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Ferrari flies, McLaren limps toward new F1 season

Ferrari flies, McLaren limps toward new F1 season
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Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen in his car as mechanics push it back to the team box during a Formula One pre-season testing session at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, on March 10, 2017. (Francisco Seco / AP)

Published Friday, March 10, 2017 10:45AM EST

MONTMELO, Spain -- With Ferrari again setting the fastest time in Formula One preseason testing on Friday, McLaren is having a disastrous final day after Fernando Alonso s car twice sputtered to a stop.

Kimi Raikkonen set the best time of the preseason after pushing his Ferrari to a lap of 1 minute, 18.634 seconds. That bettered teammate Sebastian Vettel s leading mark from the day before by almost four-tenths of a second.

Times by the most race-ready teams have steadily dropped through the preseason, setting new track records since the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya layout was changed a decade ago. That was expected after F1 issued a major rulebook overhaul this winter to make wider, and thus faster, cars.

McLaren, a former Formula One heavyweight fallen on hard times, has been plagued by repeated problems with its Honda engine during the eight days of tests near Barcelona. And back-to-back stoppages during the session when teams want to be priming their cars for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks is alarming.

Alonso s troubled car was already at the bottom of the time sheets when it ground to a halt after 16 laps.

After being hauled back on a flatbed to the garage, the former champion ventured out again, only to provoke a second red flag when his car stopped after only two more laps.

Alonso and new teammate Stoffel Vandoorne have endured several stoppages and a demoralizing lack of speed throughout testing. Alonso, considered one of F1 s most talented drivers, said earlier this week that his car has "no reliability and no power."

Facing a dismal start to the season, McLaren said it would not speak to the media on Friday because of "logistical reasons."

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had the second fastest time of the morning session, but that was eight-tenths of a second off Raikkonen s pace.

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes had a subdued fourth-best time. Lewis Hamilton will take over for the defending champions after lunch for the final four hours of testing.

McLaren mechanics bring the car of driver Fernando Alonso of Spain back to the pit lane at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, on March 10, 2017. (Francisco Seco / AP)
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