Thursday 22 March 2018

Rosberg issues message to title rivals

Nico Rosberg
Nico Rosberg

Ian Parkes

Nico Rosberg sent out an ominous warning to the rest of Formula One by setting the fastest time so far on day two of the final pre-season test in Barcelona.

World champions Mercedes fitted soft tyres to their car for the first time late in the afternoon and Rosberg produced a lap of one minute 22.792 seconds - more than half a second quicker than the previous best set by Williams' Felipe Massa on Thursday.

Rosberg's time was almost three seconds faster than pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya last May, and the German was also one of six drivers to complete 100 laps or more during the day.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner described the lap as "pretty ominous", but Rosberg (above) insisted there was still more to come.

"Today was a difficult day because even though all the numbers looked like they were in the right place in the set-up, the set-up was very, very far away from where it needed to be and we don't really understand that," he said.

"So the whole day we were chasing the set-up and trying to find the direction and it was really difficult to find where to go, we had a lot of oversteer in the car so the rear was all over the place and poor traction.

"Eventually in the end it was feeling more and more decent and putting the soft tyre on that gives the grip anyway, so with the soft tyre it doesn't really matter what the balance is because it will be more or less possible to do a good lap. I am pleased with my laps because they are both identical - so a good ending.

"The whole day we were going in the right direction, but it took a long, long time because we were extremely far away and that and that is extremely unusual and so it caught us off guard a little bit.

"We are confident that we have a good car because we have a great team at the moment, but at the same time we are also well aware that the others have been posting some quick times and keep working."

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