Grosjean ends up fastest but Mercedes catch the eye

Romain Grosjean set the fastest time of the week around the Circuit de Catalunya on the Supersoft tyre but Nico Rosberg’s medium-tyre run was more eye-catching as he finished up less than three tenths of a second adrift in second.

Lotus F1 Team driver Grosjean set a time of 1m24.067s during the afternoon session, but it was Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS driver Rosberg’s lap of 1m24.321s that stood out, with Pirelli estimating the Medium tyre to be around two seconds a lap slower than the Supersoft’s Grosjean was on.

It wasn’t a plain sailing day for Rosberg however, with an early spin into the gravel trap, but he recovered to run a day high of 131 laps including that Medium tyre run.

One of the bigger stories of the day however was at McLaren, with Fernando Alonso crashing his McLaren-Honda into the barriers after apparently losing control exiting turn 3. The Spaniard was taken to the medical centre and subsequently flown to hospital to have tests, although the CT scan revealed he did not suffer any injuries.

It was another setback for McLaren, with just twenty laps completed during the day after a delayed start while the new part brought in to try and fix their longstanding MGU-K seal issue. Jenson Button was scheduled to take over from Alonso at lunchtime, but the Spaniard’s crash ended the team’s day.

Daniil Kvyat was third fastest for Infiniti Red Bull Racing, using the soft Pirelli tyre to set a time of 1m24.941s, just beating Sauber F1 Team driver Felipe Nasr by 0.015s. Nasr’s day was affected by mechanical issues, stopping early in the pit entry before managing to set a lap time, and then stopping on track with ten minutes of the day’s running remaining with more issues.

Valtteri Bottas ran 129 laps for his Williams Martini Racing team and finished fifth fastest, with the team yet to truly show their hand and reveal the true pace of its 2015 challenger. Bottas’ day was interrupted when he stopped on track at turn four, although he was able to return to the track not too long later.

Carlos Sainz Jr set the sixth fastest time for Scuderia Toro Rosso, but the second Spaniard in the field crashed into the turn three barriers after lunch and brought out a red flag.

Sebastian Vettel had a quiet final day in Spain in his Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T, ending down in seventh after spending much of the afternoon in the pit lane. Nico Hulkenberg was eighth in the 2014 Sahara Force India VJM07, but was another to cause a red flag when the Mercedes power unit in the back of his car failed down the pit straight.

Alonso’s early crash meant he ended up at the bottom of the timing screens in ninth, leaving McLaren a lot of work to do to catch up when the final test of pre-season gets underway next Thursday.

Rosberg was P2, despite using a tyre estimated to be two-second a lap slower than Grosjeans (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)
Rosberg was P2, despite using a tyre estimated to be two-second a lap slower than Grosjean’s (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

Circuit de Catalunya Pre-Season Test Day 4 Times

1 8 Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus-Mercedes 1m24.067s 111
2 6 Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes 1m24.321s 131
3 26 Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull-Renault 1m24.941s 104
4 12 Felipe Nasr BRZ Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.956s 73
5 77 Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams-Mercedes 1m25.345s 129
6 55 Carlos Sainz Jr ESP Toro Rosso-Renault 1m25.604s 88
7 5 Sebastian Vettel GER Ferrari 1m26.312s 76
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg GER Force India-Mercedes 1m26.591s 36
9 14 Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda 1m27.956s 20