Mark Webber has set to the pace on a rain-interrupted opening day of the final Formula 1 pre-season test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
The Australian produced a late flying lap to vault to the top of the timesheets in the dying minutes of the day, going a full 1.6 seconds clear of the day’s second-fastest man, Lewis Hamilton.
Overnight rainfall gave the eleven-car field some tricky conditions to deal with when the circuit opened for business at 9:00AM local time. While wet and intermediate tyres were the order of the early proceedings, Force India took the opportunity to confirm during the lunch break, as anticipated, that Adrian Sutil would partner Paul di Resta in the team’s 2013 driver line-up.
The conditions gave several drivers come headaches, with both Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez taking trips through the gravel as they fought the limits of adhesion on the greasy track surface.
Felipe Massa was an early pacesetter on intermediate tyres, before the track steadily began to dry and the field started to switch to dry-weather tyres.
However, the Brazilian’s Ferrari F138 ground to a halt out on the circuit in the final hour, leaving the field with just ten minutes of track time left.
Webber took the opportunity to bolt on a set of soft-compound tyres, moving to the top of the order on his first flying lap, and then bettering the effort on his next tour in the RB9.
Hamilton finished the day second-fastest, racking up plenty of mileage in his Mercedes. It was a largely trouble-free day for the Englishman, although he did suffer a quick half-spin at Turn 1.
By contrast, third-fastest man Jean-Éric Vergne’s day featured barely half the running that Hamilton managed. The Frenchman was restricted to just timed runs all day, and went third-quickest overall on his final run in the closing minutes of play.
Valtteri Bottas was next up on the timesheets, with Williams opting to remove the controversial exhaust turning vane from the FW35 after the FIA questioned the design’s legality. The Finn was one of the pacesetters in the early afternoon, but was toppled from third spot courtesy of Vergne’s late flier.
Admitting that he is still struggling to extract the most potential from the McLaren MP4-28, Sergio Pérez spent plenty of time behind the wheel of the Mercedes-powered car, posting 100 laps for the day. He finished less than four-hundredths of a second quicker than his fellow Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez.
With the identity of his team-mate now finally confirmed, di Resta finished the day seventh-fastest for Force India, with his progress hampered by some long spells in the garage. Massa’s late stoppage confined him to eighth overall.
After financial troubles kept team-mate Luiz Razia out of the cockpit for the entire second pre-season test, Max Chilton enjoyed yet another day behind the wheel of the Marussia MR02. The Englishman managed to leap ahead of Charles Pic in the battle of the backmarker outfits, while Romain Grosjean wound up slowest of all, with the Lotus team concentrating on straight-line aerodynamic runs for much of the day.
2013 Barcelona Pre-Season Test – Day 5 Session Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:22.693||90||S|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG F1W04||+ 1.655||113||M|
|3.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||+ 2.324||59||M|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||+ 3.765||85||S|
|5.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||+ 3.845||100||H|
|6.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||+ 3.881||92||S|
|7.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||+ 4.414||57||M|
|8.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||+ 4.848||112||M|
|9.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||+ 5.473||78||M|
|10.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||+ 5.951||83||M|
|11.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||+ 12.235||52||M|