Hulkenberg leads the way

Nico Hulkenberg made a flying start to his pre-season as the Force India driver topped the timesheets on Wednesday morning in a session that saw two red flags.

The German replaced team-mate Sergio Perez in the VJM09 for Day Three and shot to the top of the timesheets with a 1:25.286 on the medium tyres.

That put him seventh-tenths up on Kevin Magnussen. The Dane, who was making his return to the Formula 1 race-track having signed with Renault, used the soft option Pirellis to post a 1:26.014.

However it was laps that Renault most needed after problems on Day One and Two and that’s what Magnussen and the RS16 deliver. He covered 63 laps in the morning’s session.

Nico Rosberg, once again the busiest out on track with 74 laps, was third quickest as Mercedes stuck to using the medium tyres.

Giving the Brackley team’s marathon lap count on Monday, 156, and Tuesday, 172, Mercedes decided to split Day Three’s driving duties between their two drivers to keep them both fresh. Lewis Hamilton will take over from his team-mate after lunch.

Carlos Sainz was fourth in the STR11 and the driver who brought out the morning’s first red flag. He stopped along the pit lane exit after being sent out with a loose wheel.

Daniil Kvyat was another putting in his first laps of the pre-season, clocking a best time of 1:26.497 in the Red Bull RB12. Felipe Massa, making his first run in the FW38, was next in line, finishing ahead of Felipe Nasr, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean.

Rio Haryanto was the final driver to set a time with a 1:29.808 to his name. The Manor driver’s morning, though, came to a premature end when he spun at Turn 5 and had to be rescued from the kitty litter. He covered 25 laps.

That, though, was still more than Kimi Raikkonen managed.

On his first day in the Ferrari SF16-H the Finn found himself stuck in the pits due to a fuel pick-up issue. He did venture out for his first lap 45 minutes before lunch but was soon back in the pits with just three laps to his tally.

Times
1 Hulkenberg Force India 1:25.286 37 laps
2 Magnussen Renault 1:26.014 63 laps
3 Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.084 74 laps
4 Sainz Toro Rosso 1:26.239 66 laps
5 Kvyat Red Bull 1:26.497 29 laps
6 Massa Williams 1:26.712 57 laps
7 Nasr Sauber 1:26.840 61 laps
8 Button McLaren 1:26.919 45 laps
9 Grosjean Haas 1:26.955 54 laps
10 Haryanto Manor 1:29.808 25 laps
11 Raikkonen Ferrari No time 3 laps

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