Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado has finished as the quickest driver as pre-season testing resumed, topping the Circuit de Catalunya timesheets with a late run on Pirelli’s Soft compound tyre.
The Venezuelan – whose sole Grand Prix win came at this circuit in 2012 – didn’t have it all plain sailing, however, suffering two early stoppages in his E23 Hybrid which were quickly resolved by his mechanics.
Once back on track and without any reliability gremlins, he steadily chipped away at his lap times before making a late switch to grippier rubber to clock a 1:25.011 late in the day.
That put him 0.156 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen – who was fastest on the final day of the first pre-season test at Jerez – whose best time was posted on the Pirelli Medium tyres.
Just under four-tenths of a second slower than the 2007 World Champion was Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian lost a lot of track time in the morning with a number of minor technical problems, but popped up into the third-fastest position with a Maldonado-style late Soft tyre run.
The day featured quite a bit of drama and intrigue. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was limited to just 11 slow laps before he decided to park his Mercedes, complaining that he was feeling unwell.
The Silver Arrows were forced to reacquire reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein – who had been on loan to Force India for two of the four days of this test – to complete the rest of their program, while Force India managed to call up regular driver Sergio Pérez to complete the rest of its day.
The Mexican finished fourth-fastest in the year-old VJM07, while Wehrlein was eighth and ninth on the timesheets, lapping 0.160 seconds quicker in the Force India prior to his unscheduled return to the F1W06 Hybrid.
The day’s other unusual incident came in the form of a collision between Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Williams test driver Susie Wolff at Turn 5.
Wolff was on an out-lap while Nasr was on a flying lap, and having seen Nasr approach her towards the left-hander, moved over to allow him to overtake. Nasr, meanwhile, appeared to chop across the front of Wolff in his attempt to optimise his corner entry, sending the pair of them into the gravel trap with major damage.
Both teams’ mechanics were able to repair the respective cars – although both Nasr and Wolff would each suffer day-ending stoppages once back on track.
Not surprisingly, each blamed the other for the coming-together, although video evidence presented at the circuit by racer control suggests Nasr was at fault.
“I stayed completely on my line,” a clearly frustrated Wolff told the assembled media afterwards, showing them the same video footage. “I didn’t expect him to move as aggressively across as he did and he hit my front-left with his right-rear.
“I had nothing to apologise for. I am not here to say I blame him or he blames me, it just happened. It was a stupid unnecessary thing to happen.”
Back on track, Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen had a very productive day as his F1 baptism continues. The Dutch teenager tacked up the most laps of anyone in the STR10 as he continues his preparation for his Grand Prix debut in Melbourne next month.
The day started promisingly for McLaren with Jenson Button posting a series of competitive lap times early in the day, but the MP4-30’s reliability predictably reared its head once again and the Englishman was out of action when a seal in his Honda power unit’s MGU-K ended his day after 21 laps.
The team was forced to spend its afternoon performing a complete power unit change ahead of Friday’s running, where Fernando Alonso will be behind the wheel. Across all five days of pre-season testing so far, the MP4-30 hasn’t managed to complete 100 laps.
Pre-season testing continues at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 1 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:25.011||69|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:25.167||+ 0.156||74|
|3.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:25.547||+ 0.536||59|
|4.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM07||1:26.636||+ 1.625||34|
|5.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:27.307||+ 2.296||79|
|6.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:27.900||+ 2.889||94|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:28.182||+ 3.171||21|
|8.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:28.329||+ 3.318||34|
|9.||Pascal Wehrlein||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:28.489||+ 3.478||34|
|10.||Susie Wolff||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:28.906||+ 3.895||86|
|11.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:30.429||+ 5.418||11|
Image via XPB Images