Maldonado fastest as F1 pre-season testing resumes in Barcelona (VIDEO)

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Pastor Maldonado has made an impressive start to the second F1 pre-season test in Barcelona today by topping the timesheets ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Following on from the first test in Jerez at the beginning of the month, the teams kicked off the second four-day test in Barcelona today as preparations for the start of the season continue to come together.

In warm and sunny conditions, all nine of the teams confirmed to be racing in F1 this season made an appearance as Force India opted to run its 2014 car after missing the Jerez test.

Maldonado’s day had not started as he would have liked, with his Lotus twice stopping at turn five and bringing out a red flag. However, the Venezuelan rallied and eventually posted the fastest time of the day on the soft tire with one hour remaining.

The Lotus driver’s lap of 1:25.011 was good enough to knock Kimi Raikkonen off the top of the timesheets, with the Finn spending most of Thursday in P1. Raikkonen put in another impressive display for the team following his escapades in Jerez, and will be hoping to continue his good form on Friday.

After a so-so first test, Red Bull appeared to be in better shape on day one as Daniel Ricciardo finished a solid third for the team. Donning its dazzle camouflage livery once again, the RB11 enjoyed a trouble-free day en route to P3 at the hands of the Australian. He will be behind the wheel once again on Friday.

Sergio Perez’s fourth-place finish came as something of a surprise given that the Mexican was never supposed to complete any running on Thursday. Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein took part in the morning session for Force India, posting a fastest time of 1:28.329 before being called back to Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton. The Briton had come down with a fever, managing 11 laps before handing the reins over to Wehrlein, who went two-tenths a second slower in the Mercedes than he had in the Force India.

Felipe Nasr finished down in fifth for Sauber, but his day came to an abrupt halt following a bizarre incident involving Williams test driver Susie Wolff. The two drivers came together at turn five in the afternoon session, resulting in a lengthy red flag period whilst the debris and cars were cleared. Both drivers were okay, and both were eventually able to head back out in the final 30 minutes of the day.

McLaren’s Jerez woes continued on day one in Jerez as Jenson Button was limited to just 21 laps due to a problem with the MGU-K on his power unit. The Briton has now swapped one of his day’s with Fernando Alonso, who is expected to endure a quiet day tomorrow as the team tries to resolve the issue. Button eventually finished in seventh for McLaren, one place behind Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen.

In all, there were four red flags on day one in Barcelona. The session ended with two minutes left on the clock after Felipe Nasr stopped at turn nine, drawing a curtain over the first day of the test.

Tomorrow marks the halfway point in the pre-season testing programme, and Lotus will be hoping that reserve driver Jolyon Palmer can follow in Maldonado’s footsteps and finish towards the top of the standings. For others, the priority will simply be racking up the mileage as all try to iron out any final issues with their cars before the start of the season in Australia.

You can view the full line-up for tomorrow’s test day in Barcelona here.

Barcelona Day 1 – Final Classification

1. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.011 (69 laps)
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:25.167 +0.156 (74)
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.547 +0.536 (59)
4. Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.636 +1.625 (34)
5. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.307 +2.296 (79)
6. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.900 +2.889 (94)
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.182 +3.171 (21)
8. Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:28.329 +3.318 (32)
9. Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:28.489 +3.478 (48)
10. Susie Wolff Williams 1:28.906 +3.895 (86)
11. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.429 +5.418 (11)

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”