Lewis leads in saturated Spain

Lewis Hamilton has finished the second week of pre-season testing by topping the timesheets in Barcelona. The Briton battled through a severely soaked Circuit de Catalunya and a series of red flags, including one he caused himself by stopping between turn 6 and 7 with a shortage of fuel. His best lap time of 1:23.282 was set during his 52 laps of the circuit. Jenson Button was four tenths of a second behind his former team-mate with 70 laps on the clock securing him a 1:23.633 lap time.

The morning was interrupted a full five times as six different drivers encountered problems. Felipe Massa, out for his first time in Catalunya, went almost immediately off the track as the slippy surface caught him out. His beached Ferrari brought the first red flag out and was then followed by Giedo van der Garde who ran wide and stopped just short of the barriers at the last corner, now also beached.

Gutierrez followed suit not too long afterwards and he drove straight off the circuit and into the gravel at turn five as Mark Webber’s RB9 ground to a hold at the same time. At the restart, Vergne slid his way into turn five and out came the red flags again. There was a nice gap as all cars ran smoothly until Giedo van der Garde ground to a halt between turns 9 and 10, the same place Webber stopped early on.

Jean-Eric Vergne took his STR-7 to 3rd in the timesheets as he set a 1:24.071, a full 1.7 seconds ahead of Jules Binachi in a Force India. The Frenchman was given today to show what he could do as he looks to be in a battle for the last seat on the grid against Adrian Sutil who took the VJM06 out on track yesterday. Fifth overall today was Esteban Gutierrez whose lap time of 1:26.239 after 96 laps, put him very comfortably ahead of Giedo van der Garde who finished in sixth.The Dutch rookie took the car around Catalunya exactly 50 times en route to a fastest lap of 1:27.429.

Felipe Massa overcame his early slip to end his second week of testing with a 1:27.553 which was good enough for seventh place, a tenth ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber who finished 64 laps in Barcelona. Max Chilton was ninth as he completed 51 laps. The Briton’s 1:29.902 was two seconds slower than Mark Webber but over five seconds faster than Romain Grosjean. Neither Williams driver set a lap time today. Bottas’ 23 laps in the morning and Maldonado’s 13 laps after lunch were dedicated to pit-stop practices.

Testing resumes in two weeks before the F1 circus advances towards Australia.

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