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At last: Lewis let loose in Merc

2013-02-09 07:38

LEWIS REBOUNDS FROM THE WALL: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton made up for lost test time at Jerez on Friday with 145 laps of the circuit. He crashed into the tyre wall two days earlier. Image: AFP

ALAN BALDWIN

JEREZ, Spain - Lewis Hamilton made up for lost time by doing 145 laps of the Jerez test circuit on Friday with Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn hailing the 2008 Formula 1 champion for his work in driving the team forward.

The 28-year-old ex-McLaren driver did only 15 laps before brake failure sent him crashing out on his test debut with his new team on Wednesday but he returned for a full day's work.

His efforts were interrupted only when testing was halted for nearly an hour to enable workers to repair a damaged kerb and fill a hole between turns 10 and 11 with quick-drying cement.

'SOME WORK TO DO'

Hamilton told reporters that Mercedes, largely uncompetitive in 2012, was where he hoped it would be in terms of performance and he was giving them plenty of feedback.

"We have some work to do but it doesn't feel like it was a disaster," he said. "I feel like it's a good platform, a good foundation. We are going to keep asking for downforce and hope the guys continue to do a great job at the factory."

Brawn welcomed constructive criticism from Hamilton and his German team mate Nico Rosberg, who did 148 laps on Thursday.

"I think we've made it very clear to Lewis that he's part of the solution," the Brawn said, "to get us where we want to be and he knows that and I think he's relishing it.

"He gives us reference points and helps us understand what we need to focus on... I welcome that approach. It needs to be constructive and it needs to be positive criticism of the right sort and that's always helpful for the team to drive it forward."

MASSA FINISHED FASTEST

Hamilton ended Friday, the final day of testing, with the sixth-fastest time - 1min18.905. Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 champion, was quickest for Lotus (1:min18.148) with Frenchman Jules Bianchi (Force India) second-fastest (1min18.175).

Force India has yet to say who will partner Scotsman Paul di Resta this season though Ferrari academy driver Bianchi a front-runner.

Red Bull's triple World champion Sebastian Vettel was third-fastest after 96 laps.

Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa took over in the Ferrari for Friday but the test driver's running was limited by a fiery oil leak early in the session. The team blamed a gearbox fault but Ferrari still ended up with the fastest lap of the week, 1min17.879 set by Felipe Massa on Thursday.

The second pre-season test session will start Barcelona, Spain, on Feb 19 with Spain's double World champion Fernando Alonso having his first drive in the new Ferrari 138 after skipping Jerez and Williams presenting its new car.

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