Hamilton went quickest on the final day of testing at Barcelona 

It was all action on the final day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, with all teams present desperate to squeeze out every last drop of testing mileage before the curtain fell on what has been an incredibly fascinating pre-season testing period.

It was a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ as I watched the timing feed overnight, with many driver making a tilt for the top of the timesheet while trying low-fuel qualifying simulations. By the end of the day’s play, just half a second covered the top-eight cars.

And it was Lewis Hamilton who ultimately prevailed in his McLaren, setting a blistering 1:20.472 in the morning’s play before reverting to a race simulation in the afternoon’s proceedings. Further analysis showed his ‘race’ pace to be comparatively quicker than that of Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher.

In terms of raw qualifying speed, it was Red Bull that emerged as McLaren’s closest rival. The 2009 champion runner’s up had a troubled Saturday with a gearbox problem for Sebastian Vettel, and opted to run both its main drivers on the final day of testing.

Mark Webber ended the day in second place, scarcely 0.02s slower than Hamilton, and Vettel was fifth overall and just 0.2s behind.

Adrian Sutil put his so-far promising Force India through a series of qualifying-style runs to vault himself to fourth overall, posting a superb 1:20.611. He finished ahead of his compatriot Michael Schumacher.

Felipe Massa took his Ferrari through some low-fuel burns, with the Brazilian finishing as the day’s third-quickest driver.

Toro Rosso and Renault opted out of staging some low-fuel laps for glory, with Sébastien Buemi and Robert Kubica running some margin off the pace.

The new teams again brought up the rear. Lotus ran well at the hands of Heikki Kovalainen until a late stoppage, but Virgin were again stymied by their problematic hydraulics and Lucas di Grassi could only post 47 laps.

Sunday’s testing times:

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 1:20.472 (134 laps)
2. Mark Webber Red Bull Renault 1:20.496 (59)
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:20.539 (113)
4. Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 1:20.611 (99)
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 1:20.667 (76)
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:20.745 (122)
7. Rubens Barrichello Williams Cosworth 1:20.870 (83)
8. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 1:20.911 (67)
9. Sébastien Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:22.135 (87)
10. Robert Kubica Renault 1:22.175 (106)
11. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth 1:25.251 (65)
12. Lucas di Grassi Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:26.160 (47)

[Image via ITV-F1]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.