Maldonado fastest again on penultimate day of second test

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Pastor Maldonado continued his impressive form in F1 pre-season testing on Saturday by topping the timesheets for Lotus ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

The Venezuelan driver finished as the fastest driver on the first day of testing in Barcelona, and managed to repeat this feat when he returned to the car on Saturday by posting a fastest lap time of 1:24.348.

The third day of running in Barcelona saw teams work on their long-run race simulations and qualifying pace, with the super-soft tires being used for the first time in testing so far.

Toro Rosso youngster Verstappen had been the man to beat for much of the morning session, but he ultimately had to settle for second place as Maldonado went three-tenths of a second faster halfway through the afternoon running. His day then came to a premature end when his STR10 car ground to a halt at pit exit with 20 minutes remaining.

Lewis Hamilton completed his final running of the test for Mercedes despite still not feeling 100% following a fever earlier in the week. The defending world champion finished third in the final standings, 1.7 seconds down on Maldonado after setting his fastest time on the medium compound tire.

After missing the morning session for Sauber, Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a productive afternoon to complete 51 laps and post a time good enough for fourth place in the final standings. The Swede finished ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, whose day started with a bizarre spin on his very first lap, bringing out a red flag.

Following in the footsteps of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat managed to complete a full race simulation on Saturday and over 100 laps in total. Although he could only finish sixth, the young Russian got plenty of mileage under his belt in the RB11 and will hope to continue this on Sunday.

Williams’ day was less about pace and more about pit stop practice. Felipe Massa took part in the morning session, completing 55 laps before handing the reins over to Valtteri Bottas. The Finn only recorded a flying lap time in the final five minutes of the day, finishing down in ninth place.

It was a difficult Saturday for McLaren, though, as the problem that had cut short Jenson Button’s test on Thursday reared its head once again. A problem with the seal on the MGU-K in the power unit caused him to stop out on track in the morning, leaving the team with a lengthy repair job.

Although Button did eventually get out again, he only finished with 24 laps on the board, some 1.8 seconds behind Force India’s Pascal Wehrlein who finished eighth for Force India.

Tomorrow will be the fourth and final day of running at the second test, with the final pre-season running kicking off in Barcelona next Thursday.

Barcelona Day 3 – Final Classification

1. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:24.348 (104 laps)
2. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:24.739 +0.391 (129)
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.076 +1.728 (101)
4. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:26.340 +1.992 (53)
5. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.407 +2.059 (105)
6. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:26.589 +2.241 (112)
7. Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.912 +2.564 (55)
8. Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:27.333 +2.985 (81)
9. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:27.556 +3.208 (49)
10. Jenson Button McLaren 1:29.151 +4.603 (24)

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.