Pre-season Test: Lewis Hamilton takes top spot on final day in Barcelona
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News March 1, 2018 Updated: 2:31 PM PT
Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas
MONTMELO, Spain -- Mercedes driver and four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished on top on the final day of the first week of pre-season winter testing. The last three days of the first week of testing have seen severe winter weather and has left many teams with limited track time.
After taking over from teammate Valtteri Bottas in the second half of the session, Hamilton set a time of 1:19.333 and was 0.521s faster than McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne in second with 110 laps.
“Today has been positive, I’m so happy that I could get in the car and I’m really excited that I could get some running in. It’s been the first time today that I’ve really been out to learn a lot more about the car and its characteristics. I got to see what she’s like and stretch her legs a little bit. Driving a new car is like trying to crack a new code: you have to figure out which different techniques you need to get the most out of it. But the W09 feels like last year’s big sister,” Hamilton said.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished third with 120 laps while Haas’ Kevin Magnussen finished fourth. Fernando Alonso finished fifth after taking over from his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in the afternoon.
Alonso put in a healthy 51 laps to give McLaren a total of 161 laps at the end of the day. Renault’s Carlos Sainz finished sixth with 60 laps and Lance Stroll in seventh with 54 laps. Force India finished the day with 65 laps as Sergio Perez took the wheel for the first time on track finishing eight.
Red Bull did not end the week as strong as they hoped with Max Verstappen running into a mechanical issue and losing his car at turn 12 triggering a Red Bull Racing flag and ending his day in ninth.
Toro Rosso Honda made heads turn as Pierre Gasly, who finished tenth, posted the highest lap count of the day, with 147 laps in the books for the young French driver.
“It was really satisfying to have done so many laps today!” Gasly said after setting the highest lap total of the day. “It’s only the second day for me at testing in the car so I was still learning many things about it and we still need to find the right directions to maximise the performance for Melbourne. It was really important for the team and also for myself to be able to learn so much! We’ll have to go through everything in the next couple of days before the second test, but it was a really positive day overall.”
Sainz’ Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg finished 11th with 49 laps logged. Valtteri Bottas finished 12th in the morning, completing 60 laps for Mercedes before handing the car over to his teammate in the afternoon.
Sauber drivers Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson finished 13th and 14th with Ericsson starting things off in the morning finishing with 79 laps but had a trip into the gravel after losing the car at Turn 2 triggering the second red flag of the day. Leclerc posted 59 laps, but also took a trip in the gravel during his run in the afternoon at Turn 3 causing a third red flag.
“It was great to be back on a race track this week. I was able to learn a lot about all of the new procedures and am starting to feel more comfortable in the car. The weather conditions were not ideal this week, but we made the most of it. As they were improving this afternoon, we completed a number of tests, which was a positive end to this first test. I can’t wait to get back into the car next week,” Leclerc said.
Williams' rookie driver Sergey Sirotkin finished at the bottom of the order in 15th with 47 laps posted. With week one of winter testing in the books, there will only be a brief rest over the weekend when week two begins next week in Barcelona.
Pre-Season Test 1, Day 4
1. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:19.333, 69 laps 2. Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:19.854, 110 laps 3. Vettel, Ferrari, 1:20.241, 120 laps (Soft) 4. Magnussen, Haas, 1:20.317, 96 laps laps 5. Alonso, McLaren, 1:20.929, 51 laps 6. Sainz, Renault, 1:20.940, 60 laps 7. Stroll, Williams, 1:21.142, 54 laps 8. Perez, Force India, 1:21.973, 65 laps 9. Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:22.058, 35 laps 10. Gasly, Toro Rosso, 1:22.134, 147 laps 11. Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:22.507, 49 laps 12. Bottas, Mercedes, 1:22.789, 60 laps 13. Leclerc, Sauber, 1:22.808, 59 laps 14. Ericsson, Sauber, 1:23.825, 79 laps 15. Sirotkin, Williams, 1:31.979, 47 laps