Published On: Thu, Mar 1st, 2018

F1 testing: Renault's Nico Hulkenberg leads drying Thursday session

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Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg set the pace on a rain-affected final morning of the first week of Formula 1 pre-season testing at Barcelona.

After Wednesday’s running was written off by snow and persistent rain, conditions on Thursday morning were initially little better. But the higher temperatures at least meant some teams attempted meaningful runs on full wet tyres.

By 12.30pm local time, conditions had improved enough to make intermediates the tyre of choice, and half an hour later the track had dried sufficiently to make slick running possible.

Valtteri Bottas was first to venture out on slicks for Mercedes, moving to the top of the timesheets just after 1pm with a 1m24.722s on mediums, while Hulkenberg soon followed suit with a set of softs.

Bottas quickly improved to a 1m22.789s, but just before 1.15pm Hulkenberg posted a time 0.060 seconds quicker to grab the advantage and then improved to a 1m22.507s to go two tenths clear of the Mercedes driver.

Marcus Ericsson used a set of super-softs to go third-fastest for Sauber, albeit 3.176s off the pace, moving ahead of Pierre Gasly, Max Verstappen and Stoffel Vandoorne – who had all set their best times on intermediates as of 1.15pm.

Verstappen didn’t set his first timed lap until almost 1pm, briefly going fastest, and had only completed 18 laps – the least of all bar Force India’s Sergio Perez, who managed just 11.

Vandoorne by contrast managed the most of all with 72, setting by far the most laps when the conditions were at their worst early in the morning.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was seventh-fastest using softs, while the order was completed by Sergey Sirotkin, Kevin Magnussen and Perez.

The only red flag of the morning was prompted by an off for Ericsson at Turn 2, with the Sauber returning to action shortly after running resumed.

Thursday morning times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m22.507s 47
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m22.789s 0.282s 60
3 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m25.683s 3.176s 69
4 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m26.464s 3.957s 49
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m27.362s 4.855s 18
6 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m29.252s 6.745s 72
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m31.896s 9.389s 37
8 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m31.979s 9.472s 47
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m33.514s 11.007s 24
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m41.706s 19.199s 11

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