Lewis Hamilton provided yet more clues about what to expect from Mercedes this season after topping the timesheets on the penultimate day of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Saturday.
The two-time world champion lapped the Spanish Circuit in 1:23:022s during the final hour of the day to rise to the top of the timesheets. The fact that his time was quicker than what rivals Williams and Ferrari managed on supersofts is a testament to the effort put in by Mercedes to retain their advantage at the front of the field.
However, there is more to come from both Ferrari and Williams whose nominated drivers - Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen respectively - spent majority of the afternoon on race simulations, having completed their qualifying runs early on.
Another team that was focused on long runs was Red Bull who didn’t venture on soft tyres at all and ended up at the bottom of the timesheets, with Ricciardo behind the wheel.
Their sister team Toro Rosso racked up 132 laps and ended up fourth fastest. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Faenza based outfit with Carlos Sainz Jr stopping at turn 3, minutes before the chequered flag.
Behind Sainz came the Lotus of Romain Grosjean who lodged 116 laps en route to fifth fastest time of the day. Marcus Ericsson finished three tenths adrift of the Frenchman in sixth while Hulkenberg was sixth quickest for Force India. The German driver got more mileage under his belt than any other driver today(158 laps) which is crucial for a team that has got only two-and-a-half days to evaluate its 2015 challenger.
McLaren, meanwhile, were hoping to build up on yesterday when Jenson Button crossed the 100 lap mark and was able to put the MP4-30 through its paces without major issues. However, the team had little clue that a fuel leak will curtail test driver Kevin Magnussen’s running to just 39 laps on Saturday.
Tomorrow will mark the final day of pre-season testing before the F1 fraternity heads Downunder for the season opener in Melbourne, Australia.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.022s
2 Felipe Massa Williams 1m23.262s +0.240
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m23.276s +0.254
4 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1m24.191s +1.169
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m24.200s +1.178
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m24.477s +1.455
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m24.939s +1.917
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1m25.225s +2.203
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m25.742s +2.720