F1 Testing, Day Three: Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two from Red Bull as several teams suffer reliability issues in Barcelona

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Lewis Hamilton led a one-two from new team-mate George Russell as Mercedes produced a strong finish to testing in Barcelona; Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were third and fourth for Red Bull; Alpine and Aston Martin among teams hampered by reliability issues

Last Updated: 26/02/22 7:09am


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Lewis Hamilton was fastest in his Mercedes on the final day of pre-season testing, but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also produced an impressive time on his C3 tyre.

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in his Mercedes on the final day of pre-season testing, but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also produced an impressive time on his C3 tyre.

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of Formula 1’s first 2022 pre-season test to seal a Mercedes one-two ahead of Red Bull, as several teams were hampered by reliability issues on the third and final day in Barcelona.

Billed officially as a ‘shakedown’ rather than official testing – which follows in Bahrain next month – the event marked the start of a new era for F1 in 2022’s much-changed cars, but ended with familiar names at the top of the timesheet.

After McLaren and Ferrari had displayed the most speed on the first two days, it was the teams that contested last season’s world championship who returned to the top of the timesheet on Friday, with Hamilton taking first from his new team-mate George Russell with a 1:19.138 in the final minutes of the afternoon session.

Hamilton waited until late to deliver the fastest lap of the week in Barcelona

Hamilton waited until late to deliver the fastest lap of the week in Barcelona

Sergio Perez was third ahead of his Red Bull team-mate and world champion Max Verstappen in fourth, on a day where the rival teams both produced very healthy lap counts to go along with their strong times.

There was more quality work for Ferrari and McLaren, who each completed well in excess of 100 laps on Friday and can head to Bahrain, which also hosts the opening Grand Prix of the season, next month with plenty of optimism.

However, Alpine, Aston Martin, AlphaTauri and Haas all endured a disappointing end to the week, with a variety of issues severely limiting their track time, and contributing to five red flags during the morning session.

Russell, who along with Hamilton recorded his fastest lap on a softer (and theoretically quicker) tyre than the ones used by their rivals, warned against taking too much notice of the timesheets.

Sky F1's Ted Kravitz believes Ferrari have been the big winners from pre-season testing in Barcelona and outlines what he expects to happen during testing in Bahrain.

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz believes Ferrari have been the big winners from pre-season testing in Barcelona and outlines what he expects to happen during testing in Bahrain.

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz believes Ferrari have been the big winners from pre-season testing in Barcelona and outlines what he expects to happen during testing in Bahrain.

“Lap time wise I don’t think is representative at all,” Russell said. “We were on the softest compound of tyres, and the C5 is a very strong tyre around this track, so even though we were on the top of the timesheet I wouldn’t read too much into it.

“I think the McLaren and the Ferrari are looking incredibly strong and I think we’ve got some improvements to be made, as we’re not fully happy with the balance of the car and the limitations we have currently.”

Red flags fly as technical issues arise

 Fernando Alonso suffered a hydraulics issue with his Alpine

Fernando Alonso suffered a hydraulics issue with his Alpine

Despite his concerns, Russell was able to extract performance from the Mercedes, leading reigning world champion Verstappen at the end of the morning session after recording a 1:19.233.

After a relatively clean opening two days in terms of technical issues, they suddenly all came at once on Friday morning.

First Fernando Alonso was forced off track with a hydraulics issue after just 12 laps, which led Alpine to before lunch announce their withdrawal from the remainder of the day.

Having completed 40 laps, Pierre Gasly crashed his AlphaTauri in the middle sector, with the cause unclear. The car never returned to the track, with Yuki Tsunoda not seeing any final-day action.

Marshals assist Sebastian Vettel after an oil leak on his Aston Martin

Marshals assist Sebastian Vettel after an oil leak on his Aston Martin

Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou spun his Alfa Romeo, before drawing a second red flag in quick succession as his car broke down shortly after returning to the track. His team-mate Valtteri Bottas would complete just 10 laps in the afternoon session.

Sebastian Vettel, whose strong words on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday were perhaps a catalyst for F1’s announcement on Friday of their decision to cancel this year’s Russian GP, suffered an oil leak, which drew a fifth red flag and ruled Aston Martin and Lance Stroll out of the afternoon session.

Haas did not cause a red flag, but completed the fewest laps of all. With just nine circuits on the board for Nikita Mazepin, a “suspected leak” forced them off track, and ultimately prevented Mick Schumacher from appearing in the afternoon.

Hamilton has the final say

The morning session was less dramatic for the likes of Ferrari and McLaren, who continued their strong work into the afternoon to round off encouraging weeks.

Charles Leclerc was sixth, a place ahead of his team-mate Carlos Sainz, while the McLarens of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were 10th and 11th. Williams also enjoyed a largely trouble-free day, with Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi combining for 107 laps as they finished eighth and ninth.

Hamilton has promised to deliver his 'best' this season

Hamilton has promised to deliver his ‘best’ this season

However, the final say in Barcelona went to Hamilton, who has promised his “best” this season after losing out on an eighth world title to Verstappen in controversial circumstances at the end of 2021.

Having kept a low profile – both on and off the track – for much of the week, Hamilton emerged from the pack in the final 30 minutes of the 24 hours of testing time to record a lap that puts an exclamation point on his return to action, after doubts over his participation in this campaign dominated the off-season.

Barcelona pre-season test: Day Three timesheet

Driver Team Time Tyres Laps
1) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.138 C5 (very soft) 94
2) George Russell Mercedes 1:19.233 C5 66
3) Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:19.556 C4 (soft) 74
4) Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:19.756 C3 (medium) 59
5) Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:19.824 C5 48
6) Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:19.831 C3 44
7) Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:20.072 C3 92
8) Alex Albon Williams 1:20.318 C4 94
9) Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:20.699 C4 13
10) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:20.750 C3 86
11) Lando Norris McLaren 1:20.827 C3 52
12) Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:21.242 C3 12
13) Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo 1:21.939 C3 41
14) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:22.469 C4 40
15) Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:26.229 C3 9
16) Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:30.433 C3 10

What’s next?

The paddock will gather for F1’s official pre-season test in Bahrain from March 10-12, with the first Grand Prix of the season coming at the same venue the following weekend.

The Bahrain test, Grand Prix and every other race this season will be shown live on Sky Sports.

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