Barcelona F1 test: Mercedes tops penultimate day with Hamilton

Mercedes flexed its muscle ahead of the new Formula 1 season again on Saturday, as Lewis Hamilton topped the times on the penultimate day of testing in Barcelona

Barcelona F1 test: Mercedes tops penultimate day with Hamilton

Having spent the first half of the afternoon in the garage as the team applied what it called an 'experimental' set-up, Hamilton finished with a soft tyre lap faster than Williams and Ferrari achieved on super-softs.

When he initially emerged on the medium tyre just before 3pm, the world champion lapped within a second of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen's super-soft efforts, which were set amid a flurry of qualifying simulations before lunch.

Hamilton's first taste of F1's 2015 soft rubber yielded a 1m23.262s, just 0.386s shy of Massa's morning time, but there was more to come.

On his second run, Hamilton leapt to the top with his 1m23.022s more than two-tenths clear of the super-soft benchmarks, and a similar margin slower than Nico Rosberg's 1m22.792s from Friday.

Massa and Raikkonen spent the majority of the afternoon conducting longer runs on the medium and hard tyres, the Ferrari driver completing a race simulation.

Red Bull applied that strategy to its entire day, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing at the bottom of the times having focused on long runs on the medium rubber.

It was another busy day at Circuit de Catalunya, with Mercedes and McLaren the only outfits not to break the 100-lap barrier.

Kevin Magnussen's outing in the McLaren-Honda ended almost three hours early due to an oil leak. Deputising for Fernando Alonso, the Dane only managed 39 laps.

Force India, meanwhile, enjoyed another promising day with its new VMJ08, which has completed 235 laps since breaking cover just before lunch on Friday.

Nico Hulkenberg was Saturday's busiest driver with158 laps, and his time on the super-soft was eventually bumped down to seventh by Carlos Sainz Jr and Romain Grosjean's late runs on the compound.

Sainz and Marcus Ericsson caused the day's only red flags, both stopping on track during the final hour.

DAY THREE TIMES

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.022s - 76
2 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m23.262s 0.240s 102
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m23.276s 0.254s 136
4 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m24.191s 1.169s 132
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m24.200s 1.178s 116
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m24.477s 1.455s 123
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m24.939s 1.917s 158
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Honda 1m25.225s 2.203s 39
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m25.742s 2.720s 128

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