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.
- Lightning struck for a second time at Lotus as Pastor Maldonado posted the fastest lap of the day, finishing ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK
- Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene refused to point the finger at Fernando Alonso when talking about the internal divisions at the team last year.
- Kimi Raikkonen believes that the changes made at Maranello have made Ferrari a more enjoyable place to work.
- Pastor Maldonado is unsure that the ideas to make F1 more radical are for the good of the sport, thinking that it should focus on more pressing matters.
- Jolyon Palmer enjoyed his test run for Lotus yesterday, but had to deal with a steep learning curve.
- Lewis Hamilton is expecting a tougher fight for the drivers’ championship in 2014, naming Red Bull and Ferrari as possible rivals.
- 17-year-old Max Verstappen says that he is growing more and more confident with every lap he completes in the Toro Rosso car.
- A recurring engine issue sidelined Jenson Button once again on Saturday, limiting him to 24 laps.
- Daniil Kvyat is encouraged by Red Bull’s consistent long-run pace in testing, enjoying a productive day in Barcelona.
- Sebastian Vettel is unwilling to read too much into Ferrari’s pre-season pace, preferring to reserve judgement until the first race of the season.
THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK
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.