In Brief

F1: McLaren impress at testing but don’t expect pole at the Australian GP

Wheel rim issue caused Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari crash and Sergey Sirotkin rejoins Renault as reserve driver

McLaren have enjoyed some fast times at this week’s second pre-season test in Barcelona - but fans should remain calm ahead of the first Formula 1 grand prix of the season in Australia.

British rookie Lando Norris set the fastest time on day one of the second test at the Circuit de Catalunya while his team-mate Carlos Sainz enjoyed a rapid lap with the fastest time on day two.

Despite the impressive times of the new MCL34 car, McLaren driver Sainz says that supporters should keep expectations low.

The Spaniard told F1.com: “It’s always nice to be first but we’re not going to be on pole in Australia, if that’s the question. We’re not going to win in Australia at all - everyone calm down a bit, this is just testing!

“We’re doing some more qualifying-based runs where you can see a bit more the performance of the car so I guess we need to wait to see the others, what they can do on those sort of runs.”

Happy with his progress in the MCL34, Sainz added: “I feel good. Now we need to look back on those six days, try and understand the car, what I like, what I didn’t like and try and put together for the last day the best compromise on the car.

“I think we’ve learned a lot. I think every time I’ve been in the car, it’s performed a bit better and I’ve been a bit more comfortable. It has been faster every time I’ve been in the car and that is helping us to move forward.”

The final day of pre-season testing is Friday 1 March. The first grand prix of the 2019 campaign will be held in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday 17 March.

Vettel crash cause revealed

Ferrari are also enjoying pre-season testing in Barcelona and look likely to be the early pacesetters in 2019. New driver Charles Leclerc led the time sheets on Thursday morning with the fastest lap in testing so far.

Meanwhile, Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel was involved in the “most dramatic moment of pre-season testing” on Wednesday when he crashed his SF90 into the barriers.

Ferrari have confirmed that the cause of the crash was a wheel rim issue, F1.com reports. The Italian team said: “The rim had been damaged a few seconds before by an impact with a foreign object.”

Sirotkin named Renault reserve driver

Sergey Sirotkin, who was with Williams last season, has signed for Renault as their third and reserve driver for 2019.

The Russian held the role in 2017 before taking the seat at Williams. He said: “I am very pleased to rejoin my friends at Renault F1 Team and return to Formula 1.

“I spent the whole of 2017 in their factory and in the garage. It will be interesting to learn how far Renault has advanced in the development of the car over the past year.”

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