Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two as half the grid ends test early

Carl Bingham/Motorsport Images

Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two as half the grid ends test early

Formula 1

Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two as half the grid ends test early

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Lewis Hamilton topped the times on the final day of the first Formula 1 pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, but it was an early finish for half of the teams.

The seven-time champion carried out a number of C4 and C5 tire runs in the final half hour that saw him jump above teammate George Russell to set the fastest time of the week with a 1m19.138s. There was even time for a few games from Hamilton, as he was set to improve once again on his final lap but backed off across the line as the checkered flag came out, with his theoretical fastest time a 1m18.629s.

94 laps also represented a very impressive final afternoon from Mercedes, added to the 66 from Russell in the morning that had seen the younger Briton lead the way on the C5 compound.

Sergio Perez ended up third as he enjoyed a much more productive afternoon than his first run in the new Red Bull had been, completing 74 laps and posting a 1m19.556s on the C4 tire. That was exactly 0.2s quicker than Max Verstappen as the final day ended Mercedes-Mercedes-Red Bull-Red Bull, although Verstappen’s time came on the harder C3 tires.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth on a 1m19.824s but Aston Martin was one of five teams that had to pack up early due to car issues, after Vettel stopped towards the end of the morning session. An oil leak was to blame that caused a small fire and proved to be terminal for the team’s running for the test.

Alpine had been first to call it a day after a bigger fire for Fernando Alonso in the morning session — triggered by a hydraulic issue — caused too much damage to be repaired, leaving the team with just 12 laps completed on the final day.

Alpine was soon joined by Haas, as the car’s all-white livery only completed nine laps with Nikita Mazepin behind the wheel before a suspected leak confined it to the garage for the rest of the day.

While Mazepin didn’t cause a red flag, both Vettel and Alonso did, as did Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou who stopped twice on track. Once was a spin at Turn 10 before a hydraulics problem halted him in the first sector, and Valtteri Bottas managed 10 laps in the afternoon before Alfa Romeo’s running was also over due to further reliability concerns.

The other red flag was caused by Pierre Gasly, who crashed at Turn 9 on an out lap and damaged the front end of the AlphaTauri. The damage proved too big to repair in time for Yuki Tsunoda to take over, meaning just five teams ran in the afternoon.

Of those five teams, McLaren and Ferrari — two of the early front-runners this week — joined Mercedes and Williams in carrying out plenty of wet tire testing after Pirelli soaked the track at midday, but neither matched their quickest times from day two when it dried out again. Carlos Sainz ended up seventh — one place and 0.2s behind Charles Leclerc — after a strong 92 laps in the afternoon while Daniel Ricciardo was 10th and edged out Lando Norris by 0.037s as both teams added more than 130 laps to their very productive weeks.

The second pre-season test takes place in Bahrain from March 10-12, one week ahead of the season-opening race at the same venue.

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