Barcelona Day 4: Hamilton on top as rain spoils play

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton in the rain

Intermittent rain played havoc with well laid plans on the final day of the second week of Formula 1 preseason testing at Circuit de Catalunya where, in a subtle twist of irony, Lewis Hamilton ended the day top of the timing screens, but the man who replaced him at McLaren – Sergio Perez – was fastest of all over the four days.

If lap times in testing tend to mean little, then the timing sheets at the end of the final day in Barcelona hardly warrants a glance. Conditions fluctuated rapidly on a temperamental day which did not know if it wanted to rain or not, so instead did a bit of both.

Also disturbing the day’s continuity were no less than eight stoppages (red flag periods) during the course eight hours. It would be fair to say that none of the teams or their drivers found a real rhythm because of the interruptions.

Lewis Hamilton

Pit stop for Lewis Hamilton on the final day at Barcelona

Nevertheless Hamilton, in the cockpit of the Mercedes W03, made use of a dry-ish line around noon and set a time of 1.23.282 which would remain top of the pops until the chequered dropped five hours later.

The 2008 world champion was satisfied despite the conditions, “It’s gone pretty well. Today with it raining it is not the best in terms of trying to get the mileage, but in the dry we have got through a lot of the programmes we are trying to get through. I’m quite happy.”

Former teammate Jenson Button was next best in the Mclaren MP4-28, his best 0.351 seconds down on the top time and 70 laps to his credit.

Jean Eric Vergne was third fastest in the Toro Rosso with 80 laps ticked off, and was the last of the trio who actually managed a lap or two during that fast lap window of opportunity which happened for about a dozen minutes around midday.

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8 ahead of Mark Webber

Jean-Eric Vergne ahead of Mark Webber

In fourth was, another Frenchman, Jules Bianchi who was on duty for Force India and still in the running for a race seat with the team for this season. He did his shares no harm with a solid day’s work which included 80 laps in the bag in the VJM06.

Busiest of the bunch on the final day was Esteban Gutierrez in the  Sauber C32 who racked up 96 laps and ended fifth quickest and best of the rookies.

Giedo van der Garde was sixth in the Caterham with 50 laps completed, ahead of Felipe Massa who only had one day in the Ferrari and it was marred by the weather. Nevertheless the Brazilian racked up 80 laps on his return to work in the F138.

Jules Bianchi (FRA) Force India VJM06

Jules Bianchi in the Force India VJM06

Mark Webber was eight in the Red Bull RB9, ahead of Marussia’s Max Chilton in the MR02 and Romain Grosjean tenth in the Lotus E21.

Bottom of the timing sheets, with no time set, were the Williams pair. Valtteri Bottas dedicating the morning to non-stop pit stop practice, something the rookie will be needing to know by the time he goes to Australia.

Maldonado took over the FW35 cockpit in the afternoon, but did not complete a timed lap.

Thus ended four days of hard work for F1 teams ahead of the 2013 season. Fastest time of all – 1.21.848 - was set by McLaren new boy Perez on day two, with Fernando Alonso’s best time of 1.21.875 on Thursday, only fractionally slower but second best.

Teams return to Circuit de Catalunya for the third and final preseason test which takes place from 28 February to 3 March.

Barcelona Test Day 4, Best Lap Times – Friday, 22 February 2013

P Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 L.Hamilton Mercedes 1.23.282 52
2 J.Button McLaren 1.23.633 +0.351 70
3 J-E.Vergne Toro Rosso 1.24.071 +0.789 80
4 J.Bianchi Force India 1.25.732 +2.450 61
5 E.Gutierrez Sauber 1.26.239 +2.957 96
6 G.Van der Garde Caterham 1.27.429 +4.147 50
7 F.Massa Ferrari 1.27.533 +4.271 80
8 M.Webber Red Bull 1.27.616 +4.334 64
9 M.Chilton Marussia 1.29.902 +6.620 51
10 R.Grosjean Lotus 1.34.800 +11.518 41
11 V.Bottas Williams -.–.— +-.— 23
12 P.Maldonado Williams -.–.— +-.— 13
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Stoppages:
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Driver Team Red Green
1 F.Massa Ferrari 09h11 09h22
2 G.Van der Garde Caterham 09h59 10h06
3 M.Webber Red Bull 10h22 10h36
4 J-E.Vergne Toro Rosso 10h41 10h50
5 G.Van der Garde Caterham 12h46 12h56
6 E.Gutierrez Sauber 14h48 15h01
7 L.Hamilton Mercedes 16h30 16h42
8 J.Bianchi Force India 16h56 17h00