Felipe Massa has taken Williams to the top of the timesheets as the third a final Formula 1 pre-season test session got underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Thursday. The Brazilian posted a rapid 1:23.500 time, the fastest lap of pre-season testing to-date.

A series of small showers hit the circuit around lunch time, but Massa shrugged off any concerns in the afternoon, posting his fastest time on a three-lap Soft tyre run to finish over half-a-second fastest than the pre-season’s best time thus far, posted on the final day of the preceding test by Romain Grosjean.

Second-quickest went to Marcus Ericsson, with the Sauber team once again bolting on a set of Soft tyres late in the day to bounce up the order. The Swede was still over seven-tenths of a second adrift of Massa, having spent much of his programme working through a full race simulation in the Ferrari-powered C34, which clocked up 122 laps for the day.

Lewis Hamilton finished third-fastest in the Mercedes F1W06 Hybrid, with his best time coming in the morning session on a Medium tyre run. Any prospects of lowering that time went out the window during the lunch break, when his mechanics uncovered an MGU-K failure that saw the car out of action for the rest of the day while the entire power unit was changed.

Daniil Kvyat triggered the first of the test day’s two red flags when he stopped his Red Bull Racing RB11 at pit exit early in the day, but the Russian recovered to run 75 laps and finish fourth-fastest, albeit almost 2.5 seconds down on Massa’s pace.

Tallying the same number of laps was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E23 Hybrid, who finished fifth-fastest and had his running limited thanks to lengthy stints in the garage. Former teammate Kimi Räikkönen had similar troubles in his Ferrari, tallying 80 laps for the day and finishing a distant sixth-fastest.

The day’s second red flag stoppage was brought about by Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr, although at least this time it was a mechanical failure – rather than driver error – which saw the Spanish youngster grind to a halt at Turn 10. The STR10 challenger was sporting a number of significant upgrades, including a new nose design, refined bodywork, suspension and cooling.

McLaren’s wretched pre-season troubles continued once again with the team forced to undertake yet another Honda power unit change. This time a hydraulics failure was the culprit, limiting Jenson Button to a paltry seven laps behind the wheel of the MP4-30.

Force India did not venture out onto the track while it waited on its much-anticipated new VJM08 challenger to arrive from its Silverstone headquarters.

2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 5 Results:

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:23.500 103
2. Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:24.276 + 0.776 122
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:24.861 + 1.361 48
4. Daniil Kvyat Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:25.947 + 2.447 75
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:26.177 + 2.677 75
6. Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:26.327 + 2.827 80
7. Carlos Sainz Jr. Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:26.962 + 3.462 86
8. Jenson Button McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:31.479 + 7.979 7

Image via XPB Images

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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.