The final two testing days provide us different displays of the grand show. After a flat Saturday, impacted by the rain burst, Sunday was sealed by the major crash Fernando Alonso was involved in.
The third testing day was to bring Pastor Maldonado into the limelight for the second time. A stint run on super-soft tires at midday was enough to rank him at the top with 1:24:348, setting off the best time of the week until that moment. Max Verstappen came in 4 tenth of a second behind the Lotus driver, before having been ranked first before midday. The more impressive his result is, as he covered most of the laps, 129, in a session during which he focused on adding up information about aerodynamics and tires data.
Once more, Mercedes drew attention, as Lewis Hamilton managed to dazzle with a time of 1:26:076 running on medium tires. Still, his performance does not disclose the true potential of the new racing car, as the Mercedes goal was to test various settings, not running fast laps. The atmosphere is composed inside the world champions’ camp and their confidence only shows they are not showing the aces up their sleeves yet.
Marcus Ericsson comes in 4th by the end of a day during which he came across various issues of the gearbox. Once he crossed the malfunction, Ericsson managed to add up 53 laps and fetched a time by 2 seconds less than Maldonado’s. Sebastian Vettel came right behind the Swedish. The new Ferrari driver got off on the wrong foot, contriving to go out the racetrack as soon as the very first lap. The German took the blame, stating that he did not properly assess the road-holding provided by his tires, which were too cold. After this incident, the day went by standardly, with concentrating upon finding a weigh balance of his racing car.
Daniil Kvyat got the 6th time by the end of the session that targeted covering the distance ground of a race. After reaching their goal, the Red Bull team focused on pit stop practice. Stopping in the pits was also a practice topic for the Williams team, a fact also proved by the diffident ranking of their drivers. Felipe Massa set the 7th time, while Valtteri Bottas came in 9th. Pascal Wehrlein positioned himself right between them, on board the Force India racing car.
Once again, Jenson Button came to a brand new day of torment, as the British was bound to stop after only 24 laps. The new oil retainer ring of the MGU-K system, which was supposed to solve the leakage issue did not bring up the anticipated outcome and McLaren infamized a new testing session, coming in last.
The final day – Alonso’s odd crash
The Spanish driver was getting through his 20th lap when he went out the racetrack and smashed against the guardrail on the side of the track. After this incident, the medical crew was needed and Alonso was immediately taken to hospital by helicopter. The result of the MRI scan proved the driver was all right, as the crash did not have a major impact on him. But still questions stand, together with the statements of the witnesses. A photographer placed at the corner where the crash happened stated that the car swiftly turned right, then ran on grass, slightly hit the guardrail and slowly stopped after that. The statement is supported by Vettel, as the German was right behind Alonso at the moment of his coming out the racetrack. He alleged that the incident happened at relatively low speed of 150 km/h and Alonso’s course suddenly changed at the corner end.
All details point out a technical malfunction, also confirmed by Eric Boullier, the McLaren boss. Even though the damage of the car seemed insignificant, the team decided to not partake in the afternoon session any more. At a certain stage of the claims, various opinions assert an electrical discharge emerged after a malfunction of the KERS system, but the alternative of a steering or suspension unit part breaking seems more plausible.
For the third time in a row, the people in Lotus are carving their names in the first spot of the ranking. Romain Grosjean sets a new test record, going past his teammate’s time by 3 tenths of a second. Nico Rosberg comes in right behind him, as the German was by 2,5 tenths slower. The pace of the Mercedes team is truly jaw-dropping, considering that Rosberg ran on tires that are thought to be 2 seconds slower per lap than the super-soft tires set up in Grojean’s Lotus.
The podium is rounded by Daniil Kvyat, as the Russian was just by a hundredth of a second faster than the 4th positioned driver, Felipe Nasr. The Sauber driver was the one who caused the premature arrest of the session, as the Brasilian stopped in the 8th corner, 10 minutes to finish. At the end of a day impacted by electronic issues, Valtteri Bottas came in, as he managed to cover 127 laps, most of them run on hard tires.
Carlos Sainz Jr. attended a crash in the same corner as Alonso and his car could not be mended by mechanics. Sainz stated he had lost control due to strong wind blow. Sebastian Vettel came in 7th, on the day Ferrari did not blaze, while Hulkenberg took the 8th position. The Force India racing car gave in at midday, after a major malfunction of
The Barcelona tests stop here for the moment and they will resume on Thursday in a brand new 4-day session.