Barcelona testing – Day seven analysis

There is no doubt that the eye-catching performance of testing at Barcelona today was Lewis Hamilton’s stunning laps in the morning session.

Hamilton’s time of 1:20.558 followed a time of 1:20.817 earlier in the morning, and the Mercedes man finished nearly a second clear of second place Felipe Massa.

Although there is no doubting that Hamilton’s time was extremely impressive, there are bound to be question marks over how representative that was of the Mercedes’ true performance and whether the team were doing a full qualifying simulation.

Ferrari had another productive day with Massa setting the second quickest time, although there was an alarming moment for them near the end of the session when the Brazilian’s wheel came off the car on the back straight. A problem of that kind indicates a sizeable failure on the car and so there could be worries for Ferrari as they try to find out what caused the incident.

Judging exactly where Ferrari are at the moment is not easy. There is no doubt they are at the front end of the grid, but with the Scuderia bringing a major upgrade to the first race in Australia, it is impossible to tell just where they’ll be, although delaying improvements until Melbourne suggests they may be fairly confident about where they stand.

Adrian Sutil was impressive in the Force India, while both Williams drivers underlined their new car’s potential by setting the fourth and fifth quickest times respectively.

Another impressive performance came from newly signed Marussia driver Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman, on his first day of running for the team, completed 67 laps and went faster than the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde. Furthermore, his time of 1:24.028 is quicker than anything his teammate Max Chilton has managed in six days of testing at the Barcelona circuit, which is a very positive performance from the newboy.

Lotus’ day was disrupted by Kimi Raikkonen’s bout of food poisoning. As a result, the team’s reserve driver Davide Valsecchi was drafted in to drive this morning, while Romain Grosjean was made to travel back to Spain to run in the afternoon.

Tomorrow is the final day of testing before the grid sets off to Australia for the start of the season, but with everything looking so close, it looks like we will have to wait until then to see exactly who is where.

Timesheets
1) Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes – 1:20.558 (106 laps)
2) Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari – 1:21.359 (90 laps)
3) Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Mercedes – 1:21.627 (109 laps)
4) Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Renault – 1:22.305 (34 laps)
5) Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Lotus-Renault – 1:22.468 (27 laps)
6) Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari – 1:22.553 (98 laps)
7) Sergio Perez (Mex) McLaren-Mercedes – 1:22.694 (94 laps)
8) Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault – 1:23.116 (52 laps)
9) Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1:23.223 (110 laps)
10) Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus-Renault – 1:23.380 (35 laps)
11) Davide Valsecchi (Ita) Lotus-Renault – 1:23.448 (16 laps)
12) Jules Bianchi (Fra) Marussia-Cosworth – 1:24.028 (67 laps)
13) Giedo van der Garde (Ned) Caterham-Renault – 1:24.235 (121 laps)

Stephen D’Albiac

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