- Second Barcelona Test, Day Three
Hamilton sets fastest time of the testLaurence Edmondson at the Circuit de Catalunya March 2, 2013
Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of pre-season testing at Barcelona on Saturday, clocking a lap almost a second quicker than anybody else in the last two weeks.
For the first time this week the Circuit de Catalunya was bathed in sunshine and Hamilton did not hold back as he set a 1:20.557 on the soft compound tyre in the morning. The lap was the first sign of the updated Mercedes true pace, although it was set on a five lap run suggesting he was not running on fuel vapours.
Hamilton's time was 0.708s clear of his nearest rival, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who suffered a shock with 20 minutes remaining when his left-front tyre flew off the car at high speed between turns nine and ten. Massa came to a controlled stop in the run-off area and was unharmed but did not return to the track for the final five minutes before the chequered flag.
Adrian Sutil was third fastest after setting a 1:21.627 in the morning session. In the afternoon Force India completed a race sim with Sutil making four stops for tyres. With most driver focusing on longer runs after lunch there was little improvement in the times and Pastor Maldonado's morning effort remained fourth fastest. He handed the Williams over to Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon who went to complete another 31 laps and set fifth fastest time, 0.163s off his team-mate.
Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez was sixth fastest ahead of Mark Webber in the Red Bull who improved his time in the final five minutes to go seventh with a 1:22.658. Webber was hampered by what he called "small issues" during the day and only managed a total of 58 laps with no sign of the passive DRS the team was testing with Sebastian Vettel in the car on Friday.
Sergio Perez was eighth fastest as McLaren managed to complete 101 laps after Jenson Button emphasised how important the final two days of dry testing would be on Friday.
Jean-Eric Vergne was ninth fastest on his final day in the Toro Rosso ahead of the Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Davide Valsecchi. Valsecchi was drafted in by Lotus to cover for the unwell Kimi Raikkonen, with food poisoning was believed to be the cause of Raikkonen's illness and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit enough to drive on Sunday. In the meantime race driver Romain Grosjean jumped on a flight back from Paris in order take over in the afternoon and get out in the car in the sunny conditions, beating Valsecchi by 0.064s.
Jules Bianchi took to the track for the first time as a Marussia driver after the team signed him up overnight to replace Luiz Razia this season. He got straight to work and was able to complete 73 laps with a best time of 1:24.028. Giedo van der Garde rounded off the times with a 1:24.235 in the Caterham and was responsible for one of three red flags, aside from Massa's the other caused by the Lotus.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:20.558, 117 laps
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:21.266, 94 laps
3. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.627, 109 laps
4. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:22.305, 34 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:22.468, 31 laps
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:22.553, 99 laps
7. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:22.658, 58 laps
8. Sergio Perez, McLaren, 1:22.694, 101 laps
9. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:23.223, 114 laps
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:23.380, 45 laps
11. Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, 1:23.448, 16 laps
12. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 1:24.028, 73 laps
13. Giedo van der Garde, 1:24.235, 126 laps
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1