Webber quickest on day one of final test

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On the first day of the final Formula One test in Barcelona, Mark Webber has managed to top the timesheets as Red Bull look to assert their dominance before the season begins.

Difficult weather conditions meant that times only became reliable towards the end of the session, and a red flag also delayed running after Felipe Massa stopped out on track. The rain meant that the teams were able to try out all compounds of Pirelli tire on offer in 2013, but before the track dried out it was Webber who led. Eventually, Massa moved onto the softer rubber, and the Ferrari driver set the first competitive times.

However, following the red flag, it was Webber and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton fighting for top spot. Both drivers went quickest at points, but a spin from Hamilton meant Webber finished the day 1.6 seconds clear.

The Australian driver expressed his satisfaction to his team following the session.

“We’ve still got more to come, but that was the most we could get done in a short limited programme in dry conditions at the end of the day.”

Behind Hamilton was Jean-Eric Vergne in third place, continuing Toro Rosso’s good testing form, and Valtteri Bottas impressed to end up fourth ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez respectively.

Paul di Resta, whose teammate was finally confirmed today, finished in seventh, with Felipe Massa eighth, although Ferrari will hope that he could have challenged Webber had it not been for the stoppage.

Marussia’s Max Chilton put the rumors surrounding his teammate to the back of his mind to finish ahead of Charles Pic. It would appear the Anglo-Russian team has the edge over Caterham in 2013. Romain Grosjean propped up the timesheets, twelve seconds off Webber’s time.

Although it is difficult to truly understand testing performance, Red Bull will undoubtedly be pleased with their pace in both the dry and wet in Barcelona today.

Unofficial Times

1. Mark Webber Red Bull – 1:22.693
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes – 1:24.348 +1.655
3. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso – 1:25.017 + 2.324
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams – 1:26.458 + 3.765
5. Sergio Perez McLaren – 1:26.538 +3.845
6. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber – 1:26.574 +3.881
7. Paul di Resta Force India – 1:27.107 +4.414
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari – 1:27.541 +4.848
9. Max Chilton Marussia – 1:28.166 +5.473
10. Charles Pic Caterham – 1:28.644 +5.951
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus – 1:34.928 +12.235

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.