Finnish Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari is helped by the mechanics afterdropping off the track during the Formula One pre-season test sessions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, near Barcelona, northern Spain, 10 March 2017. EPA

BARCELONA: Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of pre-season testing as the Formula One world paid tribute to former champion John Surtees, who died on Friday.

“It’s very sad. He was a legend of the sport,” said three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton

“He did so much and he was such a lovely guy, so my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Ferrari also paid tribute to Surtees, who is the only man to win world championships in both Formula One and motorcycle grand prix racing after winning the title with Ferrari in 1964.

“Ferrari has lost one of its greatest drivers,” the Italian team said in a statement.

On the track, Ferrari enjoyed another encouraging day as Raikkonen edged to within three tenths of the track record in 1min 18.634sec to register the fastest time of the day by nearly a second.

The Finn didn’t have a completely trouble free day, though, as his running in the afternoon session was interrupted by a breakdown.

Hamilton claimed Ferrari were “bluffing” with their eye-catching testing times on Thursday and Mercedes may be keeping their powder dry for the first Grand Prix of the year in Melbourne on March 26.

Valtteri Bottas was well over a second back on Raikkonen in fourth on the same supersoft tyre compound with Hamilton fifth fastest after taking over for the afternoon session.

However, the Mercedes pair logged over 100 laps as the defending world champions were the only team to complete over 5,000 kilometres over the eight days of testing.

“The others look pretty quick so it looks like we’re going to have a battle on our hands,” said Hamilton.

“The great thing is no one really knows. It looks very positive for Ferrari that’s for sure.”

Dutch wonderkid Max Verstappen was second fastest as Red Bull again showed that they look set to be the third force behind Mercedes and Ferrari this season.

Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s misery continued, though, as the two-time world champion twice broke down with the same electrical problems that saw Stoffel Vandoorne stop twice on Thursday.

Alonso eventually got 43 laps under his belt but was once again relegated to 11th fastest among the 13 drivers in action on the timesheets. --AFP

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