Formula One: Ricciardo fastest, Hamilton makes surprise return

BARCELONA (AFP) - Australia's Daniel Ricciardo was fastest on the second day of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Friday as world champion Lewis Hamilton made a surprise return after missing much of the opening day due to a fever.

Ricciardo managed to put his Red Bull through a full race simulation of 143 laps, including time on the faster soft tyres which allowed him to record the quickest time of the week so far at the Circuit de Catalunya in 1min 24.574sec.

"We wanted to get a day with a 100-plus laps on the board and we did that and more today. It was very solid," said Ricciardo.

"We also got through some pit-stop practice and some good long runs, which is very positive. I know it's just testing but it is encouraging seeing us on top, or at least in that front group."

Hamilton replaced teammate Nico Rosberg, who is suffering from a neck injury, for the afternoon session and didn't waste any time as he reeled off 89 laps as Mercedes again prioritised mileage over speed.

The Englishman and the German were only fifth and sixth fastest respectively, but once again logged the most laps after Rosberg completed 66 in the morning.

“I’ve felt better but I miss driving so I wanted to get in the car,” said Hamilton.

“Quick laps are for Saturday in qualifying, but the car feels good - similar to last year but better. We’re just focused on our own job - getting lots and lots of miles on the car, proving everything out and making the most of the time we have before the season starts.” 

Ferrari remain the most consistent team when it comes to speed through six days of testing as Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest in his 90 laps.

Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene also announced that the Italians would supply their 2014 engines to Manor F1, the successor of financially stricken Marussia, for the coming season.

Meanwhile, there was even some encouragement for the embattled McLaren-Honda relationship as despite warning they could suffer limited running time due to a faulty seal, they managed their most successful day of testing so far as two-time world champion Fernando Alonso completed 59 laps.

Williams' Felippe Massa was third fastest and the Brazilian also had a special guest as compatriot and Barcelona star Neymar paid a visit to the paddock.

The end of the afternoon session marked the halfway stage of testing with six more days to come in Barcelona over the next nine days before the season gets under way for real at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

Results from day two of the second pre-season test in Barcelona:

1. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 1:24.574 (143 laps)

2. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 1:24.584 (90 laps)

3. Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams) 1:24.672 (88 laps)

4. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) 1:24.702 (121 laps)

5. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:24.923 (89 laps)

6. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:25.556 (66 laps)

7. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren) 1:25.961 (59 laps)

8. Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Lotus) 1:26.280 (77 laps)

9. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber) 1:27.334 (113 laps)

10. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Toro Rosso) 1:28.945 (100 laps)