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)