- First Barcelona Test, Day Four
Hamilton fastest on disjointed morningChris Medland at the Circuit de Catalunya February 22, 2013
Lewis Hamilton set the pace on a disjointed morning on the final day of testing at Barcelona, with rain and numerous red flags interrupting running.
After early drizzle forced teams to set their first lap times on intermediate tyres, conditions improved to allow slick tyre running and Hamilton ensured he was quickest at lunch with a 1:23.292 set on mediums.
Hamilton's time left him 0.351s clear of his former team-mate Jenson Button, who also managed to complete a run on medium tyres. Jean-Eric Vergne was the only other man to get within a second of the pace-setting Mercedes, with getting the tyres to work a real challenge on a track temperature that never reached double figures.
The session was punctuated by no fewer than five red flags, with six cars encountering problems. First up was Felipe Massa who slid off in the gravel at turn four just ten minutes in to the day's running. He was followed by Giedo van der Garde who ran wide out of the final corner and stopped just before the barrier.
With light rain continuing to fall, Esteban Gutierrez was the next driver to cause a stoppage as he ended up in the gravel at turn five, and strangely his wasn't the only car that needed recovering as Mark Webber came to a halt between turns nine and ten at the same time.
No sooner had the pit lane light gone green then Vergne followed Gutierrez in to the turn five gravel trap on his out lap, before conditions improved to allow the medium-tyre times to be set. The only driver not to set a time was Valtteri Bottas, who still completed 23 laps in the Williams but focused on pit stop practice. Pastor Maldonado will do the same for the team this afternoon.
The rain returned in the final hour of running to force drivers back on the intermediate tyres, and van der Garde again caused a stoppage as he crawled to a halt between turns nine and ten 15 minutes before the lunch break.
Large differences between fastest lap times made comparisons virtually impossible, with Romain Grosjean over 11 seconds off the pace. Strangely, Max Chilton got a fourth consecutive day in the Marussia, preventing Luiz Razia from any track time with the team saying the decision was made to help consistency.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:23.282, 44 laps
2 Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:23.633, 31 laps
3 Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1:24.071, 37 laps
4 Jules Bianchi (Force India) 1:25.732, 24 laps
5 Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1:26.239, 51 laps
6 Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) 1:27.429, 23 laps
7 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1:27.553, 47 laps
8 Mark Webber (Red Bull), 1:27.616 34 laps
9 Max Chilton (Marussia) 1:29.902, 21 laps
10 Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1:34.800, 19 laps
11 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) No time, 23 laps
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1