LEWIS Hamilton belied his lack of winter running to set an impressive fastest time of Barcelona Test One on the final day of F1 2018’s opening week.
The world champion had been restricted to just 25 laps over the opening three inclement days and only drove Mercedes’ W09 in the afternoon on Day Four.
However, Hamilton had enough time to set by far the quickest – and most significant – lap time of this winter so far by unleashing a 1:19.333 on the medium tyres as the Circuit de Catalunya finally dried out.
The lap was three tenths quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s previous benchmark from Day Two, set on softs, and fractionally faster than Hamilton himself went in testing at Barcelona last year.
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Vettel, who topped 100 laps in the Ferrari SF71-H, was third, 0.9s back on his great rival.
Hamilton finished half a second clear of second-fastest Stoffel Vandoorne, who had earlier improved McLaren’s best time of the winter as the team again used the faster hypersoft tyres.
The Woking team had been second-last on the mileage charts after Day Three but the MCL33 completed in excess of 160 laps as Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso, fifth quickest, shared running time.
“The car reacts properly and as per expectations,” said McLaren racing director Eric Boullier.
“The aero stuff is as per expectations – so far, so good.”
But it was a less satisfactory session for Day One pacesetters Red Bull, who completed just 35 laps after a long spell in the garage and then a late-afternoon spin for Max Verstappen.
The RB14 ended up in the gravel trap at Turn 12 but the team have yet to confirm the cause.
In a Day Four surprise, Kevin Magnussen took previously low-key Haas and their new VF-18 to fourth place on the timesheet with by far their best lap of the week.
Carlos Sainz was the faster of the two Renault drivers in sixth place as the Enstone team again split their running as the team worked to improve the RS18’s early balance.
Williams were another team to use both their race drivers with Lance Stroll up in seventh, despite a trip through the Turn Three gravel trap, after Sergey Sirotkin had run in the morning’s wet conditions.
Barcelona Test One, Day Four Timesheet
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 69 laps, Mediums, 1:19.333
Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) 110, Hypersofts, 1:19.854
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 120, Softs, 1:20.241
Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 96, Supersofts, 1:20.317
Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 51, Supersofts, 1:20.929
Carlos Sainz (Renault), 60, Mediums, 1:20.940
Lance Stroll (Williams) 53, Softs, 1:21.142
Sergio Perez (Force India) 65, Softs, 1:21.973
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 35, Softs, 1:22.058
Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) 147, Supersofts1:22.134
Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) 49, Softs, 1:22.507
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 60, Mediums, 1:22.789
Charles Leclerc (Sauber) 59, Softs, 1:22.808
Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) 79, Supersofts, 1:23.825
Sergey Sirotkin (Williams) 47, Intermediates, 1:31.979