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Barcelona test: Mercedes hints true pace as McLaren crosses 100 lap mark

Image Courtesy: Getty Images With around 15 days left for the season opener in Australia, testing times are somewhat becoming relevant as teams finally start focusing on performance runs. And Mercedes - which dominated the proceedings last season with 16 victories - made it clear that they remain the team to beat by showing their true pace on a set of Pirelli soft tyres.  With just an

SENIOR ANALYST
28 Feb 2015, 12:55 IST
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Image Courtesy: Getty Images
With around 15 days left for the season opener in Australia, testing times are somewhat becoming relevant as teams finally start focusing on performance runs.
And Mercedes - which dominated the proceedings last season with 16 victories - made it clear that they remain the team to beat by showing their true pace on a set of Pirelli soft tyres.

With just an hour to go in the session, Nico Rosberg went out in his W06 and lapped the Barcelona Circuit in 1:22.782 to move to the top of the timesheets. It was by far the fastest time at the Spanish venue in 2015 machinery and one that sends an ominous message to the remainder of the grid.
Valtteri Bottas was classified a distant second in the fastests lap chart with a time of 1:23:955s, also set on the yellow striped Pirelli compound. Behind him came the Sauber of Felipe Nasr with the Brazilian lodging 141 laps in the ultra-reliable C34.
 
However, the honour for the highest mileage on second day of final pre-season test went to Ferrari’s latest recruit Sebastian Vettel, with the fifth quickest finisher racking in 143 laps over the course of the day.

A 100+ lap run seemed like a far fetched reality for McLaren and their engine partners Honda, given their much reported pre-season woes. However, that’s exactly what Button managed behind the wheels of the MP4-30 before coming to a halt at turn 7 during the final hour of the session. Nevertheless, the team has made significant strides today and would like to eke out as much mileage as it can from the car during the next two days at Barcelona.

Another driver that brought out the red flags during the final hour of the session was Pastor Maldonado who stopped at the pit entry due to a reason unclear at the time of writing.

Both the Red Bull outfits had a mixed day at the office, summing up how testing has been for the two squads. Daniil Kvyat in the flagship completed 84 laps in total but made a precautionary stop at turn 1 to check a hydraulic issue. Similarly, Max Verstappen racked in 139 laps before electrical gremlins brought his running to a halt.

And finally, Force India finished at the bottom of the standings on the day they debuted their much delayed 2015 challenger, VJM08. However, luckily for the Silverstone outfit, the car ran trouble-free and by end of the day Nico Hulkenberg had lapped the track 77 times. That stat is made all the more impressive by the fact that the car went out only in the afternoon session.

With just two-and-a-half days of mileage, it remains to be seen how well prepared the team would be for the first race of the season. The team has kept its expectations low for the first half of the season, and would instead prefer to make leap ways during the latter part of the year when switch to the Toyota windtunnel and investment in the CFD facility starts paying dividends.
 
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