Barcelona F1 Test Paddock Notebook – Saturday


He may have a far from spotless reputation in Formula 1, but Pastor Maldonado has firmly established himself as the man to beat during this week’s test in Barcelona.

For the second time in this test, Maldonado posted the fastest time on Saturday with a lap of 1:24.348, giving him an advantage of three-tenths of a second over the rest of the field.

Although the Lotus driver did post his time on the super-soft tire, it was still an impressive showing from a driver that scored just two points in the entirety of 2014.

Saturday was a very interesting day of running. Whilst some chose to push for the optimum lap time, others elected to focus on more basic matters such as pit stop practice and race simulations. Interestingly, neither Lotus nor Ferrari has managed a full race sim in testing: Red Bull now has two under its belt.

Here’s all of the latest news from the paddock in Barcelona.




Another busy day in Barcelona has come to an end, with just five days of running now left until the teams will be preparing for the long trip Down Under for the first race of the season. Time is precious, and some used it more wisely than others at the track today.

Sleepy Seb lucky to avoid more damage from spin

The day was just two minutes old when the first red flag was shown, with Sebastian Vettel spinning his Ferrari at turn five. Given that he was on his first lap of the day, he really shouldn’t have been pushing that hard, making it a very surprising incident. “This morning I was sleeping a bit and, coming out of the pits on cold tires, I spun. The least I could do was help the guys clean all the gravel out of the car!” It was the first real blot on Ferrari’s testing record, given that the team had been in fine fettle up to now. Vettel finished the day in fifth place, 2.3 seconds down on Maldonado’s time.

Hamilton still not 100% after fever

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed his first full day in the car in Barcelona on Saturday, having completed half-day runs earlier in the week after coming down with a fever. The Briton said that he still doesn’t feel 100%, but still managed to finish a solid third for Mercedes without putting on the soft or super-soft tire. The German marque still appears to be the team to beat as we approach the start of the season.

Red Bull consistent, but perhaps a little too hard on its tires?

Daniil Kvyat followed the example set by his teammate to complete a full race simulation for Red Bull on Saturday, tackling a full 66-lap race just as he will in Spain on May 10. His times on the medium tire were very consistent indeed, but there was quite a drop off during his soft-tire stints, suggesting that the RB11 isn’t yet primed to work for this compound just yet. The Russian was happy with his day of running, though, and will be hoping for more of the same on Sunday.

Verstappen showing great maturity once again

He may only be 17 years old, but Max Verstappen is more than ready to take on the big boys of the Formula 1 world. He topped the timesheets for most of the day in Barcelona, finishing second in the end behind Maldonado, and with over 100 laps to his name had every reason to be pleased with his performance. A clutch problem cut short his running, forcing him to pull over with ten minutes to go, but all in all, the Dutchman is looking in very good stead for his full F1 debut in Australia next month.

More trouble for McLaren and JB

Jenson Button can’t catch a break. After completing just 11 laps on Thursday and then giving up his Friday session to Fernando Alonso, the Briton came unstuck yet again on Saturday as the same problem – a faulty seal on the MGU-K – limited him to just 24 laps in total. Button was disappointed, but remained upbeat about the potential of the McLaren-Honda MP4-30. “In some areas we’re very strong,” Button said, “but there are some areas letter us down.” Fernando Alonso will be back behind the wheel of the car on Sunday.


That’s all for Saturday in Barcelona. We’ll be back for the final day of the second test tomorrow at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as the pecking order continues to shape up.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)