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Maldonado on top in Barcelona as 'unwell' Hamilton withdraws

Lotus driver quickest ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. McLaren run into more power unit problems.

Pastor Maldonado set the pace as Formula One’s second pre-season got underway in Barcelona, the Lotus driver setting a time of 1:25.011 to finish 0.156s ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

However, the Venezuelan had to bolt on a set of soft tyres to eclipse the Ferrari driver’s best effort set on medium compound rubber. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, was forced to quit the test after just 11 laps because of illness.

Maldonado had an eventful outing at the Circuit de Catalunya, the Lotus driver twice bringing out the red flags in the morning. He ran more consistently in the afternoon, however, and when he bolted on a set of soft tyres with an hour left in the session he shot to the top of the timesheet where he would remain.

Raikkonen’s time of 1:25.167, set on softs, confirmed that the pace Ferrari showed at the opening test in Jerez has translated to the more representative Barcelona circuit and while Ferrari conducted few long runs in Jerez, Raikkonen today worked through some medium length double-digit runs to show that Ferrari have indeed taken a step forward over the winter.

Over at champions Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton began the day brightly but after an hour and a half of running the team reported that would not be driving for the rest of the day, as he “felt unwell”.

With Nico Rosberg present but under advice of doctors not to drive due an inflamed nerve in his neck, Mercedes were forced to recall reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein from Force India, where the DTM racer was driving the Silverstone outfit’s 2014 car.

Wehrlein completed 32 laps for Force India before slotting into Mercedes’ WO5 for a first outing shortly before the lunch break. He would eventually set the day’s eighth and ninth fastest time for Force India and Mercedes respectively.

Sergio Perez, meanwhile, was readying himself to take over Force India’s afternoon running. Perez would eventually claim the day’s fourth fastest time in last year’s VJM07, with a lap of 1:26.636.

Another driver whose morning running was restricted was Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian completed just eight untimed laps in the first three hours of the session as the team struggled to fine-tune updates to its Renault power unit.  

Ricciardo’s first timed lap came soon after midday local time but he was then quickly into the lap time mix, if not the battle for lap total. By the end of the day the Red Bull driver had completed 59 laps, mostly made up of short runs, the best of which yielded a time of 1:25.547, set on soft tyres, for third place on the day’s timesheet.

McLaren’s running was also brief. Jenson Button began in positive style, working through 21 trouble-free laps in the Honda-powered MP4-30, with his best lap less than a second off the morning’s best times. 

However, an issue with the seal on the MGU-K then forced the Briton back to the McLaren garage and after a lengthy investigation the team confirmed that because repairs would require the replacement of the power unit Button would not run again.

The problems worsened, however, when Honda’s F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai revealed that the manufacturer will need to redesign the component won’t be available until Saturday, meaning that Fernando Alonso could encounter a similar problem tomorrow.

"We'll need to run a re-designed component to avoid a potential repeat of the problem,” said Arai. “Unfortunately, we won't be in possession of that updated part until Saturday, which means that we may face the same problem when we run again tomorrow.”

The morning’s lap total award went to Williams’ Susie Wolff, the Scottish driver racking up 77 trouble-free laps by the time the lunch break arrived.

However, after her successful morning, Wolff’s running was interrupted shortly after the lunch break, with 83 laps on the board. The Williams driver and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr collided on the entry to Turn 5 with both being pitched into the gravel traps. It appeared that the Brazilian drive clipped the front left wheel of the Williams as Wolff worked her way round the circuit on a slow lap.

Nasr was able to return to the fray despite his Sauber shipping heavy damage, losing a rear wheel and the rear wing. After extensive repairs he return to track action with half an hour left on the clock though he was unable to improve on his best time of 1m27.307s, which left him fifth on the timesheet. He then had a late technical problem which brought out the red flags in the closing moments of the session.

Wolff, meanwhile, was also able to rejoin the action, though with just 12 minutes remaining in the session.

However, while she managed an impressive 86 laps over the course of the two sessions the time lost due to Wolff’s collision meant that the day’s lap total award went to Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen. The 17-year-old put in 94 laps and finished sixth on the timesheet showing that the power unit issues affecting Red Bull Racing do not seem to be hindering its sister team. 

Barcelona Test – Times
1 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.011s 69
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:25.167s  +0.156 74
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.547s  +0.536 59
4 Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.636s  +1.625 34
5 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.307s  +2.296 79
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.900s  +2.889 94
7 Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.182s  +3.171 21
8 Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:28.329s  +3.318 32
9 Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:28.489s  +3.478 48
10 Susie Wolff Williams 1:28.906s  +3.895 86
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.429s +5.418 11