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Hulkenberg and Grosjean lead the way on day three

24 Feb 2016

Nico Hulkenberg headed Romain Grosjean as Force India and Haas finished first and second fastest on the third day of pre-season testing at Barcelona on Wednesday.

Hulkenberg, also fastest in the morning, shaved around two seconds off his lunchtime benchmark using the supersoft tyres to work his way down to a 1m 23.110s - the second fastest time seen so far in testing, and comfortably quick enough for the German to end the day on top.

“A positive day for me and I’ve come away with some good first impressions as we continue to learn about this car," said Hulkenberg. "We tried quite a lot of things today and, although we need to do some more fine-tuning, it does feel like we are moving in the right direction." 

Grosjean meanwhile continued Haas’s impressive start to their inaugural season by vaulting into second late on - albeit nearly three seconds down on Hulkenberg.

Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest in what was a disjointed first day in Ferrari’s new SF16-H.

The Finn only set four laps - none timed - in the morning due to fuel system checks, but enjoyed a more productive afternoon, clocking up close to 80 laps and finishing third on the timesheets, fractionally ahead of the Renault of Kevin Magnussen.

"These are early days, especially for me with this car," said Raikkonen. "We are happy so far, even if we know that there are still a lot of things to do.

"It was painful losing time today, but we always try to do our best. There are always mistakes but we always want to improve and learn from them." 

Magnussen suffered his own technical glitch late on, but was able to return and was one of four drivers to break into triple figures in the lap count - a welcome day after separate issues halted the team on the first two days.

“It’s fantastic to get back in a Formula 1 car after eleven months away," the Dane commented. "Everything felt good straight away and it was great to be working with the team for the first time behind the wheel. We completed a lot of laps which is a real positive and I can’t wait to jump in the car tomorrow and continue today’s work.”

Mercedes opted to split the day between their two drivers in order to keep them fresh after mammoth stints on the first two days - and the trend continued as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton surpassed 150 laps combined.

The German was the faster, booking fifth for Mercedes, while Hamilton - driving in the afternoon - was half a second down in eighth.

Splitting the pair was the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz and the Sauber of Felipe Nasr - with both men also enjoying huge mileage.

Sainz was the busiest of all drivers, moving past the 160-lap mark on his second day in the new Ferrari-powered STR11, while Nasr managed 115 in the 2015-spec Sauber.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat was ninth, narrowly ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa and McLaren’s Jenson Button. The Briton managed just 51 laps, the fewest of any driver, and had his day brought to an early end due to a hydraulic leak.

Rio Haryanto, making his first official appearance as a Formula One driver, completed the timesheet in 12th. The Indonesian brought the red flags out when he spun at Turn 5 in the morning, and ended up more than 5s off the pace - although he also elected to abandon a faster lap in the closing stages of the day.

Wednesday unofficial testing times from Barcelona
POS Driver Team/Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes VJM09 1:23.110   99
2 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari VF-16 1:25.874 2.764 82
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari SF16-H 1:25.977 2.867 78
4 Kevin Magnussen Renault R.S.16 1:26.014 2.904 111
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid 1:26.084 2.974 74
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR11 1:26.239 3.129 161
7 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari C34 1:26.392 3.282 115
8 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid 1:26.421 3.311 88
9 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12 1:26.497 3.387 74
10 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes FW38 1:26.712 3.602 109
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda MP4-31 1:26.919 3.809 51
12 Rio Haryanto Manor Racing-Mercedes MRT05 1:28.249 5.139 78

Testing - Mercedes continue to rack up the miles on day three

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