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Chilton puts Marussia top in Barcelona testing

13 May 2014

Marussia’s Max Chilton was the surprise leader in Spain on Tuesday, as this week’s two-day test session began at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton led for much of the rain-hit session - the lunch hour was brought forward to allow the worst of the weather to pass - but a late run on a dry track with super soft tyres saw Chilton record a best lap of 1m 26.434s, an improvement of over three seconds on his medium-tyred qualifying time for last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

“Generally we’ve had quite a successful day and to end it in P1 is obviously a real bonus,” said Chilton. “We’ve made steady progress throughout the day and to get the car to such a good place in terms of set-up, and then be able to see just how much we can extract from it, is a really big step from the race on Sunday to what we have achieved today. With another day of testing, I think we can leave Barcelona with the package in a really strong position.”

Another late run to usurp Hamilton’s ultimately third-placed best was that of Lotus test driver Charles Pic, with a time of 1m 26.661s to the championship leader’s 1m 26.674s (both set on medium tyres), as the Frenchman got his first taste of the team’s 2014 machine.

“It was a good first time in the E22,” said Pic. “The new generation of cars are very different from those before with the new power units and all the other changes in how you drive them. I didn’t get so many laps in the morning as the weather was very different from what you’d expect for Barcelona, but I think we optimised the day and completed everything we could. It was good day for the team and a good day for me. It felt really great to be in the car - it’s been too long since Brazil last year!”

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest after a troubled session for Ferrari, a power unit failure confining the Finn to the garage for much of the day and then a late trip into the gravel necessitating a floor change on his F14 T. He was followed by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

Kamui Kobayashi was ninth, but ended his day slightly early when he put his Caterham hard into the barriers at Turn 3 during the final half hour, the car sustaining quite a lot of damage. Tenth place went to Sebastien Buemi, a gearbox problem stymying the Red Bull tester’s first track outing in the RB10, while Sauber counterpart Giedo van der Garde completed the timesheet.

Testing concludes in Spain on Wednesday, when Williams’ Susie Wolff will sample the team’s 2014 car for the first time and McLaren reserve Stoffel Vandoorne will make his F1 debut.

Unofficial Tuesday times from Barcelona:

1. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1m 26.434s, 60 laps

2. Charles Pic, Lotus, 1m 26.661s, 70 laps

3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 26.674s, 79 laps

4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 26.965s, 21 laps

5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1m 27.724s, 52 laps

6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1m 27.727s, 53 laps

7. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1m 27.756s, 55 laps

8. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1m 28.333s, 74 laps

9. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, 1m 30.101s, 72 laps

10. Sebastien Buemi, Red Bull, 1m 31.440s, 54 laps

11. Giedo van der Garde, Sauber, 1m 31.783s, 86 laps