Sebastian Vettel once again led Ferrari to the top of the timesheets in Barcelona as Formula 1 pre-season testing came to a close on Friday.
It proved to be another successful and, perhaps more importantly, trouble-free day for Vettel and Ferrari at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as he completed a mix of one-lap and race simulation runs.
Vettel’s fastest time of 1:22.852 from the morning session was enough to give him P1 at the end of the day, having posted the lap on the super-soft tire.
Vettel finished almost three-tenths of a second clear of Carlos Sainz Jr. at the head of the field as the Spaniard once again showed the progress that Toro Rosso has made over the winter.
Sainz rose to second on the ultra-soft tire to beat Felipe Massa into third place as Williams began to show more of its hand towards the end of the day on the super-soft tire.
After encountering no evident issues in the first seven days of testing, Mercedes’ bubble burst on day eight as a transmission issue caused Lewis Hamilton to come to a stop on the main straight in the morning.
Although it did not cost the Briton too many laps as the issue arose at the end of the first session, it did show that there is still a chink – even one this small – in the Mercedes’ armor. Hamilton ended the day fifth overall behind Force India’s Sergio Perez, who in turn was responsible for the only red flag of the day after stopping at Turn 11.
Nico Rosberg took over from Hamilton in the Mercedes for the afternoon, and ultimately propped up the timesheets as the team opted to focus on long runs with the German.
Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth for Red Bull ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, while Jolyon Palmer completed over 80 laps en route to eighth place for Renault. Marcus Ericsson followed in ninth for Sauber with more than 130 laps under his belt – much needed mileage for the new C35 car.
After having both of his days interrupted by car issues, Esteban Gutierrez was given an unplanned half-day in the Haas VF-16 on Friday, taking over from Romain Grosjean in the afternoon.
Grosjean finished tenth overall – just ahead of his teammate – but Gutierrez could only manage 25 laps in the afternoon session. Rio Haryanto finished behind Gutierrez in P12 for Manor.
With testing now complete, attention now turns to the first race of the season in Australia on March 20.
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