Just one day after we had the first repeat fastest driver during pre-season Formula 1 testing there was a second repeat performance.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who had the top time on the final day of testing during the first Barcelona session, again found himself in the top spot. The fastest lap of day three, a 1:20.588, came in the morning session on soft tires. This is the first time in Barcelona that the fastest lap at lunch has held up for the rest of the day, which can be attributed to the improved weather conditions. Hamilton logged a total of 117 laps on his last day in the cockpit prior to the first practice session of the Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton has racked up a total of 2585 kilometers in his new F1 W04, and commented on the reliability of the car, saying that the team was pleased with their progress thus far.
Felipe Massa claimed the number two spot on day three by putting in a 1:21.266 during 94 laps of work in his Ferrari F138. Massa was also on his last day of testing and had his final session cut short due to some minor suspension issues.
Force India had a strong showing as the driver that they tabbed for their second seat just a few days ago, Adrian Sutil, put the team in third for the day. Sutil ran 109 laps in all and was .361 seconds off of Massa’s pace.
Pastor Maldonado once again impressed and put Williams F1 in the top five by snagging the number four spot on day three. Williams launched their new car, the Renault-powered FW35, at the beginning of the first Barcelona session a little over a week ago. The Venezuelan driver put in 34 laps of work with his fastest being a 1:22.305.
Maldonado’s team mate Valtteri Bottas also got some time behind the wheel, and his 1:22.406 best on 31 laps of work was good enough for fifth on the day.
The biggest off track story of the day was that Lotus F1 Team wheel man Kimi Raikkonen as unable to saddle up in his E21 as scheduled due to an illness. The Finn, who reportedly came down with food poisoning, was replaced for the morning session by Lotus’ back-up driver Davide Valsecchi. Valsecchi only put in 16 laps, and by the afternoon Romain Grosjean, who flew back in from a day off in Paris, took over for Lotus and logged 46 additional laps. Raikkonen is hoping to be ready to go for the final day of testing tomorrow.
Sunday will be the last day the drivers are in their cars prior to the beginning of practice runs in Melbourne on March 15.
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