Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time seen in Barcelona to date this winter to lead the way on the penultimate day of F1testing at Catalunya.
The Mercedes man was in imperious form on a busy day for teams who made the most of vastly improved weather to put plenty of miles on their respective cars with track time running out before the season opener in Australia.
Hamilton posted his best time during the morning session while running on Pirelli's soft tyre, putting him more than a second clear of anyone with a best of 1min 20.588secs.
Also lapping quickly on the medium compound rubber, Hamilton would remain out front for the rest of the day with no-one else able to dip below the 1min 21secs marker during the course of the afternoon.
Felipe Massa would emerge as Hamilton's closest challenge on the timesheets for Ferrari, although the day didn't pass without incident for the Brazilian after he lost his front left wheel on the back straight during the final half hour of running; bringing out the red flags and leading to questions in the Ferrari
garage about the cause of the incident.
Behind Massa, Adrian Sutil
was third fastest for Force India
having been Hamilton's closest challenger during the morning. The German was amongst the drivers to switch to a series of longer runs during the afternoon as the team worked on a race simulation, with Williams
pair Pastor Maldonado
and Valtteri Bottas following behind.
Maldonado started the day at the wheel of the FW35 although the late delivery of new parts needed for the car meant he was late starting his programme, although both drivers had the opportunity to sample revised bodywork for the first time ahead of a more performance-related programme on Sunday.
“We brought our updated core bodywork for the first race here this weekend,” technical director Mike Coughlan said. “Pastor spent the morning doing system checks with it before Valtteri went through new sets of each compound tyre this afternoon. Tomorrow we aim to do more performance runs with some further upgrades ahead of Australia.”
Esteban Gutierrez was sixth quickest for Sauber with Mark Webber
seventh for Red Bull, although the defending champions failed to show their hand on what was Webber's final day of running prior to Melbourne, with the 36-year-old spending much of the day running on the harder compound tyres and carrying out aerodynamic development work.