Lewis Hamilton continued Mercedes seemingly effortless domination of the final Formula 1 test of preseason, with the reigning world champion utilizing an “experimental set-up” to top the timesheet by two tenths of a second ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa.
After a quiet morning in which the Briton was sixth fastest and in which Mercedes ended running an hour before the lunch break to prepare the set-up variation, Hamilton then stayed in the garage until midway through the afternoon session. When he did emerge, however, it was with intent.
Running soft tyres he brushed past the morning best time of Felipe Massa – set on supersoft tyres – by two tenths of a second.
Hamilton said afterwards, It wasn’t a particularly spectacular day. The track seems to have lost a bit of grip in the last few days so the feeling wasn’t as good. But I’m still glad we got some running done and I feel good in the car.”
“We were trying to understand a few things with the set up and it gave us a clearer indication of that in the afternoon. The guys in the team have been exceptional during these tests and I just can’t wait to get racing now – the fun stuff!” he added.
Massa had held sway for most of the day after a morning duel with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. After the Williams driver had set a medium-tyre benchmark, Raikkonen ran the same compound to slot into second place behind the Brazilian. And when Massa bolted on supersoft tyres for a qualifying sim, Raikkonen matched him.
It was the Williams man who won out however, setting a time of 1:23.262 to sit a hundredth of a second clear of the Finn at the lunch break. Hamilton, though, eclipsed both with his lap of 1:23.022 on the harder compound.
Williams though were evidently pleased with Massa’s efforts and the Mercedes powered team called a halt to running with an hour left on the clock, stating that it had completed its full programme for the day.
Raikkonen, meanwhile, switched to long runs in the afternoon and managed another race simulation for the Maranello outfit.
Fourth place on the timesheet went to Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who late in the day set a time of 1:24.191, just over a second down on Hamilton’s best. The Spaniard then almost immediately brought out the red flags, stopping at Turn Three. He had, however, enjoyed a successful day to that point, logging 132 laps, which included a race simulation.
Sainz’s stoppage was just the second of the day. The session had been trouble-free until late in the afternoon but then with half an hour remaining Marcus Ericsson stopped at Turn Three.
Until that point the Sauber driver had also enjoyed a solid outing, running third fastest in the morning on the supersoft tyre and then working through a race simulation in the afternoon for a total of 123 laps and sixth place on the timesheet.
Long runs were the order of the afternoon for most. Romain Grosjean put in 116 laps, although he too delivered a late-afternoon short run that saw him rise to fifth on the timesheet with a lap of 1:24.200.
With Ericsson sixth, seventh place went to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. The Silverstone-based team had given a successful debut to its 2015 car yesterday, getting through 77 laps on its first outing and Hulkenberg continued the good work, posting day three’s largest lap total of 158.
After Jenson Button had driven McLaren’s best day of testing yesterday, putting 101 laps on the new MP4-30, reserve driver Kevin Magnussen took over today, in place of race driver Fernando Alonso who is resting after his crash in testing last week.
Magnussen’s total was less impressive than Button’s, however, and the Dane managed just 39 laps before McLaren called a halt to running, citing an oil leak for the cessation.
The final place on the timesheet went to Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Renault-powered team once again ignored the temptation to run on soft or supersoft tyres and focused on more aero work and long runs, with Ricciardo eventually putting 128 laps on the board.
Barcelona Testing, Day 3 – Saturday, 28 February 2015