Massa fastest on penultimate morning

© XPB 

Williams’ Felipe Massa set the fastest time of the penultimate morning of the final test at the Circuit de Catalunya as teams started to chase lap times.

On his final day in the car Massa posted a best time of 1:23.262 on a supersoft tyre run, carrying out what appeared to be a qualifying simulation, completing one flying lap late in the session. Massa had already been quickest on the medium tyre and the soft compound but was still unable to beat Nico Rosberg’s impressive benchmark from Friday.

Kimi Raikkonen was just 0.014s slower than Massa as he too attempted a supersoft tyre run in the final hour. Raikkonen set the fastest middle sector of the morning having followed a similar programme to Massa in running the three softest compounds.

Sauber was also willing to try the supersoft tyre during the opening part of the day and Marcus Ericsson set the third fastest time, albeit 1.2s slower than Massa and Raikkonen were able to manage.

Force India’s strong start with its 2015 car continued as Nico Hulkenberg ended the morning in fourth place. The VJM08 was only completed at the circuit on Friday but completed over 70 laps on its opening day and added a further 75 during the first half of Saturday’s running. Like the three cars above him, Hulkenberg set his time on the supersoft tyre in the final hour.

There was further encouragement for McLaren too as Kevin Magnussen set the fifth fastest time of the morning session. Magnussen is filling in for Fernando Alonso following the Spaniard’s crash last week and he set his time on the soft tyre, completing 38 laps during his first four hours in the MP4-30.

Magnussen’s time is the fastest of McLaren’s pre-season so far, beating the previous best set by Alonso on the soft tyre by 0.7s. With Jenson Button completing 101 laps on day two, it the team is enjoying a clear improvement in reliability in the closing stages of testing.

Lewis Hamilton was sixth after a busy start to the day gave way to a quiet final 90 minutes. The Mercedes was first to carry out a proper run and quickly reached 36 laps by failed to add to that total, with a similar delay on Friday being due to set-up changes requested by Nico Rosberg to address balance issues.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Red Bull ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr in the Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, with none of the trio carrying out a performance run during a session which ran uninterrupted.

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