Barcelona, Day Three update: Lewis Hamilton sets fastest time of 2013 so far
Mercedes sets succession of fastest times on soft tyre
By William Esler and James Galloway. Last Updated: March 2, 2013 4:20pm
Lewis Hamilton: Showed more than a glimpse of the W04's pace on Saturday morning
Lewis Hamilton threw down a marker to the rest of the grid on his final morning of testing in the Mercedes ahead of the first race - setting the quickest time seen at the Circuit de Catalunya this winter.
The 2008 World Champion set a best time of 1:20.558 as he racked up over a half century of laps during the morning session amid a succession of five timed-lap runs on the soft tyre, as the sun finally made an appearance at the third test.
While by far the most eye-catching time set at this week's rain-hit test on any compound so far, Hamilton's former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button had highlighted the Silver Arrows' pace after Day Two's running.
"I'd say that one team that has been consistently quick on their runs is the Mercedes more than anyone else," the McLaren man said.
Whilst after witnessing Hamilton's lap on the soft tyres, Daniel Ricciardo commented to Sky Sports News: "I don't think we have shown our full potential yet - I am hoping Mercedes have this morning because that is a very quick time from Lewis."
Hamilton's eventual 1:20.558 time was a full second faster than anyone else could manage on the soft tyres, with Adrian Sutil next up for Force India ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Prior to the unleashing of Mercedes' pace, the major talking point of the morning had been Kimi Raikkonen's absence from action after the Lotus driver fell ill with food poisoning overnight.
With Romain Grosjean having completed his scheduled work for the week on Day Two, and headed home to Paris, Lotus initially had to draft in third driver Davide Valsecchi for the morning while they hastily recalled Grosjean, who continues to travel back to the circuit at the time of writing.