Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have closed out the final two days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with the fastest lap times as the 2015 season build-up came to a close.
The penultimate day of testing saw the Mercedes team assume what has been a rather customary position at the top of the Barcelona timesheets. Lewis Hamilton took the opportunity to sample Pirelli’s Soft tyre and clocked a fastest time of 1:23.022 on a late afternoon run, falling just shy of the fastest overall pre-season test time managed the day before by Nico Rosberg.
The Englishman lost two hours of afternoon running while his mechanics and engineers made extensive set-up changes, ahead of his re-emergence on track and the fastest time of the day.
Trailing the reigning champion by just a quarter of a second were former teammates Felipe Massa and Kimi Räikkönen, who both posted their fastest times on the Super Soft tyres. That in itself should present a potentially ominous warning of just how quick the Mercedes F1W06 Hybrid might actually be at next weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr had a productive day behind the wheel of the heavily-modified STR10. The Spanish youngster finished the day fourth-fastest, although his running was brought to a premature end when the Renault-powered car suffered a late stoppage between Turns 3 and 4.
After spending the morning fine-tuning his set-up and performing pit stop drills, Romain Grosjean pumped out over 100 laps with an afternoon of heavy running in the Lotus E23 Hybrid. The Frenchman steadily whittled away at his fastest lap times, eventually finishing fifth on the timesheets with a best lap that was 1.1 seconds slower than Hamilton.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson saw his day also come to a late close with a stoppage at a near-identical spot to Sainz Jr. Once again, the Sauber team pounded around the circuit and concentrated on long runs in the Ferrari-powered C34, tallying up a healthy 123 laps in all. The Swedish driver finished sixth-quickest on his final day of pre-season running.
The Force India team showed just how determined it was to make up for its late-arriving VJM08’s lack of pre-season running with the highest mileage count by far – 158 laps in all. The brand new car again ran almost faultlessly at the hands of Nico Hülkenberg, who finished seventh on the timesheets.
McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen had his first hit-out in the Honda-powered MP4-30, substituting for the recuperating Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard’s concussion-inducing crash at the previous four-day test. It was the Dane’s first run in the new car and his first time behind the wheel since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but he showed no rustiness and clocked the new car’s fastest ever time around the circuit before it predictably ground to a terminal halt with another mechanical failure. This time the offending culprit was an oil leak.
Slowest of all on the timesheets – although not chasing lap times – was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull Racing RB11. The Australian spent his day concentrating on long runs with high fuel loads, posting a best lap that was half a second down on Magussen.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 7 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:23.022||76|
|2.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:23.262||+ 0.240||102|
|3.||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:23.276||+ 0.254||136|
|4.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:24.191||+ 1.169||132|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:24.200||+ 1.178||116|
|6.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:24.477||+ 1.455||123|
|7.||Nico Hulkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:24.939||+ 1.917||158|
|8.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:25.225||+ 2.203||39|
|9.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:25.742||+ 2.720||128|
The final day of pre-season testing saw Mercedes power rule at the top of the timesheets, although this time it was the Williams of Valtteri Bottas which lapped quickest of the nine-car field.
The Finn punched out a time of 1:23.063 – four-hundredths of a second slower than Hamilton’s Soft tyre run the day before – with a short run on the Super Soft Pirelli tyres just before the one-hour lunch break.
Second-quickest went to Sebastian Vettel, who unlocked some pace in the Ferrari during a day spent conducting a complete race simulation, which he completed just before the chequered flag was unfurled to signify the end of all pre-season testing. The German created some entertainment with a late ‘duel’ with Mercedes compatriot Nico Rosberg, no doubt gaining a valuable insight into the potential performance of his SF15-T against the defending champion team’s F1W06 Hybrid.
Sauber rookie Felipe Massa was third-fastest in another impressive showing for the Swiss squad. Its C34 ran faultlessly and the Brazilian youngster clocked a mammoth 159 laps during the day – the highest tally seen in the entire pre-season.
Max Verstappen, the other debutant having a drive on the final day, ended up fourth-fastest in the heavily updated Toro Rosso STR10 thanks to a very late afternoon dash on the Super Soft Pirelli tyres. The Dutch teenager did lose some on-track running when his Renault-powered car ground to a halt at Turn 12 midway through the afternoon session.
The sister Red Bull Racing team also struck trouble when Daniel Ricciardo had to stop at pit exit early on with an ERS failure in his Renault power unit. The Australian was, however, back out on track later on, completing a full race distance in lap tally in the RB11 to end the day fifth-quickest.
After teammate Nico Hülkenberg gave the new Force India VJM08 an impressive baptism, teammate Sergio Pérez had his one and only day of pre-season running in the new car. Incredibly, the Mercedes-powered car proved reliable once again, with the Mexican tallying over 100 laps before the end of the day.
Nico Rosberg spent the final day of testing concentrating on aerodynamic and set-up evaluations, while also running Pirelli’s prototype Medium and Hard compound tyres. The day was not spent chasing glory lap times, and the German finished comparatively well down the order in seventh, over two seconds slower than Bottas’ low-fuel run.
After seeing yet another test day cut short with reliability issues, McLaren barely ran in the morning as it conducted systems checks on its Honda-powered MP4-30. The new car emerged for rather more productive running in the afternoon, but once again trouble struck and Jenson Button’s day was brought to an end after just 30 laps were clocked.
Slowest of all on the final day was Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus; the Venezuelan’s day also came to an early close when he clobbered the barriers at Turn 4 after his E23 Hybrid suffered an apparent brake failure. The damage to the car was too extensive to repair in time, so the team spent its afternoon getting a headstart on its rivals by packing up early in readiness for the opening Australian Grand Prix on March 13-15.
2015 Formula 1 Pre-Season Test – Barcelona Day 8 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:23.063||89|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:23.469||+ 0.406||129|
|3.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:24.023||+ 0.960||159|
|4.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:24.527||+ 1.464||87|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:24.638||+ 1.575||72|
|6.||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:25.113||+ 2.050||130|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid||1:25.186||+ 2.123||148|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:25.327||+ 2.264||30|
|9.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:28.272||+ 5.209||36|
Images via XPB Images