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Felipe Massa tops opening day of second Barcelona F1 test

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Williams bounced back from a troublesome first week of Formula 1 pre-season running in Barcelona to top the opening day of the second test on Tuesday through Felipe Massa.

Williams was forced to end running early on two days last week and skipped Thursday altogether due to damage sustained in crashes involving 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll.

Massa was handed the opening day of the second test in a bid to maximize track-time, and the Brazilian duly delivered by racking up over 160 laps, one of which proved to be the fastest of the day.

A best time of 1:19.726 saw Massa flirt with the fastest overall time in testing, set last week by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished second, two-tenths of a second behind.

Ricciardo’s lap was a first sign of raw one-lap pace from Red Bull, which opted to spend all of last week focusing on reliability.

Sebastian Vettel continued Ferrari’s impressive start to testing by finishing third, as well as completing more laps than any other driver. The German was just six-thousandths of a second shy of Ricciardo’s time.

Mercedes split its running between Lewis Hamilton and Bottas once again on Tuesday, taking the morning and afternoon sessions respectively. Hamilton was unhappy with his morning running, with the team ending its program early so it could make changes to the car. The Briton ended up fourth-fastest ahead of Bottas in P5.

Esteban Ocon was sixth for Force India ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, the latter splitting running with teammate Jolyon Palmer. Kevin Magnussen was eighth in the Haas VF-17, while Toro Rosso bounced back after a tough first week with Daniil Kvyat winding up P9.

McLaren’s nightmare start to pre-season testing continued as Stoffel Vandoorne’s running was once again interrupted by an engine issue, forcing Honda into changing the power unit on his car over lunch. The Belgian completed just half the mileage of the pace-setters and ended the day 10th.

Sauber split its running between Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, the former making his first appearance in the C36 car after missing the opening test through injury. They finished 11th and 12th ahead of Renault’s Palmer, who propped up the timesheets.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because itโ€™s always been something Iโ€™ve wanted to do. Itโ€™s always something Iโ€™ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go thereโ€ฆ and I had a million questions. Iโ€™m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added,ย “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s galleryย and some teaser shots below.