Formula One: Hamilton leads Mercedes team mate Russell on final day of Barcelona test

Lewis Hamilton in action during pre-season testing in Barcelona, on Feb 25, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of the opening Barcelona pre-season test on a red-flag disrupted Friday (Feb 25) to return to the top of the Formula One timesheets ahead of new team mate George Russell who completed a one-two for Mercedes.

The 37-year-old Briton surged to the top towards the end of the test's final day, setting his one minute, 19.138 seconds benchmark eight minutes from the finish.

That put him 0.095 seconds clear of compatriot Russell, whose pre-lunch session-topping effort, stood as his best time of the day.

It marked a strong end to the first test for Mercedes, after a low-key opening two days of action, with the reigning constructors' champions also clocking the highest single-day mileage of the test at 160 laps.

"It's not been the easiest or the most smooth running," said Hamilton, who had propped up the timesheets on Thursday.

"We definitely had some obstacles to overcome.

"I almost got a 100 laps in today, so for a half day's running that's not too bad," added the seven-times champion, who took over from Russell for the post-lunch session and single-handedly managed 94 laps.

Mexican Sergio Perez, swopping with Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen in the afternoon, was third ahead of the reigning champion, with the running order taking on a familiar feel after McLaren's Lando Norris and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc took turns at the top on the opening two days.

But testing times, which, are notoriously difficult to read were made harder to compute with some of Friday afternoon given over to wet weather running on an artificially-drenched track.

Ferrari, who clocked the highest mileage over the three days combined, and McLaren still leave Barcelona in a strong position.

"Overall, this has been a solid test session for us as we completed many laps," said Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies.

"It's only the first step of a long year, when we intend to push very hard, working all together."

The final day of running also saw the most red flags, with Fernando Alonso, Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou, Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel all causing stoppages.

Neither of their teams, with the exception of Alfa Romeo, returned to track action following the lunch break.

Haas, running an all-white livery after stripping their car of all branding related to Russian potash producer and title sponsor Uralkali, managed only nine laps with Nikita Mazepin before the 22-year-old stopped with an oil leak that ended the team's test.

Teams will head to Bahrain for the another three-day test from March 10-12 before the season-opener in the island kingdom on March 20.

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