Lotus duo Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean have respectively gone quickest on the final two days of the second pre-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya, which featured plenty of on track mileage and a fair share of incidents.
The final day of the test was marred by a heavy crash for Fernando Alonso. The McLaren driver was airlifted to the local hospital, where he remains under observation after suffering mild concussion.
Day 3 of the test saw Maldonado on top of the timesheets for the second time this test, clocking a 1:24.348 in his Lotus E23 Hybrid. It was the fastest time of the test thus far.
The Venezuelan’s best lap time came in the mid-afternoon, shortly after a very light rain shower. His time was good enough to put him almost four-tenths clear of the morning’s fastest runner, Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, whose fastest time came on a Super Soft tyre run.
The Dutch teenager concentrated on longer runs in the afternoon as he continues to prepare for his Grand Prix debut next month, although his day was brought to a close after 129 laps with a stoppage at pit exit.
Lewis Hamilton finished a distant third-fastest in the Mercedes, with the Briton – still suffering some effects of the fever which put him out of action on Day 1 – racking up a solid 101 laps as the Silver Arrows’ excellent pre-season reliability continued to cause concern for the rest of the field.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson put in a late quick lap to claim fourth place, having lost the majority of the morning session while the Swiss outfit rectified a gearbox problem.
Sebastian Vettel’s first lap of the test in the Ferrari didn’t go to plan, with the German losing control at Turn 4 and sliding into the gravel. He was quickly back out on track, posting a haul of 105 laps to finish fifth-quickest.
His replacement at Red Bull Racing, Daniil Kvyat, finished sixth-fastest in the RB11. After spending the morning concentrating on pit stop drills, the Russian set about completing another race simulation for the Milton Keynes squad, running on the Soft and Medium Pirelli tyres. His fastest lap was over two seconds slower than the session-topping time managed by teammate Daniel Ricciardo the day before.
Williams split its third day of running between its lead drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. The spent its entire concentrating on pit stops, with both drivers’ fastest times hardly respective of the pace the FW37 has demonstrated on other days.
The pair sandwiched Force India’s stand-in test driver, Pascal Wehrlein – on loan from engine supplier Mercedes – who spent his first full day behind the wheel of the team’s year-old VJM07.
Once again, it was a McLaren at the bottom of the timesheets. Jenson Button was back behind the wheel of the MP4-30, which once again had its running limited with another faulty MGU-K seal. The Englishman spent more time in the garage than on-track, and had his day brought to a close when he stopped at the same time as Verstappen.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 3 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:24.348||104|
|2.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:24.739||+ 0.391||129|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:26.076||+ 1.782||101|
|4.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:26.340||+ 1.992||53|
|5.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:26.407||+ 2.059||105|
|6.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:26.589||+ 2.241||112|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:26.912||+ 2.564||55|
|8.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM07||1:27.333||+ 2.985||81|
|9.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:27.556||+ 3.208||49|
|10.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:29.151||+ 4.803||24|
The fourth and final day of the second pre-season test was another Lotus benefit, with the black-and-gold cars finishing on top of the timesheets for three of the four days at this test.
Romain Grosjean finished with the quickest overall time of the four-day session, putting in a late run on Super Soft Pirelli tyres on a day severely interrupted by red flags.
The most frightening stoppage came with Alonso’s accident shortly before the lunch break. The Spaniard lost control at Turn 3, hitting the unprotected concrete on the inside of the long right-hander and causing significant damage to his McLaren.
The two-time champion was airlifted to hospital, with a CT scan confirming that he was “uninjured and fine”, according a statement from the McLaren team.
“Fortunately, he’s fine, but was concussed during the accident, which therefore required an overnight stay in hospital as a precaution. That’s normal practice after a concussion,” the team’s Racing Director, Eric Boullier, said afterwards.
“Inevitably, some media reports have sought to exaggerate the severity of the incident – it was just a normal testing accident.”
While the car itself wasn’t substantially damaged, the time take to conduct precautionary checks on the MP4-30’s gearbox and power unit meant it wasn’t practical to send Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button out for some afternoon running.
Alonso’s accident delayed the resumption of the afternoon session by 15 minutes, and once the field was back on track, Grosjean quickly set about claiming the fastest time.
A quarter of a second back in second-fastest was Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, whose fastest time was ominously posted on the Medium rubber. The German was frustrated not to claim top spot, and equally annoyed by a slide into the Turn 5 kitty littler early in the day.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat put in over 100 laps and improved on his Saturday lap time by 1.5 seconds to finish third-fastest, ahead of Sauber rookie Felipe Nasr, who lost some running with technical troubles that bookended his day.
Valtteri Bottas was fifth-fastest courtesy of a late switch to Soft tyres, having spent much of the day conducting long runs on Pirelli’s Hard tyres. The Finn suffered the FW37’s first on-track stoppage of the pre-season when he ground to a halt at Turn 4 in the middle of the afternoon session.
Sixth-fastest was Toro Rosso Carlos Sainz Jr, who enjoyed a more productive day’s running in the STR10. The Spanird, however, had another spin into the gravel, beaching his car at Turn 3, for which he blamed a sudden wind gust.
Nico Hülkenberg had his first hit-out of the pre-season, but only managed 36 laps in the Force India VJM07 after he suffered a smoky stoppage between Turns 1 and 2.
The German finished behind his compatriot Sebastian Vettel, who continued a rather underwhelming showing for the Ferrari SF15-T around the Circuit de Catalunya’s quicker sweeps.
The third and final pre-season test takes place in Barcelona from February 26 to March 1.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 4 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:24.067||111|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:24.321||+ 0.254||131|
|3.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:24.941||+ 0.874||104|
|4.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:24.956||+ 0.889||73|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:25.345||+ 1.278||129|
|6.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:25.604||+ 1.537||88|
|7.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:26.312||+ 2.245||76|
|8.||Nico Hulkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM07||1:26.591||+ 2.524||36|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:27.596||+ 3.529||20|
Images via Sutton Images and XPB Images