Incident-filled F1 testing at Barcelona

HAMILTON: In action in a previous season.

THE first day of Formula 1 testing at Barcelona resulted in an incident-filled day that saw the world champion fall ill, a test driver racing for two different teams and the sport’s only female driver ending up in the gravel.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton managed just 11 laps of the preseason test run before he had to stop driving when he fell ill with fever. In stepped German Pascal Wehrlein, a test driver who had started the session with Force India. He was recalled to Mercedes to take over from the stricken world champ.

“Today was a really good day in my career,” he said. “I was quite surprised in the morning when I got the information that I would be driving the Mercedes in the afternoon. To drive two Formula 1 cars in one day was amazing.”

Williams’ test driver Susie Wolff – possibly to become the first female driver on the grid since 1976 – got off to a promising start before there was contact with a Sauber and both cars ended up in the gravel.

The Barcelona session ended with Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado posting the fastest time of the day on a late flying lap and edge out Kimi Raikkonen, who gave another strong showing for Ferrari. Former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is due on track today (February 20). Testing continues until Sunday and this year’s Formula 1 season begins in Australia on March 15.

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