Lewis Hamilton sailed to the top of the final day of testing this week on the Circuit de Catalunya before the steady rain showers came to stay in Barcelona, Spain. The Mercedes AMG driver got lucky during a break in the weather.
Mercedes AMG's new driver this year was the one who closed out the four days of preseason testing with the unofficial fastest lap today. Lewis Hamilton had a clean run when there was a break in the inclement weather to clock a lap of 1:23.282 in the AMG F1 W04 which no one was able to touch as the steady rain returned to play havoc with the Formula One drivers.
Said Hamilton, "We have been working on our consistency over long runs and we managed one run this morning on dry tyres; the car felt okay but the conditions were also very cool, so we cannot draw too many conclusions."
In fact the British racer caused a red flag just prior to the final minutes in the afternoon session when he came to a stop. Hamilton was not alone as the Sahara Force India test driver Jules Bianchi ended up slowing down, parking the VJM06.
Hamilton's former teammate was second in his Vodafone McLaren MP4-28. Jenson Button's best was a 1:23.633, and he had 70 laps over the course of the day while Hamilton had 52.
Third best time of the day was set by Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne who put an additional 80 laps on the STR8 with his best lap at 1:24.071. “Another productive day, even with the rain," Vergne said. "... it was actually surprising we had rain and not snow! Now I am looking forward to the final test, which will be very important for everyone.”
“It was good to be back working with the team today and to feel the car in all conditions when the track was both dry and wet. It’s more useful experience for me," commented Bianchi.
The one positive note is the teams, their engineers, and drivers all expected the conditions today which allowed them to run on the Pirelli rain tyres. Plus for a few of the rookies that were on-track today were able to experience how their car handles in the wet.
Sauber new driver, Esteban Gutiérrez put in 96 laps which was the highest number today. He did slide off the track into the gravel, causing a red flag but the Mexican also ended up with the fifth fastest time with a 1:26.239 in the C32. He said, "It was important for me to feel this change in conditions. In the afternoon I got the opportunity to compare the Intermediate tyres with the Full Wets. I learned so much today. This was just what I needed.“
The Formula One teams will return to Barcelona on February 28th for the final of the three rounds of the Winter testing prior to the Australian Grand Prix.
|3||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:24.071||80|
|4||Jules Bianchi||Force India||1:25.732||61|
|6||Giedo Van der Garde||Caterham||1:27.429||50|
|8||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:27.616||64|