• Second Barcelona Test - Day One

Massa lowers benchmark as McLaren hits more trouble

Nate Saunders in Barcelona
February 26, 2015 « Lotus signs Jorda as development driver | Mercedes W06 feels as good as predecessor - Hamilton »
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Felipe Massa showed the first tangible proof of Williams' potential this year by topping the times on the opening day of the final pre-season test in Barcelona. Meanwhile, McLaren experienced yet more problems with its Honda power unite and Mercedes also suffered a rare reliability issue.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton posted a 1:24.861 on medium tyres early in the day before rain prevented lower lap times being set ahead of the lunch break. His position at the top of the leaderboard did not last long when the sun came out in the afternoon, however, as Massa went top by 1.381s on soft tyres to post the quickest time of testing so far. Massa went on to clock 103 laps while Mercedes failed to complete the session, with Hamilton restricted to the garage for the entire afternoon with an MGU-K failure.

There was more woe for McLaren as Jenson Button managed just seven laps before the team confirmed a hydraulics leak had ended its day prematurely. It means McLaren-Honda has just 209 laps from nine days of testing and has plenty of work to do in the remaining three to be ready for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks' time.

Kimi Raikkonen returned to action for Ferrari and clocked 80 laps, but it was another session away from the upper reaches of the timing screens as the team turns its focus to tests with heavier fuel loads. Leading the mileage counter was Marcus Ericsson, whose 122 laps included a full race simulation. Sauber has shown glimpses of improvement this pre-season and a late super-soft run put him second with a 1:24.276, a hint of Sauber's potential one-lap pace. Romain Grosjean managed 75 laps for Lotus while Daniil Kvyat also completed 75 in the camouflaged Red Bull. Kvyat started the session with a stoppage at the end of the pit lane which briefly brought out the red flags, but it did not seem to delay Red Bull's programme.

Carlos Sainz prompted the only red flag of the afternoon in a heavily revised Toro Rosso, which was sporting a new nose and tighter rear bodywork. The new nose is similar to those on the Red Bull and Williams, moving away from the longer version it started the winter with. A stoppage at Turn 10 hampered Sainz's running and he finished with 86 laps to his name.

Force India was absent from the day's proceedings but it hopes to finally debut its 2015 challenger on Friday afternoon with Nico Hulkenberg at the wheel.

Times at close:
1. Felipe Massa     Williams    1:23.500  103 laps 
2. Marcus Ericsson  Sauber      1:24.276  122 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton   Mercedes    1:24.881   48 laps
4. Daniil Kvyat     Red Bull    1:25.947   75 laps
5. Romain Grosjean  Lotus       1:26.177   75 laps 
6. Kimi Raikkonen   Ferrari     1:26.327   80 laps 
7. Carlos Sainz     Toro Rosso  1:27.261   85 laps 
8. Jenson Button    McLaren     1:3.479     7 laps 

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