Daniel Ricciardo breaks track record in morning session

MONTMELO, Spain -- Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo set a new Circuit de Catalunya track record to lead the mid-way point of the sixth day of Formula One's pre-season tests.

Ricciardo's RB14 hit the track shortly after 13:00 with the hyper-soft tyre -- the newest and softest compound in Pirelli's range -- to set a 1:18.047. That beat the previous record -- a 1:18.339 set by Felipe Massa in 2008 using 2009-spec slick tyres -- and left Ricciardo 0.3s up on the quickest time of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, who set his time on ultra-soft.

Pirelli is expecting teams to dip into the high 1:17s before the conclusion of this week's test, highlighting the fact there is still performance to be found from both the newly-resurfaced track and the pink-striped tyre.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel finished 1.494s behind but did not venture on to Pirelli's softest compound for a flying lap. Last year's top three teams were closely matched in terms of laps completed, which is still the more relevant statistic at this stage of testing.

McLaren finished the opening session with 47 laps, but suffered another setback when Fernando Alonso was forced to park the car midway through the morning. An oil leak was to blame and although it was not directly engine related, McLaren made the decision to change the car's power unit meaning Alonso will have to wait several hours before returning to the Circuit de Catalunya circuit for what is scheduled to be his penultimate day in the car.

"This is not engine related," racing director Eric Boullier said. "This is a small oil leak we had to the car which unfortunately meant the engine died, so we have to change the engine now. They want to obviously inspect the engine before putting some more miles on it. It's going to be another three hours."

After hitting multiple issues on Tuesday, it means more lost time for the team as it embarks on a new engine partnership with Renault. Alonso had briefly led with an early morning run on the hyper-soft tyres -- his quickest time on that tyre was 1:19.856, though it was set in the cooler conditions of the early morning so cannot be reliably compared to those set by Ricciardo and Hamilton later in the day.

Carlos Sainz enjoyed the most productive morning of any driver, clocking 88 laps in the Renault. The French manufacturer's factory team has quietly been building impressive mileage during testing and continued the encouraging work on Tuesday.

Romain Grosjean completed 51 laps for Haas. The team's running was delayed by "minor part changes", though it hopes to re-emerge in the early afternoon to complete its first full race simulation of the winter so far.

Esteban Ocon had caused a brief wave of excitement in the media centre midway through the session when he set a 1:19.067 on softs, only for his time to be deleted for evading the track limits in the final sector. He finished the session in eighth, but the Force India was another team which did not emerge from the garage on Pirelli's softest compound before 1300.

Brendon Hartley accumulated his first significant laps since the opening day of testing. He had been due to take over from Toro Rosso teammate Esteban Ocon on Tuesday afternoon, only for the team to hit trouble with a brake issue in the afternoon. The Kiwi driver completed 53 laps, although his morning did involve a spin.

Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc rounded off the standings in the Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber.

Times at 13:05

1.Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:18.047, 81 laps (Hyper-soft)
2. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:18.400, 80 laps (Ultra-soft)
3. Vettel, Ferrari, 1:19.541, 66 laps (Soft)
4. Alonso, McLaren, 1:19.856, 47 laps (Hyper-soft)
5. Sainz, Renault, 1:20.042, 88 laps (Medium)
6. Grosjean, Haas, 1:20.237, 51 laps (Soft)
7. Stroll, Williams, 1:20.349, 63 laps (Soft)
8. Ocon, Force India, 1:20.805, 57 laps (Soft)
9. Hartley, Toro Rosso, 1:20.834, 53 laps (Soft)
10. Leclerc, Sauber, 1:21.110, 71 laps (Super-soft)