GOLDEN OLDIE COMES OUT TOPS

Massa up­stages Hamil­ton and Vet­tel in sec­ond test

New Straits Times - - Sport -

WIL­LIAMS ace Fe­lipe Massa up­staged for­mer world cham­pi­ons Lewis Hamil­ton and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel on the first day of For­mula One’s sec­ond pre­sea­son test in Barcelona on Tues­day.

The Brazil­ian posted the sec­ond fastest lap in five days of test­ing so far with a time of 1min 19.726sec.

The 35-year-old had retired at the end of last sea­son only to re­verse his de­ci­sion when Wil­liams had a va­cancy af­ter Valt­teri Bot­tas joined Mercedes.

How­ever, the 2008 world cham­pi­onship run­ner-up showed he is in fine shape by also com­plet­ing 168 laps — the joint high­est in­di­vid­ual day’s mileage so far this sea­son as Wil­liams bounced back in style from their trou­bles in last week’s first test.

“Very good Day for us @Wil­iamsRac­ing, 168 Laps. Not Bad for a old and ex re­tire Driver,” Massa posted on his of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count.

Red Bull’s prom­ise to up their speed from last week’s first test was also ful­filled as Daniel Ric­cia­rdo recorded the sec­ond fastest lap.

“In terms of where we were last week I feel like the car is start­ing to come alive more,” said Ric­cia­rdo.

“We def­i­nitely feel we can still get more out of the car — I think ev­ery­one can — but it’s look­ing al­right.”

Fer­rari’s promis­ing pace from the first test con­tin­ued as Vet­tel was over half a sec­ond faster than Hamil­ton with both on the same soft tyre com­pound in third fastest.

Vet­tel also logged a mam­moth 168 laps as, un­like oth­ers, Fer­rari suf­fered no re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues.

Three-time world cham­pion Hamil­ton was re­stricted to just 49 laps as warmer tem­per­a­tures caused the nor­mally bul­let­proof Mercedes a few trou­bles.

“We had some dam­age to the floor this morn­ing, which is why we stopped early. I sac­ri­ficed a lit­tle bit of my time to make sure Valt­teri’s car was fixed for the af­ter­noon,” said the English­man.

Hamil­ton is pre­dict­ing a tougher fight for the cham­pi­onship af­ter Mercedes’ dom­i­nance over the past three years, but still ex­pects to be at the front of the grid come the first race of the sea­son in Mel­bourne on March 26.

“I’m con­fi­dent by Mel­bourne we’ll have the best car we can. We’ll have all the up­grade parts, an un­der­stand­ing of the set-up and where we need to put the car to make it fastest,” added Hamil­ton.

“When we left here last week it looked like Fer­rari was our clos­est ri­vals, to­day Red Bull look quick.

“It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing over the next few days and when we ar­rive in Aus­tralia. The field will be close, that’s for sure.”

Bot­tas man­aged an ex­tra 86 laps for Mercedes in the af­ter­noon ses­sion, but was marginally

slower than Hamil­ton to fin­ish fifth on the day.

At the other end of the paddock, McLaren’s trou­bles con­tin­ued.

Bel­gian rookie Stof­fel Van­doorne posted 80 laps in 10th fastest, but only af­ter an­other change of the fal­ter­ing Honda en­gine.

“We had an elec­tri­cal prob­lem on the en­gine so Honda de­cided to swap the power units with an­other one,” said McLaren rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier.

“It’s frus­trat­ing for ev­ery­one be­cause we have a heavy test plan. Last week al­ready we couldn’t do ev­ery­thing we wanted so we had to tear up the plan for this week and now we have to again take off from the list a few items we will not test this week.”

Very good Day for us @Wil­iamsRac­ing, 168 Laps. Not Bad for a old and ex re­tire Driver.

FE­LIPE MASSA

On Twit­ter

EPA PIC

Brazil­ian Fe­lipe Massa of Wil­liams in the For­mula One pre-sea­son test ses­sions at the Cir­cuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Mont­melo, near Barcelona, on Tues­day.

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