the third best time of the day, a 1:24.071, and a full race simulation meant the Brazilian rookie was only two shy of the four-time world champion in the distance charts.

Red Bull have disappointing day

With Renault still looking to improve performance and drive-ability ahead of the first Grand Prix in Melbourne, Red Bull aren't quite matching the form they showed in the second test.

Daniil Kvyat caused the first red flag of the day early in the afternoon as a hydraulic sensor went awry and given McLaren finally got their act together, 84 laps was the second lowest number of laps completed but was perhaps the least impressive with only the new Force India managing fewer.

The pace of the RB11 was also nothing to shout about with the eighth best time of 1:26.965, though we have seen it go a lot faster, but given the pace of Rosberg, fans of the former world champions will be hoping Daniel Ricciardo can at least get in the mix with the Williams/ Mercedes over the weekend.

Verstappen continues to rack up the miles

Still able to draw a lot of attention ahead of his first Grand Prix in just two weeks time, Max Verstappen is continuing to impress those who see him out on track.

The 17-year-old may not have set any particularly impressive lap times but his fitness certainly can't be doubted given the numerous occasions he has been near the top of the mileage board.

Indeed the Dutchman added another 139 laps, or round 625km, to his belt on Friday and while the Toro Rosso has been considered a handful to drive by onlookers at the track this week, the same people noted how smooth and consistent Verstappen was behind the wheel.

Mercedes fast but not invincible.. yet

The story of the day, however, remained that incredible lap time from Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, while he was using a tyre compound not normally used in Barcelona, the German was 2.8 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton's pole time last year yet I suspect there is still a good chunk of time in the pockets of the men in silver.

Interestingly there is still reason to expect Mercedes are not completely alone out front with Rosberg's time coming on a track with two days of rubber laid down which can often gain half a second or more and also the track temperature was the highest seen so far pre-season, so again, while it may look ominous now don't settle in for a 2014 repeat just yet.

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Formula 1

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