A largely rain-affected day at the Circuit de Catalunya meant that, as on the final day of running last week, laptimes were largely irrelevant.
The timesheet was topped by Mark Webber, with Lewis Hamilton, Jean-Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top four. Webber’s benchmark of 1:22.693 was just under a second slower than the fastest time set by Sergio Perez last week, underlying the fact that although the track conditions were improving vastly towards the end of the session, they did not get down to a completely dry level.
Hamilton showed Mercedes’ wet-weather potential in the morning session with the quickest time, two tenths ahead of Felipe Massa. The stand-out performance, however, came from Vergne, who set the third fastest time in the morning and lapped one and a half seconds quicker than Webber in the sister Red Bull. Although that could mean nothing when it comes to a wet Grand Prix, that result will give Toro Rosso plenty of confidence that they can punch above their weight in those conditions.
The rain would not have been welcomed by any of the teams, with this week being the last chance for them to test out their new cars before the season opener in Melbourne. A lot of them will also have been running significant upgrades ahead of the first race, so the loss of dry running is not something that will have been popular around the Barcelona paddock.
There is more rain forecast to hit the Circuit de Catalunya tomorrow, but the outlook for the weekend currently looks dry, which means we should be set for a frantic last couple of days running before the teams pack up their cars and head Down Under.
1) Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault – 1:22.693 (90 laps)
2) Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes – 1:24.348 (113 laps)
3) Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:25.017 (59 laps)
4) Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams-Renault – 1:26.458 (85 laps)
5) Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren-Mercedes – 1:26.538 (100 laps)
6) Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari – 1:26.574 (92 laps)
7) Paul di Resta (GB) Force India-Mercedes – 1:27.107 (57 laps)
8) Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari – 1:27.541 (112 laps)
9) Max Chilton (GB) Marussia-Cosworth – 1:28.166 (78 laps)
10) Charles Pic (Fra) Caterham-Renault – 1:28.644 (83 laps)
11) Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Renault – 1:34.928 (52 laps)