Hamilton recovers from spin as Leclerc sets the pace

May JohnsonMar 03, 2019

Charles Leclerc showed more of Ferrari's potential with the fastest time of testing as Pierre Gasly suffered his second crash of pre-season in Barcelona.

Sainz set the best time of one minute 17.144 seconds on the soft C4 tyre and completed 130 laps, the same number as Poland's Robert Kubica in the Williams.

However, it was Scuderia driver Leclerc who made an impressive late charge on C5 Pirelli tyres to continue to drop the time, finishing clear on 1:16.231.

Gasly posted a pre-crash lap good enough for fourth, while Daniel Ricciardo - out for the second session of the day after team mate Nico Hulkenberg had driven the first - went fifth for Renault.

The lap was close to the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix pole time of 1:16.173 set by Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes, and came as a boost for Ferrari after Sebastian Vettel had crashed on Wednesday.

The next fastest driver was Toro Rosso's Alex Albon, 0.651s off Leclerc, using the same compound tyre as the Ferrari.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz led Wednesday's (Thursday NZT) session with a time of 1min 17.144sec, the fastest so far after six days of testing.

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Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas reiterated the view he expressed last week that Ferrari were still ahead of both Mercedes and Red Bull.

Pre-season testing times are notoriously unreliable indicators of form because it is impossible to know the specification in which teams are running their cars, while fuel loads, engine modes and other aspects can make a significant difference to performance.

"But the vehicle is good, the feeling is good, that's the main thing".

"As every team we are not flat out", said Leclerc, who replaced Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. "There's still some margin, a bit in myself. I still have to learn, I get more comfortable with the auto lap after lap and with the vehicle itself, so it's looking good for now".

Red Bull later put out a statement on the team's official Twitter account confirming Gasly was not hurt. His vehicle went through the gravel and hit the barrier head-on.

"I was heading into turn 3 and by the feeling, there was an issue with the front left corner", he told the media over lunch following the mid-morning incident.

"It will be a long night for the mechanics, I'm sorry for them".

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