Hamilton comfortably fastest on third day
2 March 2013 – Lewis Hamilton set the standard on the penultimate day of pre-season testing in Barcelona, making the most of much improved weather conditions. The Mercedes driver, who posted a personal best time of 1:20.558 on Soft tyres, ended up seven tenths clear of Felipe Massa, while Adrian Sutil completed the top three.
Pace-setter Hamilton, who will hand over to team-mate Nico Rosberg for the fourth and final test day, turned a few heads up and down the pit lane with his consistently strong pace in the F1 W04 chassis, backing up his Soft tyre work with a number of consistent runs on the Medium compound. These stints raised the former McLaren man's lap count to a healthy 117, the highest total seen throughout the field.
The most dramatic moment came in the final half an hour, with Massa's Ferrari losing its front-left wheel on the approach to Turn 10. Although no serious damage was caused, it raised heartbeats in the Scuderia's garage and brought its running to a premature end. Behind the Brazilian, Sutil pumped in a handful of Soft tyre runs to feature near the front, gaining some more crucial mileage ahead of his race return.
Towards the back, Jean-Éric Vergne enjoyed a trouble-free day for Toro Rosso, finishing just ahead of compatriot Grosjean who spent the early hours catching a private flight back to the circuit from Paris. Valsecchi, the cause of the first red flag when his car stopped on-track, wound up 11th after his short spell at the wheel, while newly-signed Marussia driver Jules Bianchi kept his team ahead of rivals Caterham.
Pre-season testing continues at the Circuit de Catalunya at 9am local time (GMT +1) on Sunday and can be followed via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature