BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 22, 2013 (AFP) - Former world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap time in Friday morning's session at Barcelona's Catalunya circuit on the fourth and final day of testing before the start of the new Formula One season.
Hamilton used intermediate tires to set his fastest lap in the middle of the morning chaos that was Circuit of Barcelona, which saw up to five red flags and an intermittent rain that made all teams to set their cars different since the start of the testing season.
Many drivers opted for wet tires, which of course rendered times quite far away from the preceding three days, in which top cars were usually down from the 1:22 mark.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Red Bull’s Mark Webber, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and Caterham’s Giedo Van der Garde, on two occasions, all slid, spun or went wide at some point during the session.
Jenson Button was one of the few that was able to get close to Hamilton’s time. The MP4-28 looked strong under the conditions and the McLaren driver set a time of 1:23.633, about a third of a second slower than his former teammate.
The somewhat surprise of the morning was Jean Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso who earned third best with 1:24.071 on his best lap.
Another interesting story involving Force India deserved attention, since Jules Bianchi showed his motivation is running high with an excellent driving display, good enough for fifth best. The team will have a hard time making a decision.
Far from the quickest of the day was Massa, who after sliding early in the session dedicated the rest of the time to find a good pace with the intermediate tires.
On the red Bull side, Webber had to overcome an early stoppage to then spend the rest of the morning practicing pit-stops, just like Valtteri Bottas from Williams did.
The new season opens in Melbourne, Australia on March 17.
Below the times for the morning session:
|3||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:24.071||0.789||37|
|5||Jules Bianchi||Force India||1:25.732||2.45||51|
|6||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||1:27.429||4.147||23|
|8||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:27.616||4.334||34|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||no time||23|