Barcelona Test 2: Day 3: Hamilton Shows Mercedes’ True Pace On Soft Tyres
Posted By:   |  02 Mar 2013   |  5:32 pm GMT  |  240 comments

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes made a firm statement of intent today as they finally ran the Pirelli soft tyre and dominated the penultimate day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Having been the only team to not yet run the yellow banded soft tyre, the F1 paddock would not have anticipated that Hamilton would shave over a second off the fastest time that we have seen in Barcelona so far this year. Mercedes themselves believed their gain to be closer to half a second, so their improvement will be thought provoking for their rival teams.

Mercedes’ tyre difficulties have always appeared during warm weekends, hence the team’s only win coming at a cold Shanghai, in 2012. This being the case these issues may still exist, but they are not showing up in early March. Hamilton set three times in the 1m20s, all on the soft tyre and at the beginning of a five-lap stint. Of course we cannot read too much into the numbers since we don’t have the respective fuel loads, but Mercedes are certainly significantly closer than how they ended last season.

“There is no reason to be impressed,” said Hamilton. “We came through all the tests and all the programmes we wanted to do and obviously our upgrade has been a positive, it was a small step forward for us.

“This is a good track to test on and give you a rough idea; if your car is good here then it should be good anywhere. If you look at the (Mercedes) car last year it was quick in Monaco so it should be competitive on the street circuits. When it comes to the downforce circuits it could be quite tough there. The most important thing is that single lap pace can be easily achieved, it’s long run pace that is the tough one.”

There were few improvements this afternoon as teams took the chance to perform a race simulation whilst the weather was on their side. The only driver to improve was Felipe Massa on a set of soft tyres, pulling himself within a second of Hamilton. Ferrari dedicated Massa’s final morning of pre-season testing to mid-length runs on the medium tyre, before a series of short stints in the afternoon. During these Massa adopted the on-off-on approach to his tyres, evaluating qualifying strategy for when the season begins.

There was a moment of concern for Ferrari however, when Massa lost his front-left wheel along the back straight late in the day. It looked as though the car suffered a wheel-nut explosion and the team will need to look deep in to how the problem occurred.

Nevertheless, reliability looks generally pretty good for most of the teams as testing comes towards an end.

Ferrari have had a much improved Winter testing programme compared to last year and they should provide a challenge. New sidepods and exhausts mounted yesterday performed as expected, according to Fernando Alonso, who will have one more day’s running tomorrow.

The Spaniard also noted some very positive longer runs where the car managed to keep degradation under control over 14 laps. He thinks success in Melbourne will come down to teams being at the top of their game operationally and strategically, dealing with the uncertainty over the degradation of the new Pirelli tyres. For Ferrari, qualifying close to the front will be vital as this was something they struggled to do last season.

Mark Webber was in the Red Bull seat today and had another typically understated day, frustrating fans and the media alike who are keen to see what the RB9 can produce.

Adrian Sutil in third place went through much of the morning without setting a time, instead focusing on pit stop practice and installation laps. Following the lunch break the returnee and his Force India squad turned their attention to some qualifying simulation runs using the super soft tyre. After three one-lap stints his lap of 1:21.627 put him in second place at that time, albeit over a second off Hamilton’s pace and he used the rest of the afternoon to conduct a race simulation.

Williams maintained their programme of sharing the car between both drivers with Pastor Maldonado handing the reigns over to Valtteri Bottas this afternoon. The team’s plans for today were delayed due a late delivery of new parts, most notably the Red Bull-style sidepods that they are looking to understand and exploit over the final days of testing. Maldonado used a set of the super soft compound to end the day in fourth place.

Having topped yesterday Romain Grosjean had made his way back to Paris with Kimi Raikkonen set to take over the Lotus E21 for the final two days of testing. However, Raikkonen fell sick overnight and Grosjean was ushered back to Barcelona. In the meantime Lotus gave last year’s GP2 Champion, and reserve driver, Davide Valsecchi an opportunity drive during the morning session until Grosjean arrived.

And Valsecchi seemed to enjoy his morning in the latest Formula One machinery, “It was a really good surprise this morning because Kimi had some problem and his physical trainer said he was not fit enough to drive, so the team decided to use me,” he said. “I use everything from Raikkonen,” he added. “Seat, overalls, shoes, pants, socks. Only the underwear was missing!”

At Marussia, new boy Jules Bianchi was quickly up to speed, fitting in with his new team and getting into the groove. He completed 65 laps and seemed happy with his new surroundings.

Tomorrow is the 12th and final day of pre-season testing before the teams pack the cars and set off for Melbourne.

Barcelona Test Day 3

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes  1m20.558 97 Laps (S)

2. Felipe Massa Ferrari  1m21.457 +0.899 85 Laps (SS)

3. Adrian Sutil Force India  1m21.627 +1.069 109 Laps (S)

4. Pastor Maldonado Williams  1m22.305 +1.747 34 Laps (S)

5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.468 +1.1.910

6. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber  1m22.553 +1.995 86 Laps (S)

7. Sergio Perez McLaren  1m22.694 +2.136 81 Laps (S)

8. Mark Webber Red Bull  1m23.116 +2.558 50 Laps (S)

9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso  1m23.223 +2.665 105 Laps (S)

10. Davide Valsecchi Lotus  1m23.448 +2.890 16 Laps (S)

11. Romain Grosjean Lotus  1m23.482 +2.924 30 Laps (M)

12. Jules Bianchi Marussia  1m24.028 +3.470 65 Laps (S)

13. Giedo van der Garde Caterham  1m24.520 +3.962 119 Laps (M)

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Just read Gary Anderson’s Melbourne grid prediction, he claims that rosberg will be on pole from button, from vettel and Hamilton all with in a tenth of a second, but what i can’t accept is that the predicted pole time is in 1:19:7 wich is 5 seconds faster than last year’s Lewis pole. Do you agree James?


Pole should be faster than last year, but I think that maybe Gary’s forgetting the fact they’ll they’ll have a full tank of fuel on board.


The photo of the Ferrari seems to show a white “baffle” or piece of bodywork over the Crandall tunnel – I thought such items were illegal – as on the Williams & Caterham?


It’s only testing.

My understanding is that it’s only when they go racing that they have to meet all the regulations – during testing they could have stuck a pink flamingo on it if they felt the need to.


rosberg is even faster with alonso also trying to stay second 0.3s behind.

does that mean during the final testing the mercedes was faster than the ferrari?

can’t wait for the racing to start.

roscoe got his pit pass by the way.


One of the topics discussed recently was driver pairing, and I’m beginning to think that Mercedes have the fastest with Lewis and Nico. – Both incredibly fast qualifiers! I think they will push each other to the limit.


Great prospectives so far!


Nico has woken up and he now has a bit of self-belief back that he lost last year running around in the lower mid order. This should be a good driver pairing. Merc will do much better in the constructors championship this year.


Ultimately it’s the car that decides how fast, but chugging around in the midfield is doen’t do much for ones’s ego. Nico will of course realised that Lewis was going to be faster than Michael so if the car is a good as it looks, and providing Mercedes can deliver in terms of the development race then both championship appear to be within reach.


Well Rosberg has slashed Hamilton’s time yesterday with another attempt on soft tyres bringing the fastest time down to 1 minute 20.1 seconds. – Didn’t I say Rosberg is no slouch! That certainly does prove that the Mercedes is in the mix at the front this year, and the long run pace looks decent too. The only question outstanding is have they optimised the tyre degradation issue because I think that may be the ultimate decider at the start of the season. – Again rather pathetic to have tyre issues sorting the order.


Off course Nico is no slouch! However, he did it on a single-lap run, Lewis set his time on the first lap of a 5-lap run (more fuel than Nico). I don’t know what the gain is over a lap ( James mentioned it in 1 of his articles), but Lewis could have gone quite faster than the 1min20.5.


Yes was well aware of that, but we can see from this that the pair will be fairly evenly matched as to their ultimate relative speed that remains to be seen. The gain for lighter fuel load of course varies according to track, but qualifying in Melbourne is going to be interesting.


Well the Mercedes is genuinely fast as Nico Rosberg is already within 0.2 sec. of Hamilton’s pace however Alonso is snapping at their heels just 0.086 behind Rosberg. I think all we can conclude is that it’s going to be a very close five horse race this year. – Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, and possibly Lotus if they get their reliability issues sorted.


I think the fact that Red Bull are not setting any competitive times is a warning sign for all other teams. They are confident and it seems not that worried by Lewis’ time. Either that or they really are struggling which I find hard to believe.

Fingers crossed that Red Bull don’t dominate again. The 2011 championship was so one sided it was barely worth watching.


Red Bull will be fast, but I don’t think we’ll see another 2011 again – more likely it will be similar to 2012, which is a good thing 🙂



They’re just trying too hard to make people believe they don’t have a beast of a car.


This is what Gary Anderson says on the BBC:

“When Eddie Jordan broke the news last September that Lewis Hamilton was moving to Mercedes this year, everyone thought it was a joke, but I tell you, the joke might be on them now. Lewis joined McLaren as a boy and he never really grew out of that. But he has joined Mercedes as a man and I have to say his body language is fantastic. He really is up for it. Can Mercedes make a car that is worthy of his talents? I think they’ve done it this year. Some of the lap times we’ve seen have already been pretty good, but today he has done a 1:20.5 on soft tyres on a low fuel run. That is a pretty impressive lap time. I think they have the talents to win races and win the championship this year.”

Normally I don’t have much time for GA but now he has said something I would like to be true, he is, of course, one of the wisest voices in the F1 paddock!


lol…… good one.


oooops I forgot KIMI!


Anything Lewis does will be news, in and out of the paddocks. But I know he will be performing much better than Schumi as the car has improved. A gentle reminder, Lewis and Alonso do not need the best car to win, a second or third best will do. Looks like 2013 will be better than 2012.

Don’t waste too much time trying to figure out the testing times as there’s too much variables. Even teams are guessing what their opponents are doing.

What if Lewis or Alonso win the Melbourne race? It won’t be a surprise IMHO.

Alonso was last on day 2.


Anyone observing the other seasons knows Merc always did fast times in winter testing and then fight Force India when the real racing starts. They go as light as can be while the others drive around with tanks half full.


Let’s not get carried away. One banzai quali run by Hamilton does not make a good Mercedes. Remember it’s cold, Mercedes have trouble with LONG runs in HEAT. I think Lewis is right, this time is nothing to get carried away over. Remember most teams were concentrating on mid to long runs today too so no real yardstick to compare the time to either.


Were not getting carried away, we are pleasantly surprised.

It was more than one run and it points to a big improvement in performance.

It is cold.

Last years Merc. did have trouble in the heat, this is not last years Merc. we do not know how it will perform in the heat.

See line 1.

I disagree, quite a few of the teams did a several flying laps.


I guess we’ll find out in Melbourne, I remain skeptical.


An interesting piece if information regarding the weather here in Melbourne. The long range forecast for Autumn. Is Dry and cooler than normal.

That alludes to a 5pm race start with track temps in around 18-19 degrees on a dry track. Make of that what you will, but if the Merc looks to shine in cooler weather, look out!

Its certainly getting quite cool here already after a very hot and dry summer.

What i don’t get is how some people always look to performance in the past season as some kind of solid indicator of performance for the new season. Merc tyre wear was a big problem last year, but there is no reason to insists that is going to be the same this year, new car, new designs and new tyres. There is no way to predict that, only the teams will know that


I remember that first weekend last year, and remember thinking that the Merc looked great in free practice. But yeah, in the race they had tire wear problems, and were done. Also didn’t have good race pace, I remember Vettel disposing of Rosberg fairly easy in the early laps.


How many points do you get for winning the testing days? None? Oh. You’d think it was a round of the championship. It will always be hard to determine what the teams are up to during testing. All that counts is the results during the races.


No points, but it does impress the people who pay the bills 😉


Indeed it does. Whether the pace will transfer to the season is another issue, which was my point.


no one mentioned points until you did. everyone here understands the difference between racing and testing so why dictate to others what they should or should not enjoy?


Er, I never said anything about enjoyment. What I did say was that all the pace in the world means nothing if you cannot do it in a race. All I am saying is that unless you know what they are testing, what fuel they have, it cannot be compared that well to anyone else’s time.

Still, if you want to get yourself all excited over it go ahead. I’ll be waiting until the season is underway before determining which car is doing well, and which is not.


everyone who is posting on this page understands what testing is. why can they not be happy about what they see?

why do you think the fia bother to publish the testing times if it’s useless? why do so many reporters set up their expensive technical equipment in order to obtain and broadcast information on testing?

and finally if testing times meant nothing to you why do you bother to check on it?

allow others to enjoy what they want to unless you have special powers to decide who enjoys what.


Wow, just read Gary Anderson on BBC’s F1 page saying that he thinks Mercedes have a car and drivers that can win races and even the championship! I rate Gary very highly, he’s a straight shooter, and he’s been trackside watching all the cars for each test (maybe not the first test, can’t remember).

Still seems a bridge too far to me, to go from where they were last year, to championship contender, in a season with little regulation changes. Of course I hope he’s right, for both Lewis and Nico, Mercedes and F1 in general.

The proof will be in the hotter weather, and on the long-run race pace. Hamilton’s not convinced on that score yet. Still, a very impressive time from him today. Even without Lewis’s four-tenths, it still would be a handy time.


Remember Brawn GP?……

But seriously… can anyone give Hamilton credit for the seemingly good Mercedes form? He’s only just arrived after all the hard work was done. People need to get real.


For sure. Even Hamilton states that “they” (Mercedes) have made a big step up from last year’s car. All that Hamilton can do is drive the car as fast as it can go (which he does well), and help his side of the garage find the best set-up for him to do well in it.

People at McLaren would talk of Hamilton’s four-tenths (sounds too high to me, but say a good 25-hundredths) … that’s what he gives a team. In a season with a tightly-bunched grid, that can make a big, big difference.


This is the same Gary Anderson that claimed that last year’s McLaren looked like nothing special.

I hope he’s right on this occasion, though!

To be honest I think it’s ridiculous that people have been writing of Mercedes anyway. They started last year really strongly. It was well documented that they’d build the chassis around the DDRS and were locked into a dead-end of a tyre chewing car. They started work on this year’s car pretty early. So there’s really no reason it can’t be up the front end of the grid fighting for wins, and perhaps the championship.


As it turned out it wasn’t. OK it was fast sometimes, actually very fast but it was also fragile so he was right, sort of.


It’s also the same Gary Anderson that, when this year’s Marc was launched, said its design was underwhelming, uninspired, nothing special and the raised sidepod shoulders were even creating lift.


Forums are awash with all sorts of chatter re Lewis’s time. I am not pundit so can’t give an analysis, but have copied some comparable times for reference and to help people make their mind!

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.558

2012 Qualifying – i am sure some will remember Lewis’s Mclaren stopping for v low fuel, hence disqualification. This was their absolute limit then!

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps

DSQ 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.583 1:22.465 1:21.707 17

2 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.380 1:22.105 1:22.285 14

3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.276 1:22.862 1:22.302 15

4 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.248 1:22.667 1:22.424 14

5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:23.406 1:22.856 1:22.487 13

6 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.261 1:22.773 1:22.533 14

7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.370 1:22.882 1:23.005 17

8 1 Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.850 1:22.884 no time 14

9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.757 1:22.904 no time 15

10 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.386 1:22.897 no time 14

11 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.510 1:22.944 13

Last year lad day of pre-season testing!

Unofficial Sunday test times from Barcelona:

1. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:22.030, 121 Laps

2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:22.250, 115 Laps

3. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:22.296, 53 Laps

4. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:22.312, 101 Laps

5. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:22.386, 72 Laps

6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:22.430, 115 Laps

7. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:22.795, 101 Laps

8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:22.939, 100 Laps

9. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:23.347, 48 Laps

10. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.393, 100 Laps

11. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.608, 23 Laps

Someone said above, other teams are not shaking in their boots.. if you can see their legs, check if they have not wet themselves!

Someone else said, MB are cheating to show result to Board, hmmm pretty smart strategy to keep jobs for 15 days! unless unless you tell me MB dashes our bonus on the basis of testing results?


And Drs is limited they should b slower very impressive lap by ham


some amendments,

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.558 on a 5 lap run! i.e. on the first lap there is more fuel, and tyres were not fresh after that!

it should be read, Last year last day of pre-season testing!


Almost as impressive as his Top Gear time…

Hamilton is driving and completeing the critical feedback loop to his engineers with instant results.

I really look forward to contrasting Button and Hamilton in 2013, and Hamilton and Nico…

Current F1 racing may not be great, but at least we have a few elements of interest this season.


Hamilton and Button have been compared against each other for the last the years – we all know the result, we all drew our own conclusions, let it go 🙂

Besides, I don’t think it’s really productive to compare drivers in different cars. The best comparison for any driver is his team mate.

Hamilton and Rosberg will be compared this year for sure.

Tornillo Amarillo

“Don’t get excited” said Hamilto.

OK, we are not excited, no, no, noooooooooo, ha-ha-ha, yeah, iupi, go-go, iuuuuuupiiiiiiiii!!!!


You Sir, have just made me laugh out loud -:)


Lewis set 5 times in the 1m20s at least one of which was on the Medium tyre.

Lap 18 1:21.534 S

Lap 32 1:20.817 M

Lap 38 1:20.558 S

Lap 43 1:20.908

Lap 50 1:20.610

Also they were all seven lap stints besides one (interrupted by red flag)they consisted of an out lap 5 timed laps and an in lap. Which is not typical low fuel stint.

Typically they looked like this stint on the Medium compound:

31 out

32 1:20.817 -5.964

33 1:30.308 +9.491

34 1:24.716 -5.592

35 1:25.737 +1.021

36 1:26.457 +0.72

37 in


That’s some spectacular drop off after the headline 1’20.


My bad. :/ Apologies for the 1m21s it was still the sixth quickest time of the day.


See what happens when the sticker is on straight.


I saw this Q & A on “Autosport”:

Lewis Hamilton set a time this morning using “unmarked” tyres. What exactly are these tyres?

“The unmarked tyres Hamilton run were prototype soft-compound tyres”

I still don’t get!

Besides, according to the same site, LH set 1m20.817s on “Mediums”


Apparently the prototype soft was exactly the same as marked soft just made in different location


last year merc did win a race then went on to have a bad year. But the year before they were in a race of there own always just behind the big 3 teams. So its not to big a jump to think merc have caught up to the big 3. Just as lotus have and maybe pushed right into the fight


Great driving from Lewis. Just hope he can shake off all that bad luck that he seems to carry around with him.

Winners need luck. Without it they just end up being bad losers.


I honestly think that nothing changed since last year.

Red Bull will be 0,5 sec faster, Ferrari will be the second fasters car along with McLaren, but the later will loose the ground because of inconsistency. Merc will fight with Lotus and Ferrari and Red Bull will dominate just like in 2011. Ferrari will switch to 2014 after 4 races and Mercedes will follow them.


Last year McLaren had the fastest car though and Ferrari was on par with RBR on race day (so not qualifying, but definitely on race day).


I like the way you say that “nothing’s changed since last year” then go on to predict a load of things happening that didn’t happen at all last year!


If Merc are close to the top three in the WCC the development will continue late into the season.

If it looks like they have no chance to get into the top three it will drop off.

I thought the 2014 car was being developed seperately, so there is no problem continuing with the 2013 car if it’s in the running.


I’ve been a bit of a Caterham follower right from day one(lotus racing). What have done? last in every session so far. Certainly hope they find something before Melbourne. Bring back Heiki or Petrov maybe?


Caterham are the disappointment of the test season so far. They really seem to struggle. Promoting Gascoyne and going for two young bloods that seem to be half a second slower that the average formula 1 driver was probably not their brightest idea.


Car looks a handful apparently, pay drivers now, wondering if they are struggling


Not going to happen.

Someone was asking a couple weeks back about the cola bottle shape of the cars. Methinks the Caterham has gone for a pear shape instead.

Hate to say it but I think – at least for this year – we’re looking at the new HRT.


I know it isn’t going to happen, I was just wondering if they regret not keeping at least one of their experienced drivers as they can’t now tell how much is crap car and how much is crap drivers although I suspect that they’ve just made a crap car. Very sad


All I know is that if I was in their position right now I’d be regretting it for sure, but it’s possible that in 2014 (when the costs go up because of the new engine) if they had kept Heiki or Petrov they might have ended up regretting that even more.

But definitely agreed – very sad.

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