The National Times - Hamilton, Russell on top, Verstappen pays 'no attention' to times

Hamilton, Russell on top, Verstappen pays 'no attention' to times

Hamilton, Russell on top, Verstappen pays 'no attention' to times
Hamilton, Russell on top, Verstappen pays 'no attention' to times

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton laid down an early marker ahead of the new Formula One season on Friday when he set the fastest time in pre-season testing in Barcelona.

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In a further boost for Mercedes, Hamilton's new teammate George Russell came home in second place.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen was fourth fastest, just behind Red Bull colleague Sergio Perez.

Hamilton, controversially edged out for the 2021 title by Verstappen in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, clocked a best time of 1min 19.138 seconds.

"It's been an interesting few days, it's not been the easiest or smoothest running - we have some obstacles to overcome," said Hamilton.

"We'd always want more laps but I'm happy with today's running, I got almost 100 laps in today which for half a day's running, isn't too bad."

Russell, who had topped the morning session, finished with a best of 1:19.233.

Having switched from Williams to Mercedes, Russell insisted the times meant little ahead of the new season which starts in Bahrain on March 20.

"The three days in Barcelona have been incredibly intriguing. I don't think the lap times are very representative at all," he said.

"We were top of the timesheets today on the C5 tyre compound which is incredibly strong around Barcelona, but I wouldn't read much into it. The Ferrari and McLaren look strong."

Like Russell, Verstappen refused to see any significant indications in Barcelona as to how the forthcoming season will play out.

The Dutchman prefers to focus on his chances in Bahrain where more testing will take place before the lights go out at Sakhir in thre weeks' time.

"Everything worked well in the running we got and the car felt good, but our morning was somewhat interrupted by a number of red flags across the session so we couldn't complete all of our planned programme," he said.

"What is positive is that the car is running smoothly, I don't pay attention to the lap times just yet, I will look into that when we get into Q3 in Bahrain."

Friday times:

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:19.138 (94 laps), 2. George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:19.233 (66), 3. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) 1:19.556 (74), 4. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:19.756 (59), 5. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin) 1:19.824 (48), 6. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:19.831 (44), 7. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) 1:20.072 (92), 8. Alexander Albon (THA/Williams) 1:20.318 (94), 9. Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams) 1:20.699 (13), 10. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren) 1:20.750 (86), 11. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren) 1:20.827 (52), 12. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine) 1:21.242 (12), 13. Guanyu Zhou (CHN/Alfa Romeo) 1:21.939 (41), 14. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri) 1:22.469 (40), 15. Nikita Mazepin (RAF/Haas) 1:26.229 (9), 16. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo) 1:30.433 (10)