BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 28, 2013 (AFP) - Britain's former world champion Lewis Hamilton went fastest Thursday in the opening morning session of the third and last week of testing ahead of the 2013 Grand Prix season.
Hamilton, getting to grips with his new Mercedes drive, clocked 1:41.614 seconds in cold, rainy conditions at the Catalunya Circuit near Barcelona.
Felipe Massa was the only other driver able to go under the 1:42 mark as drivers had to the deal with the weather and several red flags. Early morning the track temperature was registered at 8 degrees Celsius, and it was wet because of the rain that fell overnight.
Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne, who has had a good winter so far, took his Toro Rosso for the third best time -1:42.155- not far from the aforementioned mark.
The best times came more in the first half of the session as drivers were able to put intermediate tyres and hence go faster, but then conditions worsened and they had to come back to the wets.
Under such conditions, the plans changed and most dedicated the rest of the morning to do long runs, pit stops and other exercises without pushing to hard.
The conditions meant that times were considerably slower than they were last week at the same venue.
With no much time left, Esteban Gutierrez went off and with that the Red Flag basically put an end to the morning session.
There are no expectations for a change in weather conditions for the afternoon session, meaning that times probably won’t change much.
Winter testing will conclude on Saturday ahead of the season's opening Grand Prix in Australia on March 17.
Below the times for the morning session:
|2||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1:41.848||+ 0.234s||40|
|3||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:42.155||+ 0.541s||38|
|4||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:43.649||+ 2.035s||44|
|5||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:44.444||+ 2.830s||33|
|6||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||1:45.020||+ 3.406s||47|
|7||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||1:45.147||+ 3.533s||29|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||1:45.457||+ 3.843s||44|
|9||Charles Pic||Caterham||1:47.521||+ 5.907s||31|
|10||Sergio Perez||McLaren||1:48.562||+ 6.948s||23|
|11||Max Chilton||Marussia||1:50.253||+ 8.639s||34|