Let’s get started off the bat with this. That headline above? Not a misprint.
“Mighty” Max Chilton and little ol’ Marussia indeed led a somewhat rainy first day of Formula One testing today at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The British driver finished 19th last weekend on the same track in last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, but threw down a lap of 1 minute, 26.434 seconds that gave him top honors today.
That time was an improvement of more than three seconds from the qualifying time he set on Saturday going into the race.
It may have just been a test session, but driver and team were still delighted by their performance.
Also turning in a strong performance was Lotus reserve Charles Pic, who went second-fastest with a time of 1 minute, 26.661 seconds. The Frenchman is backing up Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado this year after racing with Caterham in 2013.
Lewis Hamilton, who won his fourth Grand Prix in a row last weekend at Barcelona and took over the World Championship lead as a result, was third-fastest in his Mercedes at 1 minute, 26.674 seconds.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth-fastest but he and Ferrari had a tough afternoon. Shortly after he had begun his work for the day, he was forced to stop his car on course as smoke billowed from it.
He would come back in the afternoon, but a later spin into the gravel forced Ferrari to end his day early.
Jean-Eric Vergne overcame two stoppages early on to round out the Top 5 for Scuderia Toro Rosso. His team and Sauber were charged with tire development this afternoon for Pirelli. Tomorrow, those duties will shift to McLaren and Force India.
Multiple red flags marked the day’s events. In addition to Raikkonen and Vergne’s issues, Red Bull reserve Sebastien Buemi brought one out when he stopped with gearbox problems. Ditto for Kamui Kobayashi of Caterham, who crashed at Turn 3 late.
FORMULA ONE TESTING – DAY ONE, CIRCUIT DE BARCELONA-CATALUNYA
1. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, 1:26.434, 60 laps
2. Charles Pic, Lotus-Renault, 1:26.661, 70 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:26.674, 79 laps
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:26.965, 21 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1:27.724, 52 laps
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1:27.727, 53 laps
7. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 1:27.756, 55 laps
8. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:28.333, 74 laps
9. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham-Renault, 1:30.101, 72 laps
10. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull-Renault, 1:31.440, 54 laps
11. Giedo van der Garde, Sauber-Ferrari, 1:31.783, 86 laps