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Kimi top on Day 2, Mercedes still grabbing headlines

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BARCELONA, Spain -- Kimi Raikkonen put Alfa Romeo top of the order for Day 2 of Formula One's preseason tests, although Mercedes continued to dominate the headlines at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

Mercedes finished the day just 15 laps shy of the equivalent of completing the Spanish Grand Prix, held at the same circuit in May, three times, but it was what was going on inside the car that caused the most intrigue.

F1's decision to broadcast testing helped reveal an innovative steering wheel trick Mercedes has been trialing when Lewis Hamilton was driving in the morning session. On the straights the world champion was clearly pulling the steering wheel toward him and pushing it back into its original position before the corners. Closer analysis of onboard footage showed the alignment of the front wheels -- known as toe -- changing with the movement of the wheel.

Mercedes technical chief James Allison explained the system -- DAS (Dual-Axis Steering) -- and expressed his confidence it will be deemed legal by the FIA.

Session leader Raikkonen prompted the first red flag of preseason, stopping on track in the final hour. He had risen to the top of the timing screens shortly before, displacing Racing Point's Sergio Perez.

On both the stoppage and his place at the top of the order, it is perhaps best to use the Iceman's own quote from Wednesday when asked whether, after 17 seasons in F1, he still gets the same buzz from preseason as he used to.

"Not as much as you guys," Raikkonen replied. "You always try to make too much of it with all the stories."

Haas driver Romain Grosjean had almost prompted a red flag 20 minutes earlier, losing control of his car on the exit of Turn 4 and narrowly avoiding contact with the wall. He managed to get the car going without damage.

With teams not exploring the performance limits of their cars just yet, mileage remains the best measuring stick at this stage of testing.

All but one of the teams completed over 100 laps. Renault spent long spells in the garage throughout the day and managed 93 over the nine hours. While that is comfortably clear of a race distance, it was quite a bit lower than any of its rivals managed throughout the day.

Despite its impressive mileage, Mercedes also hit trouble toward the end of the afternoon session when an electrical issue brought its day to an early end.

Final classification:
1. Kimi Raikkonen - Alfa Romeo - 1:17.091 - 134 laps
2. Sergio Perez - Racing Point - +0.256s - 145 laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo - Renault - +0.650s - 41 laps
4. Alex Albon - Red Bull - +0.821s - 132 laps
5. Pierre Gasly - Alpha Tauri - +1.030s - 146 laps
6. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - +1.063s - 72 lap
7. George Russell - Williams - +1.175s - 116 laps
8. Charles Leclerc - Ferrari - +1.244 - 49 laps
9. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - +1.296s - 106 laps
10. Lando Norris - McLaren - +1.383s - 136 laps
11. Romain Grosjean - Haas - +1.405s - 158 laps
12. Esteban Ocon - Renault - +1.466s - 52 laps
13. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - +2.216s - 77 laps