Lewis Hamilton was quickest the penultimate day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya

Lewis Hamilton took advantage of much-improved weather conditions to post the fastest overall time on the penultimate day of Formula 1 pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The Mercedes driver finished seven-tenths of a second fastest than Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, while F1 returnee Adrian Sutil was third-quickest.

Following two largely rain-hit days at the Barcelona circuit, the skies were clear all day, giving the teams the best conditions in which to gather more analysis on their cars before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in less than two weeks time.

But there was a bit of panic before the day even got underway. Kimi Räikkönen had taken ill overnight, and the Lotus F1 team ran reserve driver Davide Valsecchi for a few laps in the morning until Romain Grosjean could make it to the circuit by private plane after returning home to Paris.

Williams opted to split its running between Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado, although that was always planned as the team elected to optimise its schedule to give both drivers some dry-weather mileage in the FW35. The team elected to continue trialling its revised rear bodywork, brought about by the FIA deeming its exhaust layout – which had a turning vane fitted – illegal.

Hamilton proved to be the day’s pacesetter, posting consistent lap times on both the medium and soft-compound Pirelli tyres on his way to a rapid 1:20.558. He also clocked up the most laps of the day, with 117 in total, suggesting that Mercedes may have corrected some of their early pre-season reliability concerns in the F1W04.

Felipe Massa finished the day second-quickest and caused the most dramatic moment of the session when his left-front wheel parted company with the Ferrari F138 in the final hour. Fortunately no serious damage was done, but it did keep him out of action for the rest of the day.

Adrian Sutil popped up in third place on the timesheets, courtesy of a late handful of laps on the Pirelli soft tyre as he continued to gain much-needed mileage ahead of his return to Grand Prix racing.

Behind the fourth- and fifth-placed Williams pairing of Maldonado and Bottas came Sauber rookie Esteban Gutiérrez, who just edged out Mark Webber and Sergio Pérez on the timing screens.

Jean-Éric Vergne had a solid day’s running in the Toro Rosso, completing over 100 laps in the Ferrari-powered STR8; he finished just ahead of Grosjean, whose fastest time came on the medium-compound tyres.

After being confirmed as the underfunded Luiz Razia’s replacement at Marussia, Jules Bianchi had his first outing behind the wheel of the MR02, racking up 74 laps and managing to out-pace Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham by two-tenths of a second.

2013 Barcelona Pre-Season Test – Day 7 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Laps Tyre
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG F1W04 1:20.558 117 S
2. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 + 0.708 94 SS
3. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 + 1.069 109 S
4. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 + 1.747 34 S
5. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 + 1.910 31 S
6. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 + 1.995 99 S
7. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 + 2.100 59 S
8. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 + 2.136 101 S
9. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 + 2.665 114 S
10. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 + 2.822 46 M
11. Davide Valsecchi ITA Lotus F1 Renault E21 + 2.890 16 S
12. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 + 3.470 74 S
13. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 + 3.677 126 S

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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.