Mark Webber has topped the timesheets at the Circuit de Catalunya as the third of three pre-season tests kicks off. The Aussie survived a rain affected morning and utilised the dry afternoon session to put in the lap he needed to bring his RB9 to a whopping 1.6 seconds ahead of second place man – Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton’s Mercedes completed the most laps of anyone – 113 – which pipped 2008 Championship rival, Felipe Massa by 1 solitary lap.
In fact, Massa was just wrapping up a long run in the Ferrari when it ground to a halt and brought out the red flags, which in turn interrupted Hamilton who was midway through his own long run. Massa’s red flag – due to a fuel shortage, was not the only red flag of the day. Romain Grosjean spun his Lotus into the gravel with 20 minutes of the session gone. Lotus, always looking on the lighter side, were quick to tweet “Wet track spin simulation successfully completed @
RGrosjean”. Then, 20 minutes into the afternoon session, Esteban Gutierrez and his Sauber went straight off the track at the fast turn 3, causing minimal damage and allowing the Mexican to rejoin the session later on.
Third in the standings was Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne who was seven tenths off Hamilton’s lap and three tenths ahead of Williams’ Valterri Bottas. Sergio Perez took his McLaren to 5th overall while Esteban Guttierez recovered from his earlier off to finish 91 laps and end the day 6th overall. Paul di Resta, who today found out that he’ll be partnering Adrian Sutil in the upcoming season, ran a flawless session and finished the day in 7th. Half a second behind the Scot was Felipe Massa who despite his fuel issues, managed to get 112 laps in.
Max Chilton took the Marussia out on track, even though it was expected that Razia would be piloting today. The Brazilian rookie missed all of last weeks session as it’s believed that he has now been struck by financial woes – despite giving Timo Glock the boot from the team when he promised the team some much needed funds. News is breaking that Heikki Kovalainen is in talks with Marussia for the final seat on the 2013 grid, but this is yet to be confirmed by either party.
Marussia’s former driver Charles Pic, took his Caterham to 10th overall, beating only Romain Grosjean who concentrated on Drag Reduction Device (DRD) work and so failed to put in a competitive lap.
Testing continues at Catalunya tomorrow for the second of four days before the F1 circus descends on Melbourne for the inaugural Grand Prix on March 17th.