Faster in "TEST DRIVE" than in Hot Laps?

I beat the next rival’s time while test driving the car with not much effort and saved the setup. So I go to time attack and can’t even come close.

Were you in test driving tweaking your tune for a few laps?

Is it possible you had warm tyres in test drive and cold tyres when in time attack?

I’ll run a few laps tweak my tune and start the laps over on cold tires to see how it handles and performs from the start.
I always run laps in time attack and don’t expect to progress on the second lap.